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Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D

The ball comes from the field into your face.

Although Konami had pulled Pro Evolution Soccer from the DS a few years back, they're bringing it back for the 3DS in a big way. In fact, Konami wants to make sure you know just how 3D the game is, so they stuck a lenticular cover on the front of the game. Perhaps it wasn't the best idea to make a 3D image out of a ball hurtling towards your face, but what counts here is what's inside the box, not outside of it. And on that score, Konami delivers many if not all of the goods.

To start, the game looks fantastic. The 3D is vivid and deep. So deep, in fact, that I had to scale back the slider on my system just to look at it comfortably. And Konami doesn't skimp on the camera, which whooshes every which way around the field, giving you plenty of views of the action. That is, they do that for intros and replays. When you're playing, the game goes to an over the shoulder view, which looks amazing in 3D, but makes it difficult to spot your men on the field when you want to pass. You can switch to the side view, which makes playing easier, but the 3D effect is diminished. That aside, gameplay feels tight, as you use the analog nub to move, the face buttons to pass, and the shoulder buttons to dash and pass. The matches have great momentum, and getting a goal always feels like a victory.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D juke

If you're content to play the game by yourself, you'll find plenty here to like. There's your basic exhibition and league games, but of more interest would be the Champions League and Master League. Champions League is your standard mode, but Masters League is more interesting. That allows you to create your own team, fight to get players, and once you have them, fight to keep them. Treat them well, and they'll be loyal and play their best. Bench them and they lose faith, leaving you in a precarious position. There's a lot to like about this mode, which is deep and addicting. However, some players will miss several of the single player modes available in the console versions.

Even more distressing is the complete and utter lack of multiplayer. If you're in the Masters League mode there is a Street Pass option that simulates games with teams created by other 3DS owners, and that's it. No chances to play with friends who also bought the game or anything like that. It feels like Konami rushed this one out the door, which is a shame because the chance to play against other people would have elevated the game greatly.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D kick

The commentary on the matches feels perfunctory, without anything particularly compelling about it, although the songs they got aren't so bad. Mostly I turned the sound low just so I could hear the crowd and threw some TV on in the background. It didn't diminish the excitement of being in the game, trying to make that goal. 

While it may seem like I've focused on the negatives, I don't want to make it seem like Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is a waste of time. It's not. It's a very good soccer game, but it could have been a great one with just a little more work on Konami's part. Even if you excuse the diminished amount of single player modes, the lack of multiplayer is what really does the damage here. Still, when you're playing, this game feels spot on. Maybe next year we'll get the whole package.