Review by colde

"New PES game.Better graphics, more teams, etc. But you knew that already."

New PES game. Better graphics, better sound, more teams(up to 80 in the Master League), more real player names (club names this time too), etc. But you already know that. You want to know what's new and how well it plays.

For the first time there is an on-field ref. I am yet to blast him full in the face but it remains on the top of my to do list. I wish I could have a crack at the medics, but they only appear to carry off injured players. THE COWARDS!!

The Master League has been overhauled (again), mostly to accommodate the new teams involved. New is the ability to use the default Master League team (Miranda, Castolo and the blokes), your favourite teams current roster (as in Match mode) or simply create a brand new team (flag, emblem, etc). Which means that the Master League is more newbie friendly. Why build up a team when you start from go with likes of Ronaldo and Beckham (if you're a Real Madrid fan, Man Utd. myself)? Or work even harder by creating a brand new franchise from the ground up (now that's where the fun is).

Ball physics are more 'floatier' than in previous versions, if you can believe that. The ball glides along the pitch or through the air depending on the weather conditions of course. You can also unlock different balls to use (default being the Roteiro), what effect that has I have yet to discover. The player models are quite solid, though I haven't seen any of those insane deflections and rebounds that were so prominent in PES 3, which caused huge amounts of chaos in my penalty area.

The shoot button is a little more sensitive this time round. Those little taps I used to make in PES3 are alot defter in PES4. The slide tackle has also been toned down. Your lunge is now shorter so timing is even more important when making a tackle, although the ref in PES 4 seems to be alot more forgiving than in the previous game.

PES4 also encourages shots from outside the area. This was all but impossible in the previous game thanks to shots being charged down and blocked. But with the new lofted drive shot and not to mention making lobbing the keeper easier, you can expect to score some stunning goals. You'll need to use all these skills because the keepers are alot tougher to beat. The AI manages to pull off some amazing point blank saves. Not to mention heading is made just a little tougher. Another new feature is the option to have a player pass the ball on during free kicks which makes a big difference during in-direct free kicks.

Most importantly, remember those great through-balls you used to play? Where instead of playing the ball your attacker would run along side the ball giving the opponent the chance to make an interception? Well, Konami have finally fixed that. By pressing L2 and R2 your attacker will now change his direction towards the ball minimising the chance for interception and adding a new dimension to attacking play.

As for tricks in the game it's mostly old hat but I think as time progresses new ones will present themselves. The best I've managed are little flicks and touches, not to mention a backheeled lobbed through-ball from a lobbed pass which looked awesome.

Gameplay is where PES has always been master. The realism and the tension created are amazing. To be honest I'd rather watch a game of PES than play any other football game. That's just how great this series is. And this game is no exception. As always matches are fiercely contested, with a good defense being of paramount importance. Each time Konami bring a new version out they add a little something which makes you feel like you're playing a radically new game and while there aren't any major new additions to this version (like the manual pass) the game feels different, in a good way. As usual the AI is spot on (i.e. like a coffin nail). Even on 3 star difficulty the game is frustratingly hard, and each goal scored is an achievement. And for all those PES vets like myself there's a new 6 star difficulty that can be unlocked. Once again PES rules, at least gameplay-wise (which is where it counts anywayz).

The game isn't perfect though. I've still got a huge problem with the commentary, while not as bad as previous games there are quite a few glitches Konami have yet to fix. Commentary lag, repeats and mix-ups aren't new problems, though the commentators talking over each other is. It seems that the only thing added from previous games to the cup presentation screens (after winning a cup) are some fireworks and a victory lap. Other than that you'd swear this was PES 3. A question I'd like to ask the guys at Konami is, "Where's Pierre Luigi Collina?" That famous and respected referee that appears on the cover but is nowhere to be seen in-game. And as for the animation with the goalie placing the ball for goal kicks, it's enough to set me off.

While not as big an improvement on it's predecessor as the previous titles were, PES 4 is a worthy addition to the series. It's flaws are irksome at worst but do little to detract from the core of the game, the on pitch beauty and frenzy that is football.

My end verdict? PES 4 is the best football game ever, until PES 5.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 10/22/04

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