The PES series is no stranger to the handheld market with Handheld. It's available through all formats including with the Nintendo DS with PES 2007 and PES 2008. But since then the series hasn't made an appearance on a Nintendo Handheld (as far as I know) but if you owned a PSP you could enjoy the series on the go. Even today regular DS owners cannot enjoy PES on the go unless it's an old version but if you purchased the new 3DS PES 2011 is available now for PES fans who want to play soccer on their 3DS.
When you boot up PES 2011 the first things you will notice are the title screens and the menu's. Now the 3DS is capable of some nice 3D effects but the whole menu and title screens are done in 2D. In fact you will not see a single 3D effect until the match is able to start when you are shown the uniforms both teams will wear. I guess this could save you battery life if you turn off the 3D until the game starts but the developers could have put some type of 3D in the title screen just like Madden did. The title screens are not the main even of course. There are 4 gameplay types from Exhibition matches to Wireless local gameplay. You can also play Season mode which lets you select a team and compete against other teams around Europe or if you want to have better control of your team you can play The Master League which allows even deeper customization for your team.
There are a total of 32 Teams in 8 different groups. In previous installments of PES I remember that there were also some teams that weren't European such as the US and Brazil. I haven't played any of the latest installments So I do not know how long have they've been out for but it does disappoint me that I cannot play as my country in the game. After seeing that the US was gone I went ahead and started the season with Manchester United.
Underneath PES 2011 is a true soccer game. You pass the ball and you score while trying to avoid killing the opposing teams players and getting red cards yourself. But what makes the game is how the players handle the ball and how much time you want to put in the game to grow your soccer skills.
PES plays just like the PS2 or PSP version of the game which means that you won't have total control of the players like you would on the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions. Because of this the players suffer at times from lag between the user. While this may not happen all the time it does happen to a point which can cost you the game. One example is when one player retrieves the ball. When the ball is loose time is of the essence and you will hold the R button down to make sure your player gets there first. However if held down for too long instead of recovering the ball the player will kick it a short distance that's no where near for your player to retrieve the ball. In some occasions if this is near your goal line your player will kick it into your own goal.
The touchscreen portion of the game isn't used much besides housing the radar and a few strategies to select from. Unless you use the strategies portion of the game you will find yourself not looking into the radar as PES is a game where quick thinking is required to pass the ball or shoot. Of course if you are quick about it you can look at the radar and plan your strategy accordingly to where your going to drive your players and where are the best open spots to score a goal.
The AI here is as dumb as a rock. Well at least you can use a rock to defend yourself. The opponents AI is very quick and will show no mercy. That isn't the case with your team or perhaps it's just how my team played. The game switches players based on where the opposing player with the ball is headed. That's OK but if you had the ball and you passed it to another teammate from far away your teammate would not move and the opposing player just comes and steals the ball away from him. I tried moving and everything but the player just doesn't move. This doesn't just happen once but all the time and it can really piss someone off. So your best bet is to just do short passes.
Graphically you can compare PES to the PSP version of the game. The animation is smooth but don't compare it to the PS3/360 version. The character models are nicely detailed and at times show expressions such as disappointment, excitement and even pain. Setting the camera to Player and vertical close does give you a nice 3D effect but it also makes it harder to see who is coming behind you or to keep track of the ball because you don't know which player you're using. Broadcast mode also know as Wide also gives you some nice 3D but at this point you might as well save your battery and turn off 3D.
The announcer is a nice addition to make your experience more real however you are brought back to reality by the car that almost ran you over. If you are home you can listen to it but outside it's so loud you can't hear what they are saying. There are also some FMV's that do not have any sound. I found myself trying to increase the volume at this point only to find out that it's in full blast. There are also a few soundtracks but they are overshadowed by the crowd and announcer. If anything just turn off the music and the announcers and have yourself a nice soccer match with the crowd.
There are a few game modes in PES 2011 that will keep you entertained for hours. Of course the main events are Season and Champion's Leagues where you take full control of your team just like a Sim game. On both games modes you can set up AI, Time and other options such as injuries. The Exhibition mode is set up for quick matches and it does have Local Multiplayer. PES 2011 doesn't support download and play which means that 2 cards are required for Multiplayer. PES also has StreetPass support if you're game is on standby. This feature is still as of yet useless on any game as it's unlikely that you will pass by a stranger with the same game that's also on Stand By.
Verdict: Wait for a Price Drop
Sports games are always fun to play every now and then and while PES does have a lot of missing features, it's a game I will keep for a long time just to pop it in every now and then and play a few matches. I do wish that they had added the ability to take in game screen shots and to save your replay to your SD card but it looks like PES was more of a rush this game to make it to the 3DS launch type of title instead of one where they took their time to make. This game is fun however I wouldn't recommend paying full price for a game that still needs a lot of work so if anything I say wait for a price drop. I remember seeing this game as low as $29.99 on a few stores brand new so a little research goes a long way.
GamePlay: A true soccer experience for those that love soccer but could use a few tweaks here and there to make it more entertaining. 8/10
Graphics: Very nice graphics that go on par with the PSP but you might as well get the PSP version for that. The main event is the 3D effect and for it's first effort Konami doesn't disappoint. 7.5/10
Sound: Turn off the announcers and the music because you won't be able to hear them anyway if you're outside. 6/10
Performance: Very dumb AI on your team but unforgiving AI for the opposing team. This game is a handicap and requires a lot of reflexes if you are to ever make it to the finals. 6/10
LifeSpan: Depending on the time limit you set for yourself PES is a very long game and multiplayer is a nice feature if you have a friend that has the same game. 8/10
Total Score: 71/100