Pro Evolution Soccer 3

Games - Pro Evolution Soccer 3 Review PS2
Pro Evolution Soccer 3 Review PS2

Here it is the third edition of the greatest football game that ever existed, Pro Evolution Soccer 3. It boasts an 80% aesthetic overhaul with a new graphics engine that allows the greatest level of detail seen in the series which includes new animations specific to each player. A new four division master league on top of the cup tournaments, friendly matches plus a new shop system that will allow players to accumulate "PES" points through the training and exhibition modes which can be spent on new stadiums, crowd effects, classic teams and players just to name a few. So does Pro Evolution 3 the level of excellence once again or does it just add some polish to the pinnacle of football games?

Well I will begin with the graphics and as expected they do not disappoint. The improvements are instantly noticeable; the players look and move better than ever. Each player's unique looks and movement are down to the new graphics engine that Konami has developed. The animations have been reworked, players have their own individual movement based on their real life counterparts, so Zidane will not just look like the man himself but his movements will be uniquely Zidane's. Previously when tackling in PES2 the animations all looked pretty generic, now you will be lucky to see the same tackle twice with each one looking quite different to the next. PES3 now has animations for pushes, tugs and pulls rather than the basic barge animation used before. All in all the player movement feels and looks fantastically realistic with each player looking very individual in both design and movement. This makes for a real visual feast and uncanny realism.

The overhaul doesn't stop there, the stadiums seem to have had a decent makeover too including Old Trafford (Trad Brick), Stamford Bridge (Blue Bridge) plus fully licensed renders of San Siro, Stadio Olympico and Stadio Delle Alpi. Previously the crowd in the PES series has been a pretty standard affair, now when playing in the Master League you will find the crowd attendance will vary depending on how good or bad you are playing. In the shop, which I will come to later, you can buy new crowd effects which display even more detail.

PES3 now includes an instant replay system, so if you want to check out a dodgy tackle or see why the ref has given the red card just press the start button to view the incident quickly after if happens. There is one thing that might occur during play, a

 
Games - Pro Evolution Soccer 3 Review PS2
Games - Pro Evolution Soccer 3 Review PS2
Games - Pro Evolution Soccer 3 Review PS2
Games - Pro Evolution Soccer 3 Review PS2

slight glitch in the frame rate which will appear as a slight stutter. This; more than likely; comes down to the new graphics engine that has been used and it obviously has this slight problem that some people have spoken about before when playing early versions of the game. I can assure you it happens rarely and it will not affect the out come of the match, it almost goes unnoticed because it is such a small and slight glitch. All of these graphical improvements make PES3 feel far more fluid than ever before, offering many animations for new moves which also improve the depth of game-play.

The first thing you will notice about the game-play is that PES3 seems to be more difficult than before. This is mainly down to the properties of the defence players will press and shut down attacks like never before. Space on the pitch is also harder to come by; you will not have the luxury of strolling down the wing and putting a cross in. Now the space is significantly harder to come by with the defenders being far more aggressive. To balance play Konami have added a very large number of moves, more so than it's counterpart FIFA apparently. These are not easy to pull off though you will have to make specific moves using your dual shock to pull of these pieces of trickery. Luckily the Dual Shock and PES3 respond instantaneously to these commands so you won't begin to feel frustrated that you can't nutmeg the defence. If you're a novice you will not get much usage out of these moves, only the advanced players will benefit.

Passing has also been improved upon especially the long balls and manual passing. The long ball will go to whom you wish it to go to with precision and you will notice the ball will appear and feel to a certain extent much heavier in the air. All the float-i-ness has gone for good thanks to some new ball physics. Now long shots on goal are far more controllable too. Manual passes are also improved with the new control scheme, move the analogue stick in the correct direction and press down, simple as that. This is a far more accurate way to make your own plays so you don't have to rely on the pass button.

A couple of changes have been made to the rules you can now give away a hand ball, this will mainly happen while you are defending and usually in the penalty box, so watch out. If a foul is made to a player during an attack the ref will play the advantage, adding even more fluidity to the game as there have been many times when I have been out in the clear with a shot on goal just to be taken down and given a free kick.

There are a few modes of play and most of them have been improved. The Master League is one of these modes now incorporating 4 leagues with 2 divisions each. You will be entered into any one of these leagues into division two. Here you will have to arrange friendly matches, make transfers and organise you team. Should you want to make transfers you will have to wait for one of the three periods to commence before you can start your negotiations. You will also be responsible for the training of your young stars in the Master League, when playing the league you will also have to make sure you rotate you squad because player will become tired from playing. Each player will have a tiredness level so make sure they get the rest when they need it. During the league, depending on how well you have played and whether you are in division 1 or 2 you will have the chance to enter either the Masters Cup or the WEFA Championship. I guess you could compare this to the Champions League and the UEFA Cup.

The training mode enables you to get paid and spend your money in the new shop. Basically you are faced with challenges which have to be completed in a certain order and each challenge has several difficulty levels. On completing challenges you are rewarded with PES currency which can be spent on various in game options and mods. There are 38 classic players and 8 classic teams to be bought as well as a number of customisations such as speed options, ball effects and crowd effects. You can also acquire PES currency by winning exhibition matches, leagues and tournaments. On top of this new stuff you can still train with your team and practice all the in game moves which come with a demonstration video to show you how they should be done.

Konami have basically taken PES2 and decided to reach yet another higher stage of perfection but not without that minor glitch in the frame rate. Konami have made the already fantastic game play even deeper with the contribution of all the extra moves available and the slight changes to the control system. You can expect smoother, quicker, sharper game play with great looks and some extra features in the various modes. Pro Evolution 3 could cause your girlfriend to leave you or your wife to file for a divorce due to the excessive amount of time that you will spend on the fundamental holy grail of football games.

9.5 out of 10

 

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