When I entered Halle 1 of the Leipzig Messe, there was one thing on my mind; “Where is the Konami stand?!” About a week or two ago, Konami announced that a playable version of Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 would be at Leipzig, and as a massive fan, I had to find it.
Before I found it, I spotted EA’s stand, and had a play of the new Fifa 08. I was actually very impressed – it played well and it was fluid. The engine had been re-coded again, and it showed. Once I got on PES 2008 however, I’d totally forgot all of that.
Leipzig had a demo version of the title playing on the Xbox 360 and PS3 which consisted of a full 5 minute match. As a side-note to that, both titles played identical – the only reason I knew I was playing on a different console was because I had a different controller in my hand! There were a handful of international teams to play with, all noticeably licensed. Pro Evo finally feels like a next-gen title, with great looking visuals and impressive face maps that accurately depict the professional counterpart. Even the crowd look better, with full 3D modelling on each person in the crowd – no more cardboard cut-outs!
It isn’t just the graphics that are slick. Once again, the game play for PES is unparalleled. With heaps of new animations, the title is even more fluid than previous versions, with each player moving and reacting the way they should. That being said, the game did take two or three games to get used to. Because of the new animations, and the extreme fluidity of the title, the game play has naturally changed – but for the better. The referees also seem to have a perfect balance of leniency and strictness, making the game flow nicely and stopping you from shouting abuse at them for a great slide to get the ball.
There was one thing that really caught my eye though – the neat little touches that made the game feel realistic. For example, the referee will try his best to get out of the way, but if you do a quick turn towards him as he’s trying to move, you’ll run straight into him and lose the ball. Again, it seems like this is nicely balanced so that it doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it looks great! Another example is if you get an open chance to score due to a defensive error, but the keeper palms it out for a corner – he’ll quickly start pointing and shouting at his defenders mistakes.
Another noticable difference was the player reactions and the passing. It seemed easier to pass into space with the X or A button, depending on the console you were playing. When passing directly to a player, he didn’t stand around waiting for it to come to his feet either, but moved towards the ball.
Although these examples seem minor, when they are all strung together along with the great graphics and superb overall game play, they make for a truly impressive title. What’s more, the Leipzig code was only 75% complete, which means there is even more fine-tuning to be done before we see it hit our European shelves in October.
We’re still not 100% certain which teams will be licensed in the full game this year, but we do know there will be an extensive editing tool so you can do it yourself. It also looks as though you can face map your own face into the game, based on screenshots from a magazine at Leipzig.
I don’t want to jump in and say outright that PES2008 is better than Fifa 08, because the final versions aren’t out yet – but from what I’ve played at Leipzig, Fifa is going to have a very hard time keeping up with the competition!