The joy when Seabass first announced PES5 was coming to PSP was fairly short-lived. After only a few minutes of banging the ball about on the small-screen pitch a fair few problems became obvious. For a start, even the furthest back camera angle was too close to the players. Then there was a strange motion blur when sprinting or turning quickly. And, most disappointing of all, there was no Master League. What were Konami thinking? It was, well, OK - but felt soulless in comparison to PES the way we love it. And so Konami went back to the drawing board. For PES6, they've sent the cameraman back a few steps to give you a wider view of the action and the shadowy motion blur silhouettes have vanished. But there's still no... nah, only kidding, Master League has made it in as well. Yeah!
With all the changes, PES6 on PSP feels much better than last time out. Aside from the horrible PSP nubbin trying its hardest to spoil things, controlling your players is more responsive than in PES5, so taking off on mazy runs and leaving the opposition in your wake is less of a chore and more of a highlight, just like it should be. Shots from distance look a lot classier as the wider viewpoint allows for a more focused sight of your target, plus goalmouth scrambles are as random and exciting as on PlayStation 2. The only features PSP lacks are the Online mode (it's just Wi-Fi as usual) and the Random Selection match generator. This is more than made up for by the fully-functioning Master League, mind you. Everything is in there that you'd expect, although the cross-platform dream of continuing your PS2 journey over to PSP - and vice-versa - has been left out. No matter, there's still the player development, transfer system and pre-match tinkering to get to grips with. This means you can maintain an assault on the European Masters Cup below your desk when you should be doing the accounts and the like. Honestly, Konami could single-handedly cripple work productivity across the country with this feature.
SILENCE ISN'T GOLDEN
It's not all good news, mind. Back on the pitch the atmosphere is as raucous as a funeral procession. Without the ramblings of Brackley and Brooking, matches feel deathly quiet - except for a tinny cry of "It's a goooaal!" delivered at a decibel almost exclusively audible only to dogs. Ouch. Also, the slow-down that appeared in congested areas in PES5 has sneaked into PES6 again too. This can mean sticky situations while taking corners or free-kicks. But then again, the loading times have been trimmed by a few seconds.
Other PSP features? Well there are six leagues to play through, including the Premiership (or - sigh - 'England League') and the Italian Serie A. You've got the usual selection of cup modes including the International and European championship and the new Reebok Cup, which is a straight knockout tournament for clubs and nations alike. Plus you can still transfer edited information from PS2 to PSP via a USB lead, just like last season. And, while it's not the most noteworthy option here, you can turn on Battery Save mode, which does exactly as you'd expect by turning the crowd noise, music and certain sound effects off - making the atmosphere even more muted in the process.
Although playing PES6 on PSP still hurts your fingers and thumbs over prolonged periods, it still stands out as the must-have footie experience on the machine. Visually, it's stunning - there's no finer feeling than watching your little lifelike Rooney run riot in his crisp Man Yoo kit, plus the tweaked animations allow you to twist and turn the opposition with devastating effect. And with its array of new game modes - most notably the Master League - PES6 has more than enough reasons to come back for more. You'll never choose it over the PS2 version, but it's more than enough reason to take a PSP away on a long journey. Cheers Konami, we've just about forgiven you for the disappointment of PES5. But only just.
It's by no means perfect, but PES6 is the best footie game on PSP and is essential for fans of the series.
- Headers and volleys
- Detailed players and kits
- Lots of modes
- An empty commentary box