Preview By: Erin Ellis
I started the press demo for Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 3 expecting to be bored in short order. Granted, this was not a good, objective frame of mind to be in when critiquing games. I just wasn’t looking forward to playing to 0-0 ties all night long, but a funny thing happened on the way to the Kanji Dome. I simply couldn’t stop playing.
The third installment in Konami’s popular soccer series is the first released for the PC, and it looks to be shaping up well. The slick, sexy menu catches your eye right away, but there’s more than just window dressing to talk about with this title. The demo I played only contained a quick play Match mode with four countries available, but it looks as if there will be no end of options open to football fanatics in the finished product. There are Cup, League and Master League modes awaiting you in the final build.
The first thing that jumps out at you as you delve into an actual game is the level of fine tuning that you can perform on your team. Not only will you be able to set strategies and formations for your team, but you will be able to set strategies for individual players as well. For those of you that really get into the strategy behind the game, this ability will make you giddy with anticipation.
Most striking to me were the player animations. Players move smoothly in a very realistic fashion. They perform special maneuvers at appropriate times. On a corner kick across the goal mouth, players will head or jump kick as needed to take their shot, and they look great doing it.
Watching a ball bouncing and rolling downfield is enough to make you realize the quality of the physics within the game. The ball slows down in an appropriate fashion as it rolls along the ground. It bounces off of heads and chests in a correlative manner to how hard the ball was kicked in the first place. As a player dashes with the ball, it moves farther away from him and becomes harder to control.
Playing sports titles with a keyboard takes a little getting used to for me. I always want a joystick when I’m deep into fast-paced sports action, but the PC version of Pro Soccer Evolution 3 offers you the choice to map controls to whatever key best suits you. There are a number of different moves your players can execute. Some of these require holding multiple keys, but I was able to execute these various moves smoothly with no problems.
Meters are used to control the strength of your shots and long passes. I found these to be very useful and easy to master once I got into the game a bit. As you become proficient with the controls, you’ll be able to string together some rather nice looking combinations of passes and shots.
Enjoyable as the gameplay is, there are some other features which contribute to the overall experience. Highlights are triggered by exciting action throughout the game. Halftime and game’s end will provide you with a highlight reel from the action to that point. Due to the nicely crafted player models and animations, these replays look very good. One small thing I noticed was that the player’s feet seem to sink into the turf as they run. A small detail; one which I’m sure will be rectified before release.
Konami’s site boasts of real-time crowd reactions. If the game is boring or going poorly for the home team, the crowd will be quiet or boo. Likewise, they’ll go nuts if the action is hot and heavy. For my part, I only noticed something that sounded like a Silent Hill nightmare choir warming up for the apocalypse, but this is probably due to my uninspired playing style more than anything else.
Yet another thing to be excited about is the mutiplayer portion. Again, according to Konami, up to 8 players will be able to play together or against one another. The mind boggles at the possibilities. Just don’t get into any slap fights over who gets to play as Beckham.
Based upon what I’ve seen, this game was crafted with lots of TLC. There are two heavyweights in the realm of videogame soccer. Based upon the admittedly limited press demo of Pro Soccer Evolution 3, Konami is not giving up the fight, and they are churning up the turf of the PC platform in hopes of unseating the FIFA franchise and taking the cup. Check out the public demo for yourself. Available for download right here at Gamer’s Hell.