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November 27, 2003
Pro Evolution Soccer 3 - Review
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Running towards goal.
Pro Evolution Soccer 3 is possibly the most anticipated soccer game in history, especially in soccer (or football as they would call it) Europe. With over 1 million pre-orders in Europe alone prior to release there was little doubt that this game was going to be a hit. It's taken a several years but finally gamers have realised that Konami have a soccer game that not only rivals EA's hugely popular FIFA series but has, for several years, offered a much more realistic simulation of the sport. This latest release comes at a time when both FIFA 2004 and This is Football 2004 are offering online gameplay for the first time. Can Pro Evolution Soccer 3, released in Japan as World Soccer Winning Eleven 7 still remain on top of the field?

The first thing you will notice about this title is the games' simplified menu screen (compared to the previous title) has plenty on offer. As well as the typical tournaments, quick matches and friendly matches the game includes a Master League which is made up of four divisions with clubs from around the world to compete agains. Konami have also included a 'shopping' mode where you can spend accumulated points from training and exhibition matches and purchase new stadiums, teams, players, strategies and more. But this game isn't about the game modes it's about the gameplay, and this game is choc full of it.

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The distant viewpoint.
What this game has plenty of is gameplay. Even my soccer mad friends, who have played EA's FIFA games to death every year were amazed at this title's engrossing and challenging gameplay. As a simulation of the sport you won't see the ball sticking to the players feet (thankfully that hasn't been the case in most soccer games for a couple of years now), nor will you see any 10-0 scorelines, or even 5-0 for that matter. Every single goal requires plenty of effort to obtain and a victory is always hard fought. Bombing the ball long to an attacker and scoring a goal is no longer an easy task. Tackles must be well timed or you'll be on the end of a free kick, yellow card or worse, a penalty. The R3 button also now comes into play as it allows you to spin and weave through the opposition and even pull of some very nifty looking 360° spin moves.

As previously mentioned the PES shop has returned and allows you to 'spend' points earned by winning matches on pretty much anything including extra players, teams, custom options and new stadiums - some of which are stunning. The Master League, however, is split into four leagues allowing you to pick a team and make you way through the leagues. This is likely to keep the single players engrossed for weeks as it is the bulk of the game. It is also possible to alter your clothing, looks and skills in the game.

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Replaying the goal.
Despite initial fears the lack of online gameplay doesn't hurt this title at all really. Sure, it would be nice if this was an option (Konami are considering this for future releases), but the number of game modes and total enjoyment while playing the title ensures longevity. It is possible to play a match with 8-players, assuming you have two multi-taps and enough controllers (and seven friends). This mode is spectacular fun. The interaction with friends sitting in the same room with you while playing could never be replicated online.

There really is little to complain about with this title. The lack of FIFA license means Pro Evolution Soccer 3 doesn't have the same number of options and teams as EA's title, and the game also lacks some of the flare and licensed tracks, but other then that the gameplay is damn well prefect, and that's what really matters.

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Check out the player detail!
One of the things which Konami has done with title is redo the graphics engine and drop the Renderware engine, and the game looks much better for it. The hundreds of animations on the players are simply amazing with some signature and special moves for the top players also included. In fact, itís easy to say that this is the best-animated soccer game on the market today. It's not the main running and kicking animations that stand out, but rather the small nuances that you see in real life, such as the celebrations of a goal, the results of a vicious tackle, a player rubbing his knee after long run, or interactions between the ball and players. The crowds are adequate while the pitches look highly detailed with some very realistic looking grass and wear on the pitch. Naturally the game maintains a solid 50fps, or 60fps if you have a 60Hz TV.

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Stadiums look wonderful.
The most disappointing aspect to this title is the sound. While the effects are solid enough the crowds don't have anywhere near the atmosphere as those in EA's FIFA series. The music is also merely adequate, but in all honesty the music serves little purpose in a soccer game except for a backdrop in the menus and replays. Unfortunately while it would be nice to have DTS or Dolby Pro Logic II, Pro Evolution Soccer 3 only includes Stereo sound.

Overall, Pro Evolution Soccer 3 is the perfect soccer game, or as close as anyone has got to date. In fact, the only thing I can think that could have added a significant amount to the game is online gameplay, but the 8-player multi-tap support certainly makes up for this. If you like soccer then there is no reason at all not to pick up this stunning title.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSThe animations and realism has helped set new benchmarks in soccer.
SOUNDThe commentary, music and effects are all good, but never brilliant.
GAMEPLAYIf you want a soccer simulation then there is simply no better.
VALUENo online gameplay but plenty of game modes and options to explore.
OVERALLThere is no doubt that this is the best soccer game ever released. The animation, level of detail and enjoyment from such a title remains unmatched. Get this game now.

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