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Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 6

If there is one thing in my life that I have to be passionate about, it’s football. My general mood often hangs on the trials and tribulations of my beloved Liverpool. Being a football fan is stressful and agonizing stuff, but can also bring out untold amounts of joy and unrivaled passion. In the uncertain world of football, gamers at least can usually rely on one thing that is consistent; the fact that Pro Evolution Soccer is always top of the league when it comes to football games. This year EA as usual fielded a side showcasing its usual trademark style and flair, but also finally actually added a splash of good gameplay to proceedings, as you can discover in our review. Have Konami once again made the right tactical changes to keep EA in second place for yet another season?

Xbox 360 Pro Evolution Soccer 6 Review

Tactical tweaks and changes…
As always, all round legend Shingo ‘Seabass’ Takatsuka and his motley crew have tweaked and refined the series in many ways, rather than taking the ‘annual complete overhaul’ route that EA usually take. Over the years this has been a hugely successful stance, fans get a consistent yet evolving experience that still remains familiar to the original vision, and as such represents a more realistic interpretation of the beautiful game with each passing release. This year Konami haven’t had that luxury, as the game engine had to be re-written specifically for the 360. Has this had any major effect on the gameplay? Well for most part, PES6 does retain that familiarity, however it does have to sink in somewhat. This is because the gameplay has evolved from PES5 in many ways, some of which have even managed to surprise a seasoned Pro Evo veteran such as myself. In the first couple of games played, Pro Evolution Soccer 6 will come across almost agonizingly slow. This initial feeling is an early misconception, and is down to a couple of factors, mainly down to a slight change in the button layout and the actions they perform; in particular the way the dash button functions.

Previously, PES had two dash buttons; a full dash, and a half-dash, where as now both areas are controlled by a single button (RB by default). Simply holding the dash button down performs the slower of the two functions and doesn’t really give you that pace to break clear of chasing defenders. It is however, great for short bursts and serves better for making sharp movements or changes in direction, while keeping the ball under close control. Pulse or tap the RB, and your player will find that speed to muscle off defenders and show them a clean set of heels, albeit at the expense of knocking the ball further in front. This takes a while to get used to, and as such drastically effects the initial speed and enjoyment of the game. Rest assured that once accustomed to this system, and the new player physics and first-touches, the game soon feels like PES again, and is actually a lot faster flowing that its predecessor.

Thierry Henry

The RT that would have been the full-dash now serves two purposes. The first is to stop your player in his tracks, holding the button while doing this can see you sidestep gracefully with the ball, while also pulling backwards with the left analogue stick makes the player perform a drag-back. This is obviously useful for pulling away from tackles and retaining possession. RT’s other purpose is in regards to the shooting system. Hold RT down while using X to fire a shot, and power is replaced by precision, allowing you place the ball far more accurately than with a standard shot. The shooting is something that has completely been revamped, and does take some getting used to. If your player isn’t in the right position or the ball doesn’t sit just right, it is far too easy to sky the ball over the bar. At times there seems to be some consistency issues here, as sometimes a near identical chance will result with the ball in the back of the net. For me this is one of the game’s few faults, as the shooting system was already almost perfect, it just seems like an unnecessary step to take. That said, you’ll be scoring spectacular volleys and shots once you grow accustomed to the slight changes here and there.

Elsewhere everything else remains the same; A passes, B is a lofted ball, and Y is through-ball. Holding LB at the same time performs a variation of each. Defending is pretty much untouched, holding A will lead to your nearest player pressuring the attacker in possession, B slides, and X makes your player make a run in the general direction of the ball. My favorite improvement in PES6, and I know the same will be true for many people, is the fact that when a ball is played wide, your player will no longer sometimes inexplicably jump over the ball allowing it to go for an opposition throw. On this note, A.I. all round feels more advanced in both attack and defence, however you still get those odd moments when you are hindered and caught in possession while waiting on a player making a particular run.

