This is a guest review by Adam G. Please post a comment to let us know what you think of the review.
I have been waiting for this game to come out for quite a while and the main reason has been curiosity. Not since Sensible Soccer have I become so engrossed in a football game as I did in Pro Evolution Soccer and I was curious to see how Konami were planning to improve what already was a good game. Upon playing Pro Evolution Soccer 2 for the first time though my questions were immediately answered, the game itself has not changed much from it's predecessor but there has been just enough difference made to see this game retain the crown it took from the FIFA series last year. The most striking feature of Pro Evolution Soccer was the realism involved in the game play. The way the players reacted when controlling them felt much more natural than other titles on the market. With Pro Evolution Soccer 2 Konami have taken note of problems with the original game and added more to the game play to make it better without taking anything away from the realistic style of the game.
My biggest fear when first playing Pro Evolution 2 was that it would simply be a re-hash of the original with a little bit of updated information. Playing the game for the first time though I found this simply not true, it is true that nothing drastic has been done to make this a completely different game but advances have been made to make it better. The sprites themselves are the same as the original but look a lot more sharp and realistic, when viewing the starting line-up at the beginning of each match players such as Beckham, Owen, Rivaldo and Zidane are instantly recognisable.
The difference has been made in the movement and reactions of the players. In Pro Evolution 1 it was so frustrating when a player was tackled or missed a pass then stood there looking dumb struck for a while ignoring any of your attempts to try and reclaim possession. With Pro Evolution 2 the reaction time has been speeded up considerably and there is a noticeable difference between world-class players and their lesser counter-parts. A player like Zidane will instantly gain composure and react to your control and even less skilled players will react quickly when losing possession. Pro Evolution 2 also requires a lot more skill and control when tackling, the slide tackles require a lot more precision and taking the ball from another players feet is harder, many times I thought I had got the ball only to see it bounce off my player's leg and drop nicely to the player I attempted to tackle. Rather than spoil the game though this makes it more of a challenge.
One of the things that impressed me most about Pro Evolution 1 was the skills and tricks that the players performed within the game, it was amazing to see players dragging a cross down to the floor with their feet, setting themselves up for a volley by chesting it down and jumping over oncoming tackles that looked so muck more authentic than other games. Pro Evolution 2 takes this even further by having so much more variation; players perform these tricks in many different ways rather than performing the same move time and time again.
A nice new touch is to see the altered reactions to tackles and missed goal chances, some players collapse on the floor in the most theatrical fashion when tackled and milk it when they are on the ground where as others leap straight back to their feet. Whilst playing the game I often found myself missing things that were going on around the central action and it wasn't until I sat back and watched someone else play the game that I noticed them. When corners are taken for instance there is a brilliant struggle going on within the box between defenders and attackers with players climbing all over one another to get to the ball, it is so funny to see a defender fall flat on his ass as he loses out to a header with an attacker and the shirt tugging and shoulder barging that occurs as your attacker struggles to get clean through on goal. Little improvements like this just add so much to the game.
The layout of Pro Evolution 2 is exactly the same as the original, apart from a few changes in the option menu and the Master League competition very little has changed. One thing that has changed from the first is that you can now choose favouritism of the commentators and the crowd before starting a match. The crowd favouritism is a particularly nice touch, if you are the away team you are booed with every goal you score, they even boo decisions you gain from the referee over the home team. This is particularly satisfying when you score the winning goal in the dying seconds of a match and are greeted by the abuse of the home supporters.
The commentary was a particular problem in the previous game and although it has improved in Pro Evolution 2 it is still nowhere near perfect. With Peter Brackley the main commentator and Trevor Brooking as his sidekick the interpretation of the action is a lot smoother compared to Pro Evolution, but when the match becomes packed with action they do struggle to keep up. There have been new things added, they now comment on how much time has passed in the match and if your team is chasing for the equaliser or putting a shot in to take the lead. Unlike Terry Butcher in the first game who barely said anything, Trevor Brooking is very vocal in his opinion and I found that sometimes he was too vocal. It is quite irritating to be losing a game and having Trevor criticising every move that your team make.
The Master League competition is the most changed part of the game, the teams are now split into three divisions rather than the larger two in Pro Evolution. Extra teams have been put in to allow for this, Celtic, Rangers and Aston Villa are just some of the teams added. You begin the competition with the usual bunch of made up players and have to buy players in as you progress through the competition, I do find this part of the game quite irritating, it would be better to start with your original line-up and improve the squad from there. The new transfer window system doesn't help you either because you will soon find that the squad of donkey's you are given are not up to the job but you can't buy players in until after your second match. One piece of advice I would give is to be careful when purchasing, Konami have put a new negotiation feature in to make the transfer more realistic but this includes costs that aren't apparent until the negotiating is being done. If you overspend then the game ends straight away, you are warned before proceeding to the next match that this will happen but I can't understand why they just don't stop you approaching a player that you haven't got the points for rather than letting you shoot yourself in the foot.
One feature of the Master League that has been added is the inclusion of the cup competition that is played within the season. This has given the Master League an extra edge and made it seem like a real football season and gives you the opportunity to gain extra points. A new training feature has also been added where you can practice a match with just your team on the pitch or break the training down into free kicks and other set pieces, you also now have the opportunity to train up youth players as well.
The main disadvantage that Pro Evolution has compared to FIFA is the fact that they have not got the full licence to use certain player's names and team names. This can be very confusing when picking a team from the club section where the names have got even stranger, instead of Manchester for Man Utd you now have Aragon and Inter Milan have become Marche. In attempt to find a way around this problem Konami have included a full edit feature that allows you to change and update every aspect of a team, you can change the strip, edit the players looks, names and skills, you can even edit the team's emblem by creating your own. It is an extremely time consuming process but the results can be worth it.