|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Sure, soccer may be the sport of the world, but that prestigious title does not hold a whole lot of weight here in the States. It's more of a fringe sport here, and unlike the popularity of the Pro Evolution Soccer series over in Europe, such quality titles have developed only a cult following on this side of the pond. All that may be about to change, as Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2008 is set to boot its way to the top of the food chain.
With ingenious new gameplay and extremely fluid mechanics, PES 2008 may just be the soccer game that not only pushes the envelope for the titular sport but for all sports games in general on the Wii. The inclusion of the word 'Evolution' in the title is appropriate because what Konami has delivered here may be the big leap forward all soccer fans have been waiting for.
Up to this point most multi-platform sports games have gotten the top tier treatment only for the big dogs, while the unlucky Wii owners usually got watered down iterations geared more towards family friendly play. Fortunately for all you soccer fanatics out there, the road Konami took will not drive you to drink mass amounts of beer and punch holes in walls. Although, considering that you are soccer fanatics, you were probably going to do that anyways. What Konami does give us is a fresh and unique take on digital soccer, which gives players the ability to truly control the ebb and flow of the game.
Defensively you are able to take command of any player, at any time. By highlighting them with the Wii Remote you are able to pull them to your desired location. This effective ability allows you to divide your focus to ensure that all key areas of the field are covered, and create doubles on highly skilled offensive talents.
Defense aside, the other side of the ball is where this new style of play really shines. Passing has never been easier, and for once I can attest that passes actually went where I wanted them. How you ask, well it's because you aim to their desired position. These innovations make orchestrating lead passes a cinch, thus opening up the field and creating boundless scoring opportunities. Surprisingly, the new play mechanics introduced in PES 2008 are amazingly easy to adjust to. They feel natural, and players will definitely not miss the old school controls.
If a game was judged on mechanics alone, then PES 2008 would certainly be the cream of the virtual soccer crop, but there are several other factors that remain to determine if this product has any staying power. Thankfully, fans will not be disappointed. PES 2008 packs more than enough options to keep soccer lovers busy until next year's title launches. With the wide range of modes at their disposal, players are able to engage in just a simple, friendly match, start a league (or season in which they can choose from a variety of pro soccer leagues around the world), throw down in the all important world cup, kick the ball around online or enter the all new Champions Road.
Since Champions Road is the new kid on the block, we will discuss that. Similar to something you would see in NBA Street, Champions Road engages the player in a series of round robin tournaments throughout the world. Players will experience the spoils of victory immediately. Wins can net players experience points for their team, which will allow them to add skills to weaker aspects of their team's game. In addition, vanquished foes will have to cough up a couple of their players for your taking, allowing you to build up an all-star squad of sorts as you battle your way through increasingly difficult matches.