We were able to play quite a few matches against various European-based players and most of the time the gameplay experience was very smooth. The only snag is that Pro Evolution Soccer is designed for the PS2 Dualshock Controller and not the Xbox Controller S. As the latter lacks conveniently placed R2/L2 buttons (those button functions are mapped onto the White/Black buttons), it's almost impossible to use the important sidestep move. It seems you can do it with the Right Trigger, but it's still a tad difficult. On the other hand, the Controller S' analogue stick is far better than the Dualshock's. It's mainly a question of getting used to things.
While the framerate is rock solid 60fps during offline gameplay, the graphics have a strange softness to them, which makes the game look a bit poorer than the PlayStation 2 version. It doesn't make the game look bad at all, but if you have the PS2 and Xbox versions running side by side, it's pretty evident that the PS2 looks better. Still, the facial models and graphics in general are excellent on both versions. The animation especially is sublime.
Once you log on the main menu is bare bones and gives you the option of going into a Quick Game, set up an OptiMatch or create your own game.
You can glance at the Players list, which tells you who is online and the self-explanatory Friends list. There is no separate league or download options as of yet. Nor are there separate servers or lounges, but this could change in the final game. Also the lack of a "News/Updates" area is strange.
Once you set up a match and connect with another player (you can only play 1-on-1 matches), you go into the formation set-up screen and from there move to the match. You can talk via the Xbox communicator and there's no text messaging thankfully.
While both players set up their respective teams, the players cannot see the strategy and tactics changes of the other player, which helps to keep the gameplay open. You can, of course, see player substitutions from the other side.
When online, you cannot change your control setup or camera angle. You can alter the match variables such as weather, stadium, referee, overtime (Silver/Gold), penalties, time of day, player condition, club/national/both teams and the like. When it comes to the control method and camera angle, you will be using the ones you set up for yourself in the offline game. Let's say you use a wide angle the other player uses a Long view, then you both play using your own preferred views so no compromise is necessary.
Whenever there's a dead ball situation like a free-kick or a goal-kick, a timer counts down, so if you decide to abstain from shooting the ball for two hours your player will kick the ball automatically once the timer counts down.
You cannot directly go to the tactics setup during the match. To pause, you'll first need to request a pause from the other player and once he accepts, the next time the ball goes out of play, you can access the tactics screen. You can do this up three times during a match.
The gameplay online was almost as smooth as playing at home, with just the tiniest bit of lag, which made it difficult to use the shooting power bar accurately. Still, on most accounts the online experience was very smooth.
The Pro Evolution Soccer 4 Xbox Live experience can be termed as very efficient and smooth. It lacks the pizzazz of ESPN sports games online elements, but it does finally offer a chance to play the beautiful game online on the Xbox.