Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 Reader Review
Well, it's that time of the year again, the sun is gone, it's cold outside and all you have to hope for is that the next 6 months indoors in the warmth are gonna be good. Well, of course they are, Pro Evo 2008 is now officially released and while it has it's faults it'll definitely keep you going while outside the squirrels are finding the last of their nuts and eskimos are spotted on the horizon.
What!! Every review i ever read these days has some pointless preamble to it. Anyway, back to the game!!!
Anyway, this review is limited by the fact I haven't played online and I haven't played against the computer. Just played against my mates - so cant comment on the computer AI or the apparently shocking online bit (it's not ps3 specific but on all formats - it'll get fixed!)
So, I have good news and I have bad news. Which do you want to hear first? Well, you want to hear the bad news because at least you'll finish off on a high!!
The main thing people are worried about in everything i've read is the dreaded framerate issues. As someone that's played it solidly for the past 6 hours I can tell you with full honesty it really isn't that bad and it really is barely noticable (for the most part but we'll get to that later). If you install the game to your hard drive (which is in the system settings bit), the dodgy slow down is mostly non-existant. When I say mostly, you still see the odd bit in normal gameplay when there are about 15 players on the screen but you really notice it in replays. They are bad!! Dreadful some may say!! But who gives a flying bicycle kick about replays anyway. Other than the replays the game plays very smoothly indeed.
Unfortunately, you always have petty gripes about certain things. I have a good few of these and for the most part they are petty things that you need to get used to (all but one of mine are to do with gameplay itself!). People always say change is a good thing! They are defnitely right but some things don't need changed. Anyway, here's the bad news - as trivial as it may seem.
First things first - the music. It's always been bad but this is dreadful and they're trying to do a fifa style thing where they tell you the artist and the track name. Thing is though, the music is pish and you just don't care about who wrote a crap song. I advise switching it off as soon as possible!
Secondly - the menus. Now this is really really trivial but when you've been playing the pes series for 5+ years and something you know like the back of your hand changes it annoys you. For instance, if you pause the game, there's no resume game bit at the top(like there always has been), instead you just hit the back button (once again changed from triangle to circle). Problem is I have always had to it a resume game button so now whenever I try to go back to the game I keep entering the formation settings by mistake. Yes, I'll get past this but it will take a while!! Still on the subject of menus, when you start a game, things have moved about for changing players and formation. Once again, not a big deal but a bit of a pain in the ass! Just means i've got to re-learn the quick jig of tactics and player changes.
Thirdly - The PES Shop - They have gotten rid of the pes shop! I know they did this in pes6 on the 360 but they still had it in the ps2 version.
No classic players other than the teams you unlocked, no Ball Effect - ooohh so prettyyyyy. When I got my PS3, i bought the ps2 version of pes6 to find it had all of this. I became very fond of scoring brilliant goals with Peter Crouch, dressed in a penguin suit, but with a dog head!! Can't beat a dog-man!! unfortunatley, there's no sign this is included in the slightest. Sure you can probably unlock the classic teams by doing certain competitions but as a simple guy, I just enjoyed having a Dog-man on my squad!!
Fourthly (and my only in-game gripe) - The worst thing. And I mean the WORST thing about this game is penalty kicks! This I assume is due to the framerate. The crowd all the way through the game look shite (which is fine) but when it comes to penalties the developers have tried to make them look almost blaggable. Problem is, for some reason it cant cope with it. Penalties are very very very very slow. It is basically in slow motion and that is unfortunate. After a long hard fast game, you end up winning or losing while shouting at the screen to hurry up!! That is my only main gripe.
Now onto the good stuff
PES 2008, other than my petty hangups above, is brilliant!!
It plays very smoothly and feels a lot more intuitive. I've heard some people complain PES is too fast which I don't understand at all as it's slower than the last one!!! But this is the same as going from pes4 to pes5. It was slower and took an hour to get used to but was more than worth it.
The general play is quite like pes 6 to an extend but fells all better. Initially you think they've barely done anything at all other than give it a HD polish and to an extent thats right but theres much more. The main part is still the same. They have changed a few things for the better and added a few things that just make it even more fun than pes6 - hard to contemplate i know!
Your guys make better runs and you can take it round people with greater satisfaction. Your keeper actually kicks to the wings as well instead of you aiming to the wings and him punting it down the middle. PES 2008 is all about the small improvements on an already brilliant game. While it may not look as good as fifa it plays ten times better.
The keepers in this game are brilliant! They stop shots like Cech on crack. It means for lower scoring games (initially) but is far far better. No longer will every goal be scored by a dirty cut-back or a scummy rebound. Keeps will do his damndest to palm it round the post or get into position properly even if he's decided to run to get a ball he should leave he'll sprint back and get a touch to it. The best thing about the keepers being so tough is the elation you feel when you score. I was yelling, screaming, shouting obscenities and hitting the table when I scored a goal against my mate (unfortunately knocked over the beer though). You feel like you have properly earned the goal as it's taken a lot of brilliant football and brilliance (possibly) to get there. You feel as if you were part of the crowd when scotland scored against france in paris! You feel as if you've just done the most meaningful thing in your life (okay, a bit melodramatic but you get my point!)
Diving - Oh yes!! While many complain about diving in the beautiful game, diving in pes is truly fantastic. It may become less so once people learn how to do it properly but it makes for great fun! It's really easy to dive! If you have the ball, you can dive! You can try to dive in the box and get a penalty or dive in their half to try to scam that mUch needed set piece. Thing is, it's almost impossible to get away with it and you always get a yellow card regardless (i'm sure you may be able to scam a penatly or free kick but i couldnt). The fun thing is though, it doesn't matter. It is just great fun to dive about the place. Picture the scene. You pass it to the defender from a goal kick and he suddenly falls over. Stupid, pointless, but brilliantly funny when the ref gives a yellow card. This is almost as fun as the headbutt button on the old fifa games. You can just launch yourself all over the place for no apparent reason, sometimes near a hack, sometimes not but it hasn't worN thin yet. I'm sure it will at some point though.
I did try out one thing though with the diving to see if pro evo had fixed a gaping hole from past versions but they hadn't. If you dive in your own box you'll never get carded. Ever!! You know why?? because they still havent bothered trying to put indirect freekicks in inside the box. Still, it's very good watching your guys faint a lot!!
Also very fun is making your wall for a free kick. Stupid I know but you can have all ten players there for shits and giggles. Totally screWs over the guy who's trying to hit it over the short guy and plays most people Offside. Not the best of tactics but is very amusing!!
Last but not least on my rambling review is commentary. Mark Lawrenson and John Champion change the line-up for commentators - and they're pretty good. There's still some classic lines in there that'll live in pes games for generations but they do a decent job of commentating.
The real fun is when you go to the system settings and change the commentating language. The italian and spanish commentators are especially good (you get 2 others too - german and french i think although not sure as i didnt try them out). It really is truly hilarious when the second spanish commentator (like lawrenson is to champion) goes on a wee rant. I have no idea what he is aying but he sounds like a paedophile in a nursery - i kid you not. Anyone who has this already, change the commentary to spanish and tell me i'm wrong. Brilliant fun!
All in all, pes 2008 is an improved pes 6. No huge leaps and bounds but plays a hell of a lot better. The passing is organic, the runs intuitive. It gives you a real sense of accomplishment with the only real proper downside being the penalty kicks are in slow motion!
I bought it feeling apprehensive and was regretting it before i put it in the machine. I take it all back. It is the best pes yet, maybe not a huge change from the last one but it truly is brilliant!!
I give it 9 as its as good as the last one but with a few tweaks...
9 / 10