France on the attack

The refereeing has also been tweaked, where as previously the refs would blow the whistle over every minor infringement, this time they are lot more lenient, and the game flows a whole let better as a result. While I’m on this subject, the refs now actually have an advantage system that works a lot more realistically, now even to the extent where the referees will go back to book players for earlier infringements. Just like in real life, this stops the play from constantly slowing down. This will come as a pleasing improvement, especially to those who found themselves groaning at yet another avoidable stoppage this time last year.

What Konami have over EA (and always have done) is in the player animation department. The players move how real players move, and the amount of work that goes into this area is also the largest part of what makes PES6 so damn playable. You always feel like you can pull off that early shot, that volley, or that defence-splitting pass at any time providing that you take into account the players positioning and balance. It’s all in the timing on how you strike the ball, exactly as it is in real life. As a result you are never found waiting for a particular animation to finish because the transitions between the animations are practically flawless. It’s hard to explain, but after the initial settling in period, PES6 just feels like football, and that what has always made the series so popular, and will continue to do so in the future.

The sights and sounds of the match…
Any seasoned PES veteran will tell you that presentation side of proceedings has always been somewhat of an Achilles-heel for Konami when it comes to its football games, and this is an area where nothing much has changed. Aside from the menu screens feeling a lot more ‘Westernized’ this year, everything is much as it was before. Graphically PES6 still does come up slightly short when compared to its flashy EA counterpart, however there are some improvements, most notably on the pitches and on the player models. The general look of PES6 is of a glossier version of its last-gen predecessor, it’s just neither ground-breaking nor ugly. While the character models do look a lot nicer, if a little plastic, you just have that slight nagging feeling that this is a game that could have looked a lot better. The general look of the stadiums themselves is mildly disapointing, although the crowds contained within look the best I’ve seen in any football title. A large part of the initial under-whelming visual aspect simply comes down to the fact that football games require a distanced camera angle for the game to be playable, as a result any major improvements in character models are simply lost in that distance and only really picked up in replays and its close-up cut-scenes. This isn’t really a criticism of PES6 in particular, but something most football games suffer from (FIFA 07 included), it’s just pure functionality over graphical showmanship.

Elsewhere, we finally have on-pitch linesmen, this may not seem like a big deal at first, it does help with the feel of authenticity, and more importantly allows you to instantly see which way a decision has gone. Licensed teams are for the most part unchanged, although surprisingly after the first screens emerged, a licensed Chelsea is absent, and has been replaced by a licensed Manchester United (Konami you bastards!). One area I feel the game has improved no end since PES hit the scene is in its goal celebrations, unlike FIFA’s over the top cut-scenes, PES6 has a real ‘televised’ feel to it, the players wheel away to celebrate, clever camera editing switching between the players and the crowd really make the celebrations look a lot more realistic.

Henry on the ball

After the many complaints that FIFA 07 was largely cut down, it pains me to say that PES6 has followed a similar route; there are only a measly 8 Stadiums on offer, the editing mode has been cut down to an astonishing degree, and even the old function of being able to save replays has been taken out of the equation. I put the latter two omissions down to time constraints and the fact that we have a newly written engine, I would seriously hope to see these reinstated for PES7. There are a few moments of slowdown in PES6, mainly when there is a set-piece which involves you sweeping the camera side-to-side from pitch level. You may also find you get the odd slowdown during corners but nothing that should cause you any major frustration.

The audio is pretty much the same as before. I’d be extremely hard-pressed to find a difference in the commentary from transition from PES5 to PES6, and the menu music is still as annoying as it was before. The crowd does seem a bit more responsive to the action on the pitch this time around, reacting far more to the different situations. If the game is looking like a stalemate, or is a becoming a scrappy midfield battle, the crowd will begin to groan and boo, just as you’d expect. One team keeping the ball too long? The crowd will start whistling. This sort of thing really adds to the overall atmosphere, and makes up for the other things that are slightly lacking. While it’s overall presentation does lack in certain areas, PES has never been about looks, and is probably one of the few games fairly judged on what it brings to the gameplay. Luckily PES6’s gameplay more than outweigh’s any minor niggles.

