Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 Xbox 360
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Konami
Release Date: Out Now
It’s been interesting being able to play both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Pro Evolution Soccer side by side. Essentially both are the same game and yet they are slightly different experiences. The 360 version has little in terms of performance issues and in fact, the matches seem to play at a much quicker pace. Those who were disappointed with the lack of modes and edit options in the 360 version of PES 6 will certainly be much happier this time around with a full complement of game modes and editing tools included in PES 2008.
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 only performance issues that the 360 version shares with the PS3 version are the slowdown in replays and pre-match presentations (it’s not as bad as in the PS3 version however) and the lag you’ll experience when playing online. As we said at the beginning of the review, the matches play out at a quicker pace than on the PlayStation 3 version. The speed of the game is reminiscent of the quick pace of PES 4. Some might feel the quick pace of the matches is at odds with the game’s emphasis on realism and it would be difficult to argue against this. In fact after playing FIFA 08 and seeing how that game has reduced its speed to a slower, more realistic pace it’s quite jarring to play PES 2008 on the 360 and see how the quick pace resembles an arcade style football game rather than a simulation of the sport.
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 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.
It’s pleasing to see that the Xbox 360 version of Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 isn’t dogged by the major frame rate issues that the PlayStation 3 version has. There is some concern about how quick the game has become however, and I would like to see the pace of the game slowed down to a more realistic speed for next year’s game. The keepers need to be sorted out too, as far too many goals are scored because of the keepers’ inability to hold the ball. In fact there are few areas of the game that need to be improved if PES 2009 is to finally be the next-generation Pro Evolution Soccer game that we’ve all been waiting for. From the versions we’ve played so far though, the 360 version is definitely our preferred version.