ISS Pro Evolution Soccer 2
FORMAT PS1 / RELEASED 2001 / PUB KONAMI / DEV KCET AVAILABLE ON PS4? NO
We had a TV and a PlayStation set up in the office that permanently played ISS Pro Evolution Soccer 2. That’s all it did, from nine to five, through deadlines and 9/11. It was the start of a love/hate relationship with Konami’s pitch-perfect football sim that lasts today. Even now this aging Konami classic plays surprisingly well. Booting it up today, there is a phase of adjustment to the low-poly visuals, but once a match starts the pad-memory takes over and I’m tapping one-two passes like a PES pro all over again. While visually this is incomparable to modern PES on PlayStation 4, in terms of gameplay the DNA of Konami’s kickabout is writ large on screen.
The AI in particular still holds together, ensuring matches ebb and flow like real-life football. Narrow your eyes and the patterns on screen resemble a real match. It’s a suspension of disbelief that urges you to become attached to these haphazard blocks of polygons that, if you squint, all look a little like Japanese Alan Shearers. If they get injured it feels like a kick in the gut, when they score it’s euphoric, and when you’re defeated its because PES swindles you. The ‘algorithms’ are against you, remember? These mysterious code gods can change a game in seconds; you can lurch from winning to losing on the beat of a bad tackle or random shot. ISS Pro Evolution Soccer 2 makes things personal.
Compared to games I could have opted for – such as Ico, Metal Gear Solid, or Uncharted 2, all worthy contenders for my personal passion – there are few games that took over my life, for a period of time, quite like ISS Pro Evolution Soccer 2. It may not be in the premiership of consolechanging games, it’s no God Of War or The Last Of Us, but it had, and still has, that endearing ability to create stories from what are essentially a bunch of blocks running around a pitch, all with a passing resemblance to a very famous Geordie striker.
“PES SWINDLED YOU… THE ‘ALGORITHMS’ WERE AGAINST YOU, REMEMBER?”
After all these years, PES is still Ian’s footie game of choice – let the arguments about it versus its rival commence!