Pro Evolution Soccer 6 is a double-edged sword that both improves on and takes a step back from its predecessor.
PAJ89 wrote this review on .
There are four main single-player modes that will be familiar to any veteran: match, league, cup and master league. Match mode allows you to jump into a game against the computer or with three friends. After selecting your team you will be thrust into the match. It is a piece of cake to set up a friendly, and you can be playing within minutes of switching on your Xbox. League mode allows you to play a full season from one of five leagues. You can select from either the Italian Serie A, French Ligue 1, Spanish La Liga, Dutch Eredivise or the English Premiership (known as the England League thanks to licensing issues). The cup mode allows you to play in a variety of different league or knock-out tournaments. Master league, a staple of the PES series, remains mostly unchanged from its predecessor. You start off with a group of players as talented as a pub team, and build your side up into a world footballing power.
The main modes of play remain largely unchanged from PES5, but there are some definite downsides, in which the most notable is the alarming restriction of the edit mode. Whereas PES5 let you change just about everything from the kits to the player models, you're now limited to just modifying player stats. Updating the team sheets with real-life transfers was a great part of PES5, but that is now impossible. Another heart-breaking exclusion is the ability to save goal replays. Scoring a 40-yard screamer or a delicate lob against one of your mates is priceless, and so was the ability to showcase it for all eternity in the form of a saved replay. PES6 has been robbed of this glorious feature, and there doesn't appear to be any good reason for it.
Although the loss of some features is hard to take, the game play of PES6 truly is its saving grace. Throughout the series, the core of the game has remained largely untouched for the most part. Each game has seen a steady but significant improvement, and PES6 is a perfect example of this. Some people criticized the previous version for being too sluggish and defense-orientated. The sequel has addressed these issues and maintained the best bits from the fifth game. The controls are easy to learn, yet difficult to master in that there are plenty of advanced techniques. Playing passes, shooting the ball and dribbling are all easy to learn. However there are plenty of advanced moves, such as one-two passes, controlled shots and shoulder-drop feints, that aid you in your overall game. You could play this game for months and still be discovering new moves.
In terms of strategy and formation, you have the utmost control over how your team plays. You can set the mentality of individual players, who should man mark the danger man, the direction in which your players should make attacking runs, and so much more. Passing and keeping hold of the ball is so important. Moves like the side step made it possible to go on long runs with a single player. Thanks to the new side step and the change in dribbling physics, this is near impossible, just like the real thing. Passing and possession are paramount to take advantage, even if you are playing as a team as skilled as Brazil.
Two of the more impressive new features are the new advantage system and quick free kicks. You are no longer given an advantage symbol when you are fouled, which is a closer representation of the sport. Additionally, in certain situations, you can take quick free kicks by tapping both triggers after you are fouled. This will result in the player quickly making a pass while the opposition team are off-guard. The artificial intelligence has been turned up a notch too, and it will take more practice to survive on the hardest difficulty level.
The Xbox Live support is generally decent. You can play one-on-one against an opponent in two different ways; ranked or player matches. Ranked matches will effect your rating on the leaderboards , whereas player matches are just for fun. You can also invite a friend to play, but only in player matches. A series of worldwide leaderboards ranks the top players on a scale of overall, monthly and weekly ranks. In addition to this, every player has an individual stats profile. It details your win-draw-loss record, current/longest winning streak and the teams used in your last five matches. The game also archives the results of your last twenty matches, twice the amount that PES5 did. The game play generally converts quite well from offline to online, with little lag (depending on Internet connections). There is one problem with the online game play; there is a small time delay between pressing a button and a player performing the action. This makes it difficult to play one-two passes, and near impossible to gauge the power of free kicks and corners. It is very playable, but you will notice the difference between playing a friend in the same room and playing a friend over Xbox Live.
Visually, the game has had a major face lift. Players bear a striking resemblance to their real-life counterparts, and the licensed kits look great. The presentation is getting closer to the standard of arch-rival FIFA. The main graphical draw are the incredible animations that see players dribble and move in a very fluid way; the attention to detail is amazing. You can see strikers shifting their body weight in order to direct a shot to the far corner of the goal, and goalkeepers stretching to punch out a goal-bound effort. The stadiums look equally impressive. Although there are only eight stadiums in the game, each one is an accurate recreation of the actual venue. Famous stadiums such as Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu have been crafted excellently, and are populated by a full 3D crowd. The cheers and jeers of the crowds, combined with the scintillating stadium architecture, create a great atmosphere. The commentary, from Trevor Brooking and Peter Brackely, is sufficient. However, some of the lines sound odd and forced, so the option to disable the commentary is a welcome one.
PES6's achievements are relatively uninspiring. An achievement is unlocked for every league and cup you win, regardless of game settings. Gamerscore addicts will be able to blitz through them by playing five-minute matches at beginner level. Despite this, leagues can last for as long as 38 full matches. Even on a short match time and low difficulty, it will take you a while to plough through every league achievement. The remainder are challenging online achievements, with the most difficult being win one-hundred matches.
It is a disappointment that PES6 has dropped many of the features that made its predecessor so successful. Despite this though, Konami has once again improved on the excellent game play, and further consolidates Pro Evolution Soccer's claim as the ultimate football game. The fusion of fluid and flowing game play, beautiful graphics and booming sound make up for the disappointment of dropped features. If that isn't enough for you, competing over Xbox Live is excellent. As great as the AI is, there is no substitute for beating live opposition, and Xbox Live gives you the opportunity to do so. For all true football fans, Pro Evolution Soccer 6 is a must have.