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PES 2011 3D: A visual super-sub or a gimmicky own goal?

Fancy football on the 3DS...

Last time we saw PES on 3DS it was a simple one-match demo with only the swoopy pitch camera and a special 'don't upset anyone' difficulty level.

Since then, the game has come on in leaps and bounds, meaning it's now pitched at die-hard footy fans as well as gamers taking their first steps onto the turf.

Zoom

Firstly, the complexity of attack has returned. No longer can forwards sprint past the entire back line at will - instead, you really have to think about your build-up play.

Ping the ball around the back four, make probing runs through midfield, pass it out to the wing... the matches feel incredibly organic and the movement of players off the ball is highly intelligent. This is a console-quality football game.

While passing is a little more forgiving than in some of the last-gen versions (even the worst professional football player can pass with relative force in a direction other than 'forward', you know), the movement of the ball is influenced by a lot of factors.

Balance, ball speed, probably even what the individual player had for breakfast. Even tapping shoot can send your shot way over the bar if you're not over the ball enough - it's superbly realistic.

Also superb is the animation. The goalkeeping dives1 in particular are supremely fluid in slow motion, with outstretched palms and arched backs hanging in the air while the ball arcs inexorably towards its target. Add in the 3D effect and you've got yourself a beautiful handheld game.

The 3D isn't perfect, mind. Trying to focus on the net when it's right in front of your eyes during goal kicks will have you going cross-eyed if the slider's up high. That's too much perspective! The broadcast-style side-on camera angles are back in, although the widest 'Wide' view is still a bit too close to the action for our liking.

Still, this way the movement feels more like the game we know. With the 3DS launch line-up a little light on first-party Nintendo games (don't worry, they're coming), you'll be needing something meaty to get your teeth into while you wait for an hour-devouring Mario Kart or Zelda.

PES should fill that gap nicely while your thumbs are recovering from using the D-pad all the time in Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition.

In fact, with the inclusion of the infamous Master League you may be so engrossed in player transfers and away legs of European fixtures that you might not notice when Ocarina Of Time turns up.

You laugh now - just wait until you get to choose between signing Rooney or Messi. Of course, despite its brilliance this may not convert non-footballers, but this really is as good a place to start as any.

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