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Being a part time games tester I spend a bit of time playing games that are due for release a few months down the line.
One of the games I have always liked is the Pro Evolution Soccer series, and I was particulary looking forward to the X-Box version.
I am delighted to say it is worth the wait, it is very smooth and detailed, graphics are a touch more classy than the PS2 release and it has the X-Box live option.
Unfortunatley, I was unable to test the live option but I will go into detail as to why this must be the football game to own this Christmas.
Konami has added more club teams in PES4 and it has the full La Liga , Serie A and the Holland league licenses. This means real player names, real kits and a more realistic feel. National sides have real names also, apart from The Chezch Republic, who's names baffle me and will baffle you if you know your European football.
Graphics wise, the presentations/interfaces of the game is much better than previous releases but still lacks that classy touch that FIFA 2005 brings. The main menu has been redesigned and looks nice but the menu options such as formations and tactics are similar to before.
The in-game graphics have improved also, and with X-Box's superior graphics capabilities , it is clearly more pleasing to the eye than the PS2 release (although the ps2 version looks lovely).
During a match there is now the ability to see the match referee doing his stuff , giving players yellow cards and allowing play to flow even though a foul has been committed etc. This adds even more realism , along with the fact your players kits will become dirty if they are playing on a bad surface or just love to slide tackle a lot.
The graphics on the players themselves are better than before, Wayne Rooney looks like Wayne Rooney (sadly lol) he runs like Wayne Rooney and scores goals like Wayne Rooney, the same can be said with almost all the players in the game. It is fantastic the way Konami has given each player their own sort of style of play and passing look, it really does look like your watching a real game, for example Robert Pires of Arsenal will do that tidy little shuffle with the ball before he clinicly finishes a shot in the right corner of the keepers goal, Paul Scholes will score a long range effort with the same look and technique as the ginger master would do in real life. The players look and feel are amazing. Full credit to Konami for that.
The sound is average, no well known songs during the in game menu stages and the commenatary provided by Peter Brackley and Trevor Brooking is just awful. For example, I was England and was beating Russia 4-0 with the clock on 87mins, quote from Mr.Brackley "England still have a lot to do to secure the win in this game". Baffling I know.
Konami must look at FIFA 2005 and take note of the commentary , it must be improved for future Pro Evolution Soccer games.
The gameplay itself is amazing, hard to believe but it is much better than Pro Evolution Soccer 3. Passing is improved, it doesnt always pass to the nearest player unlike PES3 which helps, and the through ball option has been improved to provide that killer pass in a close call game.
Shooting is improved again aswell, after a few games I managed to score a 35 yard lob with Zidane, the clinical finish had me delighted, it was difficult to beat the keeper but I did it, and there was a sense of glory, unlike FIFA, where you can beat a side 29-0 if you so wish. With Pro Evolution it is different, you cannot do that, thats why the more realistic approach has been a massive hit with gamers. They want to feel as though they are playing in a real match, not in the local arcade.
If your worried about the X-Box controls, dont, it will take about 3 or 4 games to get used to but it wont affect your enjoyment , for example pressing the Y button will be just like pressing the triangle button on a PS2 pad. The white button is to run your ass off down the pitch , that is the most difficult button to get used to in the game, once that is sorted, you will have no problems.
As stated before, I did not manage to try the X-Box Live option but I am sure that is going to be a tremendous hit with fans of this series.. If you have a X-Box and love the beautiful game, this beautiful work from Konami will keep you occupied until PES5.