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Tactical Analysis : The PES2012 Debut Video


Less of a trailer and more of a filmed mission statement, Konami’s debut video for PES2012 is a hefty 7min 46secs filled with Creative Producer Seabass’ philosophy for the game moving forward towards it’s release and is not shy – or that shy – in showing the game running at this early stage. In this piece I will look to highlight that what you might not see at first glance whilst looking to speculate somewhat on what awaits for us fans in PES2012.

Seabass starts by outlining what he wants PES to be able to do which is primarily allow the player to play the football they wish to play. Citing the new mechanics brought to the series in PES2011 such as 360 dribbling and manual passing which would form the base for this concept, Seabass then makes it known that despite these core mechanics improving the game in PES2011 his opinion was that the balance was such that it focused on one specific style of play (star player spamming?) and that PES2012 looks to address this by allowing more in the way of team play.

As soon as the red overlay with Seabass’ full name and role within the team fades (1:04), cast your eye to the screen behind him and you will catch a first glimpse of the what looks to be the improved off-the-ball movement on the break. Notice also that as this phase of play progresses down the right wing we see the attacker in blue get clattered whilst being double pressed (1:12) just as he makes a subtle change of direction at pace. Immediately the game looks that more zippier and alive and it is excellent to see what looks very much like some attacking and defensive alertness straight off the bat; something which is highlighted only more so when the footage of PES2011 immediately follows on.

As we cut back to Seabass after the PES2011 footage we then see another phase of play start from a keeper kick-out. Below is an image captured at 1:41 in which we see the recipient of a flick-on control, turn and pass in one fluid, graceful (or more so than PES2011 at least) movement. Something which again points to more work being done in refining animations making everything seem more fluid…and hopefully more responsive to boot.

As Seabass talks about how they are looking to implement more team play into this years offering the footage playing on screen again looks to show more fluidity and refinement to that which existed in PES2011. It is not ground breaking stuff but what it does do is show the game to be more alive. Special mention before moving on has to go to the re-introduction of the classic wide-cam which is something most us fans of the series sorely missed in last years game and at 1:45 we see what some PES fans consider to be the equivalent of a ‘money shot’…SQUARE NETS!?

Net fetishists, your moment may well have arrived!

Seabass (nice shirt by the way!) uses this segment to go into detail regards improvements to off-the-ball movement; something which simply had to be addressed following on from PES2011 in which movement from your team mates was temperamental and a tad one dimensional at best, especially if players were not deemed attack minded enough via their stats and index assignment. Instead of simply mapping in a run player prompt into the controls in order to generate this much needed movement, Seabass appears to have opted for a focus on improved standard AI behaviours which sees players shape their runs not only to create space for a pass but also to act as a decoy – this isn’t a case of them simply running forwards in a straight line. This feature you would think will no doubt be further noticeable from player to player and from team to team in the final game. One wonders whether a nod back at the movement arrows present in the tactics/formations screen of past games will play it’s part here along with the team style modifiers introduced in recent instalments but on the surface it looks as though this is a key component to making the game look to have more ebb and flow as well as dramatically enhancing on screen player awareness.

The footage – along with what Seabass has to say – looks to highlight the advancements required in this department and is very informative, though there are some other little moments that I found worthy of note.

Below are few grabs of the phase of play after the arrows highlighting player movement is shown…

Recipient of pass goes to take on his marker. Note the No.10 in blue is tracking the run.

Player in possession beats his man but not without taking a little clip from the defender but he steadies himself (improved collisions?) Meanwhile the No.10 in blue continues to track the diagonal run made.

Having seen the player in possession beat his man, the No.10 is alert to the space created for the attack but has run off the player he was tracking to the deeper lying defender.

Attacker then looks for the pass which catches the No.10 out but his tracking the run of the intended recipient before passing him off to the deeper lying defender ensures it won’t be a straight forward 1 on 1 situation. Improved defensive awareness to match the improved off-the-ball movement in attack.

Moving on, at the 2:59 mark we see a player receive a pass and look to beat his man only for him to be tripped.

Play then appears to go on…

…until the ref would seem to spot that there was no advantage and calls play back. Advantage rule properly implemented? Looks an encouraging sign if not completely conclusive for the moment.

