Pro Evolution Soccer

Pro Evolution Soccerââ

Pro Evolution Soccer’s Wii debut is important to Konami. A fair amount of criticism was leveled at early versions of PES 2008 and the PS3 version in particular, but PES European team leader Jon Murphy says the new Wii version shows Konami’s back on song.

It’s not that much of a surprise it has taken Konami so long to release a Wii version of Pro Evolution Soccer. While the Wii has been selling like hotcakes since its release almost a year and half ago and the company’s obviously been keen to capitalize on its increasingly large user base, rushing the game was never an option after the criticism leveled at earlier versions of PES 2008. As series creator Shingo ‘Seabass’ Takatsuka admitted late last year, the final PS3 product was “so far from what we wanted”. The game regularly “stuttered” and was plagued with online problems, something that was also reported by some owners of the Xbox 360 version. It was hardly the beautiful game as we’d come to expect it from Konami, but, says Murphy, things are back on track – in PES 2008 for Wii the platform has finally got the decent football game it has been “crying out for” and one that “offers the best online experience” in the history of the series.

PES 2008 for Wii has certainly made an encouraging start. While reviews are still coming in, the game currently ranks above the six other versions of the title on review aggregator Metacritic, with an average rating of 86 percent.

“It has all the intricacies of the existing versions, but within a user interface that couldn’t be implemented on any other format than the Wii,” says Murphy. “PES 2008 for Wii isn’t just a good football game, it is an ambitious one – and the team’s efforts have paid off enormously. It will make fans of any football game rethink the way they play:  no longer is just one player controlled, the user orchestrates the entire team.”

While early reviews have been positive and the game has been praised for introducing a control scheme that goes way beyond the simple shaking of the Wii Remote some of the platform’s other sports title offer, some commentators have expressed concerns that the game’s controls are too demanding for casual players while the gameplay is too different to past PES titles for mainstream series fans, so who exactly is Konami targeting?

“The core audience is not that different from those on other formats: people who demand the best quality football game. If you break it down towards the Wii demographic, it gets both younger and older as more casual gamers have bought into that particular system. Its overall quality will make it a key Wii title, and the machine has been crying out for a decent football game.

“We’ve shown PES Wii to a lot of people, and find that the tutorial elements do a great service to the game. Once people have grasped the basics of using the Nunchuck to move the player with the ball and the Wii Remote to summon and move team-mates, there tends to be a ‘Eureka!’ moment after 10-15 minutes. And this is as true for hardcore gamers as it is for the more casual players.”

Murphy’s also keen to stress the quality of the game’s online functionality and its importance in continuing to build the community that has driven the series forward since its debut in 2001.

“PES is a game that encourages competition, and you only have to watch two mates play to see how it brings the best and worst out of people. The Wii version offers the best online experience to date. Online play is the logical next step to extend the competitive nature of the game and will be vital in the progression of the series.”