TGS 06: Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 hands-on

One of the PlayStation 2's best-selling sports franchises is due another sequel, and we got to grips with the Japanese version to see how it's improved.

TOKYO--The Winning Eleven series of football games (Pro Evolution Soccer in Europe) may be about to change names internationally, but the evolution of the franchise continues on in its quest for perfection. Gone are the days when whole sections of the game would be stripped out and recoded, for nowadays we're down to a gentle sanding down of the rough edges.

As a result, there's nothing that feels revolutionary about the Japanese version of Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 for the PlayStation 2, but a decent number of those little frustrations you may have gotten used to after months of Master League action have been amended.

The first of those is the passing game, which has been tweaked to give attacking players slightly more of an edge. Previously the ball has tended to go directly to a player's feet, unless you selected the riskier and often-intercepted through ball option. This was fine in the final third, provided somebody had made a decent run, but when starting out on a counterattack, passing to a fullback who was just beginning to get up steam but was still behind play could stall the move enough for it to lose all momentum.

Now, in such situations, passes may be made ahead of a player into a space that he's running into, meaning that an opponent's team can be opened up far more efficiently with a bit of quick thinking. There's still a decent chance that passes which are too ambitious may fail, and in truth it's a subtle change, but one which over the course of a few games does seem to pay dividends.

Another adjustment that's been made lies around fouls committed. Rather than stumble and pause for a few moments, players who are the victim of an unsuccessful tackle will now recover more quickly and run on with the ball. Defenders will need to be more accurate from now on, and won't be able to rely on the rather random jostling that used to always seem to resolve itself in either a foul, or the defender's possession.

Goalkeepers seem to have been tweaked as well, and they no longer seem invulnerable against aerial challenges. Playing as Real Madrid--with an up-to-date roster that included Van Nistelrooy and Reyes--against several other teams including Barcelona and Koshima Antlers, we scored one goal by directly challenging the goalkeeper. Rather than perform an autocatch, as before, the keeper fumbled it down to another of my strikers, who nodded in from the edge of the six-yard box.

Running with the ball also seems to have been made a little easier, though we never really succeeded in passing more than one defender at a time. Rather, a quick turn and dash resulted in success more often than in previous versions of the game, and this is especially helpful when combined with tweaks to crossed passes as well. In both double- and triple-tap crosses, there's more a feeling of aiming for a specific player--even if that player's making a run--rather than a random lump into the box, although we suspect this may depend on how good a particular player is at crossing. Beckham seemed to be able to pick out players better than most, for example.

Running onto crosses and through balls has also been tightened as far as we could tell, and though it's a minor tweak, players seem to be able to take first-time shots more effectively now than they once did. What's more, decent strikers feel stronger in the air, and we powered in a couple of nice headered goals from high, accurate crosses.

Overall, although the Japanese version of the game we played contained J-League 1, J-League 2, and a couple of European leagues, the international version will more than likely play in a very similar way. If that's the case, Winning Eleven and Pro Evolution fans will have something to cheer, although those new to the franchise might take some time to learn the game's finer points. We'll have more as the European and US ship dates approach.

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20 comments
pdo4545
pdo4545

I want this game!!!!!!!!

romeo88
romeo88

u know what matt..... i agree. i actually got bored playing fifa 4 about 1 week whereas i don get dat feeling when i play pes 5 n 6. pes rulezzz

MattaDeRappa
MattaDeRappa

Romeo88... FIFA 07 will not be better than PES 6 because... 1. PES is fantastic and better than FIFA in EVERY department with the one tedious exception of licensing 2. FIFA is crap, very boring and ludicrously easy... 3. When in comparison, FIFA's gameplay does not have a shadow on the PES series. If you think otherwise then you clearly do not understand the concept of gameplay what so ever, never mind the concept of actual football. 4. The 'Same old boring master league' is possibly the main selling point over the FIFA games, behind actual gameplay, so you've obviously thought long and hard about your analysis. Similarly, if the master league is boring then how does FIFA, apparently copying the very idea of a master league, compare? Not very well... 5. Finally, relating back to gameplay, in FIFA its not uncommon to win say...15-0? Whilst in PES I've read countless articles about people getting super frustrated with the game and launching controllers across their room as the referee cheats them out of the league cup.... A disadvantage? Well actually no. Football is all about the passion, the pride and the competition and it certainly isn't about foregone conclusions when it comes to match results. For those reasons only, FIFA will not outsell PES and if they do its because of a few so called 'Football Fans' who do not quite grasp the concept of a true game of football, and who certainly can't see the unparallaled realism and gameplay that Pro Evolution Soccer is all about... From the above I can conclude that firstly, always ignore individuals who can't take the effort to spell correctly, even with a spell checker (romeo). Secondly, to note that not many people have played PES 6, and those who have would have to understand Japanese to enjoy the full experience that games in the series offer. Similarly, is it wrong of me to question the idea of Konami simply refining the gameplay system over the past couple of years? Have a little faith in the company that has brought to us what we consider the closest to perfection a football game can achieve for the past five years, yet still seems to get better every single year. Expect changes in PES, not necessarily major changes, but certainly changes that will help us enjoy the delightful thrills as our new signing hits the back of the net in the cup final... As for FIFA '07, I think it may just have reached level terms with PES 3, and it can consider itself lucky. FINAL SCORE : PES 6 - 0 FIFA -Matt-

ferid84
ferid84

BRING IT ON!!!!!!!!! they should release it a month from now -___-

romeo88
romeo88

i think dis time fifa 07 might be better than pes 6. here's why: 1.gmaeplay 4 pes 6 is basically d same like pes 5 except d shooting n passing system. 2. master league is d same old boring crap 3. d atmosphere in pes 6 has not been refined. d crowd chants in d stadiums r dead boring unlike fifa 07 where u have chants of ur fav club or country 4. d graphics r pretty much d same as d previous pes so i would conclude that pes 6 wont be a worth buy

muddynude
muddynude

I cant wait!! its gonna be awesome man. im considering getting fifa 07 in anticipation for pro

klunan9
klunan9

can't wait for pes6 brought fifa07, a big improvement but still lacks the fluency you get from pes, if only they had all the licences you would have the most perfect football game!

solid-kr05
solid-kr05

Looking Good pro. Cant wait for the release. Everyone i am trying to gets lots of friends track me please. Thanks a lot

elessartelrunya
elessartelrunya

Lets hope this is $39.99 as most new PS2 games are now-a-days :)

princeofgames90
princeofgames90

I am a football fan i'm taking it wven if it was worse taking in mind The the players that swapped from clubs will go to the new ones

popwariorwithin
popwariorwithin

i've had the japanese version since april, playing master league for 15 yrs now, been playing with arsenal. i got so many players that Arsenal bought recently, Rosicky, Gallas, Baptista. the only thing that sucks in the japanese version is that you have to be sprinting (PS2, hold R1) when u shoot. if ur just jogging, the players's shot will be more like a pass.

The_Answer_1
The_Answer_1

you can create it has a very good customization options if you have been playing the series that was never a problem , anyways those tweaks are needed cant wait to get it

Newsboy
Newsboy

They really need to get more premiership liscenses. I'm so tired of kicking Man Red's azz! Also, it would be great if we could create our own player after our own likeness so I can finally join Arsenal.

gromitt
gromitt

I preorderd ffor x box 360 hopefully another great game!