Pro Evolution Soccer 2008

More info »

Pro Evolution Soccer 2008

Preview

Will the eleventh be another winner?

Team Vision? Where? (cntd.)


On with the tweaking, while stealing the ball from another player is a little easier, dodging and passing with the better forwards and midfielders is the way to go. Messi can be unstoppable in the hands of a skilled player because of his dribble and speed. Slower centre backs will see him run past them without having a chance but you can't expect to ram into them and still have the ball at your feet. Speed and teamplay pose the bigger threat to the opponent’s goal because it is not that easy to outsmart defenders anymore. You have to start passing the ball more, relying on your team and its ability to outrun the adversary.

Smart


The attacking AI is a lot smarter too. I have been complaining for years about how the forwards got caught offside because they didn’t return fast enough to their positions after attacks. Now this is pretty much fixed, strikers watch and follow the defenders’ line, avoiding staying in an offside position. Also, friendly forwards will run along with you, trying to participate in the play by waiting for a pass, having defenders run after them or positioning to hit the ball in case you don’t score on the first try and the ball bounces their way.

Goal keepers are a different matter entirely. They seem a lot more careless, often leaving the goal unprotected. Rival goalies sometimes run too far with the ball and end up losing it to my goal-hungry forwards. Most of the AI problems I found are related to them and it is probably better to leave the goalie handling to your own trusty fingers.

Konami also introduced two substantial new features. The first is the ability to handpick up to three players to stand in front of the goal when a corner is awarded. When choosing the appropriate player, useful information about his height, defending and heading skills appear so you can safely decide who to send and who leave behind. The second feature is diving, which lets you drop to the ground dramatically when barely touched, simulating a foul. Most of the times the ref will let the game continue and most dives in the box will result in a yellow card. Bear in mind that everyone makes mistakes, even the AI. The AI often uses this ‘diving tactic’ and it can get annoying. Trust the ref to rule fairly though.
I’ve yet to see an unfair penalty kick ruled but Konami has said that it is definitely possible.

Don’t tell your friends


This new addition might tick off many people that still have nightmarish FIFA déjà vu’s. I wouldn’t tell my friends how to do it if I’d want our weekly friendly matches to end without bloodshed. It is realistic but it makes you wonder, if dirty play is one of soccer’s worst aspects, why would we want that to be in the game? Bottom line is: if I want to beat someone, I want to rub it in his face, not have him whining because I cheated, even if that weren’t true. I am intrigued about the inclusion of the attitude attribute however. It may have to do with how believable a player's diving performance is but I am not certain.

So far, the game looks and feels promising. The usual lack of licenses seems to carry on this year, with only a couple of new clubs and national teams but the greatness behind Konami’s franchise remains the same and that’s gameplay. It looks like Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 will deliver in that area, it always does.