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Pro Evolution Soccer 6 PlayStation 2

Published by Konami
Developed by Konami
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

The problem with making the best game in any given genre is that when a sequel is created gamers expect it to be better than the previous game by quite some distance. A mass of new features are expected and every aspect of the game is scrutinised in the hope that improvements have been made. This is all well and good with games that are released every two, three or four years but when a game receives a sequel every year it’s being optimistic to say the least. For the last five years now the Pro Evolution Soccer series, long acknowledged as the best football game you can buy, has received yearly sequels. Some of these sequels have made ground breaking changes; some have only made subtle tweaks. Pro Evolution Soccer 6 falls into the latter category but that’s not to say the overall experience hasn’t improved.

The modes on offer in PES 6 include: Match Mode, League Mode, Cup Mode, International Challenge Mode, Random Select Match Mode, Master League Mode, Training Mode and Network Mode. Of course there’s the Edit Mode where you can alter various player and team details and customise them to your liking. Virtually all of these modes will be familiar to any who’ve played previous games in the series. Disappointingly not a great deal has changed. The Master League Mode is practically identical to the one found in last year’s game for instance. There a few differences however. The Network Mode now allows up to 8 players to participate in an online game. The International Challenge Mode allows you to take a national side through qualifying and final rounds of the International Cup (essentially an unofficial World Cup). Random Selection Match Mode allows you to create two teams from either an area or team. You could choose to have a side made up from Serie A or the English League. Essentially it’s just another exhibition match mode.

When it comes to how the game plays you’ll notice some big differences from PES 5. The referees that last year were too pernickety are much more lenient this year. In fact they are lenient to the point of being far too forgiving. Challenges can be much more brutal this time around and it will take quite a deliberate foul in order to give a free-kick away. Those players who aren’t considered to be ‘World Class’ have had their stats toned down somewhat. This has the effect of making the ‘World Class’ players stand out a lot more, which is sensible if you think about it. Quick free-kicks are now possible allowing you to attempt to catch your opponents off guard. A new slow dribble function has been added (replacing the medium sprint function) to allow for more controlled dribbling.  The R1 button now allows your player to run (when held) and sprint (when tapped). Attacking players are now pressured a lot more and this is particularly noticeable when attempting to shoot. In fact shooting is a lot trickier in PES 6. Timing and positioning are everything. Shoots can end up going horribly wide if you rush them. Passing is also slightly trickier and you have to take care to set the direction and not simply tap the pass button. You’ll notice that defensively the game is improved and when you combine this to the fact that shooting is now more difficult it can make for one frustrating experience after another, when you first start to play the game. In fact playing the Master League Mode with the default Master League team seems more difficult than ever thanks to all of these changes.

One area where the series continues to fall short is in its presentation. Far too many teams have fake names and kits and it’s a constant source of irritation. Take the English Premiership (known as the English League in the game) for example. Last year only Arsenal and Chelsea had their real names and kits. This year it’s only Arsenal and Manchester United that are correctly represented. Liverpool are still called Merseyside Red and Newcastle United are still Tyneside and so on. The German league has disappeared altogether. Only Bayern Munich is included from the German league. The Spanish, French, Dutch and Italian top divisions are the only ones to be correctly represented with official club logos, kits and team names etc.

Pro Evolution Soccer 6 is exactly the same as previous titles in the series when it comes to its deaf gamer friendliness. What I have noticed is that the icon that was shown to indicate that the advantage rule was being played has been removed. I’m not sure why this is so and it’s unfortunate. Other icons that give information during a match (to show whether an injured player has returned etc.) are still shown. Most of the information in the game is shown in text so you’ll have no problem in enjoying the various modes in the game. Naturally the match commentary isn’t subtitled but that’s only to be expected and isn’t that much of a disappointment or surprise.

Pro Evolution Soccer 6 is more about the little alterations rather than sweeping changes. There’s no doubt that the game feels quite different from PES 5 and in some ways it’s a more frustrating experience. In fact I would say for newcomers to the series it’s probably the most frustrating version yet. For PES veterans and for those who are willing to put up with the initial frustrations of just how difficult it can be to score when you’re not controlling a team of superstars, it’s worth every penny. Ultimately it’s the best version so far but in truth it’s also far from perfect and with FIFA 07 being very playable this year (on the PS2 and PC) it’s rather disappointing that PES 6 doesn’t differ as much as it should have done. Here’s hoping PES 7 is less frustrating, has a lot more official team names and kits and improves upon previous titles a lot more than PES 6 has.

Overall Game Rating 8.8/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

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Pro Evolution Soccer 6 is a fine addition to the series. The improvements are welcome but it's about time we had more official team names and kits. It's not a game that's very welcoming to PES novices though.