The online arena…
Since the series first went online with PES4 on the original Xbox, the series has had a bit of bad press when it comes to lag. The vast majority of games in PES4 were riddled with it connection issues or not, PES5 made big strides in rectifying it by providing a connection indicator, but personally PES6 is the one that has finally got this area just right. Get a game against someone with a complete green connection status, and I can promise that you will have no lag, providing no foul play is at hand. Anything below that, you can expect a range of lag, from slight button delay to slowdown. This is something you can’t avoid if you are an avid user of the ‘quick match’ function, so my advice is to user the ‘custom-match’ feature and choose your opponents carefully. Unfortunately, the thing that PES6 is still rife with is an unimaginable amount of bad losers. If you are insistent on playing randoms, expect to see the game disconnect during an evisaged victory quite a fair bit. The way around this is to either play people that you know are reliable from your friends-list, or join an online community or league, that way you will also avoid playing against Inter every game… Other than the usual choices between ranked and player matches, the online side is pretty bare, there are still no online tournaments, and the ranking system still doesn’t take account of which team you are when dishing out those points. That aside, it’s the gameplay that makes PES6 one of the finest and evenly balanced online titles available.

Nedved tries the overhead

“If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.”
So does PES retain the its title again this year? Having sampled both games, I’d have to say just about. While EA’s effort is admirable and the improvement is notable, PES6 just has an undeniable superiority in its depth in gameplay, which will always beat graphical dominance. ‘Seabass’ has delivered a perfectly competent first instalment on the 360, and with another year of working with the 360 under his belt, I’d really love to see a big step-up in areas as well as gameplay with PES7. That said; PES6 has made yet another marked improvement in realism in transition from PES5. Given a short period to come to terms with the slight changes to the control system and certain mechanics, there’s just no other football game that can touch it.

Final Score: 8 out of 10 - Good (How do we rank games?)

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43 comments on 'Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 6'

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Comment by xYouGot0wnedx on 2006-12-12 04:09:38 | Reply

Well Written, but…I’m not into the whole soccer thing(Football) or Futbol in espanol. =).
I like Futbol de americano better.
=)

¿No te gusta el futbol? ¿Por qué? No es mi favorito deporte y no yo juego pero me gusta mirar.

Comment by Kartal on 2006-12-12 07:09:07 | Reply

American football is not football…..They use their hands not their feet..

I love all the PES games, nice reveiw too.

Comment by Vasu on 2006-12-12 11:34:55 | Reply

hear, hear!! They should call American football, handball or throwball.

Comment by El $corpio on 2006-12-12 12:14:49 | Reply

yeah it certainly needs another name like “Yankee Rugby” or “Throwball” is a funny idea to :).

They don’t even use their feet to play really!

Nice Review.
This along with Gears is my big christmas present this year(yeah I know I’m just a big kid), and it only cost £25, and £35 for Gears.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-12-12 11:59:05 | Reply

Nice review.

Shame your wrong.

Here is my review.

It’s slow and shit. Buy FIFA.

Cheeky. Like water off a quackberries back…

Comment by Straybezza on 2006-12-12 12:48:03 | Reply

It most certainly is not shit. Any PES gamer worth their salt knows this. Like any of the PES titles you have to invest time in each release. Spend time with PES 6, learn its new nuances, subtleties and quirks and you will find it is the best version yet. Yes Fifa 07 is good, I have that also, but it has a smokescreen of graphical prowess which masks its inadequacies. Fifa 07 has so little gameplay and realism comapred to PES 6. Both are enjoyable but Fifa only to a certain level. PES 6 is now awesome online too. 24 hours with PES is not enough to judge it, give it a week or two and their will be no comparison.

Comment by Number13 on 2006-12-12 23:14:14 | Reply

I’ve bought every ISS game (or variant) since the original International Superstar Soccer right up to PES6, and this is the only one I’ve not enjoyed. I truly hate it - it feels like a massive step backward from PES5 and the graphics and overall gameplay feel reminds me more of ISS on the N64, to be honest…

Comment by Vasu on 2006-12-12 13:35:33 | Reply

Arcade people choose fifa.
This is fifa to me, running on the right flank giving a short high pass to a player who makes a overhead kick towards goal where another player stances who makes another overhead kick and scores.

