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Hot on the heels of their biggest rivals in the football genre, Konami have released a demo of the latest Pro Evo, demonstrating a keen intention to gain back the crown it narrowly conceded last year.

Hit the jump for our impressions of their new effort.

The current issues regarding Pro Evo were not that it was necessarily a bad game, but after so many years of dominance, it felt like the developers had rested on their laurels and not produced a title that fully took advantage of the hardware at their disposal. Whilst their major competitor,  Fifa, took massive strides in a positive direction.

The only option with this years demo is to jump straight into exhibition mode, where 6 teams are available; Barcelona, Liverpool, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The various menus for making pre match substitutes are simple to use as ever and hopping into a match is quick and easy.

Once you get past the loading screens that show the lineup for the match, you get your first look at the players as they emerge from the tunnel,where it’s clear to see the refinements that have been made to PES’s graphics. Player likenesses are exceptionally detailed, with my only problem being that everyone tended to look a little pale.

Unfortunately these improvements aren’t matched by the presentation of the stadiums or the crowd.

Although there are photographers at each side of the field, catch a glimpse of one in a replay and you’ll find it hard to believe that something can still look so awful in this gen. Likewise, animations seem substandard, player’s legs whir at such high speed they resemble the Road Runner, keepers jerk like angry marionettes when making saves, and players shudder and vibrate at high speeds when they challenge each other for the ball.

There also seems to be no momentum, players can be running full pelt in one direction, yet instantaneously turn and direct a one touch pass with perfect accuracy. Combine this with the fact that defenders seem unable to hold back or nudge aside smaller players with any effectiveness, it can make getting the ball back a frustrating affair.

However Pro Evo hasn’t lost all of the things that made it special, as passing and close control work well and intuitively, and when you shoot you also feel that you are almost totally in control, able to pick the angle and the strength of your shots in a way that’s simple to pick up, yet deep enough to provide variation.

Specific players also maintain all of their real life qualities; Messi is able to skip between defenders with ease, and Steven Gerrard powers in shots from a distance and when you are in control of one of these players it’s a delight to the senses.

But Pro Evo has had all these things for years, and seems unable to make the adjustments necessary now that Fifa has improved so much. While it’s possible that many of the smaller aesthetic problems will be ironed out by the time the full game is release, the bigger issues seem to lie intrinsically at the heart of Konami’s engine, and a bigger overhaul is needed in order to regain PES’s lost place at pole position.

The demo is currently available on PSN and XBL.

  1. I thought it was great. So much so I’ve decided to take it over FIFA this year.

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