Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007

Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2007-03-26


Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami
Release Date: February 6, 2007 Also On: PC, PS2 & Xbox 360

Soccer. It is an international pastime. In almost any country of the world, if you want to make friends, all you have to do is start kicking around a soccer ball. In the United States, its popularity is eclipsed by football, basketball, baseball, and probably even hockey. And yet, soccer does have its fan base in the United States as well. Enough so that both EA and Konami put out annual soccer games in the United States and they sell reasonably well. But, where EA is the obvious front runner when it comes to sports titles, does Konami's latest soccer game, Pro Evolution Soccer 2007, have what it takes to compete? I think it does. Let me explain why.

Let's start with the graphics. Konami must have worked overtime on these. They look as realistic as I've ever seen on the PS2, more realistic even than the first-party SOCOM game that came out a few months ago. The players look very lifelike, and the arenas likewise look like they are actually grassy fields. And these graphics don't have any negative impact on the frame rate either. Overall, I must say I am quite impressed.

In terms of sound, I'll be quite blunt. There isn't much. There is a bit of commentary here and there, but music, sound effects, everything, there just isn't much to the sound in this game. What sound there is, however, is done fairly well. The commentators sound just like real commentators for a real soccer match when they do say anything, and the cheering of the crowds sounds reasonably good as well. Still, I can't help but think that more could have been done with the sound. On the bright side though, at least we aren't "treated" to EA-style commentary where the same phrase can potentially come up three times in a ten minute period of time, so that's a plus.

So far as gameplay is concerned, realism is the name of the game here. FIFA seems almost like an arcade soccer game compared to the level of realism found in this game. For those who are looking for a fun soccer experience, this game plays a good game of more casual soccer at the lower skill levels, and for those who want to get into the deep strategy, the controls are deep enough and the higher skill levels difficult enough to facilitate that. So, despite the inherent realism of this game, there is truly something for all levels of soccer fans here.

In terms of team selection, this game has a very good variety of teams to choose from, from national teams to teams within different single-country leagues. Before many matches, you can even choose what kind of uniforms the players wear. If that isn't enough for you, you can choose your formation and which players you play with, or, if you aren't that knowledgeable about that kind of stuff, you can just let the game choose for you. Most of the time it will choose fairly well.

The actual game works fairly well for the most part. For those who are hardcore soccer fans, this is definitely the game for you since it takes realism almost too far at some points. Shooting, for example, can be a bit difficult for people who are just starting to get acclimated to the game since the control for it seems to be very sensitive, but it will get easier as you play more and learn to do it better. Beyond that though, the controls are very deep, deep enough to satisfy even the most hardcore soccer enthusiast, but, at the same time, the basic controls are accessible to even the most uninitiated.

This game obviously has multiple levels of AI. The Beginner level is an absolute pushover for the most part, especially on defense, as well it should be. The Top Player level doesn't seem at first glance to be the most difficult in the world, but soccer is not about trying to rack up ten or fifteen goals so much as it is about a battle for possession and defense, so often the hardest difficulty level will concentrate more on keeping you from scoring than it will on scoring themselves, although this will vary by the team. The game does a good job of varying tactics depending on which team you are playing against, probably emulating the tactics of the real team being represented, although I wouldn't know enough about soccer to know.

In terms of gameplay modes, this game has most of the modes that are customary for a sports title anymore. There's an exhibition mode (called Match in this game), a season mode (called League) and a franchise mode (called Master League). Within the Master League mode especially, there are a significant number of options and choices that will be at your disposal, enough so to rival an EA franchise mode. There's also a cup mode where you can challenge for various cups around the world, and a training mode where you can learn how to perform the various moves that the game has to offer. This makes for a game that can be enjoyed for a long time even by a single player, especially when you consider the multiple skill levels that these things can be done at.

But if that isn't enough for you, you can play 2-player matches in the match mode. I must thank Nate Bryan for consenting to be my opponent in my testing of the multiplayer in this game, and for the use of his PS2 to review this game in general. Anyway, the multiplayer works well, and, if you use LAN networks or play online you can play with up to eight people. These options, particularly online play, add to the replay value of a game that will already last a while, leaving you with a game that, if you are a fan of soccer, could potentially last all the way until next year's iteration comes out without getting old, perhaps even longer.

Overall, other than the lack of sound, I have no significant complaints to level against this game. If you are a fan of the Winning Eleven series, this game is well worth picking up. If you're a fan of the FIFA series, give this game a rental and it might convert you, especially if you're a hardcore soccer fan. Overall, if you are a fan of soccer at all, you owe it to yourself to at least give this game a chance.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 9.5
Final: 8.2
Written by Martin Review Guide

Reviewed by Martin Henely