Review By: Nick Arvites
|# Of Players:||1-2|
|Accessories:||Xbox Live (online play)|
Pro Evolution Soccer, formally known as Winning 11, is Konami’s answer to EA’s FIFA series. This is my first thorough play-through of any of Konami’s soccer titles, as the only soccer titles I’ve ever owned have been FIFA. I don’t buy soccer titles nearly as much as baseball, football or basketball titles, but I still enjoy playing them. Soccer games have always been a decent multiplayer standby, especially since the controls are easy to pick up and most games have built-in tournament modes. PES 2008 took longer to get to the US...it was originally released in Europe last fall, and only came to the US in the spring of 2008.
The best part about soccer games, at least in my opinion, is that they’re much easier to learn than other sports titles. PES 2008 is no different. The basic controls can be picked up within 5 minutes, though understanding soccer strategy can make the game much easier. Mastering the controls is a different story. While I can run the field and play defense with no problems, I still cannot grasp free kicks at all. Part of the blame is the insanely deep control scheme presented in the manual and help screens. While they tell you what to do, the game does not really explain the process. The training mode present in the game is largely useless, as it provides no pointers or feedback at all. I sat around for about an hour trying to figure out how to at least send a decent shot on goal (meaning, not a straight shot with no curve that is either knocked down by the wall or immediately caught by the keeper who doesn’t have to move) out of a free kick situation and failed to do so. Ball tricks seem overwhelming at first, but training in free mode for about twenty minutes with a top player was enough to grasp this system. PES 2008 also allows you to take a dive in an attempt to draw a foul. While this may seem like it could potentially break the game, PES 2008 balances this by making the officials extremely strict on calling the dives against the diver. I don’t doubt that players who have logged significant hours into PES 2008 have figured out ways to “game” the system, but I found that I was more often unsuccessful with dives than anything else.
The single player difficulty offers a wide range. On the lower levels, the CPU teams are pushovers and generally pathetic opponents. You’ll easily see 6-0 scores and multiple hat-tricks. The higher difficulty levels are brutal, especially if you overestimate your skill with the game. The middle ground isn’t as solid. I couldn’t find a good starting difficulty. I was somewhere between one difficulty level where I would win every game by 3+ goals and another difficulty level where I would draw or lose 2-1 to every team.
Matches allow an incredible amount of depth to strategy, formations and tactics. Again, like some of the controls, a tutorial mode would have been really helpful here (sort of like an in-depth tutorial in an American football game would help in the Euro release). I’m sure it isn’t a problem in Europe, but I’m not savvy enough in soccer strategy to really understand what I’m doing. I stuck with the default sets, and that generally worked for me.
The biggest distinction between the PES series and the FIFA series are the licenses. PES 2008 has traditionally relied on the in-game features and a handful of licenses, while FIFA has relied on having almost every league and player in the world. PES 2008 brings a few fully licensed leagues containing all of the teams, colors, and players of those leagues (Specifically: Spanish La Liga, French Ligue 1, Italian Serie A, and Dutch Eredivisie). The English Premier League contains two fully licensed teams (Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur) and the player licenses for the rest of the league. The other teams use geographic placeholder names. For example, Man Red has all of the players of Manchester United, and North London has all of the players of Arsenal. There are also handful of individually licensed teams from a variety of leagues (ex: Bayern Munich, Celtic, Rangers, etc).
Posted: 2008-08-14 16:36:31 PST