I've stopped playing the PES series after the mediocre PES 2008 and moved on to the then lauded FIFA 09, which I would say was a breath of fresh air. Being a fan of PES series and especially PES 6 - which some may call the greatest football game ever made - I was hesitant to move to the FIFA series. After playing FIFA 09, 10 and 11, the series took a nosedive, got repetitive and innovation stopped. Every single match I played in FIFA felt exactly the same, goals were all similar, the glitches were unbearable, the AI was horrendous, there's no great offline modes and the list goes on...
But after hearing of the mild success of PES 11, I decided to get PES 12 and I can honestly tell you this is the best football game out right now. I am not just saying it because I bought the game or hate FIFA, I am honestly telling you after exploring all it has to offer plus playing the matches to get a feel of the game, it's hands down the best football game out this year.
The graphics look great, especially in cutscenes and celebrations and the motion blur makes it even more realistic. At times you feel like you're watching an actual football match on television, I'm dead serious. The ball physics, stadiums, nets, player animations and likeness trumps FIFA.
The core gameplay has seen a few changes from before. You can now control another player while dribbling the ball to get him into tight spots for some beautiful goals. The AI runs are also great, they spot opportunites and execute very well. The movements aren't as fluid as I'd like it to be but it's as close to natural as anything I've seen in video games. The team at Konami really understand the game of football and you can see it in the way the players react, touch the ball, make clever runs or even show emotion during dead balls. Even the little details like managers pacing on the sidelines when they're down a goal, subs joining in on the celebrations,security guards in the background talking to each other and players fighting with each other when there's a bad tackle - it's so real you can't do anything else but just play a match all over again just to experience those little moments.
The level of customization is also an area PES excels in. Yes, there aren't any licenses but there are patches and mods from the PES community available for you to download to your USB and upload to your PS3 save data - it's really simple. You get all the official logos, stadiums, names, kits - every possible thing you can think of. There's even patches for alternative commentary from Andy Townsend and Clive Tyldesley and it sounds like your regular weekend fixture matches on television.
Master League is of course the most important feature of PES and it's even better than before. I can't go into too much detail but I can tell you that I'm managing a run down Japanese club with non other than Brazilian and Inter Milan defender Maicon. He's in cutscenes wearing suits, talking to club executives and on the pitch during practice talking to players - will you see things like this in any other football game? Never!!!
So in conclusion, I recommend this game strongly. It's the best football game out now. Don't trust the reviews from IGN that willingly gives FIFA 12 a 9.5 but when you go to the forums all you hear is disgruntled fans who wasted their money on a broken game. Oh, and PES has Champion's League and with the patches you can download, plus all the kits and official team, you will essentially have two games, a PES game and a Champion's League game.