Overall Rating: 9.0/10.0 (Excellent)
We were given the opportunity to review Konami's newest installment of the Pro Evolution series: PES 09 for the PS3. Overall, it is an excellent game that offers a great deal to hardcore and casual soccer fans alike. It accurately recreates the total soccer experience, which is not an easy thing to do. I have to admit that I have always been fond of Konami products. I remember playing Blades of Steel on my NES as a young child. I agreed with all of the positive reviews that accompanied the International Superstar Soccer (ISS) and Winning Eleven series. It is obvious that Konami has a strong tradition of excellence, especially with sports games.
This year's edition of Pro Evolution has far more strengths than weaknesses. The menus in and out of the actual games are incredibly crisp and stylish. I found the level of difficulty to be very appropriate with five different levels, from Beginner to Top Player. The learning curve was very minimal so that any gamer can pick up and play this game. The audio, especially the soundtrack, was incredibly impressive. The crowd noise and color commentary were very authentic. However, the addition of the Champions League feature has to be the most welcomed change in the series. The TV-style presentation created an experience that was second to none.
As with any project, there are a few weaknesses. I found the controls to be a bit loose and unnatural at times. Soccer requires fluid movements and that didn't always happen. The load times were incredibly inconsistent. It seemed like it was extremely quick at one moment and lagging behind at another. I also found the generic teams to be a bit discouraging. I know full licensing can be expensive, but it shouldn't be ignored. At least the number of generic teams and stadiums is significantly lower than past edition.
EA Sports should watch out as they definitely have competition this year. Every soccer fan should take a serious look at this established, polished series.