Reviewed: March 5, 2007
Released: February 6, 2007
At last the long wait for the 360 version of the best soccer videogame engine has come to an end. All of us soccer fans have been forced to plunk down our hard earned money on several EA soccer games the past 18 months with yet another on the way next month. So far, all of them left us wanting more. More for our money. They either lacked teams, had features stripped out compared to other consoles, or were just plain terrible… or all of the above.
So I’ve been forced to play other games until Winning Eleven Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 arrived. The time has come!
The 360 version of Winning Eleven Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 has some nice animated screens when you start up the game. The opening menu has the familiar list of options: Match, Master League, League, Cup, Xbox Live, Training, Edit, Data, System Settings, and Credits.
There are five skill levels to choose from. You can choose to play or coach. There are 176 teams from 7 leagues and 4 continents to play. The German league is missing completely, and it’s a given that there is no USA league.
Where PES07 has always fallen behind is with licensed teams (or lack thereof). This year is no exception. I ripped EA for stripping teams out of FIFA 07, so I guess I should do the same to Konami for PES. Konami has no licensed leagues and only a handful of licensed teams. The remaining teams are not so veiled pseudonyms, which under normal circumstances could be edited by the user. But for some strange reason, Konami has taken that ability out of the 360 version. So you are stuck playing “Birkshire Blues” instead of Reading.
In past versions of Winning Eleven this whole licensed team thing used to be forgivable. The gameplay engine made up for any shortcomings. But not this time. For the most part the game engine seems to be a slightly tweaked version of the previous years. Which on the whole, isn’t a bad thing. But it would seem that the same A.I. cheats in the game engine exist as in previous versions. I frequently found mediocre players sprinting by my world-class defenders. It was as if the A.I. doesn’t like loosing so it tweaks the settings so my guys are stuck in molasses while it makes a run at my keeper. Rubbish. So much for next-gen gameplay.
In this version for some strange reason they have dropped most of the editing features entirely. You can edit the player names and stats, but nothing else. You cannot change the team names, player appearance, or the uniforms.
The game engine that everyone has loved in the past hasn’t changed much. In the process, FIFA 07 has flown right on by them. PES07 still have the same player model types in which the players can stop on a dime and go a different direction. Their movement isn’t natural – although now you must be facing a person to pass it to him.
This is all fine for gameplay, but generally we want realism as much as possible and EA’s FIFA 07 improved so much from previous disasters that they’ll be getting my money for the foreseeable future… and look out because right on the heals of Winning Eleven will be EA’s UEFA Soccer which reportedly improves greatly on the surprisingly good FIFA 07 engine.
On the other hand, Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 is great fun on Xbox Live. It has the standard ranked and unranked games, but it’s very addictive just trying to get your rank and rating scores higher. You are also placed in a division based on experience, much like the EPL you will find yourself doing everything you can to get up to the next division. It’s a simple system, but it works. I only had a lag problem once and just for 2 seconds, which is amazing considering I was playing someone in Brazil.
The control scheme is a bit strange. The main oddity being after a goal is scored. Usually there is an instant replay and instead of pressing X to skip it like all other games, you have to press the ‘start’ button. It seems like a really minor thing but non-standard control schemes are really annoying.
There are 6 leagues available for League play, including Serie A, Eredivisie, Liga Espanola, Ligue 1, England League, and International. It’s nice, but not what it should be. The Cup play consists of 7 possible cups tournaments. You can plus up to 16 players with various settings for the type of brackets and groups. Again, this is limited by a lack of some top tier leagues and licenses.
My overall impression of this game is Konami just wanted to get something out on the 360. It seems rushed. It comes as no surprise that Konami just announced an arcade game based on PES for the local pubs. That’s precisely how this game feels. Like a glorified arcade game with techno music and all.
I had really hoped Konami would ramp up the graphics nicely for the 360. The graphics are okay. It’s the player models and general feel of their movements that is the problem. The player models are good, certainly the best Konami has ever offered… but they are not what they should have been. Again, it seems like EA has stolen the lead.
There are 12 camera views to use. The stadiums are rendered very well with the fans wearing the appropriate home colors and waving the team flags. The pitch looks very accurate; it even has patches of wear in the main alleys.
The English announcers are Trevor Brooking and Peter Brackley. They do an admirable job with this game. I heard very few repeat phrases and many of the pseudo player names are used.
Music is mostly brain numbing arcade techno garbage. I guess this must be “in” again in Europe. God save the Queen.
Value? Very little. Especially considering there are alternatives available. I guess I don’t hide my feelings very well. It really pains me to say this, but Pro Evo just doesn’t cut it anymore. All of us hardcore soccer fans used to put up with the chore of editing team and player names, just because the gameplay was so far beyond anyone else. That isn’t the case now.
Is this game good? The gameplay by itself is good. It is fun to play on Xbox Live. But I didn’t think a game could possibly underwhelm me as much as EA’s FIFA 07. FIFA may not have a bunch of teams, but at least they are correctly named. So congratulations Konami, you have underachieved beyond my wildest dreams.
There are 23 Achievements available. Most of them are winning the leagues or cups. There are 6 achievements for online play at milestones such as 1, 10 and 100 online matches and 10, 50 and 100 online matches won. These will mostly just take time. The most difficult are the online matches as you play unpredictable opponents.
I really was looking forward to this game. It used to play better than EA’s FIFA series. But I have to grade it on the same scale as FIFA 07, and unfortunately Winning Eleven Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 just doesn’t measure up.
The gameplay used to be the best, but it’s about the entire soccer experience and the lack of actual teams is a real disappointment. It’s come to the point where FIFA 07 is just so close in gameplay that I have to move over to EA’s camp – it just offers a better experience.
In a few months you will probably find this game in the discount bin at your local retailer (if they even carried it). It may be worth $20 just for the online fun, but don’t get your hopes up.