Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 review
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009
The annual release of Konami's hit football series - Pro Evolution Soccer - is usually backed with great optimism and anticipation from fans of the title. However, following the failure of Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 to live up to expectations and impress on the next-gen consoles, the picture was a little different this year for Konami. Generally known as the best football game out there, its main opponent FIFA had made leaps and bounds in recent years, with FIFA 08 being regarded as more than an equal for the PES equivalent. Therefore, a lot hanged on the success of PES 09 for the continued development of the series against the might of EA's FIFA series. But what an improvement there was.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009's main selling points is its 3 G's - gameplay, graphics and game-modes. The gameplay and graphics have been vastly developed to make PES09 one of the most realistic interpretations of the beautiful game, whilst keeping the video gaming side of it fun. Along with the new game-modes (Become a Legend and Official Champions League) this edition is arguably Konami's finest build yet, and its only going to get better with years of learning yet on the PS3. The new Become a Legend mode is particularly interesting. Basically a PES 'Be a Pro' mode (FIFA's version) in every department other than name, the BAL mode allows players to create their very own trainee, aged 17, and shape his career to retirement at 35. Through-out, there are plenty of challenges, such as breaking into the First Team and staying there, as well as deciding on your next move when the transfer window comes around, and there's enough there for players to keep going back for. You'll feel a great sense of accomplishment when you take your 17 year old Stoke youth into the England first team and then to the final of the Champions League with Barcelona. The new Champions League mode is also extremely addictive, kitted out completely with full licensing from official UEFA menu screens to the Champions League logo on the sleeves of players shirts. You're not restricted to the teams that qualified this season either, you can play as any team on the PES database. So yes, Hull City can win the Champions League somewhere other than just your mind. Considering that EA used to release a game costing £30 which arguably gave you less options than this and you can see how important an addition this is.
Konami have also gone about fixing almost everything else that was wrong with PES 08. The Edit Mode, loved by fans from previous editions of the series, was removed for some unknown reason in PES 08. However it returned in magnificent fashion for 09, giving players the chance to do anything. The lack of licensed teams is countered by the fact that Konami have utilised the PS3's capabilities to full effect. One new function which is can be put to great use is the ability to use an EyeToy to take a picture of your face and use it in the game. This is fantastic in Become a Legend mode in particular, as it gives a greater sense that it is actually you on the pitch. Along with these improvements, you can now add the music on your PS3's hard-drive into the game. This means you don't have to listen to the monotonous Japanese techno beats that Konami seems to love when going on a monster editing run. Also on the subject of audio, you can add chants that replace the default chants of teams so you have a real-life atmosphere when playing.
However, despite all the positives, Konami still haven't made the perfect football simulation. The main downside in PES09, and its a major flaw, is the quality, or lack of quality, of the Online play. Pre-release, the Online mode of PES09 was being hyped as the major selling point but its a serious let-down. It is rare that you find yourself in a lag-free game and the connection is regularly failing. Add to this the fact that there are swarms of hackers out there and you seriously feel disappointed with Konami, given how important Multiplayer is in games nowadays. Furthermore, the Master League, although still addictive, is just the same as ever. Although it can be considered a winning formula and "if it ain't broke don't fix it" but the Master League could be improved and expanded upon in so many ways that would make PES sell even better. Simple things like being able to change teams Football Manager style and even just using real money would make the Master League seem just that bit better. Also, when Konami pull off a big signing like the Champions League license, they should exploit it as much as they can, so the lack of an officially licensed Champions League in the ML is disappointing.
Despite these negatives, they can easily be improved upon and the positives are definitely in the majority. This is a vast improvement on the previous PES and if Konami continue in this vein then we're sure to see an absolutely fantastic edition come October 09. For now though, be happy with this version as it will keep you occupied for hours on end. From Become a Legend Mode, to the Champions League, and finally to the ever-addictive Master League, you'll constantly find something new on Pro Evolution Soccer 09.
About the author
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