Reviewed: December 18, 2010
Released: November 3, 2010
App Store Price: $3.99
The soccer game market is a bit crowded on the iPhone/iPad marketplace; at least a little more than on the consoles. There are tons of soccer games on the Apple Marketplace, but only 3 that most people would consider serious contenders. Those being Gameloft's Real Soccer 2011, EA Sports FIFA 11, and Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2011; each of them around $5 unless you catch a promotional deal.|
EA's FIFA 11 has to be considered the frontrunner of course. They have the money and resources to get all licenses for a realistic game from names to logos, stadiums and uniforms. Gameloft's Real Soccer has improved by leaps and bounds, this year adding the FIFA Pro license so they now have authentic player names as well. So Konami has quite a bit to live up to with Pro Evolution Soccer.
Konami unfortunately still hasn't taken the big plunge to buy the FIFA Pro license. I'm really not sure why at this point. Instead they are taking the less expensive route and working directly with clubs and players and specific events. Perhaps they know they are beaten. Perhaps they would rather pay nothing and let the user community continue to put out corrected data files to get “unofficial/unlicensed” player names and teams so Konami pays for nothing. Konami used to be the favorite game for any soccer player. It was just so real. At some point the past few years though, EA has caught up and even surpasses anything Konami was doing.
One area PES does beat the competition is with a handful of exclusive UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Club competitions. They include many of the best European club teams in the officially licensed UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League modes. If you win both competitions you can play in the UEFA Super Cup Final. That's all well and good I suppose, but in the USA (CONCACAF federation), very few people care about UEFA. We do care about the Barkley's English Premiere League. As recently revealed by ESPN and Fox Soccer, more people in the USA are watching Saturday morning English Premiere League games than watch the “local” Major League Soccer games in prime time!
To be clear, PES 2011 is a good soccer game. It has good graphics, easy controls, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth multi-player, and the AI has improved a lot over the past year. It is certainly a good representation of soccer and on those merits alone, is a fun game to play.
Graphically, PES 2011 has improved across the board. There are new stadiums, fields and weather effects to create an even more realistic environment. New animations such as referee cut-scenes, goal celebrations, and technical moves like a diving header, bicycle kick, and others bring a new level of realistic play as well. The audio is about as basic as it gets. There are no announcers and very limited game audio. For the most part you get a looped crowd sound and the referee whistle on occasion. It just makes it feel like I'm playing a local Saturday morning local club game.
With a crowded iPhone soccer marketplace, it is very difficult to choose a favorite game. I suppose the die-hard fans of PES on console and PC systems will stick with their favorite. But with a simple slimed down iPhone game, there really isn't that much difference in the gameplay to separate the 3 big contenders. The difference is in the features. In PES's favor they have slightly better player models and animations, exclusive UEFA license, and the multiplayer is a nice feature. But if you want to play as your favorite player or team, PES has only a handful of authentic licensed teams. For my money, FIFA 11 is the way to go for this season.