The two big games of football are out in force again this year and yet again it's a massive clash of the titans with two of the biggest game pubs in the world showing their mettle in the football genre. Everyone but Konami has rolled over and died in comparison to EA's FIFA, but the KCET team just continue to make strides against EA's massive franchise. This year is no different and while FIFA has improved in leaps and bounds, Pro Evolution continues to remain the premiere football game.
This year Konami has really tried to refine the game as opposed to making major changes. This may make the game sound like a cash in but it is far from it. Despite the limited changes, it does feel very different and even more realistic than previous version's which is quite an achievement in itself. Some players may not like what they have done for the series this year, but for the purists there really is no better game.
Most of the game modes have returned from previous versions such as Master League, League, Exhibition and Training. On paper, compared to FIFA, this doesn't sound like much, but many of these modes combine what FIFA has across multiple sections such as the League which combines League, Cup and Champions League style matches depending on which team you choose and which league. The big mode of course is the Master League where you try to take a bunch of nobodies from the lower leagues to the top division. Like last year this has been expanded to four divisions so it offers an even tougher challenge.
Once again Konami have worked extremely hard on the player animation. We were quite amazed this year by EA's effort but once again Konami has just done a much better job. The realism has been cranked up a notch as well. Running at full tilt and shooting is likely to end up with a shot over the bar, but slowing down and lining up the shot will lead to an almost unstoppable shot. As well as this the chances are during a full game you will have very limited opportunity to shoot properly, one or two at the max from what we have played. This for purists is brilliant, but for those who want to run around the loungeroom with shirts overhead celebrating screamer goals, you will have to look elsewhere this year as even on the lower difficulty levels the defense is almost impossible to break down.
One of the biggest changes in terms of animation this year is the collision detection. Players will now clash and bounce off each other and the foul animations have been refined with more than one animation now appearing for bad tackles. As well as this, it's much easier for a player to lose their footing due to a shove and because of this, fouls occur more often. You have to tackle properly in this game or you will endure a frustrating time. Other animations include player specific skills from players such as Henry and Ronaldinho. Players also suffer injuries more often and sometimes a player may seem uninjured, but a few minutes later you will see them hobbling around indicating they aren't exactly happy.
What Konami has really worked on this year is gaining licenses as this really is their Achilles heal against FIFA. Until they get the full compliment of English Teams they will probably still be seen as inferior. However they are working on it and this year have added some of Europe's biggest teams to the game officially such as the big two Chelsea and Arsenal, Porto and Galatasary. Konami is obviously slowly building up the Champions League teams and that really is looking like a smart policy as the years go by. The officially licensed leagues this year include Dutch, Spanish and Italian so it's not all bad news on the licensing side of things.
The visuals for this years game have been overhauled a little and players look even more lifelike however it seems that the peak of the PS2 power is being reached as the game hasn't improved all that much. The animations of course help with this but other than that it's hard to say that PES5 is a huge jump over PES4. Players still get dirty and have bandages but that was added last year. The introduction has been overhauled and feels much more TV like now. Also, weather will affect the game and can even change during the game. One of the coolest (excuse the pun) animations is the breath you see during cold matches.
PES 5 continues to remain the premiere football game on consoles today. The new teams have helped the licensing issue but it still remains the aspect that has to really be looked at for the next generation title. With that aside, this truly is the closest thing to playing soccer in your own lounge room.