It would be fair to say that the Wii has had its share of substandard games, so much so in fact that I have had a hard time finding a handful worthy of review recently. Surprisingly the game I am looking at today is probably the best sports game on Nintendo’s next gen console. Please read on!
Pro Evolution soccer has been treading old ground over the last few years with basically only updated player statistics making an appearance alongside a slightly modified and improved engine. The 2008 Wii version cleverly brings something new to the table in the shape of the Wii-mote controller, and after playing it for the last week it is hard to imagine the game without it. Quite often I have felt that many game developers use the Nintendo controllers as an afterthought, but not so with Pro Evo 08.
Konami have also paid special attention to the camera with a more dynamic system now in place. It will zoom in on the goal area when the need arises and it will pan out to a television style view when the play opens out. Granted, it doesn’t always get it right but it is certainly a step in the right direction particularly when compared to its older siblings.
Some compromises have been made to the play to suit the new control method specifically when attacking the goal. Waggling the nunchuk to get a powerful and accurate shot just seems a little careless and skin deep to me.
Additionally there are some balancing issues between defending and attacking as the strikers have a huge plethora of cool options while the defenders have very little more than a simple sliding tackle. Equally so, taking possession of the ball from an attacking player also requires a fair amount of luck. This, rather unfortunately means that a team will generally only win possession in a dead ball situation. While this sounds like a sure fire way to ruin the game, in actuality it only puts a little dampener on the fun from time to time.
Champions Road has now replaced the master league which is a massively indepth single player mode sure to sate the appetite of even the most discerning soccer fan. You take a team through a series of leagues from around the world meanwhile dealing with stat tracking and semi role playing. Players improve and level up as the game progresses, even earning new skills and fancy moves. Fans of Master League might find this mode slightly less in depth however it is clear the game developer are aiming towards a slightly more mainstream market with this evolutionary mode.
Likewise the menu system and overall interface design has been slightly dumbed down to be less confusing to newbies and it works rather well, my 12 year old nephew (who isn’t the sharpest tool in the box) found no problems and was enjoying the game within the space of 30 minutes.
Multiplayer is the main strength of Pro Evolution Soccer and the Wii version takes this mode and brings it to the pinnacle of execution. I had a blast with several friends over the course of a week as the control method really brings the game to new heights. Online options are sparse with only Friend and Free Play available, however the Wii version seems to suffer much less from lag than the high definition counterparts. Future versions will undoubtedly have features like a ranking system such as a worldwide or regional league, but for now the options available are a taster for things to come.
Graphically the game is nothing to write home about, however the animations are acceptable and the movement is smooth which is important in a game like this. The audio is also par for the course and doesn’t really add or detract anything from the game and deserves nothing more than a passing remark.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 on the Wii is the best of all the versions available and a large portion of this success is down to the sublime control with the Wii-Mote. For once the game developers have spent some time thinking how to bring a new dimension to the game play rather than tacking on some half assed control system which just doesn’t work.
The game play is smooth and flowing and with a couple of friends it becomes almost a religious experience. Those doubters who said the Wii has no life in it obviously need to play this game, because the lack of high definition graphics fade into the background. Innovative and incredibly fun!
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