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Previews

Pro Evolution Soccer 4

Euro 2004 may be a bitter memory but the real fun has yet to begin

Every lunchtime for as long as many of us can remember, the latest incarnation of Pro Evo has been feverishly cranked up, with cursing and recriminations proving a major part of the daily schedule. Able to induce fury like no other, everyone has their ready-made excuses, with Woods once going so far as to claim that a goal scored against him was "scripted".

Until last year, to get a game of Pro Evo the sage boffins of PC Zone had to endure a visit to console corner, elbowing the drooling children off of their beloved PS2. That all changed with the inaugural PC release, and we now have our own shiny copies of PES3, replete with Clear-O-Vision graphics. We still have to nick the joypads off the console kids, but you can't have everything.

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What you can have at the end of this year is Pro Evolution Soccer 4, the annual update again pencilled in for the PC (along with the perennial PS2 version plus an Xbox debut). Suffice it to say that a ripple of excitement went around the office on hearing the news.

Seabass And Chips
Naturally, the question was soon raised of how Konami could improve on perfection. For starters, it could ask commentator Peter Brackley to stop saying "finding it hard to win the aerial battle there" every 30 seconds. And it could shell out the money for proper club and stadium names. It could also tone down the infuriating 'morale' system that occasionally makes it almost impossible to pass the ball to one of your players after letting in a couple of goals. And of course, the Holy Grail, it could get the bastard playable online.

Unfortunately, we have no information on any of the above, although we will be making hourly calls to Konami until it spills the beans. What we do know is that the legendary Shingo 'Seabass' Takatsuka and his team are claiming that "Pro Evolution Soccer 4 marks a quantum leap forward for both the Pro Evolution franchise and the football genre as a whole".

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It's a bold claim, but we've been playing the game since the MegaDrive, and amazingly they do get better each time. For PES4, we're promised greater speed and control, as well as a wealth of new moves and tricks. As for dead ball situations, new free kick and penalty techniques are being introduced, along with an 'innovative' indirect free kick move.

What's more, the individuality of players is being enhanced, and extended stats will cover such skills as bringing a high or fast ball under control, hitting it first time past an encroaching defender, or flicking it on to a team-mate. A new dribbling system is also being implemented, while crosses and cut-backs will be more precise.

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Aesthetic improvements include such subtleties as the appearance of a ref on the pitch, and the fact that kits will become caked in shit as the match progresses. Throw in more teams, an enhanced Master League and a saveable My Best Eleven side, and you could say that we're very excited indeed.

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