First screens and info point to the most realistic footie game yet.
by Alex Simmons, IGN UK
UK, June 18, 2007 - Konami has lifted the lid on the first details for the next Pro Evo game and has promised that it will be "the closest simulation of real football to date." Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 (working title) will be released on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, PS2, PSP and DS later this year and boasts what Konami is calling "a revolution in player artificial intelligence" -- dubbed Teamvision, which enables the opposition to learn your style of player and adapt their tactics accordingly.
According to Konami, Teamvision will totally change the way PES fans play the game, because the adaptive AI forces players to constantly rethink their tactics. So, for example, if you prefer to run the ball down the wing and knock in a cross to a tall centre forward like Peter Crouch, your opponent will quickly change their tactics to close down the wide players and mark your hitmen more heavily. Similarly, if your favoured method of defence is to protect the back four with a sweeper -- then the other team will quickly pick up on this and change their attackers to take advantage of your formation.
Naturally the effectiveness of an opponent's change in tactics depends on the team they're playing as: strong international and club squads will be able to counter your tactics faster and more effectively than less skilled clubs, although players will still notice the change in their opponents play if they resort to using the same channels of attack. Likewise, powerful teams can also punish lazy tactical play to devastating effect, so if you lose the ball in your half to Robbie Keane there's a good chance he'll score. However, lose out to a less proficient striker and the odds of them converting the shot are less favourable.
The improved AI changes the way the game is played almost on every level, forcing players to take a much wider view of the game and real use the full width and breadth of their team. As such the pitch scanner plays a much bigger part in the game because it enables players to pick out openings in the defence (if they're skilled enough, obviously) and thread a ball through to an advancing attacker.
Teamvision affects set-plays as well as free play too. Cheap free kicks are a thing of the past because the opposing defence will close down runs faster, which prevents players from passing a ball into the box and tapping a shot in from short range. Naturally there are times when you will scorean easy goal, whether it's from a well-worked passing move or a fizzing direct free kick, but the enchanced AI now means players must think more if they want to consistantly win.
Other improvements promised for PES 2008 includes improved greater close control, so there's more scope for skilled dribbling, tricks and neat inter-player passing moves. Setting up a free-kick isn't quick as restrictive either, whether you're defending or attacking. You can change the number of players in the wall if you're defending or, if you're on the attacking, plan runs more intricately and position specific target men for the kicker to aim for.
However, the most noticeable improvement PES 2008 will offer over its predecessors (apart from Teamvision of course) is the graphics. Konami promises it will be a true next-gen experience, so there will be proper facial animations, shirt pulling and kits that flow and crease as the players run around. Watermarks from sweat and rain appear as the game continues too, bringing the player that bit closer to the action than ever before. All next-gen versions will feature a fully functional edit mode too -- something that was sorely lacking from last year's 360 version of PES 6 -- so players can create there own team and or edit existing ones. As yet there's no word on which licensed teams will feature or indeed what online modes we can expect.
"We have taken a long hard look at what has made the Pro Evolution Soccer series so popular, and where we want to take it next," commented Shingo 'Seabass' Takatsuka, creator of the series and Producer of PES 2008. "With the new Teamvision AI system, we truly believe that we have elevated the game to a new level. The movement of players off the ball, coupled with the total control given to the player, creates the closest simulation of real football to date. We really hope everyone enjoys our evolution. I promise it will be worth the wait." We certainly hope so.
We'll bring you more information on PES 2008 in the coming weeks. For now feast on these screenshots.