Pro Evolution Soccer 2009
It really doesn’t get any better than Pro Evolution Soccer – the greatest football simulator to have ever hit a console – and while PES 3 is more than likely fans’ most treasured edition, Konami getting self-conscious and adding gloss to compete against FIFA’s juggernaut thereafter, these last few additions have arguably spawned a more ‘complete’, immersive experience. (I don’t know about you, but I like that hour I spend renaming clubs and stadiums each time a new edition comes out…)
So, what’s new in PES 2009- Firstly, Konami have secured the rights to Champions League branding, allowing you to take your team from national heroes to continental stars, in a complete replica of the real event. There’s nothing quite like watching your team’s line-up with the familiar ‘Champions’ aria belting out your speakers. And there’s nothing quite like needing a win to progress to the semi-finals and scoring the winning goal in overtime: a Ronaldihno cross intercepted by Kaká and fired it into the top left corner. Sweeeeeeeet.
Secondly, there’s the Become a Legend mode, where you can build your own player (which you can customise to make it look like you) and take him/you from the lowly bottom divisions to the Golden Boot-winning playmaker of the World Cup. If you’ve got the time and patience this could be an incredibly rewarding experience. Especially if you’ve got mates around.
The graphics are stunning – with each edition one wonders how the makers will improve the likeness, and with each additional release they top themselves. In PES 2009 Ronaldinho’s teeth look incredibly bad. Beckham’s hair looks, well, about six styles old, actually.
The gameplay is incredibly fluid, and fast, although overall it’s been slowed down so your eyes don’t feel like your playing tennis, like in some of the previous editions. My only complaint, and it’s trivial really, is that if you tap the ‘apply pressure’ button a little too vigorously your can quite easily end up with four red cards. Maybe some self-restraint is in order.