previewed on PC
Winning Eleven, Eleven
I believe I was 8 when I got my first Winning Eleven. It only included the Japanese Football League but that didnít bother me in the least. The franchise Ėcalled Pro Evolution Soccer these days, has come a long way until finally arriving on both the Xbox and Playstation platforms and delivering a proper graphical experience on the PC. I have seen and played all ups and downs of the series so far but there is something about previewing Konamiís eleventh Winning Eleven game. It is a shame that they changed the name -I liked the way it sounded before- though I am certain Konamiís PR department will wholeheartedly support the name change.
Pro Evolution Soccer has, true to its name, evolved tremendously throughout the years. The changes between the games aren't what you might call drastic but they are there and hardcore fans such as myself do notice. I always liked it better this way, finding out the little details and see how they improved each game. Adding new moves, formations and teams and trying to get them to perform even better was one of the most interesting aspects of the experience. Pro Evolutions Soccer 2008 isnít the exception to this rule and it sports nice additions, really nice additions and not so nice additions. Weíll go in that order.
Cardboard be gone
The graphics have definitely received an update since the aging PES 6. The visuals have been refined somewhat but the real improvement is found in the animation of the players. Even the referees and the long-past-due linemen can be seen running around the field smoothly. Unique players like Cristiano Ronaldo, KakŠ or Henry show their personality with their own characteristic way of running and dribbling. The teamís supporters are no longer ridiculous cardboard people and are replaced by decent looking 3D models, although they have a somewhat bothering delayed reaction to what is happening on the field. Of course if you want a full stadium with highly detailed 3D models you can forget that steady 60 frames per second so they may look a bit bland to some.
The interface has been replaced with a new one, boasting a cool, modern, colorful style accompanied with -for the first time- a fairly decent background tune (even if it is still no match for EAís soundtracks for FIFA). The Ďpauseí menus now has the camera zoom in on the coach and the subs, who will sit peacefully even if their team is losing 10 to 0. Replays are enhanced so you can watch the entire play rather than just the last ten seconds. In addition, most replays are shown with an appropriate camera angle, providing a good view of the ballís curve in free kicks or a zoom to a playerís face when celebrating a scored goal.
Team Vision? Where?
Konamiís bunch has tweaked the gameplay again, achieving a near-perfect balance between realism and fast and fun play. Pro Evo 2008 features Team Vision, which has the AI adapt to your style and attack and defend accordingly. Or so it appears. You might as well just pretend the AIís doing all that because 9 out of 10 times you will be too focused on the match to notice. A definite noticeable improvement is that the AI is usually more imaginative and original with their plays, shooting from mid distance, centering and attacking from different sides. I guess you could thank Team Vision for that but Iím afraid we may never know.