There was immense intrigue among the football gamer community when Konami announced it was planning to release its World Soccer: Winning Eleven 6 video game in Europe. Winning Eleven 6 was the name of the Japanese version released to Asian gamers. It was to be the final iteration of the PES series released for the PlayStation 1, with its successor PES 3 reserved exclusively for the PlayStation 2 and PC. Konami had long been synonymous with arcade classics and it immediately brought an arcade feel to the football video gaming genre.
In many ways, PES 2 helped to change the dynamics of football video games forever. According to the Ranker website, PES 2 was voted as the finest PlayStation football game of all time. Within this article, we’ll explore what makes football video gamers look back at the release of PES 2 with such fondness and why it helped shape future iterations of the PES franchise and even encourage enhancements to its competitors like EA Sports’ FIFA series.
One thing that has remained constant in football games through the years is the fact that the teams dominating in real life are often the best ones to control in-game. Today, the most common teams used by football video game players are also those with the greatest exposure such as English Premier League (EPL) teams. This popularity can also be observed when looking at other forms of media, including online bookmakers, where the EPL is frequently listed as one of the most important options for betting both on single matches as well as the final winner.
For instance, according to Betway football, the EPL is categorized as one of the Top Leagues, next to international tournaments like the Champions and Europa League, or other national leagues, including Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1 and Germany’s Bundesliga.
With such a “meteoric” rise to prominence since its foundation in 1992, it’s no surprise that the EPL and teams like Manchester City and Liverpool are among the most popular teams to use in titles like FIFA 22. The same was true for PES 2, so let’s start by checking out the best teams to use in the game.
The strongest teams in PES 2
- Aragon (AKA Manchester United)
Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United was an irresistible force on PES 2. The goalscoring instincts of Ruud van Nistelrooy were complemented by the creative wizardry of the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. They even had Dutch centre half Jaap Stam and midfield enforcers like Roy Kean and Juan Sebastian Veron to keep the opposition at bay.
- London (AKA Arsenal)
In real life, Arsenal stormed to the 2001/02 Premier League title and their PES 2 squad was equally as impressive. As the only team from the capital in the game, the Gunners were given the name of ‘London’. In the final third, you had Thierry Henry whose power, pace and poise on the ball was simply unstoppable on PES 2. This was married by the flair of Dennis Bergkamp and the dynamism of central midfielder Patrick Vieira, who was an immovable force in the middle of the park.
- A nod to the ‘Galacticos’ – Navarra (AKA Real Madrid)
Real Madrid’s ‘Navarra’ team was jam-packed with quality, with forward Raúl and Fernando Morientes always capable of sniffing out a chance. Portuguese wide man Luis Figo and French midfield maestro Zinedine Zidane were the team’s two star men, both of whom were in their pomp in real life and in PES 2.
With next to no licenses, it was all about the gameplay
The fact that the Japanese national team was the only fully licensed team in PES 2 was surprisingly overlooked by gamers on most occasions. That’s because it offered a unique form of gameplay instead. The player likenesses for the sport’s star players were hugely impressive for the PlayStation 1 and the controllability of the game set it apart from the rest. Its 360-degree player movements ensured this was the most fluid football video game of its kind.
Master League mode paved the way for FIFA’s Ultimate Team
In terms of PES 2’s gameplay, there was no more engaging mode than its Master League. Players started a Master League with a squad full of fictional players, all of whom were below average players. It was up to you to play with them and upgrade your Master League squad with new signings. You could accrue transfer funds by winning Master League games and gaining promotions. In many ways, PES 2’s Master League was the forefather of FIFA’s Ultimate Team that’s so popular with online gamers today.
PES 2 was a football game entirely focused on playability rather than the bells and whistles of licenses and the like. It was streets ahead of FIFA 64 and remains a franchise for the true football fan.