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August 25, 2004
Pro Evolution Soccer 4 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
15/10/2004AtariKonami1-8$99.95

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PES4 has great graphics.
Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo (or KCE TYO for short) is back on development duties for Pro Evolution Soccer 4 - potentially the greatest soccer game ever created. Certainly Pro Evolution Soccer 3 is still widely regarded as one of the most impressive soccer games of all time - perhaps not the greatest presentation, but the gameplay is superb. Rather then simply add a couple more teams and a few new moves Konami have gone all out to ensure that Pro Evolution Soccer 4, or Winning Eleven 8 as it's known in NTSC territories, is something special.

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That's got to be a card!
Each player now benefits from more statistics that determine just how they react when bringing the ball under control, while a massively enhanced control system allows for more close control when dribbling past defenders, while first time volleys, chipped shots and through balls all benefit from KCE TYO's improvements. New free kick and penalty techniques can now be used, while an innovative indirect free kick move has been implemented to add further variety to set pieces.

Other new additions include all-new free kick techniques and more individuality in both the way players move and how they look. Players will now be recognisable in the way they run and kick the ball, while the physical likenesses are even closer. In keeping with this, players also now get dirty as matches progress, while the physical injuries seen in Pro Evolution Soccer 3 are also added to. Injured players will now be stretchered off to have treatment, and can also sustain injuries that will force them out of Master League matches for an entire season!

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Going for the free kick.
Further additions to the game include more club and international teams, extra formation screens to offer total control over the way each team lines up and plays, while the ever-popular Master League has also been vastly improved. A new 'My Best Eleven' option allows fans to save their greatest teams for prosperity, and players can now be forced to retire through severe injury during the course of a Master League season, forcing the user to work around the loss of key stars and restructure around the abilities of suitable replacement players.

Pro Evolution Soccer 4 will also boast an on-screen referee for the first time. Whereas previous versions have featured an un-seen referee, Konami TYO's game now features an official who runs up and down monitoring play - and even steps in to calm things down when the action gets heated! The referee AI has also been further refined, with advantage being played for minor infringements, while each of the referees available will react instinctively to fouls and the flow of play depending on how strict they are deemed to be.

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Taking a dive.
A new dribbling system is also being implemented giving more control as players go one-on-one and try to pass opposing players, while crosses and cut-back passes can now be made with more precision. In keeping with this level of detail, player likenesses are also enhanced to match the noticeable individuality of the world's greatest stars. Both international and club players are instantly recognisable due to almost photo-realistic graphics, while additional realism is added via kits that get progressively dirtier as the match progresses.

Overall this game certainly looks like a big step up from Pro Evolution Soccer 3. The only disappointment is a lack of online gameplay, but as an offline experience there looks like little better. In fact I can almost guarantee it. Expect Pro Evolution Soccer 4 to be released in mid-October.