Pro Evolution Soccer 4 Reader Review
Right. I've hired my boat, I've spent the last two weeks learning the rudimentaries of needlework and knot tying. I'm ready to nail my colours to the mast and admit I'm a Fifa Football fan.
Now that's out of the way, I'm going to tell you about Pro Evolution Soccer 2004 on the Xbox. I'm trying to be objective, I'm going to try and review this game on its own merit, I'm not going to mention other football games any more than I already have. But you know, don't you, that I'm new to PES, that I've come over from the "other side". I can't win can I? Oh well, at least I'll have given it my best shot. Nobody is ever converted from their favourite football series by a mere review are they?
Firing up PES for the first time gives an early indication of the lack of polish on the front end. The game asks if you want to load the save game data file, fails to find it, and then asks if you'd like to create a file. Have Konamin ever heard of auto-load? Sounds petty I know but moving on to the game the thought lingers when you're faced with the retro SNES front-end from Hell. Advertisement
The last time I played a Konami footy game was way back in the Playstation days when I had one of the iterations of ISS. If anything the menu system has moved backwards since then. It genuinely reminds me of playing a Super Nintendo game,with little rounded corner boxes with small squat text lurking in there. Still, footy games are about playing footy, not about pretty user interfaces, so the benefit of the doubt card is once more employed. Damn, I want to like this game, I don't want to be mocked in public, I don't want to be punished for not"getting it." I want to be a sheep!!!! Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!
First things first then, I'll change the controls to something, ahem, a little more familiar. By the looks of it the options menu will let you do that- its got an option called "controls." Hmm, no that just appears to tell you what the controls are. Apparently they are mappable, but I'm not clever enough to work out how. Sod it, lets just play the game.
First up a quick game involving North London (no prizes for guessing who they are eh?) and Crisisbless (hmmm, slightly more tricky- looking at the players though its Crystal Palace. Stupid me). Nice intro sequence to the match but what's this, the graphics looks a little ropey? Ah- the game doesn't support widescreen, that'll be why the textures look grainy. Didn't want to use all those extra inches anyway and lets face it 4:3 gives that genuine ITV Sports feel on a widescreen telly doesn't it?
So onto the game itself. I've played through the tutorials which, due to theonscreen instructions showing the D pad as the method of player control, didn't help a great deal until I accidentally used the analogue stick but did succeed in giving me an overall understanding of the game dynamic, so I should be able to give a lesser team like Crisisbless a run for their money.The whistle goes and in keeping with pretty much every football game ever, the commentary appears to be following a few seconds behind an entirely different match (much like Big Ron, but without the racism really). This immediately soothes me as I'm on familiar ground here.
I play a few nifty little triangles and put a rather nice pass up the pitch to Henry, one of the fastest footballers in the world. Fast it seems, but not as fast as Kolkka, the Crisisbless midfielder, who catches up with Henry with ease and steals the ball from him. This is something that seems to happen a lot- I'm sure Pires is a fairly speedy player in the real world too but perhaps Crisisbless are superhuman. I can only assume the games logic says a defender without the ball is inherently faster than an attacker with the ball. If this is the case it would suggest that at some level Konami fundamentally don't understand the mechanics of football.Other than that, tacklings fine, the animation is pretty good, the cameras are nicely adjustable, although I would have to say as its not rendering a widescreen image I'd expect the whole graphics shebang to be a little sharper and smoother.
It's possible to have a reasonably free flowing game of football, players can do nice overlapping runs and once you've realised the default setting for player selection is some weird semi automatic selection that almost always selects the wrong player can be changed, things improve dramatically. It is, dare I say it, fun. What, then, do we have in the final analysis? Well it's a football game. There are three big franchises out there: Fifa, PES and This is Football. Is PES the best? Not in my book- the lack of widescreen, shoddy presentation and some aspects of the on pitch performance aren't up to scratch. Does that make it a bad game? No, not really, it does most things well and if you teach yourself to play the game of football that PES wants you to play, it's fun and you can overlook its shortcomings. I'll put my hands up and say I've not played it online as being on the receiving end of a series of thumpings probably wouldn't have taught me much about the game. There are some whisperings about lag issues and the interface but I'm not really in a position to comment about those. But fans coming to it from other football games might fail to see what the hype is all about.
It's a solid enjoyable game but not the be all and end all of football by any stretch of the imagination.
PES franchise follower: 10Billion/10 FIFA franchise follower: 5/10 N.E.Other: 6/10
6 / 10