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I wasn’t sure if Konami really needed to publish another Pro Evolution Soccer game, as I still couldn’t stop playing Pro Evolution Soccer 3. I know, it’s only a football game, but it has something that will keep you coming back as soon as you turn off your console. The surprise was to see just how improved Pro Evolution Socer 4 was compared to PES3.
Let’s start with the graphics. They are now so much smoother than before, and the player likenesses are now even better than before. The new licensed kits look great, as they are perfectly reproduced in the game without losing definition.
Oh, licenses, yes, that’s another big feature of the new PES. Now, for the first time ever on a PES game - the teams for the Spanish, Italian and Dutch divisions are fully licensed. No more hours spent in front of the TV editing all those dodgy player names, e.g. Van Nistelroom, while you still haven’t even played a single match just because you can’t stand the fact of playing the team you support with stupid names.
Now, back to the graphics. As I mentioned earlier, graphics are now much improved; they now have a “Fifa-taste”, with the official licenses giving it a big boost. The frame-rate occasionally looses a bit of speed, but very rarely, only sometimes when there’s a corner-kick and loads of players are being displayed at the same time.
There are many new animations when you make a foul, you’re in an offside position, score a goal or maybe see the player protesting for a cancelled goal for being in offside position. It surely is more realistic than before, the new animations with players protesting for a foul, almost going on at each other makes the game a lot more realistic. A bit like Fifa, if I may say, which has great graphics and every license available on this planet but lacks of realism.
The Master League has been improved quite a lot as well. It is now even more entertaining than before, if possible. A new mode lets you train your players between matches, a thing that may sound boring but it is important as your players will not perform very well in the pitch if you don’t give them a bit of training.
With all the normal matches, cup matches, WEFA, trying to bring your team up the ranking, it surely will keep you playing forever.
But if you want to be good, you must have some training. That’s exactly why Konami added more features to the Training mode. There are now more challenges to complete, from scoring a goal one-on-one, to bend it like Beckham, or at least try and be the free-kick king.
Toptronics even created a beginners' training mode for those of you who haven't yet played a PES game, so you'll be finding this training mode very helpful, as it will explain all the basic controls of the game and once you’ve learned it, you can move on to the advanced training.
So, is PES4 better than Fifa? It depends the way you look at it. If realism is what you’re after, then PES4 is certainly for you. At first you will find it difficult to score a goal, as you’ll have to work your way through the pitch by clever passes and crosses. Unlike Fifa, which has some nice graphics and is a dream come true for those of you who love official licenses, as Fifa has got ‘em all. Fifa is an arcade game, though. You won’t find hard getting used to the gameplay system, it is quite easy to score, but it surely is a lot of fun if realism doesn’t excite you.
PES4 is probably one of the best football games ever made, with improved graphics, official licenses and the Master League it will keep you playing forever. However, there are some slight problems with it. Not every team has the latest players, so you’ll have to edit them a bit. Owen is at Real Madrid - but Rooney is still playing for Everton, as an example.
If somehow we could melt the realistic gameplay from PES4 with the graphics and official licenses of Fifa 2005 we would have a football game that would be impossible to improve. At least not for this generation of consoles. Who knows what the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 2 have in store for us with Pro Evolution Soccer 6….