Konami has pumped out new PES games every year for ages. The Pro Evo moniker was justified to begin with, but describing the 2011 edition as 'evolution' is stretching things a bit. It feels a lot like PES 2011 is little more than the 2010 version with updated squads and a few tweaks to the visuals and gameplay.
Viewed in isolation, this Wii version of PES 2011 is an excellent football game. Build-up play is neat and tidy, there's a feeling of real satisfaction when a carefully-placed ball finds its target, and you get a strong sense of the kind of player you're controlling - there's a world of difference between Torres and Heskey.
As ever, PES' major strength is the Master League mode, which offers a real long-term challenge for solo players. Pit a couple of experts against each other and it's a great multiplayer experience too. PES has always favoured passing your way through opponents over outpacing and overpowering your foe, so canny use of the through ball and a cool head is required to keep knocking the ball around until an opening appears.
Spot The Difference
Everything from PES 2010 returns - competent online modes, cups, leagues and the ability to edit your squads. The most obvious change is the new Copa Santander Libertadores mode which is essentially the South American equivalent of the Champions League. Fully licensed teams combined with the added flair and pace of the South American game make for a refreshing change in pace and style.
2011 is a more physical game than its older brother. Outpacing defenders feels trickier - in a straight race onto a through ball, a strong centre-back will successfully wrestle a lithe striker off the ball much more often than they did before.
Shooting is very difficult to judge at first, and midfield tussles are more frenetic. If your opposite number chooses to pressure you high up the field, it's noticeably tougher to knock it around midfield and build up play. These are all subtle tweaks, but they'll be noticeable to any PES 2010 veteran. For them, this will feel like an update of the old PS2 games.
So, as with any PES, it takes a little patience to get used to the game's quirks. Yes, the goalkeepers make the odd blunder and, yes, you'll sometimes be given free reign to stroll through your rival's back line at your leisure, due to some dodgy AI.
So it suffers from glaring AI problems and boasts some astonishingly bad presentation, but the compulsive multiplayer and quasi-retro appeal have won us over.
This is an edited version of a review that appears in the December issue of Official Nintendo Magazine which is on sale now. For more in depth analysis, screenshots and boxouts, buy the magazine here.