Review by robbiedbee

"PES3, version 2. Is that a bad thing? No."

Pro Evolution Soccer 4

So here it is. Quite possibly the most anticipated sports release of 2004. Pro Evolution Soccer has become arguably the best football game around, I personally think it is. FIFA games haven't been up to much at all over the past 5 or 6 years. When Pro Evolution Soccer 3 was released, I thought that was it for football games. It was perfection. Graphics were smooth and fluid, gameplay was deep and technical, and the game offered a great deal by way of a challenge. This October, it's sequel was to be released. Pro Evolution Soccer 4.

Graphics 9/10

Konami didn't disappoint here. They never have. Player models look more realistic still. The animations are crisp and smooth. Player faces are now scarily lifelike and the playing environment has reached an all-new level of realism. Quite a few players even have their own style of running. You can now tell the difference between Henry's running style and Beckham's. The game can be played from numerous camera angles to suit almost anyone. Team Strips look greater than before somehow. Now, every team from Serie A, La Liga and Eredivisie are fully licenced, and have authentic names, strips and players. The strips even have the correct sponsors on them. All the rest of the major teams in Europe are on there. Every team from the top divisions across Europe are there, and despite not having the exact kit, look realistic.

We have a whole new set of animations this time around. Some tackles between players now look painful. Passing and shooting animations now look more fluid. The game has come a long way since the first one was released 4 years ago.

Also, to add to the realism. Player substitutions are now visible, injured players are taken off for treatment and rejoin the game. Now, players' uniforms become dirty and get grass stains as the game progresses. This really is a look at tomorrow's level of computer gaming. Well done, Konami!

Gameplay 9/10

Another good score for PES4! There is very little difference between PES3 and PES4 in terms of how the game plays. It plays almost like a real match would. You have your tactics, the opposition has theirs. To succeed at higher difficulty levels, you can't really just play. You need to vary your tactics to suit the opposition. You need to have the right players for the job, and need to have systems to account for players in form and for when they are out of form.

In terms of controls, there is not a lot you can't do. We can do long passes, short passes, through-balls, long crosses, short crosses, tap-ins, long shots – you name it. They all fit in well. No tactic or type of play stands out for being too good either. I am confident there is no way to exploit the game with cheesy play. It is the closest to realism we have had so far. Although, saying that, there is nothing new here what we didn't see in PES3. Only really very small things which are inexplicable really.

In terms of challenge, this game has plenty. Even on the middle difficulty, the AI is quite smart, and rarely does it same robotic in it's thinking, which actually is a step up from the third instalment. We can now unlock a difficulty level which is harder than any we have seen so far on a PES game, which is nice. PES2 and PES3 did grow too easy for some.

It is generally harder to score on PES4. Goalkeepers can pull impossible saves from nowhere, which happens in real life I suppose. Where in PES3 there was a point where you could feel a goal for definite at a certain point, PES4 keeps the spontaneity there, which again adds to realism.

The game mode that we associate with this series as a whole, the Master League has been improved again. Now, players age, develop and deteriorate over time. I am sure that this won't be welcomed by some, but others will like it. We can now play the English, French, Italian, German, Dutch and Spanish leagues too. All the old international competitions are there still. This game has lots to do.

Lifespan 9/10

This game will last a long time, period. There are so many leagues to play in, with so many teams, and there is so much to unlock. I am confident that it should last most of us until PES5 is released. It would last well beyond that if PES5 wasn't released. The players and teams are fully customisable, so with a little bit of patience, you can keep the whole database of teams and players fully updated.

Sound 3/10

Not at all important, but urgh, bad. The commentary has reached an all new low. Seemingly, Konami has tried to put in as many phrases as possible, which is a bad thing, because some lines seem so random, and not specific to the event. The music on the menus and such are pretty standard of a game like this. Nothing horrendously catchy, just music really. I always stick some Iron Maiden on when I play it anyway. Have done since PES2. Next!

Rent or Buy?

Buy! If you are a fan of the series, you cannot do without this undoubtedly critical update. If you are just a casual football fan anyway, buy it. I promise, this is well worth the money.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/25/04

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