Comment by mihran on 2006-12-12 17:05:04 | Reply

ignore this loser he goes on and on for months saying FIFA is better..The world has decided PES6 king of NEXT GEN FOOTBALL…Go kiss EA’s @ss..

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-12-12 17:07:07 | Reply

Well i tried PES6 and it’s not that bad..Maybe i’ll try it on a bit longer see what happens…Sorry for any flames before..

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-12-13 13:05:05 | Reply

Oh here we go.

Someone being a little bitch and typing under my name again.

Don’t ignore any flames before, I meant every word you steaming pile of cunts.

Glad to see that one flippant comment got you all to throw your hands up in anger.

mihran:-You go ahead and ignore away you mature person you, you are far to highbrowed for me to contend with.

Chris75: Before you make a comment like EA fanboy how’s about doing your homework, fucknuts. What do I know about football? More than enough to get by in life, I do apologise however, I didn’t realise I needed to actually play football at the premiership level before I was entitled to an opinion? So how’s aboput we agree to disagree and then we can just agree on you being an uppity little bitch.
(Note: I hate EA with a fucking passion as anyone who has actually conversed with me)

Number13: Nice my friend, some honesty.

And anyway the comment was more of a joke to the conversations we were having in the forum and to get a rise out of other PES junkies so mission accomplished there then.

You’ve got such a lovely way with words…

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-12-14 10:22:09 | Reply

Well I can be articulate and polite when the situation warrents it.

But when you are having to deal with the fuckwits that jump on an opinion (which as you know is mostly a joke continued on from my points in the forum), well they just don’t deserve it, all they deserve is suffering and abuse.

Comment by Chris75 on 2006-12-12 13:20:50 | Reply

The_Glover, what do you know about football. FIFA is not nor will never be better than PES, you EA fan boys keep dreaming. This is just a PES taste on 360, wait till PES7. Then the slight catch up FIFA made will go back to the 3 review points bellow its allways been. FIFA is and will allways be rubbish. PES however is and will allways be, the best footy game ever.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-12-14 10:24:33 | Reply

You missed an “n” in the name, just like if I was to call you a cut it would also be missing an “n”.

Comment by Tucky on 2006-12-12 15:53:34 | Reply

pro evo is class, love the game always have. i love this one, there are a lot of things missing i.e edit mode, replay save etc but this will keep me goin for a year untill the night before PES7

Comment by Straybezza on 2006-12-12 16:40:20 | Reply

Absolutely agree with the last few comments. If people slate PES 6 it means 2 things -
1. They don’t understand football.
2. They haven’t given the game any time at all.

Comment by Tucky on 2006-12-12 17:27:48 | Reply

yea, if you play football in real life, then play the game as you would in real life, you notice how incredibly like the real game it is.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-12-13 14:16:17 | Reply

Except of course the fact that when it is played in real life it isn’t done so at the snail’s pace that PES 6 seems to manage.

Comment by Tucky on 2006-12-13 18:15:19 | Reply

snails pace? seriously mate play it propperly u will realise how good it is, it isnt slow, PES5 was just fast.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-12-14 10:28:00 | Reply

Guess you must be an optimist and are looking at the glass half full. Whereas I would say that PES 6 is as slow as PES 5.

PES 4 was the last good one for me and for the record I did actually buy both titles in order to make an informed desicion.

Never said you didn’t mate. Everyones entitled to their opinion.

It’s really not as slow as PES5. just feels that way at first. And I actually went back to PES5 to test this theory.

PES4 was fast, PES5 is slower than 6 once you’ve adjusted…

Comment by ally on 2006-12-13 19:59:20 | Reply

stay with fifa

Comment by Tucky on 2006-12-14 00:23:57 | Reply

hahahahhaaa that sposed to be a joke? FIFA is SHIT!…PERIOD!

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-12-14 10:26:26 | Reply

No, you are a joke.

Comment by pop on 2006-12-17 17:08:11 | Reply

Here is a fact!
The only reason some people thinks Fifa is an ok game, is because those people did not pay for it them selves. They got it from their parents when screeming FIFA FIFA FIFA!! MOOOOOOOOOOOM in the line when going shopping.
They don’t feel cheated by EA because they haven’t spend their own money on the crap.

