Pro Evolution Soccer 2008

  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Konami

This is the third annual iteration of Pro Evolution Soccer on the PSP - and by now you probably know whether that means much to you or not. Like its big brothers on home consoles, the PSP edition of PES 2008 is very much an incremental upgrade, offering a minor evolution of football gameplay that most seem to agree is deep, realistic and - most importantly of all - actually fun.

The problem with PES 2008 is that you could have made exactly the same comment about PES 2007. This year's game boasts tight, fluid football at its heart, but it's pretty much the same tight, fluid football that we liked in last year's game - and it's accompanied by pretty much the same visuals (not bad, but the occasional mis-step like the awful, grey-looking crowds) and the same basic presentation problems, like very patchy commentary and pretty shockingly awful music.

One area that sees a genuine step forwards is the interaction between the PS2 and the PSP versions. While the ability to move data between versions has been a feature of the PSP edition since its first instalment, PES 2008 takes it to a much more impressive level by allowing you to transfer every single mode in the game - Master Leagues, World Tour Challenges, the lot - over to the PSP. It's finally at the stage where the PS2 game is almost entirely replicated on your handheld, allowing you to continue playing the game on the road - and then sync it back when you come home.

Ronaldo charges around being irritatingly amazing. (Screenshot from console version.)

That's good. What isn't so good is that the game simply isn't moving forward in other departments. PES fans will be sick of hearing reviewers grumble about the lack of licensed team information, but it's still a legitimate complaint, and one that isn't fixed much in the 2008 edition (at least for the English teams).

Multiplayer, meanwhile, remains a glaring black hole in the game's featureset. There's ad hoc local wireless play - but no online play. Even the (admittedly poor) DS version has online head to head play, which makes this look a bit silly. As the game's name reminds us, it is 2008, after all.

Even allowing for the fact that PES' core game experience is still great, we can't in all honesty call this a great game - simply because it offers remarkably little that you can't get in last year's version. It's competent, it's fun, it's certainly good - but unless the PS2 to PSP transfer stuff tugs your whistle, it's not easy to justify the upgrade.


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