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Pro Evolution Soccer Management PlayStation 2

Published by Konami
Developed by Konami
Release Date: 24th March 2006
Price: £24.99

Pro Evolution Soccer Management, an introduction.

For many years now Konami have given us some of the best football games ever made with the Pro Evolution Soccer series. Their emphasis has always been on creating a game of football that plays just like the real thing and while no one would admit that is yet the case, their games have come closer than any others. Of course being able to create a management game where a greater degree of realism is required of the AI in regards to how the AI managers perform and how the matches are played out without your assistance etc. is something entirely different. Can Konami really create a football management game that's as impressive as their Pro Evolution Soccer series?

What's the game about?

Pro Evolution Soccer Management is a football management game quite unlike any other football management game you've played before. The game offers two modes, Season Mode and Match Mode. Match Mode allows you to play an exhibition match between two teams of your choice. Season Mode allows you to start a new game or pick a scenario. There are eight scenarios in total although only two are initially available.

What's good about the game?

In order to enjoy PES Management you'll have to throw away any idea of the game being a realistic football management simulation. In fact PES Management is definitely more of a game than a simulation. When you start a new game you'll have to pick one of four female assistants, a coach and three scouts. Your female assistant draws your attention to contracts that need renewing as well other matters that need your attention. The coach gives advice on your opponents and he is responsible for the quality of your training. He will also inform you if any players perform well in training. Tactics can also be set upon his advice. The scouts, as you would expect, are on perpetual lookout for future stars and will notify you when they have compiled a list. The scouts will also negotiate a fee and contract for any potential targets if you want them to.

What I really like about PES Management is that despite the various flaws it has there are some aspects of the game that are actually quite impressive. You might expect the games to be more interesting to watch given that the game uses the PES 5 match engine and this certainly is the case although the AI still does unexpected things at times. I like the way your coach gives you in depth advice on your opponents. Likewise I appreciate being able to watch the replay data (which uses the overhead 2D view) that shows you the key points of the game. This replay data allows you to look back on the key points and see where your team might have gone wrong. Unfortunately though, you can't save this data. You also get detailed player evaluations at the end of each game with the coach giving you a general summary of how the player performed during the game. After every match you're given PES points which you can use to unlock classic players which can then be used in your game. If you've done well in a game you'll also be given Request and Glory points. Request points are used when asking the chairmen for special things such as fatigue relievers or to boost parameters of your players (by giving them special training). Glory points are really a measure of your standing in the game. At the end of your contract you'll be able to apply for other jobs but you'll need a certain amount of Glory points to attain the top jobs. What I really like though is when you start a new game you can transfer your manager data from an existing save which gives you all of the Glory points you've earned in your earlier game.

What's not so good about the game?

The Achilles heel of the Pro Evolution Soccer series has always been the lack of teams and their fictitious names. Nobody really wants to play a game where West Midlands Stripes take on Man Blue. Yes editors have always been included and customisations can be made to make everything look more authentic but it's just not the same. Unfortunately this rather major complaint of the Pro Evolution Soccer series has also carried over to the Pro Evolution Soccer Management series. Of the six leagues included in the game only three have accurate team names. The Italian, Spanish and Dutch leagues are the ones that carry official team names (well the Italian league does have one fictitious name actually) and logos whilst the English, French and German leagues are filled with the same old fictitious creations that we all have a chuckle at (although like in PES 5 Chelsea and Arsenal are present and correct). Manager names have also been included and these are just as crazy. David Moyes is Moliesse, Arsene Wenger is Wemdew and Rafa Benitez is Berien. Still once again it's something to have a chuckle at and you can modify their names. You can import name data from a PES 4 or PES 5 option file so if you changed the names in those games you won't have to do it here. Unfortunately no graphical modifications can be transferred so if you changed the kits or logos in PES 4 or PES 5 these won't transfer to PES Management. It's also worth mentioning that the editing options in PES Management do not allow you to create your own players. Whilst you can always create players in PES 4 or PES 5 you can't transfer these created players to PES Management which is disappointing.

The complaints don't stop there though. Each of the six nations included in the game only have one division. Surely given that the team names are just created it would have been no problem to give us the main divisions for each nation? When you compare the amount of divisions in the game to the likes of the LMA or Football Manager series it looks quite pathetic. It also means that you can forget any idea of promotion and relegation. Indeed taking charge of a club such as Lancashire Athletic (Wigan Athletic in real life) you'll find your contract renewal terms are that you must finish 20th or higher. Of course it's impossible to finish any lower than 20th so this is a bit silly really. Part of the appeal of playing football management games is that you can take a team from the lower divisions and attempt to mould them into a force to be reckoned with. You'll not be able to do that in PES Management however. You'll also notice that the database is way out of date. Even some of the transfers that were completed back in August are not included. Ellington for instance is at Wigan (Lancashire Athletic) instead of West Midland Stripes (WBA) which is very strange considering Essien is in the Chelsea squad when he signed for them in the same month.

