Every year FIFA (EA) and Pro Evolution Soccer (Konami) go head-to-head to battle for the ‘footballing crown’ each year. Many would say FIFA has taken the crown in recent years but have Konami done enough this year to ensure FIFA’s reign ends? Read on to find out.
After insertion of the disc your eyes are greeted to a rather bright menu screen featuring some funky designs. I personally feel it doesn’t suit the game’s slightly dull and boring style but that could just be me being finical. Another feature I felt didn’t suit the game is the game’s soundtrack which doesn’t have any songs that stand out compared to the four-letter F word (FIFA).
The first option on the menu is the UEFA Champions League, a brand new game mode for the newest license on the game. Whilst the only real difference between this game mode and any other tournament within the game is the slightly different layout of the on-screen score bar, the music and the extra clip at the beginning of the match introduction, the mode is very well constructed and is easily the best tournament mode on the game. It’s also a step in the right direction for Konami who are slowly managing to secure more licenses for the series.
Konami have also managed to secure the licenses for two of Britain’s best football clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United (sorry to disappoint you Chelsea fans) who join Newcastle and West Ham from last year’s outing. The prize for the funniest non-licensed team name has to go to Hull City who in PES 2009 are known as: Yorkshire Orange.
The other new game mode in Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 is the ‘Become a Legend’ mode in which you create a player who starts off on the reserves at a poorly rated team and you work your way up to become a football legend. At the very start of the game when you’re playing for the reserves the game mode feels like a constant drag as you find yourself playing training match after training match. Training matches wouldn’t be so bad if there was a bit more atmospheric; even a manager shouting out instructions could have been a good addition. And the boredom doesn’t stop there. Once you make the bench you’ll find yourself watching your team mates compete in a number of games before actually being substituted on and even then you only play for a few minutes – if that. It’s only once you become a first team regular the game mode becomes entertaining.
You may be interested to know there is Xbox Live Vision camera support so that you can plaster your ugly mug onto your player. I had many attempts at it but failed to get a decent one which was disappointing. Other than the moments of boredom and poor Xbox Live Vision camera support, ‘Become a Legend’ is a great new addition to the game which will keep players occupied for a while.
Your player from ‘Become a Legend’ mode can be used in the rather bizarre ‘Legends’ game mode, the final new game mode for Pro Evolution Soccer 2009. Within ‘Legends’ you control your player as part of a team consisting of other gamers. During the match, your play style and success are rated using points and feedback is displayed on the screen. Bonus points can be earned by keeping possession of the ball and scoring. As soon as you lose possession of the ball, the points tally is reset. Unfortunately, a lot of the time I experienced connection issues. Whether it was my connection in the fault or the game’s servers I do not know. The ‘Legends’ game mode is a welcome addition to Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 though didn’t prove to be as fun as I originally thought it would be. It may have been better suited to the ‘Become a Legend’ game mode.
As always, Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 contains the Master League game mode, or for those new to the series, a season in which you participate in one of two leagues and cups without all the licenses. The mode doesn’t bring much difference from previous titles but once again manages to boast hours of gameplay. The Exhibition, League – Cup, Network and Training game modes also make a return in Pro Evolution Soccer 2009.
The gameplay keeps the same PES style to it and the game flows very well. There’s something about the way the players control the ball which I don’t like but that could just be me being fussy. The controls remain the same as last year’s title which comes as no surprise. I prefer the right trigger for sprint as it feels more comfortable on the finger and thankfully for me there is the option to change this.
Graphically, PES 2009 is an improvement on last year’s title and a lot of players are easily identifiable. Despite the bright menu design, the game does seem to be slightly on the dark side at times and the spectators still look like cardboard cut-outs though the stadiums themselves are slightly impressive. Not breath-taking like those evident in FIFA 09, but still look fairly decent. You’ll also be delighted to know Jon Champion and Mark Lawrenson cover the commentary once again. After a few games you quickly establish that you’ll be hearing the same phrases time after time. Well what did you expect? It's Mark Lawrenson!
Onto the achievements now and it seems like Konami did one big copy and paste job. Not only do the achievement images remain almost identical to last year’s title but even some of the achievements remain the same. Shame on you Konami, shame on you.
Overall, Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 shoots but misses the target. The ideas are there but Konami haven’t executed them as well as they could have done.
David Wriglesworth is a Northern lad with a passion for gaming, who graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA (Hons) Journalism degree. If you can drag him away from the consoles, you can probably find him Tweeting or watching Coronation Street.