Graham (follow on Twitter: @grahamsibley)
Fri 4 July 2008

He waves his nunchuck... he scores

Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 on the Nintendo Wii is the best football video game ever. There, I've said it. Its gameplay is a quantum leap in the genre moving the game away from two decades of pass, run and kick towards a true flowing, tactical experience.

Modern football sims, essentially, began in 1989 (19 years ago!) with the release of Dino Dini's Kick Off on the Amiga and Atari ST. Since then the market leaders, Sensible Soccer followed by FIFA and PES, have followed a fairly similar route: one button for passing, one button for shooting, move the highlighted guy with your joystick.

The key to this game's success is its use of the technology built within the Wii - instead of steering one player with your control stick on a mazey run - you now point to where you want him to go and he runs there. Need a player to make space for himself to receive a cross? Just drag and drop him and he'll run to the spot, ready to pass first touch if needed. The result is more than the games of glorified pinball from the past and even go over football management sims - it achieves the holy grail of football games - it allows someone on the stands to fully dictate play.

And like most amazing things, you wonder why no one had ever thought of it before. PC-based RTS gamers will be familiar with controls like those on display here, though usually controlled by a mouse rather than the witchery of Nintendo's Wiimote. But as far as my memory serves no one has applied it to a football sim.

It's not perfect in any sense: it looks dated (when compared to what's achievable of the PS3 and 360) and it's stripped to the bone as far as the now usual whistles and bells of kit editors and player creators are concerned. But the possibilities offered to the armchair fan far outweigh any short-comings. It promises a lot for the future, and I for one can't wait for the inevitable PES2009.

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