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Evo-Web: Pro Evolution Soccer Review


Konami TYO
Code reviewed:
Date released:

PS2 Memory Card
Al least 183kb mem.

No rumble feature


Box Art:


Hi-res Screens:
Click for the gallery

Right now you can at last walk into a game store and pick up a copy of Pro Evolution Soccer. We've had this beauty at Evo-Web for a while now, and after finger-bleeding play testing we finally bring you our informative review. Remember, this review is taken from the finished code of the game, not the preview version that all those magazines reviewed. Here goes.

After making us wait over 8 months after releasing Winning Eleven 5 back in March in Japan, Konami TYO have finally released the European version over here. We all knew it was going to be worth the wait, but we all asked 'did it f?!kin have to be that long?!' After loading up the disc the lucky few who did buy WE5 will soon confess the answer is indeed 'Yes'. Konami TYO have used those 8 months disturbingly well, and done the unthinkable by vastly improving on WE5. They showed us a taster of what was to come when they released WE5 J-league edition just a few weeks ago back in Japan (review available on site). J-league uses the same engine as PES, showing us just how far Konami TYO had come in learning the capabilities of the PS2. It all just seems like WE5 was a learning period for Konami TYO, discovering what they could do on the new next-gen format.

After viewing the rather tasty intro sequence and getting past the short loading times, you should be seeing a pretty identical interface of options to last years king ISS Pro Evo 2. All the cups are there that you'd expect and the whole 'welcome' screen won't blow you away. Once you get past those options though and onto your first match you'll forgive the developers for leaving the initial presentation alone. Evolution games have always done there talking on the pitch, and thanks to a redefined game engine they continue to do so. For me the newly found game mechanics is a huge plus for the European gamers. Don't get me wrong, WE5 was outstanding when released, but even back then Konami officials were adamant that the English version would differ a great deal from its eastern counterpart.

Time and time again I was frustrated by the player control in WE5, and the lack of opportunity to dribble with the ball. Skillful players like Zidane were easily mannered on the pitch, unable to turn or maneuver fast enough to evade a challenge. PES changed all this with a more dynamic approach. The new gameplay enhancements and dribble moves let you shred the most toughest defenses and hold the ball better, but at the same time not going sadistic and letting you 'do a Fifa'. The freedom of control from ISS Evo 2 returns with more deeper and rewarding gameplay.

When you first stroll out on the pitch many things will strike you as new features. One thing you'll have to get used to is the ball control of the player. Before you can do anything with the ball you must learn to control it first. On frequent occasions you will see players miss control passes as the ball squirms away from them and more often than not surrendering possession
to the opposition. The biggest difference in the game play comes from two new types of dash moves that you can now perform. The main gripe with the standard dash was the fact it was uncontrollable and the ball was knocked too far ahead of the player. Konami TYO have therefore added a new semi-sprint button by just hitting R2. This is a welcome new feature as you can seriously zip through defenses if used correctly. While performing this dash you can also perform a rather elegant side step that evades any anticipating defender thinking he's got you cornered. The other new move has absolutely nothing to do with running. In fact it has nothing to with jogging and just about qualifies as walking, so why Konami TYO continue to describe this as 'a new dash move' baffles me! By pressing and holding L1 your player slows down to a near stand still, edging forward ever so slightly. This button is mainly used for close control and lets you wriggle in and out of challenges. Aside from dash moves everything else is pretty much 'seen it all before', which as we know is a good thing.

The legendry passing system is there in all its glory with a few new modifications. For starters the one-two has become a lot more difficult to pull off, but has its rewards. After hitting the one-two button you must also finish the move off by playing the through ball, making you feel more involved but ultimately more annoyed as you try to get used to it. I'm unsure why the developers had to change this, but we all have to agree that it was too easy to pull off and far too affective. Another big change from WE5, and indeed the latest J-league edition, is the free kicks. In WE5 scoring from a shootable set piece was guaranteed if you had the right player and applied the right power. In J-league it was the same again, but we slowly saw keepers saving more times than before. Now in PES its gone bit further in the difficulty stakes. When you line up your first free kick with a superstar such as Beckham, size it up and let rip what seems to be a perfect kick you'll only be disappointed to see the keeper jump like a salmon across his goal and palm it away. If you subsequently head for the training facility to see what went wrong you will soon discover that the keepers are better equipped than in previous ISS games. Don't be distraught though, as it is very much possible to score from these positions, just don't expect to score often.

