Jenksy is back doing some reviews, so I'm posting this one for him, while he sorts out his net access and stuff
The Pro Evolution series is considered by many as the greatest footballing sim series ever. With a new wholly overhauled FIFA game on the way the newest incarnation of the Pro Evo series has a lot to do to hold on to its crown.
Obviously I don't have to go into too much depth on the gameplay modes. All of the standard types are here, exhibitions, leagues, nothing too fancy, but nothing that disappoints. From the outset the game has a simulation feel rather than the arcade feel that you get from games like Virtua Striker, the whole feel is nice and not too elaborate. The Intro graphics are a bit odd, the CG scene of the footballers playing seems slightly unfamiliar as many of the characters have features that resemble David Beckham. You get the feeling that the people that made the intro were from far overseas and had very limited source material. 'Enough of the Intro!' I hear you cry, 'Tell us about the game itself'. The first thing you will notice about the game is a definite change in graphical and animation style. This cannot be appreciated from screenshots only from video. Gegsy, a Pro Evo purist, said that the players do not run like real people, for a while a group of us concurred, until we saw a real football match. For once in a game the running animation really looks like natural running. The game doesn't really look like a game at all. In fact the animations as a whole are the best I have ever seen in any sort of game. You can stick your ragdoll effect, I don't care when you have such natural animations as these. Also ball physics is spot on (stop sniggering at the back of the class). High framerates, gorgeous textures, excellent replications of the teams kits are but a few of the graphical treats in the game. Graphically the game does lead the way for sports sims and it is a true representation of what the real game is all about.
Gameplay is also close to the real game. Granted, if you play with long half lengths, the final score sheet is gonna look like Wolves are playing, but that only makes it more fun. The action constantly changes pace and this is the first game I have found where you can visualize something in your head, press the buttons, and your vision becomes computer game reality. Obviously this takes some practice but football game fans will pick it up easily. It's quite odd to play actually, because everything feels so natural, no hesitations, just the melding of man and machine (I'm really not taking the piss). Apart from a few tweaks the only significant gameplay change is the introduction of a skills stick. The right analogue stick is used to pull off fancy tricks like knocking the ball on and lollipops. I've been told that you can do scissor kicks and similar moves though. This is something only for experts and when done correctly probably looks amazing. Unfortunately, myself, Gegsy, Al and Barnsy couldn't manage to utilize this function. The controls in general are very responsive, shooting can be a touch haphazard and I often found the ball screaming over the woodwork after the deftest of touches.
One disappointment with the game is that many of the teams in the game go under different names due to Trademark reasons. So, Liverpool and Everton are Merseyside Red and Merseyside Blue respectively and Manchester United are Trad Bricks (BTW if anyone knows why Man U are called Trad Bricks please post a comment and let us know 'cos its doing my head in). Many of the players have the correct names and likenesses, so it doesn't detract from the gameplaying experience too much. What the game looses in realism it makes up for with style. In fact the game is oozing style.
The sound is ok, to be honest there doesn't seem to be much that you can do with sound in a football game. The commentary is so, so, after a few games it will get extremely repetitive and you'll feel the urge to kill Trevor Brooking.
In short this game vastly improves upon all of the best parts of all footy games and brings it in to one truly amazing immersive game. If your gonna buy a footy game buy this. If your not gonna buy a footy game you must be simple or a communist.