Pro Evolution Soccer 6
Ah. Another year, another PES instalment. We’re up to number 6, and so far we’ve seen boundless improvement as the series romps towards creating something rather similar to the real thing, minus the stomach cramps and endless moaning from team mates about why you didn’t win the header. Unfortunately, we seem to have reached a stalling point. The Xbox 360 is, at the time of writing, the most powerful console available to Konami, so you’d be right in expecting glamorous graphics, endless options and oodles of gameplay. And for the most part, you’re right.
The point that has dominated my mind ever since opening up the case of PES6, plopping the disc into the tray and then closing it with my media remote, is what does the PS2 have over the Xbox 360? I just can’t figure out why, with all the increased specs and well over a year fiddling with the debug machines that we 360 owners have pretty much the inferior version. The edit mode has been trimmed down so much that you can only edit players – you can’t move them, or edit teams, stadiums, kits and boots – unless you’re into editing the option file on your PC and then transferring it to your Xbox 360 memory card. As we all know, Konami rarely gets things right with the licensing and this year is no different. All of Germany’s teams have disappeared, and the Premiership has once again been desecrated into farcical names, with the exception of a select few clubs. The lack of a fully comprehensive edit mode means that you’re stuck with these stupid names. Of course, this also means that England are stuck with David Beckham, as you can’t drop him or any other players from international teams. Did Sven Goran-Eriksson have input into PES6?
On the pitch things seem to be as normal, with tweaks from Konami both helping and hindering games. The newest addition that you’ll see is that goalkeepers no longer have glue on their gloves – rather butter – as they can drop crosses, clatter into the post and drop the ball as well as punch the ball into their own net. The problem is that these agile shot-stopping creatures have been given the agility of a dead horse, especially when running out of goal. The slightest turn in direction and your man between the sticks is left flailing on the floor in a heap as the opposition scores yet another goal. This problem is intensified by the cunning use of the lofted through ball. Because computer players seem to have strength like no other, you need to slide tackle and risk being sent off because it’s nigh-on impossible to barge these bastards off the ball before they side-step your keeper and put the ball into the net. Playing a deep back line creates another problem – because of their superior strength, they’ll just dribble and jink their way through your defence until they either get blocked, fouled or their name on the score sheet. It might sound like sour grapes, but when you’re at the other end and get bundled off the ball without a glance from the ref, suddenly that 360 controller being rammed up the backside of Mr Seabass looks oh-so tempting.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Despite these niggles you can still have a decent game of football, although the lack of a tutorial in the practice section means you’ll have to learn from scratch on how to attack and defend as Konami have remained tight-lipped on their tweaks. Deflections and keepers fumbling the ball make for tight scrappy play in either box, and given the importance of possession set pieces are much more important and scrutinised. What is needed however is a damn set piece editor, something like in Football Manager, because it’s just so frustrating when your full back is marking their heading expert at a corner kick and ends up conceding goal after goal after goal.
Graphically, PES6 looks pretty much astounding if you’re willing to forget the lack of licensed strips. Stadiums, whilst cut down to a measly 8 in number, are incredibly detailed right down to the individual seats, whilst the camera before kick off zooms in on the ball like during the last World Cup so you can see the strands of grass on thy hallowed turf. Once again though, the lack of knowledge into football shines through. How many more years will we have to put up with those stupid banners that say “go for goal” and the like? Alas, whilst the crowd are animated they’re also horribly repeated, so much so you can often get 4 identical fans standing next to each other. Their timing of songs, chants and physical appreciation is completely pants too. Ever heard England’s Barmy Army sing the national anthem at 3-0 down? Me neither, nor have I seen the crowd jump around like crazy when it’s a goal kick.
The online mode is a farce. There’s still too much lag in games to make them even remotely enjoyable, plus the rankings system really does look like a dog’s dinner. Too many times you’ll play one good half of football only to be greeted with endless lag and loading times in the second. This is the age of high-speed broadband for god’s sake, and I’m playing on a server that couldn’t kiss the feet of Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast?
There’s just far too much disappointment in PES6 to make it fun; I’m not talking about hype or other people’s opinions here, I’m talking about a company too lazy to address the problems that have plagued the series pretty much since the start. This is the next generation of consoles that I’m playing on, yet there’s far more content on a console that had less power than its two competitors at its height. This is scandalous.
There’s a saying which states “every dog has its day”. The same could be said for PES6, which has far too many niggles and disappointments to build on the series. Maybe it’s time to move on or, heaven forbid, go outside and play real football.