This was written at the start of 2007, pre Fifa 08, pre Pro Evo 2008 etc. As it’s an old review, I can probably quite easily rip its quality to shreds!
Written for www.xbox360achievements.org
So, another year, another Pro Evo game. Pro Evolution Soccer’s been around since 2001 on the PS2, although it didn’t appear on the X-Box until 2004 with PES4. The series started out, partially as International Superstar Soccer on the N64 and the SNES but due to some internal developer changes by Konami, this series is somewhat different from ISS.While popularly seen as the purest football game, the series suffers from one key problem. EA Sports holds the rights to most things football related, meaning that PES has had to suffer incorrect names and made up team names (Such as in this version, Merseyside Blues instead of Everton). In the case of PES6 there is finally some hope. More licenses were added, including fully licensed international kits with England, Spain and Italy to name a few. The French Ligue 1 is now included as fully licensed league, as well as the Spanish, Italian and Dutch leagues, plus several other individual clubs, such as Manchester United and Arsenal.
This is the first PES game for the 360, and already it suffers from one key failing. There’s no editor. Previous versions enabled players to change team names and player names so that they can become the real players once more.
The game offers a number of different leagues and cups. The leagues cover Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, France, England and an International League that you can randomly choose teams to participate in. The cups cover similar regions with a Reebok Cup (For the PAL version of the game), African Cup, American Cup, Asia-Oceanian Cup, Konami, International Cup and European Cup (Both of which are group based league cups as opposed to knockout stages). In the NTSC version, entitled Winning Eleven 8, the Reebok Cup is swapped out in favour of the Puma Cup, but is essentially the same. Each Cup offers a wealth of options to allow you to make the cup as long or as short as you like, in most cases at least. However if you’re after achievements, there is a limit to how low you can make the number of teams you have to beat to gain each achievement. But it’s not prohibitive in any way, and relatively simple to achieve, especially on Beginner or Amateur level.
It also offers its ‘Master League’. This transforms the game into primarily a football game, but with a hint of football management in it, offering the player the ability to negotiate with players in a transfer market type scenario, as well as watch their players develop throughout the season. This is pretty much the meat of the game for players looking for a single player experience, and it does a pretty good job of it. It makes it a bit more interesting than just playing football, with a bit more tactics involved. For the amateur football manager in you, it’s ideal if you want to be a player manager. It’s no Football Manager 2007 but nor should it be. It is however great to see a bit more depth added to the game through this. Hopefully this idea will be extended in the next edition of Pro Evo, it’s ideal for the single player football fanatic.
Finally, for the X-Box Live connoisseur, we have the online play options. These break down to either unranked play (Play with your mates basically) or ranked play. Ranked play is probably the more interesting of the two. It has the ability to save your results after every game so every time you log in, it gives you your current statistics, such as how many goals on average you score or conceed per game, as well as puts you in a league with others of your ability. This in theory means you get a well balanced game every time but this doesn’t always turn out to be the case, especially not as there are unfortunately some exploits to get around losing a game if you’re an unscrupulous type, as well as some games being extremely laggy affecting the performance of the game hugely. It’s a great shame because it could make a fantastic online game.
Even worse it also have the downfall of the fact that you can’t play with owners of the USA version: Winning Eleven, which can be quite an issue if you’ve got friends from across the water, plus reduces the number of people you can play with online as you as you’re restricted to your region.
So, the game has plenty of options but how does it play?
It plays great, it just feels so much more fluid than any of the Fifa games ever did. It feels like how football should feel, natural and relaxed. No silly special moves, just pure football. My only real complaint with the gameplay is I found the aftertouch slightly dodgy which made curling shots tricky, but then again they’re hardly easy to achieve in real football are they?
The audio isn’t amazing admittedly. The menu music is cheery but gradually irritating the longer you suffer it. The commentary is average, I’m sure one day football games will manage to have perfect commentary but for now it’s just regular average stuff, it just doesn’t have enough emotion half the time to really convey how you, the player, are feeling as you’re trying to claw back a win over Brazil. I did find myself occasionally muting and listening to music instead because it just felt like dance music was encouraging me more!
The graphics are only slightly above XBox quality, you can tell it’s been ported. But they’re still decent enough, just not quite next-gen. It does at least have widescreen support which is extremely nice.
The achievements are fairly simple and unimaginative, for the most part they’re time consuming as they revolve around winning each cup and league. There are some online ones, most noteably win 100 online games which will take the average player a fair while to achieve. But it’s nice to be able to gain a fair few points relatively easily (Some cups can be set to barely any matches and you can still get the achievement), then spend a fair bit of time working towards the rest. It’s good to see a fair mix of easy and challenging achievements, but maybe a more imaginative list could have been organised, possibly some such as ‘Score a goal from a corner’ or even better, ‘Score from the halfway line’ for a real challenge!
But, there’s one key thing that makes this game fantastic. It can change your entire perception of football. I can safely say I’ve finally found it. THE football game. Back in 1999 there was a Playstation 1 game called This is Football. It wasn’t football, it was fairly average. However, ‘this’….this IS football. It’s the only football game I’ve ever played that’s changed my view when I watch real football. I actually start thinking of exactly what I’d do in each situation.
It manages to be so simple, yet so complex under the surface that it is both the ideal ‘after the pub game’ and the perfect game to spend an entire day playing to master.
Forget Fifa, this is the game you want to be playing to re-enact the World Cup and make sure that your team wins this time round.