There are even more problems too. Personally I prefer to use the Football Manager style overhead view to watch my games as they allow you to see the whole pitch at once because it makes it easier to see if your tactics are working. There are a couple of flaws with the 2D match engine though. Whilst there are replays when watching the games in 3D there aren't any in the 2D view. There isn't any text commentary either which is unfortunate. If you were hoping for a realistic transfer system then forget it. Player prices and wages aren't accurate but are still acceptable. What isn't acceptable though are the rather duff looking AI transfers that take place. I've noticed teams such as Aston Villa (West Midlands Village I think they're called) sign a few of their old players and Chelsea sign players from teams such as Wigan (Lancashire Athletic) who are nowhere near as good as players they already have. In fact the AI managers seem completely random when it comes to purchasing players and they do not even try to improve their side. Contract negotiations are on the simplistic side with might upset those who were expecting release clauses and so forth.  On the tactical side of things it doesn't always feel like the players follow your orders but I suppose it's being harsh to claim that's a fault.

Some of the features in PES Management seem pretty redundant. You can meet any one of your players for a quick chat, have press conferences, have training ground interviews etc. Whilst these initially feel like a nice inclusion you'll soon come to the conclusion that they are a waste of time. There are also some rather fancy tactical options at your disposal such as the group tactics (where you select your four favoured players for special moves). Again on first glance these look great but I've yet to see these carried out effectively in a match.

How does it look?

You'd naturally expect the matches in PES Management to look just like they do in PES 5 and they do. However you'll notice there's quite a bit of slowdown for some reason which is very strange considering the frame rate in PES 5 was fine. You'll also notice several glitches in the 3D match mode. These glitches can be seen on some stadium terraces and around some of the player's shirt collars. It's nothing major but nevertheless it's rather unfortunate. The general presentation of the game is actually quite good. The various menus are well laid out and whilst the controls aren't as well suited to the console's controller as they are in the LMA games they aren't too bad. Load times are decent although they can be a little testing when it's time to go to the match. The character models for the assistant, coach, chairman and scouts are probably not as good as they could have been but they get the job done.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

PES Management is fine for deaf gamers. There's no speech for the various comments you'll receive in the game from your assistant, chairman, coach or scouts and all of their dialogue is in text. The game doesn't have any text commentary which is unfortunate. In the 3D mode you do get some verbal commentary (it's nowhere near as plentiful as in PES 5 though) and it would have been great to have had text commentary too. When viewing the games in the overhead view there's neither speech nor text commentary. What you will notice though is that the game uses a variety of icons to show you the player's status. Like Football Manager 2006 the player who is on the ball and those players who are within close proximity of the ball will have their names displayed. You'll be able to see their condition and whether they are man-marked as well as if their motivation is falling during a game. The amount of icons on offer is impressive and it helps you to really keep on eye on the status of your players throughout the match. All tutorial messages in the game are in text and on most screens pressing the select button will bring up text information that describes the features on that screen which is rather useful.

Final thoughts.

There's no doubt that Konami have showed a lot of courage with the direction they've taken with Pro Evolution Soccer Management. Rather than make a traditional football management simulation with a multitude of leagues and divisions and all those other things you would expect, they've taken Pro Evolution Soccer 5 and added a wealth of original management options. To a certain degree this works but when the novelty wears off you're left with a management game that only has one division for each of its six nations, mostly fictitious team names, wrong kits, tactical options that don't appear to do that much and AI managers that don't do that well in the transfer market. Don't get me wrong it can be enjoyable at times and the game is like a breath of fresh air in its approach to the genre but there's a real lack of depth and content here that makes the game difficult to persevere with for the long term.

Overall Game Rating: 5.8/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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From the moment it was first announced the idea of a Pro Evolution Soccer manager game was intriguing to say the least. Now that we've played the game we have to say it has as many disappointments as it has pleasing aspects. Compared to the best titles in the genre (on all formats) it doesn't stand up too well in all honesty. However, there some positives to take from the game and the game can definitely boast the best 3D match engine in any football management game. Sadly though it falls short in many areas and any sequels that might arrive will need a lot of improvement.