Pro Evolution Soccer 2008PlayStation 3
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Konami
Release Date: Out Now
Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 for the PlayStation 3 is both satisfying and downright disappointing. The Pro Evolution Soccer series has been one of the highlights of the PlayStation 2’s gaming catalogue and each yearly release has been eagerly awaited by the series’ many fans. Needless to say then, the wait for the series to arrive on the PlayStation 3 has been highly anticipated. With the game now finally released the feeling is one of anticlimax. The series plays a better, more realistic game of football than anything else on the PlayStation 3 but there’s a strong feeling that the game isn’t finished and could have done with far more time in the hands of the developers.
Those who have been expecting big things of PES 2008 may be surprised to find that not a lot has been done to alter the core experience. Last year’s Xbox 360 version of PES 6 was technically the first ‘next-generation’ version of the game but it was so light on modes that it paled in significance to the PlayStation 2 and PC versions of the game. This year Konami have given us all the modes we expect. The problem is that not a great deal has changed from what we were seeing in the PES games that appeared on the PlayStation 2. Sure the presentation of the Master League has been improved, you’ll receive some degree of fan feedback and pictures of your loyal supporters (as well as a rating for the appeal of your team) but it’s nothing that impressive in all honesty. The game’s main menu has received an overhaul but it’s debatable as to whether it’s an improvement.
Of course fans of the series are more concerned with how the game plays and here big things have been expected with the developers talking about a feature known as Teamvision. Essentially this is a feature that gives you an adaptive AI to play against. The AI is supposed to learn and adapt to your style of play. We saw a similar feature in NHL 08 a few weeks ago. In NHL 08 the adaptive AI did a truly impressive job of picking up on how you played and reacting in a natural way to combat it. In PES 2008 I’m not so sure the AI is as intelligent in this respect. What you will notice is that the game has become more physical. Players now use the full weight of their bodies in a challenge and it’s possible to muscle players off the ball in order to gain possession. There is a side effect to this more physical game-play though as there seems to be far more free-kicks given than in previous versions. The referee seems to be rather finicky and the amount of free-kicks that are given really breaks up the flow of the game.
Some additions to the game-play are a little bewildering. Konami have included the ability to make your player take a dive. This is something I would rather not have seen in a PES game as it’s a feature that you usually only find in an arcade football game. The goalkeepers also seem to have problems keeping hold of the ball. They are good at shot stopping but they have a tendency to spill the ball into the path of the opposition, which can lead to you conceding silly goals. Another peeve of mine is how goals which are wildly deflected off defenders don’t always go down as own goals. I’ve scored several goals that have taken wicked deflections off an opposing defender and yet my player has been credited with the goal.
The biggest problem that PES 2008 on the PlayStation 3 has is performance issues. To be blunt, I’ve never played a Pro Evolution Soccer game that performed as poorly as the PlayStation 3 version of PES 2008. At times the frame rate simply bombs to a level that the result is a temporary slide show. The crazy thing is that the frame rate issues seem to be dependent on the stadium you play in and whether you use the wide camera angle. Some stadia really cause the frame rate to plummet (it is worst of all when using the wide camera angle, which most PES fans do), whilst it’s possible to play match after match in other stadia without any real hint of slowdown. You can install key files to the PS3 HDD (around 1.8GB in total) and you can turn off the stadium effects but this doesn’t really seem to do anything to ease the situation. The replays and pre-match presentations also suffer from slowdown. Playing online is also a bit of joke at present. There are major lag problems and Konami have acknowledged that there are problems to be sorted out (a message from Konami, informing you that the problems are being looked at, greets you when choosing to play an online game). As a side issue it’s worth noting that you have a registration code that must be entered before you can play online, which effectively ties a copy of the game to its original owner. PES fans are unlikely to part with their copy but it’s not good to see such a measure taken in a console game.
In regards to the game’s presentation, the game is not that much different from last year’s PES 6 that appeared on the 360. There’s a fair collection of licensed leagues here from countries such as Italy, France, Spain and Holland. Sadly there are only two official teams from England so you’ll have to put up with the likes of Merseyside Red and Man Blue once again. Graphically the game looks quite sharp. There are a good amount of player likenesses in the game and the quality of the animations is generally impressive. That said, you’ll notice in replays that the ball doesn’t always make contact with the players for deflections and saves etc., which is pretty disappointing. From a deaf gamer’s standpoint there are no problems with the game’s presentation. The match commentary, which often lags behind the action or is completely inaccurate, isn’t subtitled but that’s not really much of a problem. I do wish Konami hadn’t done away with the icons that showed whether the advantage rule was being played. That said deaf gamers won’t have any real problems with PES 2008.
The crazy thing is that despite the aforementioned problems, PES 2008 still plays an addictive game of football that’s more realistic than any other football game on the PlayStation 3. It’s difficult to reconcile the disappointment of the game’s problems with the satisfaction the game can still give you. Make no mistake though; PES 2008 on the PlayStation 3 is a flawed effort from Konami. For loyal fans of the series I daresay it will help to tide them over until next year’s game but no PES fan can be totally happy with PES 2008 because of the aforementioned problems.