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  Monday, 21 October, 2002, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Let's play: Pro Evolution Soccer 2

Capturing the essence of the beautiful game has been a long-running pursuit of videogame developers.

For many gamers Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) has come closest to re-creating the feel of boot on leather and the smell of meat pies on a Saturday afternoon

  Pro Evolution Soccer 2
Format: PlayStation 2
Price: 39.99
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Football
Published: 25 October

Electronic Arts' Fifa series of games may be the most popular but PES is admired as the most authentic.

The gripes about the previous version were superficial - the commentary was awful, the omission of genuine players' names was frustrating and there needed to be more polish about the look of the game.

Sadly, Konami has not taken the opportunity to rectify all of these niggles.

The important thing to mention is that the gameplay remains peerless in PES2.

The game is smoother and small glitches in animation - such as annoying stumbles when tackled - have been sorted out.

However, it seems easier to play and flamboyant goals seem more in abundance.

Don't get me wrong - you won't get five-all matches which characterise the arcade feel of EA's Fifa series.

But there are many more goals to be scored in PES2.

  Verdict
Graphics: 86%
Playability: 86%
Sound: 50%
Realism: 95%
Overall: 90%

Perhaps Konami has decided to ape Fifa slightly, in which it is so easy to score that games resemble basketball matches.

If this is the case, and not simply a glitch in AI, then it is regrettable.

Tense tussles of crafted midfield play have always been the hallmark of PES but in the sequel midfield can almost be ignored.

Strikers seem to have more time and space to find a goal scoring opportunity and goalkeepers remain vulnerable to shots across the face of goal.

The visuals have been slightly improved but PES2 is not the best looking soccer game by any stretch of the imagination.

The commentary problem has been looked at but it remains as limited and comically poor as it has always been.

New commentator recruit Peter Brackley certainly says more than his predecessor but what he does say makes no more sense.

However, for the polyglots among us you can switch to French, German, Spanish or Italian commentary - which should be experienced if only for a more "European" feel.

There are slightly more options - including a third division in the popular Master League mode, which allows you to play in a European super league.

But the menu system remains inflexible and some very useful options only reveal themselves by tinkering about with the sub menus and exploring exactly what can be done to the game.

In truth, there was little Konami could do to improve the core of the game.

But with reports that Fifa 2003 is shaping up to be a much better game of football, they may well have missed an opportunity to keep at least a division between the two franchises.


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