While the Pro Evolution Soccer series retired from Nintendo's DS console a few years ago, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D brings it back to a new Nintendo handheld along with brand-new 3D features. It's a decent first attempt--accurately capturing the gameplay that's made the series such a success--but there are some notable issues. The default over-the-shoulder view looks impressive in 3D but hinders your view of the action, but of greater concern is that there are some serious omissions when it comes to features and game modes. As a result, PES 2011 3D is a fair first step for the series on the 3DS, but one that could also improve in a lot of key ways.
Prepare to have balls flying at your face.
If you've played Pro Evo before, then you'll be right at home with this version of the game. You move your player using the circle pad or the D pad, you kick the ball using the four face buttons, and you perform tricks and sprints using the shoulder buttons. Where the 3DS version differs is in its use of the touch screen--you can customise your defensive and offensive options and then activate your saved tactics mid-game by tapping on the bottom screen. The radar is also displayed here, allowing the upper screen to show as much of the action as possible. It's a sensible and well-thought-out system that benefits from the dual-screen layout.
The other big change in this 3D version is the way you view the action by default--in the over-the-shoulder perspective that has previously been seen only in the series' Become a Legend mode. From a technical standpoint, this perspective looks impressive and adds a tangible sense of distance between you and the other players. However, the view also obscures a great deal of the action, particularly when you're defending, which makes it difficult to keep track of the ball. Move to the standard side-on view, and the impact of the 3D viewing is less impressive, but it's much easier to view all of the action.
Whichever perspective you choose, you can enjoy a good game of football. The gameplay holds up very well to the other versions of the game, which means it's exciting, thoughtful, and highly rewarding. The AI is challenging, the controls are precise, and the player animations are realistic, even down to Wayne Rooney's distinctive looks and Lionel Messi's dribbling prowess. The passing mechanic, where you combine power and direction to place the ball exactly where you want it to go, is particularly good, meaning you really feel in control of the flow of the game. Pro Evo also looks the part, with detailed players, impressive stadiums, and a solid frame rate in both 2D and 3D modes.