After touch is also now more evident as you can see the swerve of the ball clearly. It only seems to benefit free kicks though, as the change in direction is often read by the keeper if tried in open play. Beckham for instance has a devastating after touch which can be extremely useful in various set piece situations. It seems that the skill attributes Konami TYO have given the players is more visible on the pitch, with Zidane skinning players and Batistuta scoring those scorchers. This adds to the overall realism and presentation of the game.

Although the options screens won't make you realize the big step in hardware, the game introduction will absolutely blow you away. The camera swoops low across the pitch showing you wild spectators and the beautifully modeled stadium. The players walk out on to the pitch and line up for their anthems then pose for their team picture. Then we get team sheets shown with info on where the players are playing ITV style. Its all breathtaking and very professional. When you do see the players walk out for the first time you'll be able to recognize them instantly. Over 200 player faces were individually hand drawn by the team developers to improve the player likeliness, and take the realism to a degree never seen before. Zidane has his trademark bald patch, and Davids wears his rather cool goggle like glasses. And yes Beckham's hairstyle has been changed. The Mohawk has been replaced by his current skin head effort, but god knows how long that gonna last.

All the player likeliness would be a waste if they didn't act like their real counterparts too, and as ever Konami TYO fail to disappoint. I know you might have read this all before, but Beckham really does get around the pitch and close down the ball. Scholes seems to appear at the right time and score decisive goals. Zidane can seamlessly glide past all your challenges and play a smooth through ball to the every busy Henry, with Desailly at the other end being able shove you out of the way when you even attempt to take him on. Its all here. When you see all this you realize how much effort the developers have put in to the game.

Other nice touches include highlights shown at half and full time, showing you the goals, the nastiest fouls and those 1-yard misses. At half time you'll also see players arguing with the ref if he felt he was wrongly booked. The only thing to ruin the presentation is, you guessed it, the commentary team. Chris & Terry return once again to have us all looking for the 'commentary off' option. With the developers putting a great deal into everything else in the game, it's a surprise that they haven't dealt with the one main criticism that's dogged the whole series. You're going to hear 'the crowd are losing interest in the game' from Chris, just after you score a goal to make it 5-4. More annoyingly the commentary team will announce players names wrong, and then correct them immediately. It's ok for the first few times but makes you go insane after number 20 , in the same match! Konami better thank themselves lucky that the rest of the game is pure genius!

Sex, drugs & the Master League
Possibly the greatest ever feature in any football ever made, the master league makes a more than welcome return in PES. Before you even attempt to even get close to selecting it on the options screen, you best call loved ones and let them know you're gonna be way away for a while.

As ever you start off with a bunch of nobodies and aim to climb from Division 2 into the top league, buying players along the way to strengthen your squad. The players you start with are as expect, extremely poor. They seem to defend okay with players ganging up on players with the ball, but going forward they'll miss more chances than Akinbyi does every Saturday afternoon. Its imperative that you buy new players to succeed, but you must earn currency points by defeating other teams to do this effectively. This has been made more possible with the new additional points bonuses you get. Unfortunately this gets leveled out with a new major factor that been introduced, wages. For the first time you must know pay your players after every season to keep them on the team. It's not all about saving up 57 points to buy Zidane anymore, now you must consider the 21 points to keep him! It don't sound much at first, but having a team full of superstars will mean you'll have a bigger wage bill than Lazio or Real Madrid! Plus if you don't have the funds to pay your players then they will leave. It's a harsh world.

In a nutshell this is easily the greatest ever footy game made. This was a forgone conclusion even before I sat down to write this review. It was even obvious that it would be the greatest footy game ever when Konami TYO announced it was in development. It's become more apparent than ever before that the competition is being left far behind, and theres no sign of Konami TYO settling for victory. They really do want to eliminate every pretender to the footy throne. With PES they have done that, by creating easily the most realistic, playable, addictive and down right sexy football game ever made. When you finally get the game home you might as well super glue the loading draw shut. There isn't a chance of you playing another game ever. Well.not until the next version comes out anyway.

10 out of 10

Plus points:
+ Amazing graphics
+ Lifelike player representation
+ Unmatched game play
+ Master league!

Minus points:
- Commentry
- Not enough club sides
- Needless change of free kick difficulty.

Remember that this is one persons view of the game. If you want to voice yours then sign up for our forums now!

By Adam Bhatti November 22nd 2001

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This page was updated @ Tuesday, 11-Dec-2001 17:39:58 GMT
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