The best feature of Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 on PS2 is probably that it doesn't give up any of the core modes that can be found in the current-gen editions. While the online mode is certainly a bit tougher to access than it is on 360 or PS3, the fact that it's there and has a functioning lobby system is a feather in the PS2's cap. Master League, Cup, World Tour (a mode only seen here and on the PSP), League, Match, and Training are included in this version and none feel stripped down in the slightest. You can still create your own player and sign him to your favorite team and you can still piece together up to 52 teams to compete in a number of unlicensed cup tournaments.
Master League is the star of the stable of modes as it lets you play the managerial role for your would-be powerhouse. You can participate in negotiations where you can pickup unsigned players for a price or you can see your team's estimated earnings for the year so you can budget your spending. While the fan snapshot and other pieces of personality have been removed, the Master League mode in the PSP and PS2 versions actually has a few more difficulty settings that can be tweaked.
The action on the pitch looks about as realistic as you should expect from a PS2 game. There are instances when you'll feel in less control than is ideal and players do occasionally move like they're on rails (though less than what is seen on PSP), but all in all the animations work well to deliver authentic football. The range of moves is fairly impressive and is more akin to the current-gen versions than the PSP game thanks to the right analog stick on the dualshock. Looking through PES's manual you'll find a laundry list of shot and cross types that can be pulled off.
We've talked about the upped presentation values of Pro Evolution Soccer in our reviews of the current-gen versions and we're happy to report that the PS2 rendition follows suit. While the menu systems obviously can't hold the same resolution as its bigger brothers, the style is the same and the fact that all of the introductory cutscenes are in place is cool to see.
As far as visuals go the PS2 version of PES takes the requisite step down when compared to the rest of the field. Players are sort of "fudged out" with some funny looking bodies and odd texture work, but that's to be expected when playing on older hardware. The good news is that the animations still perform fairly well, even if you don't feel like you're always in control. Crowds feature a static display of something that is intended to resemble fans, but fails. Luckily things stay fluid throughout all of the action, unlike the current-gen versions which have an odd tendency to chug during replays.
The audio in PES '08 on PS2 performs well with some nice crowd sounds that react well to the on-field action. It's also good to see commentating has remained in the game rather than being taken out like on the PSP. The duo's quips are insightful and add excitement and authenticity to the presentation. The soundtrack features the same tracks as the other versions, which is a shame because they're all horrible.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 on PS2 is a very impressive soccer game, mainly because it mimics the current-gen versions so well. While it would have been nice to see a few specialized PS2 modes (a guy can dream), the fact that we can play through years in Master League with a created player and watch him develop is cool enough. Considering this is likely the last time we’ll see the series on PS2, PES 2008 isn’t a bad way to go out.