Winning Eleven 7 International PS2 Review

Well where shall I start? Lets start with the name, Winning Eleven 7 International. This is the same name as the USA recent release but lets get this right, the game is NOT the same. This has more enhancements and extras that are not present in the USA version, which is basically Pro Evo 3 version 1.5. The American version has the same game as last years European release of PES3 but still has out of date rosters for the players, some of which are almost laughably out of date. But back to the Japanese release, so what has changed?

Well to start with, the game has received a few changes since the previous Winning Eleven releases. This is the first Winning Eleven game to have multiple languages on. This time it features Japanese, English, Spanish, French, Italian and German languages, available in the menu and in the commentary. According to Konami this was to inform the Japanese that there are other languages apart from their own, and to open their eyes to the world outside of Japan? Or maybe this was a slight nod to importers who prefer this version of the game over the European versions. Hmm food for thought me thinks.

Graphics

So after I load the game, the first thing I notice is that although the game is not up to FIFA standards (we knew this would not happen) it has a crisper look to it with better player features, especially on the bigger names and club teams. They still have the same license as before FIFpro, so while this provides some of the bigger names, it does not get you all the players (e.g. Giggs is Gils etc.). This will be easily sorted with a patched save option file obtainable via an internet connection and an X-Port.

Gone is the slowdown that was present in the PS2 version of Pro Evo 3. Although it wasn’t so frequent, it was still there, and the game runs smoothly; proving the usefulness of converting the game to a DVD format. This improves both the game loading times and the amount of data they can store on the games disc.

The game is a lot smoother in action than the other games with absolutely no slowdown what so ever. The passing is slick and smooth, and so is the shooting. There are occasional animation glitches, such as when a player is shooting and skates on the pitch, but this very rarely happens. The player movement is extremely fluid with some of the best goalkeeper movement ever! And wait until you see the players faces. While players like David Dunn don’t have a perfectly matched face, take a look at Ashley Cole, Zinedine Zidane, Beckham and Ronaldo. They are spot-on representations of the players they are supposed to be and it shows the extent Konami is going to in the improvement of each player over the series.

The replays are also smoother than that found in PES3, but it still has a slight frame loss every now and again. However it has not got that stupid blur effect used in the PES3, it now seems to use the in game engine properly and it looks all the more better for it.

Gameplay

The gameplay has improved significantly over the other PES and Winning Eleven games, this seems to be the first proper evolution for the series since WE6FE.

One of the things that really bothered me about PES3 was the whole tackling system. Many a time when you obviously won the ball, you were punished, resulting in you only using the X button to tackle players, with the O button only used for last ditch tackles or a deliberate foul. In this version however it has been improved although not perfected. You are rarely punished for tackles that would earn you a red card in the previous games, but then again, this depends on the referee’s mentality. There have been a couple of games where I have been sent off for what seems like a fair tackle, more than twice in a game. It can infuriate you no-end. Also in the Winning Eleven games it is so much harder to defend than it is to attack. You have more control over how you tackle, but this extra freedom initially throws you off, but this skill will come with time. When you foul a player the animations have been given an extra lick of paint. Players will roll over and over, get up and complain swing their arms about. It really adds to the game making it more immersive. There’s a new animation where I fouled a player and my player went to help him up while the referee booked him. Fair play in a computer game, great!

Also Konami have seen fit to add new heading styles to the game this improves on the previous method to no end, as you now have more control over ‘where’ and ‘how’ you head it, cue fantastic diving headers easier and better to perform than in the past games… the way the players turn they’re heads as the ball arches over the still standing goal keeper into the goal is brilliant.

The shooting has been improved too. You have the ability to curl the ball again, even more so than in the old PES3 and WE games. You don’t have a direct control on this, it’s just an aesthetic thing really. It does add to the experience. Players can take a better touch then half volley it. This looks excellent and feels better when you pull it off.

Through balls have also been improved, and while not perfect they have improved so much more over PES3 and WE7. This is the same as the passing you have a much more realistic game you can pass the ball around fluently and create some fantastic games of tussling for each stray ball.I was playing this game with a friend for six hours and he did not beat me simply because i passed the ball around looking for spaces and movement from the players. The players also move alot more realistically now and this its great for when your looking for that killer through ball. You can create some stunning football which is a sight to behold. The enjoyment I have had with this game because of the better passing far outweighs my fun I received from PES3 since its October launch.

Sound

The sound has not really received any significant enhancement, other than the fact the menu music is the PES3 menu music remixed. It sounds less annoying but will start to annoy over time. The best addition is the addition of commentary in all the languages. In the game I always choose Japanese Kabira. The sound from it is great; he adds emotion to the action going on on the pitch, while the other commentators just don’t add enough feeling to what they are saying. It all sounds too scripted.

Overall

In the latest version of Winning Eleven there are more club teams and 4 more stadiums. The teams added are to make up for the sides deleted from Winning Eleven 7 ML (Master League). I have not yet had a chance to delve into the master league, but from previous experience it seems to be the same as the other Winning Eleven, and last two Pro Evo games. You play and receive WEN or PES points, which you can then use to enable such things as player transfers, different balls and even different football boots. The player edit mode has been improved to compete with that used in PES3, and it has the same structure. But with 129 player edit features, it’s a significant improvement over the PSone Winning Eleven days.

As with other PES3 or WE games you can only get as much out of it as you put into it. It makes you want to unlock all the boots, all the balls, and all the extras. You have to work your way through the through the master league and the cups etc.

The lifespan of this game is potentially endless! While I write this we have people working on patches and updates to the team transfers and kits, taking the game to levels never seen before in a football game. It seems like Konami really do listen to their fans in regards as to how to create the perfect football/soccer experience.

When you load up a game and get going, the way you can play football is brilliant. With fluent passing, little one-two’s, turns, fakes and the rest, it is football how it is meant to be. The emotions run high when playing amongst friends, especially when you have just run past four players, then scuffed it wide. It brings us all together in the way real football does. While it may not be quite there yet, it is getting there and until WE8 strikes the Japanese shores, I am happy with this game.

Most of the games intricacies you can only see for yourself once you sit down and play the game. At first, with this game I was apprehensive but over the past few days I have grown to love this game. It is the best example of football out there at the moment. Sheer Class!

An excellent game, the first proper evolution since WE6.

9.0 out of 10
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