• Winning Eleven 5 Review - Sony PS2

    (Originally published in 2001) Finally the wait is over! Winning Eleven is here on PS2! The jikkyou perfect striker games ( N64 and the first 2 PS2 ISS games ) have in my opinion always been inferior to the winning eleven games ( Iss pro evo games on PSOne ). Any true fan of soccer will recognize that the winning eleven series were the most accurate and best when it comes to a game of soccer on any computer.
    Boasting, 53 national teams, 32 club teams and 6 hidden bonus teams this version is the biggest yet.
    The commentary is done by Japan's 'voice of soccer' Jon Kabira who is joined with by his real life co commentator Katsyoshi Shintou.

    The winning eleven series have never been about the graphics and always looked inferior to the Fifa games. You would be surprised to know that this is not true with this version. The first thing you will notice on starting a game is how each stadium (which are modeled on real stadiums) looks superb and accurately modeled. The game runs at a constant 60 fps (which does drop every so slightly and very rarely when taking corner kicks) and with the higher resolution every thing looks clean and well detailed. Real time shadows, some nice lighting effects and the attention to detail make this a joy to watch.
    Most player models have been very accurately modeled and many do look exactly like their real life counterparts, it's sort of spooky it's just like seeing them on the TV! While most players look great, others look very suspicious and look nothing like the player in question (well I suppose you can't have everything).

    The player animations have been greatly improved and now the players flow ever so smoothly and grace the pitch in striking realism, from a distance it looks like a real soccer match being played!
    The play by play commentary flows very smoothly and the crowds react very well with what's happening on the pitch. It seems all major crowd chants and music for each nation have been very accurately copied; everything from England's 'Great Escape' theme to Brazil's wonderful samba beats will be instantly recognizable to fans.

    This is the big one and winning eleven 5 does not disappoint. Passing has always been winning eleven's strong points. And in this version it feels perfect. Winning eleven 5 introduces an optional full 360 degree passing with the right analogue stick. You can still play a great game with the standard pass button but you clearly open up new possibilities in attack if you choose to implement the new 360 degree passing.
    One twos were always too easy in the previous versions and in winning eleven 5 they are a lot more technical this time around. Instead of the computer automatically playing the pass back to your player, you have to decide when and what type of pass (be it high or low) you want played back to the player. Of course pressing nothing will simply cancel the one two and put you in control on the player that has the ball. This gives you more control and allows you to be even more cunning in attack moves.

    Winning eleven 5 gives you 4 different ways to run with the ball, that's right I said 4! The first is your standard jog with the press of the left analogue stick. R1 is the full speed dash, but you have less control with the ball and cannot turn as sharp, you are also more prone to over running and losing the ball while using this move. Holding R2 will allow your player to run at medium speed, giving him more control over the ball and you are less likely to lose the ball. L2 allows your player to move slowly. It feels almost like a walk. I assume this allows you to hold up the ball and keep the ball. I also found that you are less likely to be brushed off the ball from a barge from the opposition while holding L2 down.
    You can argue that this may all complicate the game for many gamers, but you can still play a fantastic game and do well in 1 player mode with the standard R1 run. The new ways to run with the ball are for advanced players and while it is difficult at first to get used to, you will find it will reap the rewards once you spent time working it all out.

    The goals in this version are bigger At first I found scoring from crosses very easy and that it seemed just impossible to defend against. But after extensive play I can say that if you don't know how and when to instruct your goalkeeper to run out to either catch or punch a cross away you will concede goals each time. Shooting from long range and scoring is very hard to pull off but is very rewarding once you manage to pull it off!! It depends on the player, the amount of power, the timing of hitting the shot in your stride and whether or not you added any curve or spin to the shot. 8/10 times when hitting a shot from long range, you are more likely to sky the ball, hit it miles wide or just wide of the goal or see it tamely creep towards the goalie or see it charged down. But practicing hard will bring you closer to scoring some fantastic goals.
    Free kicks seem to be easier/harder depending on what player you use. E.g.. Beckham can more or less hit very good free kicks from within the 25yards range. Anything more than 30-35 yards, he will have problems. Where as a player like Veron can hit them pretty accurately and powerfully from 30-35 yards away but cannot hit them as sweet as Beckham from within 25 yards.

    Players now control the ball, move into space and play passing moves very fluidly now. You can easily take down a long pass on the chest or bring it down instantly (this again depends on what skill rating a player has) and keeps the flow of the game going smoothly.

