Having been lucky enough to see Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 on the PlayStation 3 ahead of Leipzig, we didn't actually plan on doing a specific Xbox 360 preview today. However, like Boy Scouts we always come prepared, and we headed over to Konami to check it out just in case. It turned out to be a good job that we did, because not only is the Xbox 360 version looking more polished than the PS3 one at this stage, but it even boasts a brand-new Microsoft controller specifically for the game.
Of the six PES demo machines at Konami's Leipzig booth, four are Xbox 360s and the other two are PS3s. Poking out of the holes of those four demo units are brand-new, never-before-seen green control pads. "They're brand-new controllers from Microsoft," said our Konami rep. "The D pad now works in 16 directions, rather than just four."
Although there's little physically different in the new controllers, the added level of control will definitely suit Pro Evolution Soccer. The previous design has been too bulky and imprecise for football and fighting games, so fans of PES and Street Fighter have reason to rejoice over the redesign. The D pad still protrudes quite a way off of the face of the new controller, but the extra precision will definitely come in handy for Konami's game.
The new pad is probably the reason that we enjoyed the Xbox 360 version of PES 2009 a bit more at this stage. The game is apparently 70 percent through development ahead of its October release, and it feels more polished on Microsoft's console. We're sure (or at least we hope) that this will change in the run-up to release, but we definitely felt more control over our players on Microsoft's console. And though there were fewer teams in the 360 demo (only France, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, and Croatia), there were less glitches and visual anomalies, and Ronaldinho looked particularly realistic.
If you want to find out more about the features of the new Pro Evolution Soccer, check out our PS3 preview, which runs down all of the modes and gameplay tweaks. We're encouraged to hear that the new Xbox 360 controller will be released alongside PES, although it's slightly disappointing that it will be a limited-edition model. Either way, we hope to bring you more on the game ahead of its release in Europe a couple of months from now.