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Written by  :  Brandon Tabbert (19)
Written on  :  Jun 30, 2008
Platform  :  Xbox 360
Rating  :  3.86 Stars3.86 Stars3.86 Stars3.86 Stars3.86 Stars

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Hardcore soccer fans will rejoice in the gameplay and gamers around the world will celebrate the ability to actually have fun with a sports title.

The Good

I do not like playing FIFA soccer games. In fact, I hate them. I can respect that soccer fans love the recent FIFA installments, but it’s a touch too realistic for me. Scoring goals is borderline impossible in that franchise. If I’m going to kick off a virtual soccer game, I need to get some points, brother. Pro Evolution Soccer has allowed that to happen and I’m grateful for it.

The controls and gameplay are simple enough to pick up and jump right into a game, which was great for me, as I’m not incredibly proficient at this type of game. However, after about 40 matches, the controls have revealed themselves to be onion-like. That is, there are incredibly complex combinations and control-schemes that you can use, when you learn them. It’s incredibly smart of Konami to tailor their gameplay mechanics and control systems so that beginners are able to play just as easily as veterans.

The animation is quality and the shots on goal replays look fantastic. After scoring, the in-game celebratory cinematics shine as being quite well done, even amidst framerate drops.

The single player aspect of the game is relatively strong, though. The Master League mode is a fun way to not only learn the game, but to grow attached to some key players, building their skills and your franchise, and experience some media buzz as well.

Let’s talk about licensing, too. With EA having all of the licensing rights to the major clubs, you won’t see David Beckham or Ronaldo in PES. They do have several, true-to-roster, smaller English teams, however. I don’t watch soccer on television and I don’t follow the sport in any way, so I couldn’t care less. Huge fans of the sport will, assumedly, be disappointed with the lack of licensing.

The Bad

What aren’t incredible, however, are the graphics. Although PES will run at 1080p, it’s all a bit rough. The in-game models and textures are a bit basic, falling somewhere between Goldeneye 64 and Uncharted.

I had trouble with the online play, unfortunately. Although the game runs smooth and with good framerate, you can only play in 1v1 matches. There’s also a limited amount of game modes… “limited” means one, of course. There are no joinable leagues or auxiliary game types online.

The Bottom Line

Presentation: Everything is laid out very well throughout the game, from menus to player roster changes. Very minor changes could have made a huge difference, though – mainly an easier to navigate roster change menu.

Gameplay: Top notch. With easy to learn, hard to master controls, the game escalates in difficulty and fun as you continue along your trek. Anyone that has played a PES/Winning Eleven title will concede that the best thing about the games has always been the gameplay. It’s as close to flawless as it can get.

Graphics/Sound: Eh. There are framerate drops in the otherwise superb animations and cinematics and the overall look of the game is a bit last-gen. Graphics are not the strong point of this year’s PES. Regarding the audio track, the play-by-play and commentary is probably some of the best I’ve heard in a sports game. It stays active on play and John Champion (announcer) gets legitimately excited and screams as you break for a tear and take a shot. Unfortunately, the music is just plain bad.

Value Factor: It’s a sports game with online play, so that immediately adds a “replayability” factor into the mix. That said, this is the most fun soccer (football) game I’ve ever played, and will continue to follow the series.

Bottom Line: Hardcore soccer fans will rejoice in the gameplay, fans of sports games will rejoice in the ease of learning, and gamers around the world will celebrate the ability to actually have fun with a sports title. The fantastic gameplay of Pro Evolution Soccer 2008, to me, overwhelms the lower quality of graphics and music. It is, without question, worth picking up for a few matches.