With the likes of FIFA, This Is Football and ISS providing fast and furious arcade-style football kicks, it's been left largely to Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer series to tackle the more methodical and tactical simulation side of soccer. Last year's PES2 was essentially a tightened-up update of its predecessor, but Pro Evolution Soccer 3 sees Konami's Tokyo division completely rebuilding everything from scratch - with quite spectacular results.
Take the ball out onto the pitch for the first time and prepare to be dazzled by the reworked and massively improved player animation. Now, they'll react realistically to any situation, using their feet, body and head appropriately based on the height, direction, position and velocity of the ball. Watch as players desperately stretch to deliver a pass as the ball lies just of their reach, or receive a mid-air ball with their feet, only to knock it over their own head and carry on running on the turn - you will be impressed.
PES3 offers an unprecedented level of control on and off the ball; the right analog stick and R2 button are now used to give you immediate access to a variety of tricky, skilful manoeuvres. Spin the stick, for example, and you'll perform a deft 360-degree turn; double tap it to either side of your player's running direction and they'll perform a rapid shimmy to take the ball away from oncoming defenders. Manual passing is also possible by tipping the stick in your chosen direction and clicking down on the R3 button to deliver inch-perfect passes and defence-splitting through balls.
Master League mode has benefited from expansion once again; you'll have to work much harder to fight your way into the big leagues, and negotiating and purchasing players requires a smidgen of financial nous. You'll find yourself striving to build the finest team possible without falling into debt on account of your star players' extortionate wages. Victory in Master League matches (and indeed, any matches for that matter) earns you PES points that can be used in the all-new PES Shop to purchase new stadia, kit and secret options. Pro Evolution Soccer is by far the finest instalment of the series yet, and possibly the greatest football simulation ever.
- Hugely improved player animation and ball physics
- Perform stepovers, 360 degree spins and more using the right analog stick
- Referee now makes advantage and handball rulings
- Purchase bonus features in the PES Shop
- Expanded Master League mode