The feud between EA and Konami in the football gaming market is really becoming serious. Both are scrambling to get licenses exclusively and creating some seriously top notch football games meaning the consumer has no doubt become the winner. FIFA has improved significantly and Pro Evolution Soccer has continued to push EA developers further than ever before. The fourth iteration of Pro Evolution is now here and for the first time on Xbox giving EA a bigger challenge than ever before, and over night the game has claimed the best soccer game on Xbox title with flying colours.
The reason why Pro Evolution has continued success is the merger it has created between management simulations and proper football games. This has continued in the fourth version of the game but the developers have started to go to the next level with the title - something which EA has done for quite a long time and that is licenses. In terms of modes you will find the regular cup mode, league mode, training and for the first time an online mode. These are all fairly self explanatory but the main mode of the game, the master league, has once again gone under a major overhaul, the second in twelve months and has added even more for players.
The master league is combination between management and actually playing the games but the developers seem to get the balance right every time. To keep players on your team you have to pay them, to pay them you have to win matches and gain prize money from the football associations. If you can't pay the players, at the end of the season they walk out on you and the game actually ends. This is one of the toughest modes in football games today. Beginning with a team of nobodies your task is to get to higher divisions and get higher profile players to your club so you can cope in the highest division. If this is not your cup of tea, the other modes act more like a typical football game but this is where the main challenge lies.
The enhancements which have been made to the master league are visible in the other modes except one. Players can't suffer career ending injuries in the other modes, only in the master league. Other than that the main changes for the game include an on screen referee. The developers need to work on this a bit because unlike in FIFA, he can get in the way and it is incredibly frustrating, especially with through balls. The animations have been improved again but while the foul animations have had a few more added, FIFA definitely is much further ahead in this aspect.
As mentioned before the developers have really gone after the licenses this year with the Italian, Spanish and Dutch leagues now all fully licensed. They are still missing the Premier League which is still a major blow against the game. However what they have is still a great improvement with the game now boasting three thousand licensed players, 57 national teams and 80 european club teams, the majority licensed. There are some unlicensed clubs in the game, but you can easily tell by the name or player who they are meant to represent. You can now also play the individual leagues by country without having to create them yourself.
The graphics have also improved and not just because the game is now on the Xbox console. Players will become dirty after slide tackling or being fouled and show emotion throughout the game. The referee is not as developed as the FIFA one but that is to be expected given its the first year he is actually on the pitch with the players. Due to the licensed clubs the developers have now added a bevy of new stadiums to the game officially but there are still unlicensed stadiums in the game for the unlicensed clubs. Commentary is one of the biggest improvements for this years game with Peter Brackley and Trevor brooking returning but coming across much better then previously.
Pro Evolution Soccer 4 is one of, if not the best football game ever made. The developers have really started to take a serious look at licenses and it has really improved the game significantly. Pro Evolution Soccer may not be as big as FIFA just yet, but it is well on the way.