Hello, “gamers” (that’s the right one, right?). I’m writing this post
out of a contractual obligation because the good folks at Konami were kind enough to invite me to play their little game, Pro-Evolution Soccer.
While my hardcore fundamentalist Zoroastrian beliefs were a little offended by the game title, as far as video games go it was a pretty enjoyable experience. You press a button, and a tiny player does something on a screen. You score goals, and you win the game! That I was able to do this against the guy I played against for ten minutes is either proof that anyone can play, or that he was trained to go easy on his ‘marks’ to get them to write positive reviews.
If so, mission accomplished!
The graphics looked nice, with more than one ‘uncanny valley’ experience watching Ashley Young, who still played for Villa—er, West Midlands Village—in this tidy alternate universe. On that note, I very much enjoyed the generic, non-rights affiliated names in the “English League” (so much less faux-pompous than that scone-scoffing ‘Premier League’ nonsense). There is a delicious, piss-taking reductionism at play with “Man Red” and “Man Blue” (“the woman is…SMAR-TER!”). And why Swansea is not known as ‘Swearcle’ in real life is utterly beyond me.
But this is a game for people who need to play a soccer sim that is extraordinarily, perhaps even unnecessarily, true to the almighty game of football. What that means in practical terms is the weeks, if not months-long memorization of button sequences. I am a person for whom “going to the bathroom” is a euphemism for “checking my email,” so this is not on.
Still, I hate fancy-pants tricks in football, and I certainly don’t need them in video games. All that matters for me is having a single button for a reckless slide tackle in order to accrue as many red cards as possible after leading by more than three goals. For this option alone, PES earns four stars.