Pro Evolution Soccer 5 – PS2
Autumn is upon us and with it comes a few guarantees. The nights are becoming darker and colder; leaves are changing colour, falling from trees and clogging up gutters across the land and shops are starting to play Xmas songs on loop. But its not all doom and gloom cause autumn also means its time for the release of the next edition of Pro Evo!
The general format of the game is the same as its predecessor but its been given the makeover treatment with new look menu screens, intro and background music. There's a new layout to choosing your side, which works very well, but other than that the menu screens, are the same as PES4. As usual fully licensed teams are limited but there have been a few additions such as Chelsea and Arsenal to the starting selection that will help things tick over until you get a fully edited option file. (I'm sure I speak on behalf of all Pro Evo fanatics when I say a big "thank you" to those geeks who spend days sorting out every last detail for the convenience of the masses)
There's a different feel to controlling the players, which means you'll have to adapt your style of play if you're used to PES4. To begin with it seems that the player's are a little slower when turning or dribbling past an opponent and their ability to tackle is weaker. But the more you play the easier it becomes and you discover it's all about the timing of pressuring the man on the ball or taking a different approach to beating a man. The number of new skills and movements isn't overwhelming but its good to see they have fine-tuned some of the basic manoeuvres and added some extra animations to things like heading. All the new touches make the game appear even more realistic than previous versions but also a greater challenge, so if you like arcade style action then this isn't for you. But that's always been the case, if you like to score pretty looking goals without any depth and realism to the surrounding interplay then get FIFA.
The standard cup and leagues are still there along with the Master League so there's nothing fresh to inform you about. To some Master League is a slog not worth bothering with but to others, myself included, its what makes the game have an everlasting appeal. The haggling over transfers and training a player up from scratch is not an easy task but it brings great rewards. But the real excitement comes when you pitch your wits against a human opponent (or opponents if you have a multi-tap). Competition tends to get fairly heated and you find yourself shouting out and punching the air when you get a cheeky last minute winner. You don't have long to bask in the glory though as there's always another challenger waiting in the wings to take you on or the loser immediately demands a re-match.
Once again the stats are very accurate so you can clearly see the difference in ability between the individual players. Ronaldinho even has his 'flick-flack' dribble, which is very satisfying when executed to perfection and puts you through on goal.
The graphics are top notch and are accentuated by the realistic player movements. They've included a few extra cut scenes for fouls and in the opening sequence some extra crowd footage along with different camera angles around the stadium. Unfortunately the commentary hasn't been drastically improved and quite a lot of it is the same as PES4. But if you're a long-term follower of the Pro Evo ways you'll be used to blanking out Trevor Booking's irrelevant drones by now. The background music has been funked up which at times sounds a bit like the music from Seinfeld on Speed. But to be honest they could make the background music some of Essex's wildest garage tunes and it still wouldn't put me off getting the game because its excellent gameplay rules above everything else.
So, is it worth upgrading to Konami's latest version of the great game? Of course it is. It's a new and improved formula and even though the changes aren't massive they are there and open up a whole new barrel of tactics to try out. Plus, if you don't get PES5 and all your mates have it then you'll be left pissing in the wind a lot of the time cause the shooting power bar isn't the same.
Same situation as before really, if you love football then this is another step closer to the real thing and you'll own it already, or at least have it reserved. Hours and hours of pleasure await you.
9 out of 10