Pro Evolution Soccer 4 Xbox Review
Pro Evolution Soccer 4 marks a new beginning for the stellar footy series, arriving on not only the PS2 this time around but also on Microsoft’s behemoth. PS2 owners have long been denied online play; therefore the addition of Xbox Live Play might leave the old Sony faithful rather cold. That aside the game is basically a standard port of the earlier released PS2 version, which isn’t a bad thing of course.
It’s amazing that Konami’s classic series gets better with every single release, although still in search of that perfection status. Does the fourth game in the series make that special heavenly place seem all the less elusive? PES4 certainly plays a mean game of football without a doubt and is a definite step up over the third game in many ways thanks to an improved master league (where players can now retire through injury) and worthy refinements to the game itself.
Matches are still as silky as ever as passes are constructed together and the entire game flows beautifully fast. Game play still requires precise thought as you go in search of those all-important cracks in the oppositions defence, although we do feel that the famous through ball is successful on far too many occasions, leaving any opposition in the dust and only to watch in horror as an attacker meets their goalkeeper in what is to become a battle of wits, with the attacker normally slotting the ball home.
After viewing the more restrained pace of FIFA 2005 we also think that the game runs at a speed that leaves less room for surgical thinking during matches. Preference will obviously be down to the individual but we prefer the more sedate pace of the latest FIFA opposed to the super fast play of PES4. That said we are glad to see that each series have now carved out their own unique identities in what is a very competitive market. It’s also nice to see two contrasting styles sitting on the shelves.
Still on the subject of FIFA it certainly has the upper hand over Konami’s series in the way of licences. PES4 is still lagging behind with many of the big names but at least Konami have made some sort of effort with the addition of fully licensed Dutch, Spanish and Italian leagues. The series is still knocking out those obscure premiership club names though, but it’s only those gamers that are utterly shallow that will avoid PES4 for this very trivial reason and its also these people that will be missing out on some of the best goalmouth action ever witnessed in a game.
The ball movement is incredibly accurate in most situations and to witness two players going at it and heartily laying into each other during a struggle for the ball is a wonderful sight. Konami have even made the referees (who now have a physical presence on the field) smarter and he now has a much better understanding of the advantage rule, which keeps matches moving at a cracking pace. Amazing attention to detail is present elsewhere as injured players can now sometimes return to the pitch after being sidelined for a short time; and this all contributes to making the game an authentic experience of the sport.
The Xbox Live mode is disappointing in a few aspects, namely the amount of sore losers who exploit the loophole that allows anyone to quit at anytime during matches without being punished. In fact the majority of matches that we looked certain to win were put to bed early without a result as our desperate opponents slipped out to save their “precious” ranking from taking a knock. These people should be utterly ashamed of themselves and need to be penalized. Lag also conspires to spoil the online experience and sometimes the beautiful game looks rather ugly due to this, but thankfully Konami are apparently due to release a patch rather soon, which will hopefully eliminate many of these problems.
Pro Evolution Soccer 4 certainly looks the part and in spite of a few detracting flaws it can quite easily be dubbed the beautiful game. Matches proceed like a knife through butter and flow impressively at an unparalleled pace, all accompanied by unbelievable animations and a ball that is kicked around the field like no other. It’s just a shame about the few flaws that conspire to bring the game down and we hope to see some of these disappear when the time comes for the next instalment to roll around.