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Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 (X360 & PS3)

Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 (X360 & PS3)

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With the recent release of the wonderful FIFA09 Konami have quite a task in front of them to topple one of the greatest football games ever. Last year’s Pro Evolution Soccer was a decent game but can they reclaim the footballing throne with the 2009 update?

Each of these footballing behemoths  has a huge following and they have their own individual charms. FIFA is backed by Electronic Arts and has all the offical and financial backing (Premier League etc.) to ensure its success while Pro Evo combines great gameplay with some cool editing options. This year is set to be the toughest battle yet and while both will assuredly reward the football fanatic they have quite different directions.

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First impressions of PES2009 after playing FIFA09 are not very flattering and the PES graphics engine is clearly showing its age from the Playstation 2 days. Granted, the player models have been overhauled to meet High Definition standards but the textures are sadly lacking and sometimes the players look a little disoriented, as if they have just arrived from the pub. The stadiums however are quite impressive especially the brand new modelling of the new Wembley stadium. Thankfully, even with the somewhat disappointing graphics the frame rate remains high at all times which is not something I could have said of last years game.

PES2009 is presented by commentators Mark Lawrenson and Jon Champion and they initially appear to do an admirable job of keeping you in touch with the action even if some of their dialogue can be at times, annoying. After extended exposure however inconsistences arise on a somewhat regular basis and you begin to wonder if the scripting is correctly tied to the game you are playing. After an hour I was forced to mute them totally before I put my fist through the screen.

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Thankfully you can import MP3s which makes up for the luckluster crowd environment and lack of ambient noises. Either that or you can just mute the sound totally and enjoy your own music from your hifi in the room as you play.

The default game settings are extremely lacking when compared with FIFA09 and many of you will be heading to the edit mode in the attempt to improve the authenticity of the game. This edit mode is a massive improvement over last years failed effort and you can edit almost anything, from player kits to the camera action. You can even directly import images which makes a welcome addition to the options. With time it is possible to fine tune a game totally to your desires, however im guessing a rather small percentage would dedicate so much time to this feature set.

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Master League is changed from last year and for those interested it can become a very indepth game play mode to take your own team  to the echelons of success. The Become a Legend mode is a revamp of Fix mode from previous titles which is further enhanced by slightly pilfering EA’s ideas. You take charge of a player from age 17 and direct them throughout their career. This mode has apparently went through considerable game testing as it flows very well from the reserves to the national team. All in all, very enjoyable.

The controls work exceptionally well, and fans of the series will be pleased to hear that no real changes have taken place to ruin the game, it still flows extremely well and it an utterly enjoyable experience. It certainly is a more lively approach to football than FIFA09 and even though it is much less realistic it still makes for addictive gaming. There has been some fine tuning behind the scenes however, due to feedback the game is slightly slower and the pace is now almost perfect.

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Build up play is critically important, another improvement over the 08 version and more emphasis is placed on the star players in a team. It is quite possible for your star player to make a mockery of some defences, all on his own. It would be fair to say that the 09 version is without a doubt the finest edition of PES yet. It is not perfect, and it is still annoying to see some off the ball players acting weird and doing things you would not expect, I had one guy for example stand on the line for a few minutes trying to figure out exactly what to do. A random glitch perhaps, but I noticed a few weird personality actions during my last week with the title.

The game now introduces manual control which you can select from the options, this allows you to pass the ball and continue a run while the CPU controls the ball automatically. It is rather confusing at first but after getting used to the system is it very rewarding to totally make a series of game play actions leading to a stunning goal all on your own.

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Last year Pro Evolution Soccer was mauled for the poor online options, and the huge amount of lag. This year this has been improved however I still noticed some lag from time to time which can make the game very difficult to play online. The only multiplayer options worth their salt are local LAN with a buddy. It is a shame to see Fifa running away with the plethora of online options and PES struggling to even deal with basic lag issues. Another problem is the Konami ID system which is quite simply the biggest pain the in the ass I can remember dealing with. They need to sort out their network system before this game becomes even approachable as a viable online multiplayer football game.

Everything said, Pro Evolution Soccer 09 is a great football game which remains the fastest paced and possibly most entertaining quick action sports game for soccer fanatics. There is no doubting that FIFA09 has moved the goalposts (pun intended) so far ahead however that Konami are reeling in their attempt to catch up. All in all, PES09 is recommended, but if you only have the funds to get one football game this year then my money is still with FIFA09, it has much superior online options as well as a more rounded and indepth package.

Probably one of the best in the series, extremely fun and fast paced.
Very dated and sadly lacking when compared with FIFA.
Commentators sound great, but often are apparently speaking about a game being played elsewhere. Not helped by the rest of the audio, which is below average.
Poor online support with still some lag. If you have a friend who lives near you, multiplayer is best played over LAN.
(Not an Average)
A great football game and very enjoyable, unfortunately it was released the same year as FIFA09, which is superior in most areas.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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