Pro Evolution Soccer 6

Wednesday 23 August 2006
Konami's gorgeous'next-gen' images of PES6 hinted at visual evolution. True, Konami never claimed the shots were from the Xbox 360 version, but we all hoped Pro Evolution Soccer 6 on 360 would be a marvel to behold. But, after going hands on with Xbox 360's first dose of gaming's best football series, we've found PES a touch prettier, but not the giant leap we were dreaming of.

Sure, it looks great. Xbox 360's graphical grunt shows in the new animations - grittier, jostling tackles and more variety in off-the-ball movement - and the razor sharp player models and overall appearance. But, in the end, what you're looking at is 22 men on a field, from a distance, and the visual improvements make little real impact. Meanwhile, the stadia and crowds are the same as ever.

Above: 360 PES looks fantastic, but doesn't match up to this early concept image of next-gen visuals

Of course, Pro Evolution Soccer has always been more about how the action feels, and 360 does a magnificent job of repeating the fluid, instinctual sports-action that PS2 owners have enjoyed for years. The teams on offer in this first demo - Spain, Czech Republic, Italy and Brazil - all retain their individual feel and quirks. But then, what would you expect?

However, 360's less-than-perfect D-pad threatens to spoil the party. PS2's excellent joypad makes D-pad control a must - it's far more precise and accurate. But 360's controls are uncomfortable, the D-pad less than suited to the fast-paced action and the analogue stick flabby and inexact. Prolonged play will improve your first touch, but it's always going to be inferior to PS2's brilliant close control.

Xbox 360 gets one of the best football games in ages with Pro Evolution Soccer 6, but we might have to wait for PS3's outing to see next-gen football in all its glory. Even so, PES 6 doesn't disappoint where it really counts - in the gameplay. Expect to see us booting the game into a review very soon.