I have played every iteration of Pro Evolution Soccer (known as Winning Eleven in other parts of the world, and PES for the purposes of this review) there has been and so am laying my cards on the table right at the start. I love PES.
Now that I have got that out of the way lets get to reviewing…
My thoughts whilst thinking about this review have gone a little something like this — if you are a PESphile and have played this game, see if it matches your own thought processes:-
Right Side of Brain: Whoa, I can’t control this at all, are they running in butter?
Left Side of Brain: Shut up! It’s PES, you’ll get used to it.
RSB: Oh yeah, there it is, got the hang of it now.
LSB: See, it’s just like all the others really.
RSB: Phew I thought it was broken. Hang on though, I was hoping it would be better than all the others, not just like them. OH WHAT A SHOT! AWESOME!
You see the thing is, it’s not that PES is bad, it’s just that it’s so consistently great that it’s a bit predictable, and predictable is…well…a bit dull. Because PES has always been nearly perfect there isn’t much to improve upon. I mean, you can’t add a new vehicle section, or add new weapons can you? Football is football at the end of the day. All the familiar PES bits are there, the Master League is still there and exactly the same as it ever was, the online bit is still a bit laggy (RSB: That’s something they should have improved upon!) and there are all the usual cup competitions. New stuff includes a licensed Champions League mode with all the music and TV style graphics and Become a Legend mode, where you take you play one character and take him from being a 17 year old kid right up to the great honour of captaining England (or whatever country you like), and it is nothing like FiFAs Be a Pro mode at all. No it isn’t! Shut up!
Gameplay wise there has only been a slight Evolution (get it?) on the 2008 version. All slowdown is gone and they have added new animations so now movement is more realistic and smooth, and I didn’t think that was possible. Ball physics is great, cross field passes fly faster and flatter, thus making them more effective, a chipped through-ball is possibly too accurate, and goal mouth action is crazy and a bit random which is just the way it should be.
There are an impressive number of tricks and flicks that, with practice and a highly skilled player, can be used to create space and beat the defenders. My favourite move is still the Stanley Matthews Feint named after the mercurial winger from the 30s, 40s and 50s. It’s been been in the game for a few years now, but the fact that the PES developers have obviously heard of the great man is one of the reasons that I keep coming back. These guys just love their football.
FiFA has made some bigger strides this year and is defintiley catching up to PES on the gameplay front, but it is still in second place. However, if the PES people don’t come up with something pretty special soon I don’t think that will be the case much longer.
- online play is a bit shoddy
- there still aren’t enough licensed teams (but there never are in PES)
- there has not been enough innovation.
- improved ball physics
- better presentation
- no slowdowns and it’s still the best game of football outside of Wembley.