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Pro Evolution Soccer 6

For: DS   Also on: PSP

Great legs but needs more polish

Product: Pro Evolution Soccer 6 | Developer: In-house | Publisher: Konami | Format: DS | Genre: Conversion, Multiplayer, Sports | Players: 1-12 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Pro Evolution Soccer 6 DS, thumbnail 1
Life can seldom be taken at face value. According to the headlines, David Beckham's move to LA Galaxy will be worth £250 million, making him the highest paid sportsman in the world. Sieve through the details however, and he's only getting a basic salary of $5.5 million per year. The remainder of the cash is bound up with him receiving a cut of uncertain club sponsorship and merchandising sales.

Similarly, the DS debut of the Pro Evolution Soccer series is not a straightforward proposition.

On one level, the news is glorious: the world's most intuitively controllable footy game is now on the console that offers the most flexible control system.

And happily, the basic Pro Evolution Soccer formula has been adapted superbly. The DS' face buttons enable you to deal with short passes, long passes, through balls and shots (or pressure, double pressure, slide and clear when in defence). Dash is assigned to the right shoulder button, while more intricate one-twos, step-overs, kick feints and floated through passes can be achieved with further nimble presses.

And it's this combination of dynamic passing movements together with devastating chips, fierce snap shots and free kicks you can hone with practice, that, in terms of player control, gives Pro Evolution Soccer 6 a distinct advantage over the various DS FIFA titles.

Indeed, when it comes to basic gameplay, only the goalkeeper artificial intelligence is suspect, combining the worst of Jens Lehmann's off-the-line dashing eccentricity with David James' fumbling – get one-on-one and you'd have to be James Beattie not to score.

When it comes to direct touchscreen functionality, there's more of a feel of token effort in evidence. As with DS FIFA, you can alter defence and attack formations on the fly with the stylus, and view either your players' stamina or an overhead radar of the playfield. There's also a frankly weird penalty mode, where whether you're the kicker or keeper, you have to tap one of six areas of the goal to see if you'll score or save.

Still, so far there's a lot to applaud. But like the footie commentator's archetypal game of two halves, there are also some serious problems with PES 6.

To put it bluntly, the DS wasn't designed technically to excel at handling 11-a-side 3D sports games, and it's not something Konami has totally got to grips with. The result is slowdown, and a jittery framerate when more than six or seven players appear on screen. Such lurches can seriously affect the intricacy and fluidity of your passing movements during complex play, and while it doesn't occur too often, it should have been fine-tuned out of the game before release.

Perhaps even more significantly, Pro Evolution Soccer 6 becomes almost unbearable when you attempt take on other opponents using the head-to-head wi-fi mode.

We love the fact Konami decided to include both a single cartridge and wi-fi multiplayer modes, but when the game ends up moving about as fast as two Sunday pub teams wallowing in an ankle-deep bog, we draw the line. Unfortunately, for this reason PES 6 is only really worth your attention for its single-player aspect. You'll lose good friends insisting on wi-fi match ups.

In terms of the single-player available modes, along with Training, Exhibition and Konami Cup, the main meat of the single-player experience is the World Tour mode, in which you travel the globe defeating ever more experienced soccer teams.

There isn't anything like the coverage of officially licensed teams you'll find in FIFA – the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Porto, Rangers and Celtic are the most you can hope for.

Still, the difficulty level has been pitched just right, and after a mere couple of games you'll be passing and dribbling around defences like a Pro Evo veteran. Though the series is renowned for its tough learning curve, this DS version's Easy, Medium and Hard difficulty settings will ease in the apprentice while offering a higher gear for the expert.

As you progress, you'll also win coins that you feed into a bubble-gum style dispenser. Totally random in nature, here you can win players to add to your squad and increase your chances of defeating the big gun teams. A cute collect-'em-all element, we enjoyed it a lot.

Adding up the pros and cons, the final score is not quite high enough to allow us to wholeheartedly recommend Pro Evolution Soccer 6 to all DS owners.

Of course, if you adore football, only own a DS, and have an aversion to FIFA games, then suffering Pro Evolution Soccer 6's wi-fi and slowdown problems may be a compromise worth making. In single-player mode, this is generally a robust and accessible footy title.

But if you're a gamer after the best that pocket gaming can offer, we suggest crossing your fingers for next season's football titles, or seeking out the excellent PSP version instead.
Pro Evolution Soccer 6
Reviewer photo
Mark Walbank | 27 February 2007
Avoid the poor multiplayer modes and occasional single-player slowdown, and Pro Evolution Soccer 6 offers a solid enough footy experience
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