REACH YOUR GOALS
Of course, football is all about goals. Forget what smug pundits will tell you about the joy of great defending, or the wonderful technique involved in watching players take no risks in knocking the ball ten yards sideways, scoring is the real joy of the beautiful game and PES 6 captures its spirit perfectly. Thanks to a multitude of improvements including (but not limited to) better ball physics, improved heading, better crossing and superior player runs, goals feel unique yet familiar, intended but still unpredictable and cover the whole spectrum from back-stick headers that could come straight out of the pages of Alan Shearer's back-catalogue or Djimi Traore-rivalling own-goals. They're more realistic, and more satisfying than they've ever been before in any version.
That's only once you've got your head round it, mind. Scoring, initially, is far harder and requires a rethink of your attacking options. Busting offside halfway line has been considerably reduced, while chipping (the XBW office's favourite humiliation move) has been made almost impossible. Meanwhile, they've removed far more sweet-shots from last year's game and it's more about body-shape, timing, using the right foot and being far more considered with your shots. You won't be pinging them in from the edge of the area with such regularity and even close-up you've got to work far harder to hit the onion bag- simple taps of the shoot button alone won't cut it.
FEELING VERY SKILLED
Sadly, like so many real life players, when they kick it with the wrong foot they'll cock it up. It's an inexcusable fact of life well represented here. One of the biggest changes to the shooting is the introduction of the controlled shot when you get close. Instead of just tapping shoot lightly, you'll now need to pull the right trigger button simultaneously (or, erm, 'gouge it' - in the uncomfortable terminology of Konami) to stick it away. It's still not guaranteed, but the effect is to, on the one hand, make the shooting trickier but make you feel as if you've got more control - to demonstrate the cool head you need to finish off moves at the highest level.
Sticking the ball in the net has never felt more satisfying because it rewards your skill more than ever before. And then there's the wing-play. Both crossing and heading has been improved dramatically, with the more competitive midfield encouraging you to get to the byline in a way it never has before. The runs of your strikers are better, as is their ability in the air. There's nothing more satisfying than working the ball out wide before sticking it to the back-post and watching your man leap like a salmon to nod it back into the opposite corner, or cutting the ball in on an angle and seeing your front man finishing.
It truly encourages and rewards dynamic, exciting football that fans want to watch week in week out in real life. Another area where Konami have tried to encourage this sort of flowing football is with the introduction of quick free kicks. Well-intentioned but clumsily executed, it gives you the option to press both bumper buttons simultaneously to get the ball moving again, but since it's interrupted by a cut-scene and the accuracy of the pass is often wayward to say the least, it feels pretty clumsy. The key here is that if you're on a counter-attack then it can be worth it, but all too often we found our ball heading to the opposition or at the very least removing the advantage we were supposed to gain. It doesn't quite work. And talking of pressing bumper buttons, sprint and changing men are now executed on the bumpers, which feels pretty awkward to begin with although, like so much else in life and in-game, it becomes easier with time.