Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 - PS2 - Review

Konami knows how to grab a hold and hook gamers into their games. Metal Gear Solid has a devout following; Silent Hill caters to hardcore horror fans; and even Dance Dance Revolution is still alive and literally kicking with a wealthy amount of fans driving the series. Winning Eleven is, perhaps, the series on the rise for Konami and rightfully so. Winning Eleven has always been about the gameplay rather than the licensing. The tight in-game controls have struck a chord and created a long-time fan out of me. Soccer is an ever-evolving sport here in the West and is slowly catching on with time. The Olympics seem to draw in a number of new fans here in the states, but the World Cup draws the attention globally.

With soccer catching on and the desire for games on the sport, Konami is in a deadlock with Electronic Arts competing for the best soccer game. Konami this year decided to change up the title of the series that usually went by the number of installments. Instead of titling it ‘Winning Eleven 11,’ Konami has gone the route of Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007. How does Konami perform this year with EA stepping up to the plate with their FIFA series?

For those players who have played through past iterations of Winning Eleven, you’ll feel right at home with Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007. The game handles in the control department like it used to, so there will be no shell shock in terms of how to play. What has been tinkered with is the boost feature. No longer will you be able to hold down the boost to run faster the entire game. If you do so, be prepared to have your star players exhausted and not able to finish with any energy.

Other noticeable changes include the pace of the play, interaction between the player and the ball, and the physical aspect of soccer. In the past, Winning Eleven had some funky animations that didn’t provide a realistic approach to playing soccer. Now, I can actually feel the hits and slide tackles from the opposition. The players don’t look as if they are attached to the ball, but instead are actually dribbling the ball up the field with swagger. Since the collisions look and feel more real, it creates a “friendly” environment when you are playing with your friend and sweep out their legs.

Unfortunately, one thing still hasn’t been improved from past Winning Eleven games – the graphics. The graphics, while they are adequate, have not been dramatically improved over the last few years. I’d say that the graphics peaked with Winning Eleven 8 and have barely been touched since then. With the animations being solid, it will be a common thing to slide tackle and receive the yellow cards on purpose. The framerates are smooth and players shouldn’t have any trouble playing through Winning Eleven 2007 without any hiccups.

 

Following the Winning Eleven series, you’ll know that Konami doesn’t own too many licenses when matched side-by-side to the FIFA series of EA. With the lack of licenses, Winning Eleven isn’t able to have the World Cup featured in the series. What Konami has introduced is the International Challenge – their version of the World Cup. This provides players with a lot more replay value, but it is sad to see Konami without all the available licenses EA has.

The multiplayer is still superb as ever. In fact, I recommend only playing Winning Eleven 2007 with a friend or online. Sure, the single-player modes are fun, but soccer is always better when shared with a friend. The online portion of Winning Eleven continues to be improved with every addition to the series on the PS2. I never experienced any lag that slowed down the matches which is a sigh of relief. What remains evident though is that lack of voice chat – it hurts the PS2’s online experience compared to the Xbox 360’s.

 

In terms of replay value found in the single-player, the master league is still being implemented into the series. What remains though is that it lacking all the dynasty/franchise options that are found in other sports games. Master League mode is a basic management mode that will allow you to control a team for 30 years. The deepest this mode goes is controlling the salary and signing new players. Sure, there are some editing options for your players along with stadium upgrades, but I’d like to see more in terms of player development. Of course, the players will age and move on past their primes throughout the mode, but for the most part, the Master League remains the same from last year and it’s a shame.

Is Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 a quality game? No doubt. Is it the best soccer game available? Yes, but EA is quickly catching up to Konami in terms of gameplay and is still ahead of Konami with graphics. Konami needs to focus a lot of their time with the graphics and concentrate on nailing that home the next time around. Also, if it is at all possible, spend some money to secure licensing of what they are missing. I’ll stick with my notion that soccer is always best played with a friend. Now you’ll just have to convince your friends that soccer is cool.

Review Scoring Details for Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007

Gameplay: 8.9
The tweaks no doubt help out - Winning Eleven has never before felt this authentic!

Graphics: 7.5
Why is Konami not concentrating on developing better graphics? I am surprised that they haven’t taken three steps forward in this category with EA having the crown for best graphics for the longest time.

Sound: 8.0
The stadiums will be loud and boisterous. The refs will be blowing their whistles a lot throughout the game, so be prepared for a lot of yellow cards.

Difficulty: Medium
Players that are new to the sport won’t know the rules. Players that are new to the series will not let up on the boost button. Simply, players that have never played soccer or Winning Eleven in the past will have a tough time against veteran players.

Concept: 8.3
Introducing the imitation World Cup mode helps out, but Konami still hasn’t added any more depth to the Master League mode.

Multiplayer: 8.5
With no voice chat, it will feel empty online. Playing Winning Eleven with a friend is a more enjoyable experience.

Overall: 8.5
While it doesn’t change up the formula too much, Winning Eleven 2007: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 offers plentiful options in replay value. Can someone pass along word that Konami needs to improve the graphics dramatically next time around?

Great

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