Pro Evolution Soccer 3 [Import)
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Konami
Developer
KCET
Genre
Sports
Official Website
 
Grade
The Good

• Improved graphics
• Better gameplay
• Replay value
• The Master League

The Bad

• Some improvable things were left untouched
• Handball
• No new camera angles

 
Grade
A

After Winning Eleven 7ís release in Japan a few months back, its first English-language counterpart is finally here for European gamers to enjoy. The highly anticipated Pro Evolution Soccer 3 turns out to be a definite improvement from its predecessors, although a few flaws seem to have affected its production along the way. And take note that PES3 is indeed better than any other soccer game around, and itís worth a purchase.

To begin with, PES3 boasts a lot of notable additions to the already stellar gameplay and replayability factor. The graphics are much sharper this time, and gamers will immediately notice much-improved textures and detailed facial expressions, especially during goal replays. Thereís also a whole lot of added animations which makes everything much smoother than before. Goalkeepers now guard their net with even more tenacity; spectacular dives and suicidal tackles included, although they do seem to let in a lot of close headers than in PES2. Outfield players are now able to receive passes and lobs just like how it looks in real life, and flicking the ball (or even the dreaded stepovers) is simply a matter of timed precision, and when done right it can dismantle even the toughest of opposition defense. The problem is that some of the other special moves (overhead kick and half-volleys) depend solely on the ball movement, and youíre not able to do it whenever you please (same as PES2). The difficulty level has been increased to an extent, and dealing with opposition AIs on 5* are noticeably harder. But this makes the game more challenging and fun if youíre a veteran, although sometimes youíre still able to predict their movements momentarily. Itís also a bit harder a to attack down the middle of the field; those struggling to score goals will resort into running down either flanks and cross the ball hopefully for someone to head it in. It doesnít hurt the fun factor too much though.

You will notice that the pace of gameplay has been reduced by a margin, but it serves merely to encourage more possession and teamwork. This is a good move by the developers, because now youíre able to conjure up more creative moves which will surely end up in the shape of an incredible and satisfying goal. Speaking of scoring goals, players now hit the ball with much more conviction and realism, and heading the ball doesnít look as static as it was in PES2. Scoring from free-kicks and penalties remain the same, however. There is no added tactical forms of play during set-pieces, which means that most of the time youíll either just lob the ball to a player up front or attempt to score directly. You canít set up decoys or a player who can nudge the ball a bit for another man to blast it towards goal; these regular real-life moves are completely absent from the game. And penalties are even worse. Itís only a matter of choosing the spot you wish to hit and hope the keeper goes the wrong way. Mind the occasional Ďcompletely missed the targetí penalties, but this is one of the (very few) instances when Konami ought to take a leaf out of EAís book and finally implement a power meter. Otherwise the whole thing remains a chore and is not much fun at all.

Thankfully, the commentary has finally improved. The odd duo of Peter Brackley and Trevor Brooking doesnít actually sound out of place most of the time (although as a Ďgame analystí, Brookingís usually short inane comments left much to be desired). As the main commentator, Brackley got most things right during a match (no more crappy ďWe have a corner. Sorry, itís a goalkickĒ sentences) and keeps up with its current pace. On the other hand, they will still have to catch up with the quality commentary FIFA games are known to have.

About the modes, all the regular ones are still there, but I will focus on the main thing that blows every other soccer series out of the water; the Master League. To accommodate the number of new club teams found in PES3, the ML format has now been divided into four regional leagues; South, North, East and West, each with two divisions and cup competitions. The new WEFA Championships is just like what the UEFA Champions League is all about; gather the best teams of all the leagues to see who will turn out as the true champion of them all. The Division Cup tournaments are another mainstay from PES2, while the Club Championships you usually have at the end of the season has been ditched to suit the maximum number of games one will have to play in a season. And instead of 30 games for a regular league season, you will only play 26 this time around (two less teams in the top division). To make the scheduling more stable, you can check a specified calendar for upcoming matches (negotiation periods are also in the same timeframe, and the eight free weeks during off-season remains for friendly matches or transfer activities). Thereís also a neat Cheat Prevention Save option to prevent resetting particular games, in which you will automatically lose a game 0-4 if you didnít manage to finish it. But keep in mind that you canít turn this option off ever again when entering the Master League; a power surge while playing that all-important final will sure to annoy anyone to no end.

There are also a few new additions to aid your transfer activities. You can still buy or loan in players as usual, but you can also propose a trade transfer negotiation, which is a two-way exchange that will decrease the number of points youíll have to pay and to ultimately let that not-so-preferable player of yours go instead of terminating his contract. And thereís another huge factor that helps a lot when looking out for a particular player of your choice; the Search option. Youíre given the freedom to find talents based on name, nationality, club and even certain abilities. To search for one particular player which suits your preference, you set up certain parameters to lessen the search results (position, main foot, height, age, and not forgetting their stats, all of which can be set up in the search option). But take this as an advice; there is a wealth of talents on the Other section, even more so by the fact that the real players of your ML team have been ditched out of their contracts (by your eleven unknown men) and are all available for free (except for wages, of course), so itís vital to get them as soon as possible.

Another thing is the points youíll get after a game; there are two kinds of them now. One is the regular ML points which can be used to buy new players; you can exceed 99,999 points now, mind. The other one are special PES points thatís a bit harder to collect. You can only amass 50 points for each game (any kind of regulation match, not just ML ones) and they come in thousands when you win league or cup competitions. But what are these points for? PES Shops, of course. This is a kind of reward youíll get for continuously playing matches and winning competitions. You can unlock new things such as classic teams, certain players, a training ground and a few useful additions for the Edit mode. But to start with, you should first collect 10,000 PES points to unlock the Free Transfer option, which can be used to update team players and keep up with current real-life rosters. And the choice to unlock the original dribble challenge is good too, but the BGM mode is pretty much useless.

Above all, the replayability factor is top notch. I daresay that this game contains as much replay value as the 3D GTA games; itís that good. Itís also a relief to know that the developers took the time to emphasize more on the fun factor of gameplay, unlike the FIFA games which focuses on mere aesthetics and player likenesses down the years. The multiplayer mode is still as brilliant, and having a good game with a friend (well, up to eight of them actually) is fun as always. Although this game still doesnít reach the coveted title of perfection, itís ways better than any other soccer game in existence. Donít let the aforementioned minor flaws fool you; itís still as fun as heck. Youíll be playing this until the next one comes out, thatís for sure.

- - FREEQZ

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