One of the more interesting launch titles is without a doubt Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D. The highly rated football series has been a personal favourite for many years and I was keen to find out how it manages the transition to Nintendo's new portable device.
On the pitch most things are what we're used to. The solid game engine that is the foundation of the PES series is easy to recognise, even if it is somewhat simplified. Realistic and varied situation occur on the pitch, and the gameplay is there.
The game engine is for natural reason not as evolved as in last year's home console release, but this is definitely a football game that deserves a passing grade. The ball physics are great and it's the same beautiful feeling sending a perfect shot in the direction of the net as in other PES releases.
The stars look their part and the game looks really nice. Nintendo have said that the 3D effect would make you feel as if you were in the stands, but it's not quite that good. I did not feel as though I was in the stands as I sat down with the handheld in my office. But I'm still impressed by the graphics and the 3D effects the game produces.
When it comes to passes you no longer control how hard you strike them. This was something that worked well on home consoles, affording players more precision and freedom. But I understand why the developers opted for a simpler system on Nintendo 3DS. You don't have the same need for precision, and the automated system works well in a handheld game.
You can still decide how hard you hit longer passes, so be prepared to hit a few long balls into the stands before you get a feel for it. When you've become accustomed to it all is well, and there is a great sense of accomplishment when you manage to send a long sweeping cross to the other side of the pitch.
At times it is wonderful to play a game of football with the sense of depth 3D offers. This is especially true for replays and situations when the camera is close to the action. Then it adds something. But all is not great with 3D, and it adds a few new challenges.
The first thing is that Konami has chosen to use a dynamic camera that swirls around the players as standard. The camera is placed at an angle over the backs of the players and gives the game a more action packed appearance. It's easy to see why, the developers wanted to showcase the 3D effects. The problem is that this camera view offers no overview, and it's useful for anything but demonstrating the 3D graphics. I ended up playing with the traditional camera perspective from the side, not as visually striking, but it gets the job done.
Another challenge that is related to 3D is to hold the Nintendo 3DS still. When you are using most buttons on the device frequently, it's easy to twist and turn it a bit. This results in a loss of the 3D effect. Our eyes uses a moment or two to readjust and then you see the depth again. Not ideal in the middle of an intense match. It's quite possible that this is something you will learn to adjust to with time, but today this is the main flaw of the 3D capabilities of Nintendo's new handheld.
On the whole Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D is an enjoyable game. With the foundation of the great game engine you have a lot of great matches to look forward to. While the 3D effect comes with some new challenges, it's also positive to see the new visual style Konami have gone for. Simply put, it's fun to play football in 3D, and if you need a football game in your pocket you won't find a better game than Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D.