Pro Evolution Soccer : Nevermind, eh?     by Tom

         

          The latest instalment of ‘Pro Evolution Soccer’ has been announced, so I’m going to take a look back at the series, and see if it’s still as fun as it always was, by comparing it to its biggest rival.


          I’m a football fan. Being an English football fan, I am no stranger to footballing disappointment. Being a Leeds United fan, it’s a good idea to keep a noose in the house. Not to use, just so we know if ever we need it, there is a nice, easy way out, just in case things get too much. I know that seems silly, but after being 3-0 up against a strong Portsmouth side and the match finishing 3-3, that noose begins to look pretty inviting.


          (By the way, is it Monsoon season everywhere else in the UK right now? It’s like ‘The Day After Tomorrow out there.)


          It is little surprise then, that I spend a considerable amount of my time trying to restore Leeds to their former glories on a variety of games. ‘Football Manager 2011’ is a work in progress and takes too long but 2 more I play are ‘Pro Evolution 2010’ and ‘FIFA 10’. (I don’t own either of the newest versions, due to issues with funding. To be more specific, I have no funding.) So my question is this. Which is better? There’s only one way to find out...


          A carefully reasoned and informed discussion. With myself. And who knows? This analysis might give FIFA some much needed credibility (not that I over estimate my writing powers at all), because let’s be honest, Sep Blatter is so crooked, he sleeps on a spiral staircase. So corrupted, Microsoft Word can’t open him. You get the picture, but don’t worry Mr Blatter. Here to help.


          When we look at gameplay modes, Pro Evo has the better of FIFA here. Yeah, FIFA has a season mode and that’s all well and good; it’s a pretty good season mode, but Pro Evo always had ‘Master League’. For those, who aren’t familiar with the series, ‘Master League’ took the team you selected (If your team aren’t considered in the ‘World’s Elite’ and thusly aren’t on the game, you can create your own team, i made Leeds. This one doesn’t have Ken Bates in charge) and replaced their players with a group of misfit old players and youngsters looking for glory. Your job is to take them to glory in a division consisting of the best teams in the world. This was always my favourite gameplay mode in a football game and I still have a strong emotional connection to those players that took Leeds to the Master League championship on ISS:Pro Evo 2. Now, the addition of youth players and development make it pretty addictive; in spite of all the glaring faults with the gameplay. More on that later.

         

          I have played FIFA 11 on a regular basis at Uni, and while I got destroyed by my flatmates almost every match, it is a damn good game. It plays like football should; any way you want to play it; and the game seems to promote the idea of freedom and choice. If there is a player right in front of you that you want to pass to, you press the pass button, and it does it, (as long as the pass power is good enough) and it goes to that player. If you want to dribble the ball past someone, you can; the success level depends on the attributes of the footballer the player is controlling and etc. I know it seems rather obvious for a football game to be able to simulate the fundamental concepts of the sport, but FIFA gives the player the choice of how to play the sport, remember that point please. There will be an exam at the end.


          Now, if we look at Pro Evo’s gameplay, even though it is the same sport, we see something, ironically even more crooked the aforementioned top brass of footballs governing body. The success of any move you try to execute just seems to be based on a random number generator; the ‘simple pass to team mate’ seems to work on the extremely scientific AI system ‘whenever it bloody feels like it’. The same freedom allowed with FIFA disappears with Pro Evo; the game only allowing goals for extremely intricate passing moves. There is almost no freedom involved and if you don’t play the way it wants you too  It seems almost impossible to dribble past someone, and when you do manage to get past the defence to have a shot at goal, one of their other players will literally slide halfway across the pitch in order to block your shot, either winning the ball fairly, or breaking your striker’s leg in 6 places. Another thing, no penalties are ever awarded for these leg-shattering tackles. I’ve tried. Nothing. This is just wrong.


          You know what’s worse than this? FC Nortovka; a made-up Ukrainian team used in the ‘Master League’ mode, passing it around like Barcelona. No offence intended, but the only people who should be passing it about like Barcelona are Barcelona, or maybe Arsenal. I highly doubt that the Ukrainian Division 2 team, would be knocking it about like the Champions Of Europe. But nope, that is how EVERY team play, even Stoke! On top of that, the computer players never seem to score anything other than headers, and will miss the easiest of one-on–ones. Something is fucked up here.


          My theory? This isn’t a football game, it’s simply an advertisement for the sport of football. I’ll prove it, it’s in their poster boy; Lionel ‘poops money and gives it to poor children’ Messi, it’s in the signs the fans have in the stadiums, and the language used in the game, ‘Go For Glory’, ‘Ultimate Dream Team’, ‘most prestigious competition in club football’ etc. Pro Evo is trying so hard to show off that football is ‘the beautiful game’ that it just ends up looking ridiculous and ugly.


          And is it ‘the beautiful game’? Really? Really, it is guys kicking a cow’s arse around, watched by Jabba the Hutt’s extended family. Where does the beauty come in? The Wives and Girlfriends? Sure, their nice looking, but that can’t be it. The footballers aren’t interested in them, so they can’t be that beautiful. Footballers don’t seem to be interested in women unless they have to pay to have sex with them, and while prostitution is a lot of things, one thing I would say it isn’t is ‘beautiful’.


          In reality, Lionel Messi is the perfect poster boy for Pro Evo. He personifies everything this game is, flashy, annoying as hell, and overrated.

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