#554 Pro Evolution Soccer 3

Posted: 9th December 2013 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

291st played so far

252px-Pro_Evolution_Soccer_3Genre: Sports
Platform: Playstation 2
Year of Release: 2003
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

Football games feel a dime a dozen these days. EA’s Fifa series is (at least on this side of the pond) the landmark of yearly updates  that fans slavishly buy when a new installment comes out and the bargain bins and second hand piles in various shops are filled with previous installments people don’t want to play anymore.

From that list comes a competitor’s series, Pro Evolution Soccer 3. While we cannot be sure, we believe it’s the cheapest game we’ve picked up for this blog (aside from freely available ones) at £0.10 in a Manchester shop we don’t really remember any further.

Our Thoughts

The issue with football games (and other sports games) is that unless you’re a fan and know how to play, it can be hard to tell the differences between games, either between their iterations or between different series. Passing might be slightly different between the two, but for a novice like me, there seems to be little difference between the button presses. This means that you’ve got to puzzle together your impressions from less information, making it difficult to compare to how the game ‘should be’. We can try to say something from a broader perspective though.

Another difficulty is how these annual games build upon the successes and mistakes in previous iterations. This is the reason why there are a large number of sports games in the later years of this list; they have come to represent the best examples of their respective sports in video game form. This is probably why there are not any multi-sport games from the last ten years on this list. Not enough focus. The fact that this version is on the list (despite later games getting far better reviews)  is because it signaled a shift in how football games were presented. Konami significantly changed the physics engine and the graphical capabilites of this game compared to the previous one. However, looking back on it with the experience of other football games there are a number of issues.

First, the controls feel sluggish. Players take a while to respond and turn around and it feels like you’re guessing at what to do next. Added to that are overly sensitive and unpredictable controls – it just feels like you’re not really in control of what’s going on.

The lack of clarity about how the game works sometimes does not help here. One of the control options in the game is listed as ‘hit the shoot button repeatedly for lob shot 2‘. I mean, what does that even mean? And why would I care? It just makes me feel I’m not supposed to be able to play this game… or it’s there to inspire a laugh.

The clumsiness doesn’t stop there. The commentary is put together on the fly, as you’d expect from a game like this, but you can tell they haven’t entirely worked out how to properly do this yet. The volume levels are a bit off, emotions don’t entirely lead into each other, it feels like the old automatically generated systems where it all doesn’t match up.

Part of that also comes from something the developers could do less with, but had to work around – the licensing. Konami did not get the license for most leagues and national teams (possibly because others had them, or because they couldn’t afford them). While this doesn’t impact gameplay, one of the big attractions is (or at least can be) the ability to play with the teams you know and love. Not being able to do so is not necessary for your enjoyment of the game, but does feel unsatisfying when you know what the fake names are based on. It’s not the end of the world, but without the license you need something more to attract people… and this game just doesn’t have that.

Graphics… as you’d expect for a game like this, just not great in-game. The characters aren’t too detailed and feel a bit clumsy and we’ve seen sharper by now. What was more interesting were the pre-game intros. As we see the players line up, they do have some distinct behaviour and have fairly realistic faces – you can often make out who the player is based on, even if it’s not official.

That attention to detail is seen elsewhere in the game. The amount of settings possible to play a short match is overwhelming, and while you can often work out some effect, it seems so minute sometimes that I’m not sure you can really tell the difference. Possibly if we tried more, but when comparing it to others, ten years after its release the game just comes out lacking.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure this is the sort of game that led to many a “who’s better” flame war in the past, where the inclusion of your team might have helped. Right now, however, the game has dated. As for myself this game is without the warm fuzzies that would have occurred if we had played Pro Evolution Soccer 4 due to having played it quite a bit many years ago.