I’ll admit I bought the game last year, and I really felt like I was robbed..OMG people can’t be serious to think the game is even close to be good. Its a fucking disaster for ther gaming industry. EA: Extreme Analrape

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-12-18 12:24:22 | Reply

Nope, your wrong.

I bought it with my own money, along with PES6 at exactly the same time. Played both and returned PES6.

I feel cheated by EA in most cases (and most of all be FIFA RTWC and FIFA WC06) but think the have excelled themselves with FIFA07 and Fight Night Round 3. Which really isn’t great for a company of this size.

Comment by pop on 2006-12-19 00:47:57 | Reply

erhm, you probably shouldn’t say that loud anywhere.. People might think you are nuts.. :-) No, jokes aside. FN3 is great, but could be fantastic if, again they would focus more on gameplay than on graphics. The knockdowns get old after a few fights. shame…really.

Comment by Boudie on 2006-12-26 13:14:02 | Reply

Well were do i Start. I’ve been a fifa fan for years, iv’e played all the fifa’s you get, and i loved it until!! The O N E time decide to buy Pes5. O and boy o boy was i happy i did that!! Then i knew what i was missing and how Crap fifa really was and still is. I have never looked back once i bought pes5. pes smiply grows on you every day every min. it pure joy. But i never got that feeling in any 1 of the fifa games. Its sad!! But im sorry, Fifa is shit, i dont care who you are, and wat you say but it a pile of shit end of story. EA got no passion when putting together a football game. they simply don’t. Yet EA such a big company and this is the best they can come up with. Im sorry it makes me sick. It seams like they never Kicked a soccer ball in there life, Let alone played a full 90min game. And they strive to be the best. Well its this simple. THEY NOT. And What! Konami is half the size of the EA company. But yet the Konami company is fantastic when producing a football game, and they show real passion. Compare that to fifa. That there show me the true colours of EA. IT it really sad Cause EA has the Potential to produce amazing football game. but Yet they still can’t mange that. So i take my hat off to the Konami team really i do. keep it up. They will always win my support. And as far as EA concerned. keep trying. It will take you a few years to realize how far you are from creating a top noch football game.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2007-01-09 12:38:50 | Reply

Well I also don’t give a flying fuck about you or your opinion if that’s how it’s going to be.

So when you get a moment feel free to pop a “shut the fuck up” pill.

this game stinks too many misstakes simple as that…….

Comment by pop on 2006-12-27 17:01:44 | Reply

Well, its better than if the whole game was a mistake… like Fifa :-) muhuahahaa

Comment by Tucky on 2006-12-27 18:19:53 | Reply

hahaha too true

Comment by Rol on 2007-01-09 12:06:32 | Reply

Could have been better but there’s no game I play more on the 360. Multiplayer has improved since patching. And even though it’s getting very familiar having played since PES3 it still feels great to win games and the difficulty is just about right. Ignore the complainers beacuse if you enjoyed other PES’s then you will enjoy this one too.

Comment by LeDrewJ on 2007-01-16 00:15:37 | Reply

I know football, I play every game I try for atleast a week. FIFA is much better in my opinion. With 07, the animations finally beat out the animations in PES. Plus the gameplay of EA is no longer “Arcadey” like some people say. I think some of you need to take your own advice, and use it. Give the game a chance, it’s not what it used to be. Give it time.

Comment by LeDrewJ on 2007-01-16 00:17:44 | Reply

plus EA’s graphics put Konami’s to shame. Konami’s looks it should say PES’05 on the box. Not even on the same level as EA. and that’s besides the gameplay of EAs now being better, and UEFA 2006-2007 coming out from EA now. I’ll be buying that.

Comment by Tucky on 2007-01-16 17:39:51 | Reply

football is about gameplay not graphics, graphics are nice but gameplay is the most important above all else and pro evo wins by a long way.

football is about gameplay good

pro evo rocks, it can only get better, hopefully the next versions of the game will be much better and will really make use of the 360

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