Whilst most of our readers would likely salivate at the thought of going hands on with the latest Pro Evo title Pro Evolution Soccer 2008, I wasn't quite as excited. Whilst Pro Evolution Soccer 6 was a good game, FIFA 07 was a reinvention for the franchise that showed EA's series still had plenty of bite. Recently, Konami held a multiplayer hands-on session in Melbourne and we had an opportunity to test out the Xbox 360 version of the game. Despite the fact the game hasn't changed all that much we came away rather impressed with Konami's soccer title.
PES has always been at its best in multiplayer, so it felt right to jump straight into a four player match. It wasn't immediately apparant what had changed with the game but as we played on we noticed that the subtle improvements have resulted in a better game of soccer than ever before. The problems with last year's title seem to have been ironed out for the most part. Scoring a goal has definitely been made more difficult. You'll need to try a wide range of moves rather than just shoot for goal to score and the goalkeepers are rather challenging. Even more impressive is the fact that slide tackles no longer go unpunished.
As we only had an opportunity to play PES 2008 in multiplayer, we didn't get an opportunity to test out the AI and the new adaptive AI system that Konami is dubbing Teamvision. According to Konami, the inclusion of Teamvision will mean that the AI adapts and learns according to each player's style of play. As you play the AI will improve and learn new ways to build attacks and counter specific movements you've previously executed.
PES 2008 will also feature a wider range of set piece options and the set pieces overall have been improved. You'll be able to select the number of players and the position of the defensive wall. Licensing has always been a contentious issue for the PES series and unfortunately the licensing hasn't been finalised just yet, so a lot of the teams appeared to be out of date in the preview build we played. We queried whether A League teams may make it into the game but a Konami representative wasn't too sure on whether we'll see them included in PES 2008. We have our fingers crossed though. Graphically PES 2008 does look better than its predecessors but FIFA 07 is still a better looking game.
The game has been tweaked a little when it comes to the audio. Commentary in the game will be provided by John Champion and Mark Lawrenson. The crowd also seems to make a lot more noise. In the version of the game we played there was actually no crowd at all, but the noise they were making was loud and atmospheric.
Overall our play time with PES 2008 was short and sweet. The minor niggles from PES 6 appear to have been fixed and all we're waiting on now is a look at the supposedly improved AI. PES 2008 is a typically cautious update to the series, but when the game's so realistic and enjoyable, you're not likely to care.