UK REVIEW--Last year's Pro Evolution Soccer made a poor first showing on the DS, with the simplistic gameplay failing to provide any depth at all. While the 2008 edition plays a slightly better game of football than its predecessor, the rest of the package feels like a mishmash of ideas that once again struggles to capture the essence of the series. The game does offer online multiplayer support and a number of cups and competitions, but the poor team roster, the lackluster graphics, and the average gameplay mean that they fail to be much fun.
On the DS, PES 2008 is undeniably ugly, meaning that it's difficult to recognise individual players on the pitch. However, the animation system now bears greater resemblance to the console versions, so players move in a more believable manner than before. Although this means you feel more in control of your players this year, the control system remains simplistic due to the limitations of the hardware. For example, the different running speeds that Pro Evolution veterans will be used to are squeezed onto the one shoulder button on the DS. To sprint, you have to hold down the right shoulder button and tap in the direction you're running. It's also more difficult to perform tricks than in the console versions, although a limited number of moves can be performed by tapping the left shoulder button.
Like in last year's game, you can use the DS's touch-screen controls to adjust tactics midgame. By moving your thumbs to the bottom of the touch screen, you can quickly make your teammates play in a more offensive or defensive formation, something that can be quite useful if you need to change the run of play. You can also use the touch screen to control the camera angles and replay speed after scoring a goal, when the game goes into movie mode. Unfortunately, there's still no option to save edited replays.
There are a reasonable number of game modes in PES 2008, including friendly matches, cups, and training. The one thing that's missing is the series' much-loved Master League mode, which lets you both manage and play as your favourite team in other versions of the game. In its place is the World Tour, where you're assigned a random selection of players that you must take through the various tiered cups until you're eventually playing the best teams in the world. While playing with random players is arguably less satisfying than taking control of your favourite team, adapting to an unfamiliar squad does provide an interesting challenge.
You can upgrade your team thanks to a strange system of gambling credits. Gold, silver, and blue credits are dished out depending on your performance in each game, and you can then spend these in the game's Gatcha-Get toy machines or traditional fruit machines. Different coins win you different classes of players. Gold coins give you access to the best players, blue coins let you pick from second-tier players, and silver coins get you random players. Once you have players in your squad, you can increase their passing, moving, and tackling abilities in the PES shop. Ultimately, though, it all feels a bit unrealistic and leaves you with very little feeling of attachment to your team.