Review by tranmerefan

"A Fantastic Football/Soccer Sim"

Another year, another Pro Evolution Soccer game, this one being the 4th version on Konami's excellent sports sim series. With Pro Evolution Soccer 3 being a game I played for the entire year without every growing tired of it I was extremely hopeful that Pro Evolution Soccer 4 will prove to be better than it. Thankfully, I wasn't let down by Konami. They have proven that you can always improve your game even when most people believe it to be one of the best ever made. Pro Evolution Soccer 4 is not just updated stats (although they do have that too). The scoring system has been changed meaning a smoother shot and you see more realistic goals hitting the back of the net. Pro Evolution Soccer 4 I believe has taken the football (or soccer whichever you prefer) sim to the next level.

When you first start to play Pro Evolution Soccer 4 you do notice some of the new changes to the gameplay. The game pace is slightly slower when playing pass and move football yet the pace can suddenly quicken when you are on the counter attack just like in real football. This is a great addition because it enhances the game and allows you to play in the style of your favourite team if it's Brazil or an obscure team from your countries professional leagues like Tranmere Rovers. Other aspects to the gameplay, which is the best I've seen in a football/soccer game, are that for long throw ins your player takes a run up again just like what happens in modern day football. The free kicks have been improved, which each player having a different free kick type. Using a player such as David Beckham for your free kick will result in a large curve, but for the default master league players and those without a free kick skill it becomes more difficult to master the curl. The basics of the gameplay are the same as Pro Evolution Soccer 3 because that was a fantastic game and the improvements enhance the gameplay giving you a much better games.

Another change to Pro Evolution Soccer 4 is the way the Master League runs and that your players age. The master league is split into 4 divisions with you being able to choose what team you want and in what league. Like Pro Evolution Soccer 3 you end up in the second division and you have to work your way up. This is where the similarities end. There are WEFA Rankings meaning that players will only join your club when the ranking is high enough for their needs. You start at the bottom so it can be difficult creating your all star team. To me, this is a good thing as it prolongs the game life giving you extra worth for your money. Another major part is that players have a learning curve so that their stats increase/decrease depending on their age. This is a fantastic addition meaning you cannot have the same team for 6 seasons on the trot adding realism to the master league and giving you a harder challenge. Coupled with this the player's age as well so those above 35 are liable to retire at the end of the season. As well as this master league, you can play in the Italian, French, German, Spanish and the English league and the usual international tournaments.

The graphics have been polished giving extra realism to the players. Italian teams wear gloves just like Italian teams do during the winter and minute details on the players face have been improved that means you can instantly tell who is who, providing you knew what the looked like beforehand that is. The stadiums in the game look like their real life counterparts and you can't ask for anything more than that. While it may not be like FIFAs game Konami have worked hard on their graphic section of the game.

The sounds in this game, again like the earlier versions, are extreme. The crowd noises are terrific sounding just like hostile crowds that you can choose to cheer the home teams goals and boo the other ones etc. You can also hear flares going off the stadium which I believe are a worthy addition to the game. However, its let down by the Commentary team. There is still the same commentary team with the same mistakes. It is very annoying to hear them talking about the game needing a goal, when I'm 3-0 up inside half an hour. I'll admit I can't name anymore because I turned off the commentary like I always do to save me getting frustrated again at it. This needs to be sorted out next time to make the game better.

There is another con to the game. In 60Hz mode you will experience slowdown in the penalty areas. This can disrupt the game to those who play it in this mode. My TV doesn't support this so I choose 50Hz which only experiences it in the San Sire. My way round it was to never play in that stadium.

This game needs to be bought, especially if you are a football/soccer fan. This is the greatest soccer sim out in the market today, despite the niggles in the game and if you like the sport you'll love the game. It's a must for your collection. Buy it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/05/04

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