Pro Evolution Soccer 4 Reader Review
First a clarification. The process of reviewing a football game is not to determine if itís good or not. The simple fact of the matter is that there has never been a football game which was actually a good game. Theyíre all rubbish. Sadly, the process of reviewing a football game in recent years has become to determine just how rubbish it is in comparison to the rest.
In this incarnation, for example, how long will your defender stand watching as a ball rolls past him to the feet of an opposition player while you desperately struggle to take control of him? In Pro Evolution 3 it was around four seconds, now itís two. Is it any less annoyingÖ erm, no. What about the computerís unnerving ability to send the manual selection circle through your team, crowd, subs bench and finally the queue for the number 14 bus in my home town before it gets to the player you very obviously need. Is it better than before. Certainly. Is it good though. No.
Irritatingly, this is what reviewing a football game is now all about. Not how good a feature is, but how much less rubbish it was than before. Now granted, many of you will be thinking Iím biased or that Iím simply not good enough at the game. And perhaps that is true but it doesnít mask the problems inherent in the genre, of which there are many.
Just like the real thing, early football games were 14-12 affairs with defending actually a panic attack of button bashing to hoof the ball away from your oh-so-rubbish defenders. Your attackers would then pick it up and run fast and straight and score. If you could do that more than the computer, or ideally friends, you won. Great, only not really, because what we wanted was something intuitive and responsive. Something which demanded build-up play and thought. But things have come a long way since then, havenít they?
Granted in Pro Evolution 4, youíre not going to win 14-12. If truth be told, youíll rarely win 4-2. 1-0s are the order of the day and there is no doubt the defending is better than ever before. The players cover one another in a far more gratifying way and the first time one of your boys intercepts a through ball youíll gush like Gazza at an interview. The problem of course is that sooner or later, as you steadily work the game out, the chances will come, and come, and come, and thatís when you realise that what Konami have actually done, is not just make your defenders better, but all your strikers much, much worse.
In Pro Evolution 4 the worldís best footballers consistently display the first touch and finishing ability of wheelbarrows. And unfortunately, the better you get the more artificial it all becomes. Michael Owen will comically scuff four-yard chances either side of the goal all day long because somewhere in the game engine is a rule that says in real life he probably wonít score five in five minutes. If Iím not supposed to score frequently then make it harder for me to get in scoring positions, donít just put an invisible programming wall over the goal and ask me to accept it.
Of course people will groan that this is a game and allowances must be made. Theyíre wrong though. This is Konamiís fourth Pro Evolution title and god only knows how many cracks at this malarkey EA have had. Theyíve had time to fix these problems, not just paper over them, but instead of one big leap every few years we get incremental upgrades every Christmas and they sell bucket loads. In this case it actually serves them not to fix something that is broken and itís frustrating because thereís the potential for a good game here.
When it works Pro Evo 4 is beautiful. Through balls, overlapping runs, perfect crosses and diving headers. Forty yard drives into the top corner, interceptions, last ditch sliding tackles. Get your mates round and there is a very good time to be found in this one, but then 14-12 was fun too, and that wasnít very good either.
6 / 10