After last years commercially disappointing Pro Evo 2008, can Konami re-group and challenge the juggernaut that is Fifa 09 or will this be the final nail in the coffin for the once widely followed Pro Evo series?
The Pro Evo series has been renowned for its realistic style of soccer over the years. Pro Evo 6 was the first Pro Evo on next gen and although it played well, was just a port of the Xbox and PS2 game. Pro Evo 08 was the first proper next gen entry but that was criticized for being too arcadey, although I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, even after all the promotion by Konami that Pro Evo 09 would be a major upgrade for the next gen systems, it appears only minor adjustments have been done, which is good and bad, depending on your point of view. The only real noticeable change is the play has slowed down a bit, which brings it back to a more simulation style of game. I am not saying Pro Evo 09 doesn’t play well, on the contrary, it plays very well, better than Fifa 09 in some instances, and it just isn’t the massive improvement PES fans would have hoped for. The usual tight, responsive controls are back and as usual, they work well. As a stand-alone soccer game, it plays and feels great; I just think people who got this looking for a vastly improved experience over Pro Evo 08 will feel let down by Konami.
Konami have tried to combat Fifa’s “Be a Pro” mode with a mode called “Become a legend”. It is essentially the same thing with not as much depth. They have also tried to address Pro Evo’s previous lack of original content by securing the exclusive rights to UEFA Champions League. This is fine, but it just feels all too late for the series and is still nowhere near what EA’s game has to offer.
Fifa has always been king in this area and this year is no different. Although Pro Evo 09 looks great, it is not much better than last years and Fifa owns it in all areas. It is about time Konami either pulled their finger out and put some effort into the graphics area or actually started to learn how to program for the next gen systems. Harsh I know, but long time PES fans have had enough of getting the short end of the stick.
Once again, mot much has changed, the crowd still sounds okay and the commentary is the usual standard stuff, but it still does not match up to the broadcast style and feel of Fifa 09.
PES 2008 was virtually unplayable online, even when playing with fellow aussies. Konami did nothing to fix it, which meant the great online experience of PES 6 was ruined in PES 2008. Unfortunately, the improvement in this area hasn’t been significant enough for lag not to raise its ugly head all too often once again. This is a major let down for Pro Evo fans. I don’t know where Konami are going wrong, but something drastic has to be done about their net code. Fortunately, local multiplayer in Pro Evo 09 is awesome and is some of the best multiplayer gaming around.
Good gameplay only gets you so far. With a poor, laggy online mode, dated graphics and a lack of genuine improvements, Pro Evo 09 is hard to recommend to those that are not PES diehards.
Gameplay: 9.0 – Pro Evo 09’s only saving grace. Pro Evo 09 is fun, smooth and addictive and plays a realistic game of soccer.
Graphics: 8.0 – No real improvement over PES 08, PES 09 once again disappoints in this department.
Sound: 8.0 – The crowd sounds good, but the commentary is just standard stuff and lacks the flair of Fifa 09.
Multiplayer: 7.0 – If not for the enjoyment of local multiplayer, this would have scored even lower. A buggy and laggy online experience cuts the games longetivity greatly.
Overall: 8.0 – Once the king of virtual soccer, Pro Evo 09 once again fails to save Fifa’s shot and finishes second once again.
Reviewed and Written by Craig Cirillo