PES 2011 3D review: Perhaps understandably, given the amount of time Konami seems to have had to get this game ready for launch, PES 2011 3D is essentially another version of the Wii game we were slightly disappointed by late last year. But with an extra dimension.
That extra dimension is the headline news. The 3D makes everything look lovely. Skipping replays isn't mandatory anymore, as you'll actually want to sit back and marvel at replays or watch the highlights. Konami has even gone one step further and made a dynamic close-up player camera the default setting in order to show off the 3D effects.
Playing PES with the Player Cam is madness. The camera is constantly swooping around to find the best angle, meaning that you're always unsure of which direction to press and even which direction you're facing. Defending is very nearly impossible.
Switching to the fixed, zoomed-out view is the only way to play PES, and it's from here that the game looks and feels familiar. From this view, the 3D effect is greatly reduced, so much so that we turned it off after a while, and only put the 3D back on for replays and highlights.
Most PES fans will do the same after a couple of hours, and it's playing like this which makes this feel so much like the Wii versions of the past few years. As a result, this is a surprisingly physical game of football. Good defenders will block runs and muscle wingers off the ball with ease.
Pass and move
Building an effective attack is down to patience. A tireless ability to work the ball in and around your opponent's back line to pull defenders out of place will be rewarded, with a little luck.
One of PES' most impressive traits is that the players are so different. The likes of Messi and Ronaldinho are impish little players, swift of foot and quick on the turn. Powerful strikers look and handle like battering rams; pacy wide players are lethal in full flow and make counter attacks immensely satisfying.
It's where you have one of these top class players at your disposal that PES is a real treat to play. Switch from Barcelona's arsenal of technical wizardry to a bottom feeder in the Dutch league and the difference is shocking.
Still, even with a bunch of cloggers, this is PES - you've always got some hopeless blundering from the computer AI to fall back on. In one Champions League epic, we came back from a goal down to win 3-1, thanks to two spectacular own goals by a hapless Zenit St Petersburg defence.
This and the game's other flaws won't be new to battle-hardened PES loyalists. Even after all these years, we're still playing as the likes of Merseyside Red and North London in the English league (Man United and Spurs are the only licensed Premier League teams here), and the squads haven't been updated to reflect January transfer window moves.
The biggest crime on show here is the complete lack of online multiplayer. Two-player mode is only accessible by playing locally and only if you have a friend with a copy of the game.
While we're on a downer, the lack of a power bar for passes feels really dated. It's particularly galling when you look to drop a ball short for a teammate to have a pop at goal, or worse, play a ball slightly ahead of another player.
This means that, compared to other modern football games, PES still feels too rigid and the flow of play feels awkward at time. You could argue that this is down to the difficulty level. Anything above 'regular' and just carving out a strike on goal in PES 2011 is a serious challenge. As ever, the Master League mode represents a fantastic long-term challenge. Solo players have got a huge campaign ahead of them if they intend to get involved in transfers and tinkering with tactics.