Pro Evolution Soccer 4 - PS2

Also known as: Winning Eleven 8

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Also for: PC, Xbox
Viewed: 3D Third-person, floating camera Genre:
Sport: Football - Soccer
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: KCE Tokyo Soft. Co.: Konami
Publishers: Konami (GB/JP/GB)
Released: Aug 2004 (JP)
20 May 2005 (GB)
15 Oct 2004 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 3+
Features: Multitap adaptable, Vibration Function Compatible
Accessories: Memory Card

Summary

Let's get this straight from the start. Konami make the best football games. Some of the club names may be a bit dodgy, the games' menus have been a bit of an ordeal to navigate in the past, and the referees offer more cards than Clinton at Xmas. EA may sell more of their FIFA games (across more platforms, remember?) and let's just not mention This is Appalling or Clubfoot Ball. There's no competition when it comes to gameplay, and that - in the end - is all that matters to football fans. With Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (PES4), the people at Konami Tokyo have once again delivered the ultimate in virtual soccer...until next time.

Everyone likes to make an exhibition of themselves once in a while, and it's a good idea to 'lube up' with an hour or two in this mode, just to get used to the fluency of the gameplay (those of you who couldn't resist the clunky horror of FIFA 2005 in the week prior to release of PES4 will need a refresher, no doubt). Exhibition matches are where you can learn the basics, and the good news is that there's a very comprehensive training option too. Konami have taken great care to make this a better deal than previous offerings. Free Training is where you learn how to execute set pieces such as corners and free kicks, the latter of which have been subject to some ingenious tinkering by the folks at TYO; Situation Training offers guidance in practicing your various techniques in real matches; Challenge Training is where you take part in various events in a series of tests. The further you go along – and the better your performance – the tougher it gets. It's similar to a beat 'em up genre-style challenge mode, but with (nicer) shirts.

But, as so many Konami soccer games before it have illustrated very clearly, the real nitty-gritty is found in the Master League. In this, you create and manage your own team with the aim of becoming the strongest team in the league.There are four leagues, each split into Division 1 (16 teams) and Division 2 (8 teams). You compete against teams controlled by the computer in a round robin tournament. Clubs are relegated or promoted depending on results over the course of a season, and the teams that perform best are the ones invited to partake in big tournaments, much like the real-life World Club Championship for example. The best thing about the Master League is that it never ends – you could play forever, and you probably will, unless your points total falls below zero or you let all your players leave the club. Getting to the summit of the top division will not be easy, but you have the opportunity to make things a little simpler by assuming the role of manager as well as player. This is where your negotiating skills will come into the equation, as you try to tempt the best players away from their clubs. Putting yourself in a position to do this is a case of accumulating as many points as possible, as this is the currency in PES4. More points means you're able to pay bigger salaries to the biggest names.

The league modes have been expanded upon since last time out. PES4 includes the top divisions from the French, German, Dutch, Italian, English and Spanish leagues. The aforementioned all follow the real-life rules and regulations from their respective footy associations. The International League, however, is ripe for customisation: you choose whether to play a full or half season and select up to 20 teams to take part. Cup modes include Konami Cup, International and Regional leagues – pretty much identical to those from Pro Evolution Soccer 3.

So, Konami has achieved the impossible, and given us a 'beautifuller' version of the beautiful game, with a ref on the pitch, even more identifiable players, a great training mode and oodles of authentic teams alongside the Wesens and Trad Red Bricks. Whatever next? A national league devoted to the hardcore? Hang on a minute...

Artwork

Pro Evolution Soccer 4 - PS2 Artwork

Pro Evolution Soccer 4 - PS2 Artwork

Pro Evolution Soccer 4 - PS2 Artwork