Review by Prince_jeffery
"Extremely addictive and highly replayable. Will convert those not familiar with football to lovers of the sport."
Pro Evolution Soccer 4 is the fourth installment in Konami's soccer sim series. These games have always been hailed for their terrific gameplay and superb AI and it comes as to no suprise that this tradition has been carried on in the fourth title. The quality of the game cannot be doubted. It's easily one of the best soccer games ever made and Konami rightfully deserves all the copies its currently sold of the game.
Well, nothing too ground-breaking in the graphics department. The stadiums are all rendered quite accurately and the character models are adequete. Its nothing too detailed. In fact, some of the faces look creepy. Major soccer players are recognizable, though, like Ronaldo, Henry etc.
Referees have been added to increase the visual realism. However, they don't affect the game much gameplay-wise. The animations are top-notch and extremely fluid. The ball behaves exactly like it should in that there are no clipping or 'sticking to the feet' issues present.
Performance is quite smooth with near zero drops in frame rate, except during the moments the ball passes over the goal line. The crowd is the worst part of the visuals. They appear like cardboard cut-outs that move up and down non-stop and look horrible upclose. Smokes and flares are seen during the entrance scene with the crowd waving flags of their respective teams.
The interface and menus are clean and easy to navigate. Overall, the presentation is good and gets the job done.
The crowds are rowdy and chant with enthusiasm. They'll cry a loud "Oh!" when their team misses an oppurtunity to score or when a foul is commited. All the ball smacks sound appropriate and believable. Its the music played in the menus that fails miserably. The problem is that it sounds absolutely childish and not at all friendly to the ears. Turning down the volume is a more welcome choice than hearing to these nursery tunes.
The commentary is varied and accurate to the actions on the field. It does repeat itself quite often if you play the game enough but that is to be expected.
Decidedly, a great audio experience (with the exception of the menu trash).
This, as we all know, is the part which either makes or breaks the game. However, here, the gameplay impresses unlike any other soccer sim. Partly it's because of the lovely AI. At the lower difficulty levels, your opponents will simply stand staring as you effortlessly move in between them to score, only occasionally moving to stop you.
However, as you go higher up, you start unlocking all the various AI techniques and strategies available to the CPU players. At the highest level, they'll dodge your defences with utmost ease and score such magnificent goals that you'll be amazed. Repeatedly holding the X button will do you no good. On the defence, they'll ruthlessly snatch the ball away from you and if you do manage to get away, they'll tackle you as a last resort, even if means getting a red card.
Many a times, I've tried scoring a goal only to have it cleared. Then, the AI started a counter-attack that effectively crippled my defensive line. They'll pass here and there, bringing my defenders out of position, only to return the ball back to the forward player, who'll score a one-on-one goal by beating my lone keeper. Oh, and don't even try to bring your keeper forward, because the CPU players are intelligent enough to lob it over him. You'll look absolutely foolish in the replays too.
There are many modes to play in, like your typical friendly match mode and a custom cup mode. However, the most interesting and addictive part is the master league mode. Here, you first get to choose from a club in the game or a pre-made club consisting of some very low-class players. Here on, you then have to win matches and clinch tournaments like the WEFA Cup, while transferring players and managing your team. Its quite deep and fun to play and is the one of the highlights.
There's also some training modes which allow you to get used to the controls. A shop is present, in which you will spend points accumulated after matches or the winning of a major championship for unlocking several goodies like training challenges and ball effects etc.
So, ultimately, the gameplay is this game's strongest reason to play it and really should not be missed by any soccer fan.
Due to the superb AI, you'll be spending months playing this game just trying to keep a clean sheet. Personally, at six star difficulty, I still find it hard to stop them from scoring at least one goal every match. And that's after a hell lot of training. Yeah, you'll indeed be playing this for a long time to come.
One of the best soccer sims ever. Period.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/18/06
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