    Goalkeeper AI at first seemed to be very dodgy and did not feel as complete as in previous versions I find that some goalies are prone to making stupid mistakes and allow easy goals to be scored where as the top goalies like Chilavert and Khan are very safe and very hard to score past. I think it does add realism to the game but I still prefer the goalkeeper AI in the PSOne versions

    For those who played the Winning Eleven series they will instantly feel at home. Winning eleven 5 keeps the same layout from the previous version. Navigating the menus are very straight forward and simple. So those wanting to import the game need not worry.
    The menus are very basic and nothing special to write about.
    But since when have the Winning eleven series been about flash presentation?

    There is no option to convert the menus to English and also for those importing they will have to manually edit all the player names from Japanese to English if have a lot of spare time and prefer seeing English names. You can also change all the player's names in club teams and All star teams

    One slight problem is that there are more loading times in the game, while it is a pain at first it does not prove to be a problem after a few games. Also there have been reports of a few bugs in the game, one of them is that the game can crash randomly, After clocking 400+ hours I can say that I have not experienced such problems with my version but if I do I will post them.

    Some other bugs include player data being inaccurate, some players have the same squad but the bugs I experienced do not detract from the overall game and is nothing that will effect your enjoyment.

    This is a must buy for gamers who love football!! The previous versions of winning eleven have got so much depth in it and I been playing them for 7 months before I got this version and kept seeing new things in it every time I play it, I am very confident that I will continue to do so with winning eleven 5.

    (Originally published in 2001)
    Score: 8/10
    Text by: Kent Yip
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. nakamura's Avatar
      nakamura -
      This game was monumental for us when it came out. I purchased a PS2 just for it and it didn't disappoint. Due to the vibrant graphics every game we played just felt like a cup final. It was smooth, beautiful and played a wonderful game. I still have my original copy and I crack it out from time to time. The J-League update or WE5 is one of the finest football games ever made.
    1. bash's Avatar
      bash -
      I thought WE6: FE was the pinnacle of the series tbh . . . especially with the various english patches that were doing the rounds a couple of months after release.
    1. 25.05.2005's Avatar
      25.05.2005 -
      PES6 was the pinnacle in my opinion, the patches were just amazing.

      It's still the game me and my mates play today.

      I urge anyone who loves football to get over to: http://www.pes6j.net/

      Allows you to play PES6 online even today with a nice patch to update it.
    1. nakamura's Avatar
      nakamura -
      J-League Winning Eleven 9 is the overall best game for me and one I still play. I will check out the PC PES 6 as mentioned in a PM bud. I haven't had chance to look into it yet.
    1. JU!'s Avatar
      JU! -
      Nice to see some retro reviews. Bit annoyed I only just found out about the crash bug after 12 years , cheers for putting it in the review. Thought it was my PS2 at the time. Will repurchase for 100yen when next in Japan to complete my set of Winning Eleven 6 onwards. For me it's all about Winning Eleven 10. Although I have fond memories of Winning Eleven 5, and have to say even now in PES 2013, they have not quite manged to get player individuality as good as it was then. Here is hope for PES 2014 (WE2014). Remember Nakamura especially being very accurate and as can be seen in the screen shot Zidane too, as well as Beckham.
    1. Kit's Avatar
      Kit -
      Ah, one of the quality ISS games before they became all 'floaty' and 'loose'. It had a proper grid system like the PSX ones yet visually all the bells and whistles of a next gen PS2 game. It was the perfect step up if you were used to the first two Pro Evos.

      Pinnacle of the series for me is Pro Evo 2 (Winning Eleven 6). It was all downhill after that.
    1. nakamura's Avatar
      nakamura -
      I find PES 2 to be the worst game in the series I have to say.
    1. Kit's Avatar
      Kit -


      No chance. I'd take the rigidness of PES 2 over the floaty controls the series eventually ended up having. I know they might be deemed 'more realisitc' but I have much more fun with the old system.

      Plus in the older games it was way, way more rewarding when you pulled off an amazing goal.
    1. nakamura's Avatar
      nakamura -
      Were the controls more floaty? How is that?

      I do like J-League W.E 6 a lot though, which is basically PES 2.5.
    1. Kit's Avatar
      Kit -
      In the later PES games you lost the sharp turning and juggernaut style runs the series was built around in favour of loose turning/movement a bit like the Fifa games. More realistic? maybe. More fun? most certainly not.
    1. nakamura's Avatar
      nakamura -
      You didn't really lose them, you just had to perform then differently. PES 4 had the most responsive control of the lot with some amazing sharp moves possible.
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