For almost 20 years, Pro Evolution Soccer has been one of the most renowned and loved football games in the world. Although the most recent outings have been largely overshadowed by the behemoth that is FIFA, true gaming football fans recognise that Pro Evolution shaped the future of modern football games.
It was under International Super Star Soccer (ISS) Pro Evolution that Konami released its first footballing title. Known as “Winning Eleven” in Japan and “Goal Storm” in the US, the studio created a game that offered a genuine alternative to Western designed games on the market. ISS Pro was a football game that simply made you feel like you were playing football and still remains as fluid today as it did following its release in 1995.
The endless variety in the game renders you completely addicted and its realism, drama and endless enjoyment will keep you playing for years to come. The late Bill Shankly (arguably one of the best football managers ever), once said that “some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that”. It was Konami’s outing that made this true for football simulations for the first time. ISS Pro introduced true 360 degree analogue turning and it encouraged the gamer to test new skills such as one-two passing and feign shots.
The introduction of the Master League has been a staple for newer games and gave rise to the career mode in FIFA. It remains fun to play, as you start off with a bunch of players you have never heard of and battle your way up two divisions to eventually win the title. Without the proper licensing, Konami had to re-invent player names: Butatista (Batistuta), Revon (Veron), Radonlo (Ronaldo), Roberto Larcos (Roberto Carlos). All unfamiliar to some, but to others who grew up playing ISS Pro, they remain etched as deep in the mind as the real players themselves.
The game really thrives in its multiplayer mode. What ISS Pro did so effectively was mimic the unpredictable nature of real life football. It is rare that somebody will get thrashed and matches between people are generally tense and close affairs. Yes, you can occasionally score a 35-yard screamer, but with the intricate passing and through ball systems, ISS Pro is much better to play with a passing game in mind.
The only flaw lies in the commentary duo of Chris James and Terry Butcher, who quite simply just sound dull and bored. At the beginning of each match, James will introduce the teams, explaining which team is attacking “from right to left” and in what colour kits and socks. There is no enthusiasm and absolutely no spirit. Additionally, Butcher is merely there to make James sound a little more exciting. This is a shame, because the high tempo nature of the game deserves to be commentated on with pure excitement. You might want to play with the sound down, though you may miss out on some genuinely funny commentary moments. James’ cry of “oh it’s a goal! What a brilliant goal” has definite Alan Partridge similarities.
For any footballing fan, ISS Pro remains the game to be beaten. It requires true skill to master and you can’t rely on simply working out the mechanics of the CPU as they seem to possess a mind of their own. It truly revolutionised the way modern football games are played, and for anyone wanting a fun multiplayer alternative to the expensive FIFA titles, ISS Pro is your best bet. Available for £3.00 on Amazon for the PlayStation One version, you could do a lot worse.