I’ll hold my hands up, I fall onto the FIFA side of the fence in the PES vs. FIFA debate. Having enjoyed this year’s edition of FIFA, I was hoping that Konami would introduce something new into the game, but unfortunately there aren’t any major improvements in the game. However, that’s not a completely terrible thing, as the quick, fast-paced football game is still intact here, and is just as enjoyable as years past. Yet, because it is essentially the same game as previous iterations, football fans looking for realistic action might be a bit disappointed.
Having its own unique playing style, many-a-gamer adopted quickly to the pace of the game, and as stated it doesn’t have that realistic feel to it. Fortunately though, it’s easy to get to grips with and once you’ve learned the basic controls, it’s enjoyable to play in both single player and multiplayer. Using the right bumper to run, A to pass and X to shoot, the control scheme fosters a pick-up-and-play atmosphere for those of you who have been playing FIFA and ignored the PES series. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any significant changes to the gameplay this time around, but PES2008 has gained more licenses for more teams around the globe, including Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United from the Premier League, along with Scotland, Ireland and Brazil on the international stage.
Before talking about the visuals of PES2008, the player’s attributes vary and replicate those in real life… at least the majority of them. For example, if you play as Man Red or Portugal, you will be blistering down the wing with Ronaldo’s pace, constantly leaving defenders purely jogging behind you. But, Carlos Tevez seems to be able to out jump the likes of Micah Richards and co. in the Man Blue defence (you can tell the heated battle me and family/friends have on PES), something that would not happen, as Tevez isn’t the tallest striker for Man Red. Whilst talking about Tevez and his heading capabilities, I’d just like to point out that crossing-to-scoring ratio is quite low, with about one-in-ten crosses ending up in the back of the net, something which pleased me after it returned in FIFA 08, or at least a good six-out-of-ten crosses ending up hitting the back of the net.
Ball physics in the game are a mixed bag. The ball can ricochet off defenders when taking a free-kick, and what’s more annoying is the fact that the football seems to hate staying in the keeper’s gloves and the ball constantly gets parried away, when it could be easily saved. Most players have their own control with the likes of Kaka and Ronaldinho keeping the ball close to their feet, but when passing the ball, the majority of the time players let the ball run through their legs, resulting in the opposition retaining the ball, which is annoying to say the least.
So, now onto the visuals of PES2008, which hardly look fitting for this generation of consoles. Sure, certain players look like their real-life counterparts, but there’s a few players who look nothing like themselves. Then again, the PES games have never been about the visuals; it’s been all about the gameplay. Fortunately, commentary has had a makeover with John Champion and Mark Lawrenson giving you their views on the game, and it’s not the worst commentary I’ve heard, but not the best. One complaint, albeit minor and something you’ll probably not even notice, is that while the ball skims the surface beautifully, the sound of the player going in for the slide tackle is more of a thump, something Konami need to work on.
The basic single-player modes are all here; Exhibition, Master League and Cup mode, and I was hoping to enjoy the online side of things, and wasn’t I absolutely disappointed with what I got… or not got. I was enjoying what Konami thrown at me on my own in single-player, but taking PES2008 online was a huge mistake. I could cope with the odd bit of lag in the odd game or two, but constant lag and teleporting balls, what was going on? Konami should’ve sorted this out, and to think I used to criticise EA’s servers!
PES2008 brings nothing new to the table. It’s the same old gameplay (which isn’t a bad thing), with subpar visuals and just passable sound. There’s nothing to keep you from sticking with PES6. It’s still good enough to play and enjoy, but not even having a reasonable online game is pathetic. While this is a problem that’s getting a patch in the future, PES2008 is a good game, but by no means great. The good news is that all we know at this moment in time is next year’s version is set to have new features, so hopefully it will be a much more enjoyable experience with no lag online. PES2008 is still a worthy purchase for those who are new to the series, but this season PES2008 seems to have slipped behind FIFA and Konami won’t be happy about that. Hopefully next season we’ll see a better effort.