The Pro Evolution Soccer series has thrived because of one thing: it simulates the game of soccer exceptionally well and allows the user to get so close to the action. Although there was a bit of a hiccup with PES 6, with Konami leaving out leagues and the ability to edit teams, players and strips, it still outshone its competition and proved it has the greatest gameplay experience. But will this translate for the 2008 version?
The biggest upgrade for the game is the new Teamvision artificial intelligence system, which improves the playing experience and the authenticity of the game. Computer-controlled opponents are more intelligent when it comes to changing playing styles, and their adaptable play coupled with your user ingenuity allows the game to flow a lot better, with long periods of open play.
You’ll feel the differences, especially with power, more on your passes and shots, and players move with more physicality. They also tussle with each other more, pulling shirts and out-muscling each other over the ball to jockey for position. It adds up to a more natural-feeling game this year, and one that still plays a rewarding game of football.
However this isn’t to say that the revised gameplay goes off without a hitch. You’ll find that keepers will be fumbling the ball frequently, allowing nearby strikers an easy tap-in. Also featured, despite numerous purist grumblings, is the ability to take a dive, and while it does happen in the modern game, Konami should have included an option to turn it off, for the sportsman-like gamer.
Online features haven’t changed much since last year, with the same modes appearing and no tournament or online league functionality, and despite numerous product placement adverts, none of this seems to be invested on a news feed or score ticker, which is inexcusable in the modern console era, as rivals of PES have been offering it now for a few years.
A place where the game really drops the ball is in the visual department. Although last year’s title was no masterpiece, many expected this area to be improved, however not much has been done to correct the slight eyesore. Apart from the lack of visual candy, the game does run at a smooth frame rate, with player animations looking great, and player models also looking good. In other areas of presentation things are a bit all over the place. Commentary is solid, if unspectacular, and the on field audio does a good job of replicating the real thing. The menu is still a bare bones project, and needs touching up if it expects to be up to next-gen quality.
Pro Evolution Soccer has definitely suffered from its own success. After raising the bar higher and higher, this version seems to come across as underwhelming. But quite frankly if you can get past the traditional licensing issues it is still a great game of footy, and for newcomers the most realistic title out in the market.