Pro Evolution Soccer 2008
Playing Pro Evolution Soccer 6 last year was like being stabbed in the back by your best friend: totally unexpected and impossible to accept. Pro Evolution Soccer 6 was the dictionary definition of the word, ‘disappointment’. That’s not to say it was a terrible game, it was still this writer’s football game of choice throughout the whole of this year, and it was still the same old game at its core. It’s just that Pro Evolution Soccer 6 did so little to actually evolve the football genre like it’s title always suggests, that it left a bitter taste in the mouth’s of its loyal fan base. So Konami had a lot of work on their hands in order to rebuild this almost tainted relationship between beloved game and player.
Oh ye of little faith. Once the whistle blows to signal play and players make their first pass, it becomes clear that all is well in Pro Evo land. The most noticeable difference is the pace. Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 plays a far quicker game of football than last year and its all the better for it. Passing is fluid and instantly responsive, allowing players to zip the ball across the pitch with Arsenal like efficiency. Initiating a blistering counter attack from your own half to the opponents goal is as thrilling as you’d imagine it, and something that a certain other football game could only dream of recreating.
Thankfully, the main gripe in Pro Evo 6, the shooting, has been completely overhauled. The football no longer feels like a beach ball, and those annoying moments where a slight tap of the shot button would result in the ball launching over the cross bar into row Z from 5 yards out, are no longer an issue.
One of the more subtle inclusions this year is the ability to dive. Such is the state of football, that diving is now as much a part of football as scoring a goal, Konami in their attempt to perfect this sport have made it an option. Pressing three buttons together results in your player falling to the floor like a ton of bricks, but it has to be timed to perfection because more often than not (unlike in the real sport), the referee will stop play to book you for simulation. It seems a rather pointless addition and will only be there to enrage players that lose out on a vital win because the other player decided to ‘cheat’ their way to victory.
Those expecting a visual tour de force probably won’t like what they see. Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 isn’t much of a step up in this department. It looks a tad sharper than before and player models are on the whole, pretty accurate. But everything else like the grass, stadium and crowd etc all look a little flat, and at times, last gen.
But when it plays this good who cares? Pro Evolution Soccer has never been about official licenses and all the fancy accessories that FIFA boasts. But gamers who’ve grown to love the series will know that it’s never been about the flash, and that substance over style is ultimately what prevails. Konami have had to step it up this year with EA hot behind their heels, and it seems this old dog has found its second wind. On the basis of what I’ve played, Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 is a welcome return to form and I wait in high anticipation for its release come late October. Welcome back old friend, I’ve missed you. Don’t you ever leave me again.