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October 25, 2004
Pro Evolution Soccer 4 - Review
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The perfect game? This is...
Shingo 'Seabass' Takatsuka isn't a name many would have heard of, but he's the man responsible for the most impressive football game, or soccer as we like to call it here, of all time. Pro Evolution Soccer 3 was released in 2003, and was simply stunning with superb gameplay and enough depth you could drown a giraffe. This sequel isn't just a couple of new teams as Konami have added in many new features to ensure their franchise stays on top - if only in reviews as the sales are still well behind EA's FIFA titles.

So what are some of the new gameplay elements in Pro Evolution Soccer 4 then? Well, the free kicks and penalties are handled a little differently, and the implementation of an indirect free kick adds considerably to the realism and options available to players. Another new addition, and this adds a lot more then I originally thought it would is the inclusion of an on-field referee. The AI of the referee seems pretty good as well with advantage being played where it seems worthwhile and free kicks and fouls being rewarded in a realistic manner. Dribbling of the ball has also been refined with a lot more control now available to the player.

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That has to be a foul...
Now onto the game modes. The tutorial mode is a great place for newcomers to get started. Here you will learn all the basic controls up to the most complex of special moves to defeat your opponent. Pro Evolution Soccer 4 also includes single games set up as you see fit, as well as a penalty shoot-out. Of course these game modes can be played with up to 8-players with the aide of some multi-taps, and it's a real blast. League Mode allows you to select from seven leagues including an International League which includes teams from around the world. The Cup Mode allows you to choose from International Cup, Regional Cup and Konami Cup. Of course each of these can be customised with teams.

All of these modes really pale in comparison to the absolutely monstrous Master League mode. In this mode you create a team from scratch by selecting players and searching for talent. They then hit the training pitch and enter a low division. As you get better you earn more money, buy better players and hopefully move up divisions. Thanks to Konami's editor you can even create your own strip including shirts, shorts and logos. It's a sensational game mode that will take you weeks to complete. Of course during the season players will become injured, and even be forced to retire if they become permanently injured.

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The players look wonderful.
Easily the biggest disappointment with Pro Evolution Soccer 4 is the lack of online gameplay. Unlike EA Sports' FIFA Football 2005 which includes online gameplay (as it also did last year) Konami haven't got this running on PS2 - despite the XBox version including online support. Also lacking is the number of teams and players compared to EA's monster, but unless you are super particular about one team or league there will be more then enough here to keep you entertained for weeks, if not months.

Graphically this game isn't as sharp as EA's title. This game lacks the flare and polish of EA's title, but that's not saying this game is lacking - far from it. In fact the animation in this title, and the little nuances of the players are nothing short of spectacular while the gameplay is super smooth. During the matches even the clothing of the players becomes dirty - it's that realistic and detailed. Player likenesses have also be used in the game, and while I'm not that much of a soccer fan to recognise most the Australian players looked pretty accurate.

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He takes a dive!
Sound is never something to shout about in a football game, and Pro Evolution Soccer 4 is no exception. As I said with the review for FIFA Football 2005 there are two main areas of sound including the effects and commentary. In both departments this game is solid, but not perfect. The effects can be a little on the weak side and the commentary, as with all, a little inaccurate at times however in general this is equal to EA's title. One thing this game could really do with is a better sound format then the Stereo sound which it has. Where's the Dolby Pro Logic II, or DTS sound?

Overall this game, even with it's small issues, is the greatest soccer game on the market. Everything comes together so perfectly that the only reason you would look at FIFA Football 2005 or even Sony's This is Soccer 2005 would be for online gameplay. Unless you must play soccer online - and that is really a pretty big issue to some - then this is the game for you. Superb.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSIt's the sublime animations that make this game so special.
SOUNDNot the greatest sound ever, but Konami have captured the essence.
GAMEPLAYPossibly the most perfect football game ever. It's really that good.
VALUENo online gameplay, but everything else will keep you playing.
OVERALLWithout a doubt the greatest football game just got better. Konami's title isn't about flash and flare, but rather the subtle nuances which make the game so great. We can only hope that the next game includes online gameplay.

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