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Pro Evolution Soccer has long been the darling of the video game soccer world. More recently it has been under more pressure from FIFA, which it deposed from the top of the footballing tree some years back. PES 2008 on the Wii is the first football game to really use the console's controls imaginatively. The point-and-pass system has since been adopted by other games (including FIFA).
Sports games recreate a wide variety of real life competitive games. Depending on the sport, these will either have an action or strategy focus. Popular sports games are often released on an annual basis, each year the game receives new player rosters and game improvements.
Other football games (whether the full game of FIFA 09 Wii, or mini-game of Sports Island Wii) adapt existing games to use the Wii controls. PES 2008 re-invents the game from the ground up for the Wii-mote's pointing and Nun-chuck gestures. Rather than pressing a button to pass you can simply point at another player on your side. You can also drag a line in front of players without the ball to send them on runs. Finally, you can let go of the Analogue stick and point to send the player with the ball on a run forward - this frees you to orchestrate other players into position before you retake control to cross the ball.
Admittedly, this is orchestration rather than direct control, but it's a compromise that works well on the Wii (and genuinely isn't possible without the Wii-mote pointing mechanic). Rather than controlling just the player with the ball, you can play much more as a team.
In defence mode you simple point and click the opposition to send your players in for a tackle. Here, you can get the to slide with the Nun-chuck, but the majority of the action is determined by your teams abilities and your tactics on how many to commit to each tackle.
This is a compromise - you are more of a conductor than direct instigator - but it is a compromise that is wisely taken and solidly implemented. For instance, when it comes to shooting you are back in the driving seat. A timely flick of the Nun-chuck is enough to send the ball flying.
Players are drawn to PES 08 for the combination of novel controls and serious football atmosphere. Collecting the ball at the half way line and sending your player for a run down the line, you are free to send a midfielder forward on a darting run. Back in control of the winger, you can then time the perfect cross and direct it with pinpoint accuracy towards your arriving attacker. The move is finished as you swipe the Nun-chuck to bury the ball in the net.
The sense of satisfaction generated by being able to implement their footballing fantasy moves makes this a unique experience. What's more this is all achievable from within thirty minutes of play.
Single games can be setup for anything from a few minutes to half an hour. Time spent here is good training for the career and league modes. Once departed on an ongoing campaign, gaming sessions usually get a little longer. Building a lead, or clawing out of relegation easily fills a long evening.
Young or beginner players may find the various competing controls a little bewildering. They will have fun playing the odd game but are likely to need considerable time and practice before they warm to the complexities of the point-and-pass system. FIFA 09 Wii and its All Play options certainly offer a more accessible experience, and one that can be tailored for even the very young.
Intermediate players are perhaps best placed to enjoy PES 08. Those that are not committed to previous memorisation of button combinations and moves in existing football franchises will welcome the more accessible direct controls found here.
Expert players are likely to be divided. Some may find that the loss of accuracy and direct control of the player on the ball is too much of a price to pay for the innovation. Those that are able to see past the less impressive visuals and spend time with this new way to play video football are more likely to warm to the experience.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: