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By Thomas McKinnon 24 November 2008

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One of football’s many attributes is the fact that it is a team sport. Professionals play in a particular team, sponsors back a particular team and fans support a particular team. The virtual world of football is no different as gamers generally play a particular video game; the choice being between the PES and FIFA teams. 

Rather than a cliché head-to-head comparison of these two sports gaming institutions this review will focus specifically on PES 2009, only mentioning comparisons where they are absolutely necessary. So what’s new in PES 2009?

PES 2009 has some great new features including more licences than ever before, a lack of licences being one of the biggest issues the title has faced to date. New licenses include the entire French and Dutch leagues, a number of Serie A and La Liga teams as well as 20 or so national sides, including England. A lack of English Premiere League licenses, beyond Liverpool and Man Utd., is still frustrating however considering the leagues popularity, particularly in South Africa. The big news, of course, is the fact that Konami have secured the Champions League licence, which is fantastic as the Champions League is arguably the greatest club tournament on the planet.

The game’s 'Become A Legend' mode is also a new feature which is generating some attention. Gamers take control of a single player, in the form of a career mode, who they have to develop from a benchwarmer to an international star. Although novel, there are parallels between this mode and FIFA’s 'Be A Pro' mode. The mode also lacks some polish as it can become dull as you often find yourself on the bench in the initial stages of your career.

An online multiplayer mode is yet another new feature which deserves some attention. The 2009 version of the game is the first to feature an online mode, but this new mode only allows for one-on-one play online; making it a little limited. The fact that it is only possible to play exhibition matches online is another drawback. While online play is fun Konami need to seriously work on their online features to make it worth while.

There is much that is new in PES 2009, but at the same time there is much that remains from the games previous iterations. The gameplay remains unchanged with a challenging AI and intuitive controls. PES is truly a straight forward game to play with passing, crossing and ultimately scoring fairly easy to accomplish, but the necessary double-taps on the shoulder buttons to perform tricks is a little clumsy.

Our take on the game is that it has become slightly outdated, with little real year-on-year improvement despite a solid framework. This being said, if you are a PES fan you will still enjoy the game. Its fun and entertainment value is just the same, but we seriously doubt this is enough to attract new gamers or convert gamers you enjoy the polish of FIFA.

PROS
PES 2009 boasts an extremely simple control scheme and the official Champions League licence is great
CONS
The gamelooks and feels dated; Konami haven??t done enough to improve gameplay.
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