I know, a demo's already out, but I hadn't had a chance to download it, so one of the first games I ran for this TGS was pro Evo 2009. Why the running? Because I'm torn on the Pro Evo franchise. Once was a time football purists would buy Pro Evo for the simulation, and everyone else would buy FIFA because it had all the major league licenses. But the last few years? Konami have gotten sloppy. Current-gen Pro Evos looked like last-gen Pro Evos with the cracks painted over, while FIFA has come on strong with a new engine and improved gameplay. In fact, FIFA's come on so strong that many people have already declared it the winner in this year's tussle. Me, I'm going to give the old bird one last chance to impress before doing anything drastic.
Before we begin, know a few things: I was playing the game on the PS3. Against some Japanese kid. He beat me 4-0. My flimsy defence being that I've never actually played the game using a PS controller (Ive only ever used Xbox/360 pads), but hey, it could just as easily have been my flimsy defence.
First thing I noticed? My goodness, Konami have actually changed some things. Important things. While it's not a completely new engine, the player animations both look, and feel, different. This is not a cheap reskin of Pro Evo 5, as 6 and 2008 were. Your players move with a great deal more fluidity, and the ball is even more of a separate entity from the player's feet, adding a surprising level of realism to play when moving through crowded spaces.
Players also seem slower, but in a good way. Because they're more fluid, and there's more animation (players now move in more directions than the old eight-way turns), the game takes on a more deliberate pace, as old tactics of putting your head down and running through defenders didn't work anywhere near as well as they did in 2008.
One totally new thing I noticed was that players would extend their legs to reach for the ball. This was for defenders making tackles, but also midfielders who were clashing over an unpossessed ball. So instead of having to crash your entire player into the other to initiate a challenge for possession - or to gain possession - they'll flick a leg out in front of them, getting the job done quicker.
As for the licensing, I opted for Liverpool (sadly, Villa didn't make the cut for the demo), and my opponent went for Barcelona. Player likenesses looked better than last year's, particularly on the more high profile guys like Messi and Torres, while the kits look a great deal more detailed. The Champion's League licence was also being rammed down our throats, with the competition's logo and theme song used at every possible opportunity. Feels a bit strange, to be honest, as that level of licensing is something you'd expect from EA's FIFA, not Konami's offering.
And...that's all I could get out of a 20-minute match. Oh, that and the realisation anyone thinking this year's FIFA v Pro Evo matchup already over is being more than a little premature.