Pro Evolution Soccer 5 PS2 Review

Proclaiming that Pro Evolution Soccer 5 is the best football game available is about as surprising as saying that Chelsea will win the league. Pro Evo has been the purist’s choice ever since its first manifestation as International Superstar Soccer way back on the SNES. It was obvious from the start – Pro Evo was the football game designed for true football fans, for those who follow their team away from home, rather than those who support Man Utd on a Saturday evening whilst watching BBC1 (No they always liked FIFA, but more on that later).

Now it has turned into an annual event…almost like waiting for the start of the new season, the release of Pro Evo is Christmas for its fans. The questions you hear are not about the quality of the game but what’s changed? How easy are freekicks? (Easier coincidently) It’s as if we know that the game will be typically decent, we want to know, in minute detail, what has changed.

And it’s this that defines what Pro Evo is as a series. People who are new to the game would struggle to find a substantial difference between each game. Those who are seasoned will ‘feel’ it almost instantly.

Actually, there is no doubt; Pro Evo 5 has been designed for those who have played previous versions. It is hard to imagine players who haven’t experienced Pro Evo before, enjoying their first taste. The game is slow, sometimes extremely uneventful, and occasionally slightly boring – you might even find yourself zoning out; your mind drifts off subconsciously. Strangely, this is what makes it so loved. It doesn’t matter if a game is a boring 0-0 draw as the next game could end up being 4-5, just like in real life. And because of this you remember these epic matches all the better, because they stand-alone.

Pro Evo 5 is a game for football fans because it is as close to real football as you can get with a pad in your hand. Fifa doesn’t cut it, never has. Yet while Pro Evo will never sell as many units, it’s the champion’s choice. The licensing, however, is an issue with Arsenal and Chelsea being the only British teams licensed. This can be remedied using a Max Drive and a patch.

The Master League is still the most appealing game mode, although little change has been made from past versions other than a few options. If you can be bothered the training system has been improved where you can test the skills of a specific player, like a new signing.

The real difference, as ever, is in the gameplay. Most notably is the pace of the game. It’s slow. Well slower. Passing is the new Pro Evo black, and it’s this that will set you apart from the other players. Ironically getting the ball between players is more difficult, as even the seasoned ball distribution of David Beckham is prone to a misplaced pass. Yet timed correctly, and with players in the right position progress up the pitch can be swiftly made. Players who’s game mainly involved the running at defenders with the pacey players will struggle at first; this game forces you into thinking about utilising space on the pitch.

You’ll also find that the players are more physical than in previous versions. They have more of a presence on the pitch; you’ll find players commit fouls easier. Simply jostling for a 50-50 ball could result in a foul either way. The ball and player physics have been adapted as well: a ball played into a crowded box will ping about just as it might in a real game. Challenges between players sometimes see the ball lost by both and roll into space. While this can often be frustrating, it’s also gloriously heart-in-the-mouth if the pigskin falls to one of your players with space to shoot. It all adds to ultra realistic playing experience.

Pro Evolution Soccer 5 is easily the best version of the series. Whilst many believed that Evo 4 was a step downwards, and with the steady progress made by FIFA in recent versions, Konami’s game reign as king looked to falter. This edition has really redefined what Pro Evo is all about and the scores of devotees across the world have been greatly rewarded for shelling out once again. FIFA will have to wait yet again, but then again, it’s not like we’re running out of nationwide Man U fans are we?