Then there is defending. Perhaps this is the most remarkable part of the Pro Evo series because Konami has made it an art. In FIFA any time you don’t have the ball is frustrating, in Pro Evo it is almost as much fun as attacking. The first thing to point out, is possession doesn’t jump from one side to another so quickly in Pro Evo, the passing system and movements of the players are too good for that. Instead, you will have to get used to closing down the opposition, pressing the ball and isolating the ball carrier. When you do get that chance to win possession real skill is required to get round your opponent and ease him off the ball. The bigger the opposing player, the more difficult, the faster the opponent, the more tricks. And the same is true for you, a bigger player may be more capable of out-muscling an opponent, but a fast player is better at nipping around him and getting a foot in. In practice, you will instinctually learn to tackle differently with players of different builds. For those of you who have yet to press the opposition and isolate a winger, before manoeuvring him carefully off the ball, let me tell you it is an incredibly satisfying experience.
And be patient, that is the number one rule in Pro Evo. The high scoring matches that occur so often in FIFA rarely turn up here. You may have to wait until the 90th minute before firing home a volley from the edge of the box before adding a breakaway goal as your opponent throws the kitchen sink at you in a last desperate effort to equalise.
Want to score a goal like Michael Owen’s against Argentina, glancing off two defenders before picking your spot in the net? You can. Want to then go out wide and whip in a curling cross and meet it with a Shearer like downward header? You can. The physics in Pro Evo provide a type of game play that simply isn’t possible in FIFA, and no one method of attack is more effective than another.
Of course, you’ll want to see all of these moments in glorious replay, and once again hats off to Konami. The replay system allows full 360 degree movement around the ball, zooming in and out and slow motion forward and back. Forget camera angles here, you make your own.
What other little details are there? Well you can’t loose the ball in flight because a small yellow marker shows you were it is going to land. The player control icon above a player’s head will turn yellow if he picks up a yellow card. Were you going to dive in on a player? Not now that yellow marker has popped up.
There are also no power up bars, or swerve metres for free kicks and corners. If you want to bend that ball into the top corner of the net, then you have to use the same system you use in game. If you ask Luis Figo to tell you how he just bent a ball in from 30 yards, he probably couldn’t tell you. The same will be true for you in Pro Evo, you just get a feel for it.
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And throughout the entire experience, those wonderful player animations strain their necks for every header or flick out a boot at the last minute in a tackle. They may not look as good as FIFA’s in a screenshot, but in motion there is no comparison.
There must be faults though right? Well, I have already listed the awkward controller setup and the atrocious menu music, but I really don’t care about that any more. Occasionally, I find you get penalised for what appears to be a perfectly fair sliding challenge, but that’s football all over.
Pro Evolution Soccer 3 disposes with the garnish that has plagued the FIFA series over the last couple of years, to concentrate completely on the game. In some respects it may be a lazy port, but nothing that matters has been left out. As for the controller issue, I don’t care; I’m going to buy a Playstation2 controller and an adapter for the PC, maybe two. This is the game PC fans have been waiting for. The king is dead, long live the king.