This version of Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 blends many elements together and the result is a pretty accurate representation of what soccer is all about.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 for the PlayStation 2 seems like a very weird release, it’s a very good game, but it’s more so when compared to its PS3 counterpart. The latter failed to fully take advantage of this powerful system, even when it clearly has more technological advancements than the PS2. The former feels more complete, has more features and a very engaging gameplay, making it the definitive game. The animations look good enough, the players seem lifelike and the controls have been improved. Overall, it’s quite surprising that this old graphics engine has managed to pull that off, even when many will complain that the game seems like a simple upgrade of previous iterations.
In terms of playability, Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 is quite impressive. It blends many elements together and the result is a pretty accurate representation of what soccer is all about. The game is realistic and highly playable at the same time, something that fortunately is becoming a standard in most sport games. PES 2008 has many improvements like a much better AI, smoother animations, a very good control scheme, a great and replayable single-player campaign and some multiplayer options. One of the main noticeable changes is that the AI has been completely redone, as this characteristic has been reused over and over ever since Pro Evolution Soccer 6 came out.
Not everything in the game is realistic, though. At times, PES 2008 feels like an arcade game, as it plays much faster when compared to previous releases. Additionally, all the players have been redone, as a result, their animations are better looking and the players have a tendency to tussle with each other to defend the ball. Unfortunately, the AI seems to guess where you’re moving next, so making quick counterattacks is really difficult. This isn’t entirely bad, as the computer seems to act more like a human opponent, forcing you to try some risky tactics instead of using the same strategy every time.
This is much better than the 2007 version. Also, if you are wondering which version of PES 2008 is best, wonder no more, this is the one to buy. Ultimately, the new diving mechanic introduced in the Xbox 360 and PS3 isn’t a very nice addition. This basically allows you to fake fouls, awarding you with free kicks and even though its authenticity is undeniable, its inclusion is more than questionable. Playing that version online is almost impossible, as many players overuse this dirty tactics to take an unfair advantage. Furthermore, this iteration doesn’t have any slowdowns and runs exceptionally well.
There are many modes included in the game and most of them are quite interesting. Some are quite predictable (like the Master League and Cups), but at least these are long and interesting enough to keep you entertained for more than a few weeks. The world tour is an exclusive mode that can only be played in the PS2, and it basically lets you complete a series of missions against teams from all over the world. Each mission has various conditions that have to be met in order to move on to the next one. Another exclusive feature is the possibility of exchanging the world tour data to a PlayStation Portable through the USB port.
The other mode is called Community, which allows up to 16 players to compete in different cups and tournaments in only one console. Players need to put their names and star signs and challenge each other in matches, cups or leagues. The results and matches have a very surprising and complete database that can be sorted and changed in many ways to suit your needs. If you have a multitap adapter you can play two vs. two games. I think it’s almost impossible (and very inconvenient) to gather 16 people in one room to play Pro Evolution Soccer matches, but it’s really nice to know that you can do it if you want to.
The usual Pro Leagues, cups, tournaments and master leagues were included too, and though, many teams and stadiums have incorrect names you can set up matches in almost any way you want. Also, there’s an included editor so if you want to make some research and change the fake names of the teams for the real ones you can totally do it. This editor is both simple and comprehensive, but it takes some time to do something that Konami should have done a long time ago. The lack of official names is becoming a problem, especially after so many years since Pro Evolution Soccer 3 came out. Also, every time you finish a match you earn PES points which you can use to buy some unique items, like new players, teams, stadiums or even new hairstyles and goal celebrations. There are also some ball effects or even silly costumes that completely change the look of your players.
The game’s presentation isn’t great. Graphically Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 looks rough and unpolished, with little special effects. Still, the players are animated extremely well and look fine. The different interfaces aren’t very good and it’s really surprising that Konami hasn’t changed them for some new and more helpful ones. On the other hand, the audio is mediocre. Commentaries have been one of Pro Evolution Soccer’s weakest points and this is no exception. The commentators repeat the same lines of dialogues over and over and have a tendency to state obvious things in the most boring ways. There are times when they announce something that should be happening onscreen but it doesn’t. The game has three different languages, so you can try commentaries in English, Spanish or French and see which one seems more appropriate or at least more engaging. The soundtrack has some nice tracks but the rest are terrible, mainly because its selection is all over the place. It mixes Jazz with Rock and Pop and not in a very subtle way.
The PlayStation 2 version of Pro Evolution Soccer is good, mainly because it has a terrific gameplay. Apart from that, the game has many more features than its other console counterparts, and it simply feels good. The community and world tour modes are really nice additions and are exclusive to this version, but take into account that the graphics look really rough. If you want, you can play the single player mode which is challenging and entertaining, but you’ll probably get more out of it if you play against a friend. In any way, this is the best version of PES 2008 out there.