Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 PSP Review - 10/03/2008

Disappointment coursed through the minds of most gamers on the release of PES 2008 for PS3, which turned out to be highly average and nowhere near the quality fans had been expecting; would its younger sibling on PSP fare better?

The big problem with PES's PS3 incarnation was the slow down that was ever present especially in crowded boxes and on replays. To a gamer that is used to PES on PSP however, this may not be a great problem, as all PSP incarnations of Konami's classic so far have lagged on the portable. PES 2008 is no different as the lag is again apparent, showing that although Konami have had time, they haven't been able to learn from their mistakes, however the portable slab of the ol' slowdown is nowhere near as frustrating as it's next gen counterpart.

PES 2008 on PSP is a direct port from the version on the PS2 and thus suffers from the same problems as its older brother, namely the fact that there have been no changes in gameplay since PES 6. You may think I'm exaggerating and that there must be some fine tweak in what was already an accomplished handheld outing, but I'm not. Unfortunately, the gameplay mechanics remain precisely the same as PES 6 on PSP, and they might even be a tad worse. I say this because the only inherent difference between the two editions is that things seem to have sped up for this year's game. Now you might be thinking, what's wrong with that? Unfortunately the answer is everything. Adding more pace to an already speedy game is not a good idea, the result being that it becomes difficult to build up a flowing, passing move without worrying about the ball being intercepted, or just thinking "Screw this" and running down the wing. In addition, you can't reduce the speed from the default one, you can double it though [thanks a lot Konami]. Licences are at the same level again this season as Konami secure the Italian, Spanish, and French licences but only two of the Premier League teams [Tottenham and Newcastle]. Option files are available that recreate the official kits and leagues as ever, so not a big problem, however slightly annoying as always.

The graphics compare well with the PS2 version.

So apart from an injection of pace the gameplay hasn't changed a bit, although its possible the AI level may have been vamped up as when I crossed a ball into the box the defender slid along the ground to kick the ball out for a corner. However that might just be a random occurrence. Graphically the game is great but again hasn't altered since the last outing as all the renders look the same as before and the game seems to be that bit darker than its PS2 counterpart.

The new World Tour mode that debuted with the PS2 version of the game is also available on the PSP version. It sees you choosing a side and attempting to complete different challenges, like beat said team by 3 goals, against teams from all over the globe. Unfortunately this can lead to some unbelievable match ups and turnouts as the giants of the game [like Brazil] are defeated by minnows [like Qatar] whose players seem to be taking digital steroids, scoring free kicks from miles out and coming back from 4-1 down in the last five minutes.

The gameplay hasn't changed much, but there's a few new bits and pieces in there for fans of the PSP iterations in the past.

One plus for the new game is that the ability to transfer Master League data between the PSP and PS2 versions is now available, meaning you never have to be without your Master League side. However this seems small consolation for the lack of any other gameplay advances and the increased pace that shatters the realism of the game, especially as EA offered the ability to transfer data between their two game versions ages ago.

It seems then that this season's outing has been a flop for both PS3 and PSP incarnations of the game, and although I'm sure this won't put people off playing them, it is slightly disappointing. Oh and as a footnote, something that may annoy Manchester United fans further, although Angola do appear as a choice, their star striker and recent United transfer, Manucho, is nowhere to be seen and will have to be created in the editor.

- Alex Goodenough