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Pro Evolution Soccer 5

Pro Evolution Soccer is my baby. No-one touches the review, no-one removes the disc from the PS2 at the office, and no-one interrupts James as he plays god’s gift to football.

I could ramble for hours on how much I love the fifth instalment, but this is a preview and as such you can’t really give the game away. Plus, chances are that either Phil or Jim would remove the PS2 power lead, thus stopping James from playing thy holy game of games. So instead, I’m taking you through my emotions as I play PES5 for the very first time. This is a no-nonsense preview; no padding, or talking about self-experiences. Just the plain facts, as this is such an important game of the year.

The set-up is 5-stars, the maximum difficulty, seeing as this writer loves his PES as hard as possible. This way we should see exactly how the computer acts instead of giving me an advantage. The fact that I also played PES4 on 6 stars right from day one is also a factor.

Ok, so I’ve tweaked the starting line-up, a straight 4-3-3. Cech; Ferreira, Terry, Carvalho, Del Horno; Makelele, Lampard, Cole; Robben, Wright-Phillips, Drogba. My Chelsea team take on Arsene Wenger’s title challengers, Arsenal.

We kick off, and I immediately find that the passing has been tweaked as I pass the ball straight to Henry. You now have to wave the left analogue stick (or D-Pad) in the direction you want to pass, no more 4-direction passing with auto aiming.

The fouls have been revamped too. Henry ran straight through the midfield, and tried to go past Terry. Holding down X, as you do, no longer makes the player run towards the ball, but rather challenge for it in a non-malicious fashion. Terry chases down the Frenchman, tugging at his shirt and slides in studs first. The ball goes fizzing out of the play, but the referee doesn’t like what he sees. Yellow card to Terry.

Pires takes the free kick, and it thunders against the bar. The crowd go “OOOOOOOO” loudly, and Reyes sprints in for the re-bound, only to header wide at the disgust of the supporters.

Cech takes the goal kick, and we header down towards Lampard. Shimmying past Gilberto, the dribbling seems more fluent, i.e. the player actually seems to take control of the ball, and doesn’t act like he’s struggle to keep it like in PES4. A nice pass to Drogba and Cole finds himself free. A weighted through ball sends the plucky Englishman through on goal. The crowd roars and seats can be heard whacking as they stand up together. They’re cheering, and Cole moves into the box. Lehman is out, and so we move slightly to get a better angle, and let fly. The ball goes smashing past Lehman, and clips the outside of the post.

“OOOOOOO” goes the crowd again. Cole’s got his head in his hands. James is starting to use explicit words, and it’s only the 8th minute.

For the rest of the game I tried out the passing, going along the back line, tempting Arsenal out to make some room for the wingers, but it doesn’t work; instead, the back line stays put and the midfield start to press. This is good stuff, much like real life.

We make our way up the field, carefully keeping possession. Wright Philips makes a mazy dribble past Ashley Cole at left back, and crosses into the box, slipping as he does. Campbell out-jumps Drogba, and heads the ball straight to the long-shot dynamo, Frank Lampard. He smashes a shot goal wards, only to find it right down the throat of the keeper.

Half time, and this preview code is over. One half is all you need to discover exactly how brilliant and am improvement PES5 is over its predecessors. Passing is much more fluid; no more silly long balls across the ground within seconds, the player has to swing his leg back further this time, which gives ample opportunity for the opposition to get in and block it.

Shooting is more refined, rather more about accuracy and placement than power, which is something that seems to have crept into football. Players have far less time on the ball, so keeping possession is as hard as ever, and players actually make runs and find space for a pass. Gaming perfection? You bet.

My major beef with PES over the years has been the sound. We still have the Japanese pop music banging away in the menu screens, but even this time round it seems more likeable. The crowd noises are excellent in PES5, as you may have seen from my experience. They get louder as you get closer to goal, collectively rise from their seats and cry in despair as the ball goes agonisingly close; before the game, you hear chants for the teams, in my case “Come on Chelsea” could clearly be heard.

As for presentation on the pitch, it’s never been better. Players actually resemble their real-life counter parts, shirts and badges are all correct, player names are all in order and spelt correctly, and they seem to have their likenesses too. Lampard runs about everywhere like the power horse he is, and Drogba often goes to ground looking for a free-kick. Henry even tries his offside trick; sneaking behind the defence and then drifting back to get onside for when a ball is played. This is sex on a disc. Literally.

So there you have it. You have my experience of my first play through and then comments of further tests (about 28 times it’s been played now, for the record), and the resounding verdict is very good indeed. Even without testing the Master League or other modes, and online play too, the on-pitch action is like a hot-tub experience with Kelly Brook and Carmen Electra, both naked, and playing with each other for your enjoyment.

Then again, from a self-confessed PES addict, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Pro Evolution 5 takes the brand into new territory with regards to on-field action, and is the closest you’ll get to playing in the Premiership to date. That’s all you need to know- now get out that credit card, pre-order and wait for the resounding review from yours truly. You won’t be disappointed.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2002.

Gentle persuasion

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