Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 PS3 Review

They say football is a funny old game and when it comes to the battle between Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA we’d have to agree. To many, FIFA has always been playing catch up to Konami’s much cherished series, although even some of Pro Evo’s biggest fans have admitted that in recent years FIFA has made some very big and positive strides. Anyway we shouldn’t really compare them, so lets just say that we did very much enjoy this years FIFA..

Firstly we’ve got to say that we’re absolutely delighted and not because we’ve just slotted in a peach of a goal, but rather that we’re really pleased with the improvements in the commentary. You may call us easily pleased, although whether it was the fake commentator that was Chris James or the actually famous Peter Brackley on the microphone, none of them seemed to be out to convince, although can you really blame them? They did have some rather poor scripts to work with. This year Konami have really delivered, shredding those previous scripts, and giving us all a commentary dialogue that is almost entirely new. Jon Champion is the new main commentator and credit must go to him for making it sound as natural as anything you would expect to come from a TV broadcast. It’s just a shame that supporting commentator, Mark Lawrenson, often sounds like he’s struggling to read the script. Perhaps he forgot his reading glasses.

We criticised last years game for its lack of progress, something that was further shown up by FIFA’s grand debut on the 360. This year fans will appreciate that it’s more like the Pro Evolution Soccer that they are used to, although to say that it’s a huge leap forward in the same sense of FIFA would be an insult to EA’s game. It’s true that some would suggest that the Pro Evolution Soccer series is already uber perfect, but with the additional power of PS3 and Xbox 360 you should really expect more.

The graphics for example, whilst they are a huge improvement over the PS2 equivalent and full of admirable little details (the referee blowing his whistle, raising his cards before the camera close-up, and injured players sitting on the sidelines) there’s no obvious attempts to make the game look real. Perhaps a cartoon look was always meant to be for the series, or maybe when the true overhaul is rolled out things will look better and animations will be that little bit less stiff.

If you are wanting some new features for your cash then how about the option of being able to dive? It’s with little reason that this was a controversial addition, but like football itself, it’s an art, and after you’ve had a few attempts to cheat your way to a penalty and ended up with a couple of yellow cards for your unsportsmanlike behaviour then you may opt to stay on your feet more often. Also, it’s remarkably fiddly to accomplish (three buttons), given that it’s simply about falling flat on your face in a convincing manner.

Teamvision is another new addition and is Konami’s fancy way of saying that the AI now adapts to your skill level, apparently learning new ways to counter and build attacks against you. AI does seem that little bit more unpredictable as a result, which should delight those who like to get lost in the Master League.

If you are affluent enough to own the 360, PS2 and PS3 then take our advice and get the PS2 or 360 version, in that way you won’t be complaining about the slowdown that plagues the PS3 version. When the screen is busy and players are piling into the box things tend to slow down on the PS3, and for once it isn’t due to some sort of bolted on bullet time effect either. If you only have a PS3 or have some reservations about the controls of the 360 version and have the desire to own the game on a more powerful system than the PS2, then we can only say that the slowdown is nowhere near as bad as some have depressingly stated, as it’s actually regularly smooth and never so bad that it’s unplayable.

The online mode isn’t unplayable either, although it’s shocking at times, and not because Konami has come up with some amazing invention, as online options are as minimalist as always, but because of the off putting lag. True, this lag will eventually be fixed (or at least it should be) although that is simply no excuse for releasing the game with as sub par of an online mode as this.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 may have its flaws and lacks the forward thinking of FIFA, although it still plays an excellent and fast paced game of football. It has been suggested that the franchise is once again in for another overhaul next time around, with that thought in mind, hopefully the eighth game in the series will truly impress on the PS3 and the Xbox 360.