Review: PES 2008
Hang ’em up Seabass..
When GamesTM recently gave ‘Assassin’s Creed’ a relatively harsh 4 out of 10, you could practically hear their entire readership going ‘fucking hell GamesTM, stop acting up’. It was a score clearly designed to provoke a reaction and help GamesTM score a few credibility points, especially with Ubisoft subjecting gamers to the most cynical marketting campaign since the ‘Frag Dolls’ first started mithering us.
So it’s with a much consideration, and a slight sense of forboding, that I’ve decided that PES2008, the latest incarnation of one of the best-loved football games of all time, deserves four out of ten.
Too harsh? Not even close. To be honest I could probably write enough heartfelt words to justify giving it zero but beneath the flaws, carelessness, laziest and downright contempt the dev team at Konami have shown us there still beats the heart of a good football game. Unfortunately for fans of the series, like me, this just makes PES2008’s betrayal even more painful.
Still, lets start with the positives. PES2008 is based upon a tweaked version of Konami’s Pro Evo series and, as ever, it still plays a decent game of football. The strength of the game is still that it allows you to play football your way. Smart cross-field passes, neat 1-2s, individual trickery, slow build ups or Wimbledon-style hoofing are all options for you and if you’ve never played a Pro Evo game before then there is enough here to make you fall in love with the series.
So where does it go wrong? Well… every positive aspect of this game already existed in the last one, and the one before and indeed all of them right back to ISS Pro Evo 1998. PES has always played a good game and all the fans wanted was the great gameplay minus the silly flaws and with more options, modes and extras.
However, heading into PES’ tenth year we find ourselves with the same tired modes, a Master League that feels all too familiar and a bunch of, frankly shit, flaws. Some of which have seemingly been added for this version just so that Konami can remove them next year and slap another £40 price tag on this creaky old code they’ve sold us ten times before. Yeah, don’t think I haven’t noticed you pulling this trick every year Seabass.
Last years PES6 got a fair bit of stick and rightly so; online was laggy, balancing was appalling (Inter anyone?), and there was little evidence of the old PES attention to detail. This year they’ve improved matters a fair bit. For a start, there isn’t as much of the unfairness you used to get when Adriano bulldozed his way towards goal and unleashed a howitzer for 30 yards. Shooting and crossing has also been looked at, and it’s now possible to score a variety of different goals during a match.
But then Konami go and spoil it…
For some reason they’ve decided to give each player the energy levels of a narcoleptic pensioner, which means that during a cup or league it’s necessary to rotate your squad on a regular basis. And when I say `regular`, I mean EVERY OTHER MATCH. They’re supposed to be replicating the performance of professional athletes but the professional athlete they’ve replicated seems to be Michael Owen (which might suggest why he’s on the cover). Stupid.
Mind you, it pales into significance compared to the main problem – online is broken. Again. The famous disappearing ball appears once more, and players stutter with all the grace of R2D2 on cobblestones. The inevitable update will no doubt solve the issues in time, but Live is best left well alone for the time being.
So there you have it. While they’ve sorted a lot of the problems out, Konami have left several other glaring problems in. Why they didn’t learn from last time I’ll never know but if they keep doing this people are finally going to lose patience. Bells.
Secondary Score: 6/10
Now whilst the PS2 versions have had about as much new stuff added to them as Grimsby in recent years they have at least added the occasional user-friendly tweak to at least show some kind of progression but this game has none of them. The mix and match kits from PES5? Thrown. The ‘International Challenge’ from PES6? Get out of here. You can’t even pick your kit in the Master League. Yes, really.
The same old cups (some of which still have too few teams leading to you getting a free pass in the first round) and tedious Master League (a mode I used to adore back in the day) are still here but now they are scuppered by your players being seemingly less fit than I am in real life. Don’t expect your players to play three matches in a row ever and don’t think this is down to me overusing the sprint button. By way of an experiment I proved that your players still end up knackered even if you just spend 90 minutes passing the ball around your back four. This game = fucked.
Konami’s frankly futile press releases speak of a new ‘Teamvision’ AI system which allows the opposition and your team mates to play more intelligently. This is a lie. Forget the 90+% reviews you may have read. They are written by fuckwits. Your AI team-mates will still stand around in offside positions and make the same runs they made in PES3. The AI still only has two ways of scoring as well. This game hasn’t progressed in any way, especially in it’s AI.
If you want a half-decent game you’ll have to play a friend. Don’t expect this to be much better though as you’ll often find most of your goals will be scored because of the fucking inept goalies who spill the tamest shots into their own goals with an alarming regularity. How this game got past the playtesters I’ll never know. Actually my guess is that Seabass playtests it himself once, says ‘that’ll do’ and then waits for all the lovely money to roll in from punters unfortunate enough to believe the hype and reviews.
The online is still in a state of fucked thanks to ridiculous lag and the fact that 99% of the pricks playing this game refuse to use anyone other than Barcelona. Konami clearly didn’t learn from the ‘Adriano’ debacle of last year.
Sensi, the world needs you more than ever right now.