At around 3:03, when Seabass is explaining the need for over-lapping to be more prevalent, we see full screen footage of said over-lapping in action though it was not this that had me going for the screen capture button but instead the point at 3:13 where what looks like a more fluid and different looking crossing animation

As stated previously, this isn’t the stuff of technical wonder but it does point at there being more variety on top of the improved fluidity all round and is further highlighted at 3:23 when the recipient of a goal kick chests,turns and dispatches a lofted pass all in one movement.

Such improvements in attacking options are only half the battle when it comes to trying to capture the reality of the sport, so when Seabass then goes on to talk about the necessary improvements to the defensive side of the game, it is cause for optimism on a number of fronts. Firstly, just by looking at the game in motion you can see a higher level of alertness displayed and the use of ”test bed” footage to allow us fans to see the inner wirings of things like zonal marking and man-marking is very welcome.

In the picture above we can see a clear signposting of the AI’s organisation in defensive scenarios. Note that not only are all attacking players on screen marked, or at least have a player in close proximity, but that there are two spare covering men – one in midfield and one sitting deeper in the penalty area who is stationed within what one could speculate as being an area of danger by the code, with perhaps the three circles highlighting potential areas in which the ball could be played to. The parallel blue and red lines that move in unison would appear to dictate the current zone of play and how the defensive lines adapt to the momentum of attacks. All pure speculation but fascinating nonetheless.

With Seabass commenting on how hold-up-play by the defence will be made simpler regards controls, it does perhaps pose more questions than answers at this current time but one would imagine this could be a nod to there being better visual cues in place than was present in last years title. All in all that which is spoken and shown suggests a far more robust defensive game is in the offing, hopefully allowing for defending to feel like the art it was in the PS2 games.

On a final note, it is recommended to watch the action unfold on the screen behind Seabass to catch a further glimpse of the games ebb and flow and variance in tempo. It all looks that bit more organic and free flowing. Cut from the same cloth as PES2011 it may be on first glance but there is more to it than that.


Thanks to Twitter follower fabresass for the following spot.

On playing back the video from 4:49 through to around 5:03 there is evidence of what looks like a new tackling animation on three separate occasions. Note the ref doesn’t call for a foul after the first tackle, though it is hard to identify if he is motioning for play to continue as he is turns following play immediately after.

In order to round-up his thoughts as to what will make PES2012 the game fans want, Seabass is keen to highlight that 1 v. 1 situations will remain a key focus for the developers and that further improvements to dribbling to give a feeling of more ”direct control” will also be implemented. Full screen footage is shown of examples of players deftly tricking their opponent with tight control which hopefully means that PES2012 will be a game of more subtle skills and less about the trick stick shenanigans as was the case in PES2011 – the game looks to go back to it’s roots somewhat in other words in order to deliver a fresher, more intense experience.

And who doesn’t love a good nutmeg, so here is one for the hell of it!…

Added to this, there is mention of further advancements in the physical aspect of the game which can be seen throughout all the footage in all honesty (there just seems to be a more tenacious, snappy edge to play), however there are some further examples of this using production assets which let us get a little more up close and personal.

It is in this segment of the video that the camera zooms into the action on the screen behind Seabass (5:42) and we witness some patient build up play in which the ball is passed back by the team in possession in order to rebuild the attack from the back, only for them to soon pick up the intensity with short one touch passing around the area. Again, it is that variance in tempo that made PES what it was back on PS2 so it is great to see it realised once more.

In the final minute of the video we are teased as to what other information may well come our way in the lead up to the games release, with game modes and edit features hinted at. The footage showing glimpses of the new improved community modes (6:51)pique the interest as not only would it seem that players can set up our their communities to play within, but that there will also be the facility to challenge other communities. This is a welcome addition to the online component as theoretically it could mean this interface will allow for a more satisfying online experience in general but cross PES community site competitions can become a reality!

However, what stood out more on a personal level was what looked like a tantalising glimpse at a more polished version of the game running when it showed members of the development team crowded round a screen(7:18). It also hinted at what appeared to be a re-worked broadcast camera which looks to take in more of the action.

PES2012 is now very much upon us and credit has to go to Konami for the wealth of content shown in this first announcement video. Both informative and teasing at the same time regards information and gameplay footage, the balance was just right and let us hope that same balance finds it’s way into the final game later in the year. For now though I will let Seabass himself close this one off…

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