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November 25, 2005
Pro Evolution Soccer 5 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
1/11/2005AtariKonami1-8, 4 Gvariable
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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The goalie goes for the save.
There are two main football, or soccer as we call it here in Australia, titles on the market. The first is EA's FIFA series - one which millions of gamers the world over have come to love over the decade or so the games have existed. With the official license, a massive roster of players and teams it's a series which really commands attention. But then along comes Konami. The Japanese developer of hits like Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill and Dance Dance Revolution also has a soccer title in their schedules, Pro Evolution Soccer (or Winning Eleven as its known in Japan). While EA's titles may have the numbers (in terms of teams, players) it's fair to say that in recent years Konami's title is widely regarded as the better simulation of sport. Does it continue with Pro Evolution Soccer 5? Of course it does.

If you've never played a Pro Evolution Soccer title - especially in the last couple of years - then this game may take a bit of getting used to. There's little point in trying to run the length of the field before taking a shot at goal from 30m out and expecting it to go in. It's never going to happen. Indeed newcomers should spend some time in the training mode which has been greatly extended in this years game and allows you to learn the secrets of the trade, and how to control the players and ball in the game. Without it you're bound to struggle.

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He shoots...
In terms of the actual game most of your (single player) time will be spent in the Master League which allows you to take a lowly team from the local leagues all the way to the top. Sure there are single matches and tournaments however the Master League mode encompasses so much more. While it appeared in Pro Evolution Soccer 4 this years version has been expanded with more options, teams, matches and the ability to see player health and determine if he is fit to play.

As most of you will be aware the Pro Evolution title have always had the edge over FIFA when it comes to realism. In recent years Electronic Arts have moved that series to become more realistic, but if it's realistic you want Konami's title takes it to a whole new level. You won't be scoring ten goals in a match, hell, you'll be lucky to score three or four and the chances are that the opponents will also score a couple of times against you. The developers have increased the number of player specific and special moves such as Ronaldinho's 'flipflap'. The biggest change to the game, however is the tackling. Tackles now require much more precision in their timing then in last years game. Press the button a fraction of a second too early, or too late, and you'll miss the tackle and most likely cause a foul.

Online gameplay is the other big addition to this years game. Despite the fact that there is no ability to chat through the headset while playing the game this is a tremendous addition to those who play their PS2's online. If anything it's a great step for Konami to include this feature in future (next generation) versions of the game.

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Can he get it past the Italians!
There's not many complaints that can be leveled at what is quite possibly the greatest soccer game of all time. If I were to nitpick I could say that the AI defense seems a little on the harsh side, no matter the team you're playing. It's quite hard to get a shot off at goal as the opposition seem to crowd around the goal when in defense. We also managed to hit the woodwork more times then we'd like to admit. Perhaps we're just crap at shooting for goal, but in many matches I missed the goal more by hitting the woodwork then by the opposing goalie blocking the shot. The yellow cards are far more prevalent then they should be, and, often after looking at the replays you'll really start to question some of the decisions. I guess that's a bit like real life though...

While graphically stunning overall if there is one area where Konami's title falls short of EA's FIFA series it's in terms of presentation and visual flare. Sure Pro Evolution Soccer 5 has some of the best looking on-field action - and yet again the animation on the players is simply superb with plenty of new moves on offer, but Electronic Arts just seems to have that little special spark - nicer menus, slightly better crowds and a little more detail on some players. It must be said that Konami have put considerable effort into the player models this year and they look a lot more like their real-life counterparts then in previous year. Having said that, just like real life, its on the field where it matters, and in that regard the nod has to be given to Konami's title due to the smaller details and animations which add up to a more realistic experience. Also new to this years title is the variable, real-time weather conditions such as patchy rain or snow which looks wonderful.

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Two arch rivals battle it out.
Audio in Pro Evolution Soccer 5 is the one area where I feel that Konami need to spend some more time in future. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, but it's also not up to the standards set by EA's FIFA series. The commentary is good, but not brilliant however the game has an option to even adjust how much commentary is made while you’re playing the game. The crowd effects, while fairly good overall aren’t quite tailored to the match as much as we’d like. I would also love to see Konami add some surround sound support to give a little more 'being there' atmosphere to the title.

This years Pro Evolution Soccer has seen some more advances to the series including online gameplay, more teams and some more animations, and without a doubt this is the best soccer title of all time. There are some minor annoyances, such as hitting the woodwork, that should been fixed prior to release but this is still pure brilliance and any negatives are nitpicking to the extreme. An essential addition to your collection.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version).
GRAPHICSKonami haven't made drastic changes, but like last year, it's brilliant.
SOUNDThis is the one area where Konami need to spend more time in future.
GAMEPLAYEvery time you play you'll be amazed at this games brilliance.
VALUEOnline gameplay and Master League will have you playing forever.
OVERALLThe best soccer game of all time just got even better. While graphics and sound could be improved there's no denying that Konami know how to make a fantastic title. Pro Evolution Soccer 5 should be in every single PS2 owners collection.

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