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DS Roundup

PES 2008, Brain Challenge, Mega Man ZX Advent, Paint By DS, Cooking Mama 2.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2008

  • Developer: Konami
  • Publisher: Konami

It doesn't pay to be complacent, as PES can well testify. After gaining an unassailable lead over the years, it never reckoned on its rival, FIFA, mounting a strong counter-offence and streaking down the left wing in a determined effort to equalise. And that's all the strangled footballing metaphors you'll get out of this review, thank you very much. [Oh no. How terrible. - Ed]

In other words, the competition between the two soccer behemoths isn't as clear-cut as it once was. FIFA has improved considerably in the face of PES' acclaim, while PES still has the habit of making silly feature decisions we could do without. Between the two the ultimate football game probably lies. Ah well.

Mind you, we're really only talking about the console titles here, so let's not waste words. Football on handhelds is less troubled territory and the DS version of PES's 2008 outing bears only a minor resemblance to the big boys, as well you'd expect. Any showboating has been stripped away for a game of simple football and simple features.

Taking it in the context of the previous PES6 DS outing, a few tweaks have been made, though nothing major. A few new licensed clubs have been added, including the likes of Newcastle and Spurs, along with the usual mix of pseudonymous national players. Control feels like it's been tightened up some, making everything a little more responsive than it was before. The graphics, too, are brighter, exuding a more summery vibe than last time, and the crowd noise of '08 is a lot better than the eerie silences of before. Players have also been given portraits to accompany their stats, as opposed to pixellated blobs.

On the down side, it can't really get over the lack of analogue control, and it still suffers from noticeable slowdown when too many players are on screen, particularly when everybody's crowded into the penalty box for a corner kick. And the irritating, unpredictable method of scoring or saving penalties by picking one of six boxes is still here. Many's the nil-nil draw where I might as well have tossed a coin than go into a deciding shootout.

The Konami Cup tournament mode and World Tour are still present, the latter asking you to grind through a groups of teams in each skill level, earning coins to spend on new players and fancy power-ups. You may or may not be pleased to know, too, that the bizarre capsule machine used to buy new team members with coins won in matches makes a return appearance. Meanwhile, Wi-Fi and single-card multi-play are all present and correct.

With such minor improvements, then, there isn't that much incentive to upgrade from last year and our sentiments lie roughly along the same lines as before. You're probably as well-served going for FIFA '08 on DS than you are this. That said, this is a decent attempt at portable football on the DS that carries Pro Evo's name, though don't let it fool you into thinking it's anywhere near as majestic as other versions.