Wenger against Ferguson, Celtic versus Rangers... football is all about
PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 4
Format: PS2, Xbox, PC
Genre: Football simulation
It's no different in the virtual world. For the past few years, the battle
to turn the beautiful game into the best possible video game has been as
keenly fought as the Premiership title.
The two perennial contenders for
the crown? EA Sports' Fifa series, and Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer.
While the former has long boasted such assets as licensed world leagues and
official player and stadium names, Pro Evolution attracts fans for a
slightly different reason.
It may not always have the cosmetic sheen of its
competitor, but playing it is usually a far more involving experience.
Pro Evolution Soccer 4 builds on the tradition of its past incarnations and
also comes with a host of brand new features.
The Dutch, Italian and Spanish
leagues are now fully authentic, but English clubs and grounds still take on
amusingly fictitious labels, so Alan Shearer plys his trade for 'Tyneside'
at 'Magpie Park'.
Graphics are incredibly sharp - not only are most players instantly
recognisable, but they also move like their real-life counterparts.
A training mode is included for refining set-pieces and close control, while
the Master League system allows you to create your own dream team of star
But it doesn't matter how many gimmicks a game contains if it's no fun to
Thankfully, this is an absolute joy. Greater emphasis has been placed
on one-touch play, and while goals are not all that easy to come by -
creating chances requires quick thinking and accurate distribution - when
you do manage to make the net bulge, it's all the more satisfying.
Practice is the key, but as Pro Evolution 4 is completely addictive, that's
hardly a problem.
The challenge posed when playing against the computer is
considerable, with the opposition sides more skillful, intelligent and
lethal on the break than ever before.
Don't expect to be turning over the
better teams after only a couple of hours of play. Instead, be patient, tinker with your formation, and concentrate on becoming
a tactical genius.
Released for the first time on Microsoft's Xbox platform, it's now possible
to pit your wits anonymously against other Pro Evolution users online
courtesy of the Xbox Live service.
If that doesn't appeal, you can always spend an entire day sharpening your
skills, invite a friend round, and humiliate them over the course of an
evening with step-overs, scissor-kicks and precision passes galore. Much