For years EA has been trying to top this game and for years EA has failed. When it was announced Microsoft has a short period exclusive on this title for next generation consoles it was a big deal. This game can sell consoles in Europe and continues to do so year after year so why is it that the developer, the legendary Seabass, decided that the X360 would not match the other games in functionality? EA has been waiting for Seabass to slip up and unfortunately for him, this is the year he has done it. PES6 is one of the most disappointing 360 titles yet, but does have a few things going for it which keep it from the bargain bin.
As you would expect, the game has options to play a season or exhibition mode, and the master league has returned but there is limited functionality in some of these features. The numerous cups are all here which are replicas of the most famous trophies from around the world but again the licensing issues has let this game down. EA has continued to retain control of the biggest league in the world the FA premier league and this doesn't look like it will change anytime soon. Not usually a problem in PES but this year it is.
The game still plays brilliantly well but the engine for the X360 is a disappointment. The animation and realistic nature of the game is still unbelievable but there are a few anomalies which are hard to explain such as the fact that AI players just never slide tackle, even in desperation to stop a goal. This is in contrast to last years game where AI players were regularly carded for dangerous play, much like the professional football leagues across the world.
In fact the AI overall is disappointing. We found last years game on the PS2 a challenge which was hard to crack but we are regularly leaving the AI flat on the ground even on the hardest difficulty level on the 360. We can take the ball from defense, move through about four players and get a shot on goal. If this is starting to make you worry about PES turning into FIFA 98 for instance, you're on the right track and Konami has to fix this before the game hits PS3 and 360 again in 2007. Funnily, the PS2 and PC versions of the game do not have this engine update and therefore do not have these problems.
Licensing issues have again reared their ugly head with only Serie A, La Liga and the Dutch leagues officially licensed. They do have the FIFPro license however allowing full national teams in the game and there is an edit option. However this year's edit option on the 360 is significantly reduced in comparison to PS2 and PC. You can only edit the players not the teams, not the stadiums, not the fans. This is beginning to be a trend with 360 with EA only serving to back this up. However, ironically, FIFA 07 360 does allow you to make your own team and players which is a feather in EA's cap considering their powerhouse sporting franchise, Madden, does not.
Along with the teams some of the stadiums have been replicated but Pro Evolution still has that local park feel while FIFA manages to capture the massive atmosphere of Europe's big clashes. You can set options such as only home goals are cheered and you can even have flares going off in the crowd but other than that it's fairly run of the mill stuff.
This again is true for the graphics of the game. While they are a significant improvement over the PS2 as expected, they are no where near the incredible detail FIFA offers in high definition. It is plain to see that this is an interim game for the series while they wait for the PS3 hardware to be widely available and we will see the true next generation graphics of the series. With that said the game plays incredibly smoothly and doesn't suffer framerate issues. Those with a 50hz TV can't play the game as it will only work in 60hz and HDTV. Commentary is once again a little lackluster and fails in comparison to FIFA's much vaunted Martin Tyler, but at least they don't make mistakes as often.
Multiplayer is of course available on Xbox Live but unfortunately, because the game is a new engine, unlike the PC version you can't play against the PS2 players. Live options have the usual match making but you can only play two players (one v one) whereas the other platforms can have up to four in one game. There are reportedly problems with lag online as well and again this fails in comparison to EA's franchise.
Pro Evolution Soccer 6 is a very high standard game but considering the series lofty expectations it just doesn't go far enough to keep us happy. With the PS2 and PC software available for significantly less and the old engine seemingly better than the new, those versions might be worth looking into instead. However if X360 is your only platform then PES6 on 360 does offer excellent gameplay, it just falters near the finish line in comparison to its main rival.