Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D (3DS) Review


Reviewing Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D is a tricky proposition. First and foremost, the game is not bad. The graphics are, for the most part, excellent, the sound is authentic and the gameplay is light years ahead of what soccer fans have previously enjoyed on a Nintendo handheld. So what is the big problem then? Essentially, PES 3D suffers by feeling rushed and outdated, a tragic case of getting a game to market quickly to capitalise on a need rather than taking time to develop a truly excellent game.

For the most part, PES 3D has good presentation values. The on screen HUD is unobtrusive, and for the most part functional, and the Champions League branding is well used to make those matches more accurately match their televised counterparts.

Menu’s however are absolutely terrible. Developers need to understand that when menu options are chosen on the lower screen, confirmation messages should not be displayed on the top screen; and furthermore, displaying a confirmation message without a button prompt leaves the user thinking that the game will clear the message without them doing anything.

Even the simplest of options are perplexing at times. Gameplay controls can be changed, but only when you’re in a game. Furthermore, if you are only playing exhibition matches, your custom layout will be lost when you finish your game session, resulting in an incredible amount of frustration. Creating and using custom formations is likewise harder than it needs to be, with you having to constantly load and apply your saved setup instead of the game using it by default. Konami seriously needs to get some UI and UX consultants to sort out this mess.

The most important part of a sports game, however, is gameplay. Here PES 3D promises so much but only delivers a portion of it. Whilst not being privy to exact details, the game feels like a tidied up port of a PS2 version, which makes it immediately the best portable soccer game on a Nintendo platform. However, one cannot help but feel that the hardware is barely being pushed. Ball and player movement is painfully restricted, the crossing mechanics feel horribly outdated and at times the game resembles pinball more than football.

This is a key complaint regarding PES. While it is so much better than what has come before it on a handheld, it is now running on hardware that makes us compare games to console versions, and this is where it cannot compete. When one takes a look at the player and ball movement being offered on the console versions of PES and especially FIFA, playing PES 3D feels more like a chore than something that is enjoyable.

What is intact in the game is the trademark brutality that PES brings. One only needs to turn the difficulty level up a notch for the CPU difficulty to border on the masochistic. People looking for a real challenge can do a lot worse than give PES a shot.

Commentary in PES games has generally lagged behind its FIFA cousin and this effort does little to change that general rule. However, it has improved to the point where the commentary is not a distraction due to its complete irrelevance to the on screen action, even if you do get the occasional report of an incorrect score line here and there.


Like previous games in the series, PES 3D only has limited licensing for teams and leagues. This results in some bizarre matchups but this is easily overlooked as most people who play the game will be expecting this situation. I’ve never been a fan of Master League as it appears in PES games and this version does little to counter that feeling. A more straight up league mode would be much better in my opinion however given the limited licensing it is somewhat understandably overlooked.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D feels like an opportunity lost for Konami. They have pushed something to market that clearly needed a few more months in the incubator. Hopefully they will reassess their approach to the 3DS as it deserves a better effort than this. Whether that means working on the version they already have running and resolving some of the gameplay issues or using a newer console version as a starting point, I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that EA are taking a good look at what Konami have done and probably are in no hurry to bring FIFA to the 3DS to steal some of Konami’s thunder. The platform is still in desperate need of a quality soccer game. Let’s hope the next effort from Konami lives up to the PES reputation a lot better than this years mediocre outing.

Graphics 7.0

Impressive player models and crisp graphics are an absolute highlight here. Some unconvincing animation spoils the party however.

Gameplay 4.0

Classic PES gameplay….. from 2004. Konami needs to update the engine to take advantage of some of the newer advances in football games such as 360 degree dribbling and weighted ball movement. Ping pong passing just will not cut it anymore.


Sound 7.0

Inoffensive commentary does the job. It wont win awards but it wont get on your nerves.

Tilt 4.0

This is a launch title and shows. Theres not a huge amount to do here. Lets hope Konami will beef up the options in future versions. A player creator would go a long way.

Value 5.0

I desperately wanted to enjoy PES 3D and in a lot of ways it is an excellent game that I will continue to play for many months to come. I just wont be playing it when I have access to a console version of either PES or FIFA however.


With the added power of the 3DS, handheld sports games now will be compared with their console cousins. This may seem an unfair comparison however PES more than shows that it is a valid one. Unfortunately, whilst promising so much, PES fails to deliver and ends up being yet another rushed launch title. It wants to be in the same locker room as the console versions it aspires to be but in reality it isnt even the in the same division.

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