Pro Evolution Soccer 2008

The best PES to date - including the PS3 version?

PS3, All

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By Stuart McAndrew

Not content with letting EA steal all the annual update cash flow, Konami looks like its getting in on the action with the now annually named Pro Evolution Soccer 2008. As EA has the exclusive rights to the vast majority of clubs and leagues, one can appreciate the updated rosters at the very least from their games. As Pro Evolution Soccer has far fewer official teams, can the developers up their game enough to warrant players shelling out on a new title?

This is a conundrum indeed, especially as PES 2008 has some very serious flaws compared to previous versions. Pro Evolution Soccer has been my favourite ball game for a long time now and although FIFA has improved considerably in the last couple of years, it still hasn't matched the hectic pace and realistic moves the PES series has maintained. This year sees even more moves, with nifty tricks like the nutmeg available to those who can master the 150+ moves available. Controversially, Konami has also added the ability to take a dive in the latest edition. Even if your Pro Evolution Soccer matches with friends aren't already charged with more testosterone than a bull that's had its backside spanked by Dita Von Teese, a good dive in your opponent's penalty box could well result in more violence than an Eric Cantona signature request.

Black eyes and broken noses aside, the dive usually will get you booked and is in fact difficult to put into play successfully. About the only time it's worth while is if you're surrounded by defenders and you think you're about to lose the ball anyway. It was a brave decision to include a "cheat" like this in the game, however as nancy footballers the world over continue to act like they have a shattered ankle every time an opponent stands on their laces, I think it's a good addition to the franchise.

Graphically, PES 2008 is still not the visual feast that FIFA is on the next-gen consoles, and although it looks nice in its high definition sheen, it still resembles its PS2 predecessors. On the other hand, character animations are one of PES' strongest points, and players move around the field and deal with the ball much like their overpaid real life counterparts. Commentary is handled well by Jon Champion and Mark Lawrenson, and the crowds really build up atmosphere as play progresses. Unfortunately the crowd looks absolutely terrible - a blocky, two dimensional representation which feels like sandpaper on your eyes when you see it.

Presentation from the main menu is hardly the most exciting or inviting set up I've ever seen either. We're treated to a billboard from the side of one of the pitches, which is every bit as static as the goal posts in the game. Game modes scroll on the billboard as you flick between them, much like the PES 2008 adverts scroll across billboard on the current televised Champion's League and UEFA cup matches.

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