Pro Evolution Soccer 6 – Official Guidebook

This is a good time of year for football fans, Konami’s yearly update of Pro Evo has been released and with so many of you playing online you might want some tips on how to improve your game.

Over the years I’ve bought a few guides, namely for fighting games to have all the moves in-front of me, but usually there’s something lacking. With the advent of the Internet people’s expectations of what information is worth have changed – but lets face it a proper book is a better option than printing off dozens of pages for offline use. The question is how good is the knowledge on offer? and what kind of gamers will it appeal to? People new to the series or hardcore Pro Evo fans like myself who pride themselves of knowing the intricacies of the game?

The guide is by Piggyback Interactive who have a fine reputation for releasing well written and stylishly presented guides, and this is no different. Weighing in at 170 pages along with a DVD, on the surface this represents good value in comparison to other guides who often charge a similar fee of £11.99. What’s more it’s written in conjunction with the development team in Japan and supports the PC, PS2 and Xbox 360 version of the game.

The guide starts out by outlining the new moves the game has to offer; revised sidestep, slow dribble, backheel shot, v-feint, inside-outside trick, quick feint, Matthews feint and 90-degree turn. Later on each of these are explained. We’re also informed of changes to the gameplay balance, from less founds, more flowing moves, new goalkeeper AI, to the removal of what is known as medium sprint – the R2 button now traps the ball. We also have a page of questions and answers from Pro Evo experts. There’s a short chapter aimed at newcomers to the series and info on how to get started. This includes a full list of controls for both Xbox 360 and PS2 controllers, a rundown of the various modes of play on offer and an explanation of each step before starting your first game.

Next we have the Coaching Manual chapter, designed to instruct you on how to perform every major move, trick and technique. There’s a big table of moves (magnifying glass may be required) followed by a breakdown of each move; covering which buttons are needed, the effectiveness, difficulty, execution tips, general advice and related player abilities associated with the move. Everything is split up into sections such as Ball Control, Passing and Crossing (personally I’ve found scoring from crosses to be difficult in the past) and these cover every aspect I can think of. Another useful piece of info is where the ball has to be to perform a scissor kick, volley etc., there is more to this than you might think.

Secret Moves & Tricks is a chapter that will appeal to everyone – so called ‘undocumented moves’ and how best to exploit them. You won’t see anything like this in the manual, and although some long term players will be aware of many of the moves it’s good to have a detailed reminder. There are so many moves for you to build into your game that it’s easy to forget; think of this as revision that will re-enforce your knowledge.

Tactics & Strategies covers strengths and weaknesses for all selectable formations, setting your attack/defence level and instructing player movement. Manual strategies are explained better than I have read elsewhere. For those who like to play offline there’s a comprehensive Master League section that interestingly contains tables of established stars in each position and promising youngsters. Unfortunately it fails to mention which team they play for, so locating the latter group may prove difficult.

For those not sure which team to be, or if you want to learn more about your opposition, there’s the Team & Player Guide. This features an in-depth breakdown of player stats for some of the major teams in the game. Side note: still can’t believe Chelsea are called London FC and Liverpool are Merseyside Red – this is totally unacceptable in a game of Pro Evo’s stature. If you’re reading the guide before you buy the game – yes this is not a misprint they are incorrectly named in the game too.

There is also a section called Extras that covers items in the PES Shop and a list of stadia with a screenshot of their pitch. This will prove invaluable for me as I know which stadium has those horrendous concentric circle and tiny brown horizontal line grass cuts which makes me lose focus on the game. It should be noted that the 360 version does have a severely cut down selection of stadia, but features two exclusive ones. Near the end of the book there’s 2 pages outlining what is different in the Xbox 360 version in comparison to the others, including the Achievements on offer, though I advise you to wait for our in-depth review of the 360 version as there’s a lot of subtle changes that will matter to the hardcore fans that are not documented in the guide.

One of the selling points of the guide is the DVD that accompanies it and includes English, German, French, Italian and Spanish language options and 150 videos of moves. There’s an interview with Shingo “Seabass” Takatsuka who tells you abut the new features in Japanese with English subtitles. It was interesting to hear how teams’ performances at the World Cup made an impact on their abilities in the game; Shingo sights Germany as a team whose stats have been vastly overhauled. Perhaps unsurprisingly he says Henry is the best player in the game. It’s a longer interview than expected and he answers an awful lot of questions. Production values are fairly high but as the in-game videos are from the PS2 version don’t expect them to be in HD. There’s more than enough videos but they are without narration and you have to watch the button presses on the joypad whilst the video plays to the right. This is quite hard to follow and personally I’d have preferred a voice over telling you what to press. But considering most guides don’t come with a DVD this is still a significant bonus.

Overall the guide could prove invaluable to most players of Pro Evo, and even the experts will find a single point of reference useful. If you’re struggling to beat your friends it could be just what you need.