Here's what happened with Pro Evo, just in case you're new. It was great and they kept making it better, so by the time Pro Evo 4 came out two years ago, it was absolutely, blindingly, totally brilliant. It was easily the best sport game ever, even including Virtua Tennis. Then Konami took it all a bit too seriously and made last year's Pro Evo 5 not very much fun. The passes went everywhere thanks to a more realistic system that saw you having to direct your kicks with more accuracy and do boring stuff like pay attention to your player's body position and direction before doing your pass. Pro Evo 5 was, therefore, a bit tedious, and too much like a simulator to really thrill people with no patience like us.
Now it's 2006 and we're getting Pro Evo 6. Can they fix it? Yes they can. Konami's builders have upped the speed an ever-so tiny notch. That's the most important thing. Pro Evo 5, thanks to it being so technically demanding, played at a much slower pace than past Pro Evos. This meant matches often deteriorated into dull midfield battles, as all 11 men lumbered around, lost possession, lost possession back, re-lost possession again and threw in wild tackles to make up for it - then got quite bored.
Pro Evo 6 is a little bit faster. At least, it feels faster. It feels slicker. It's like you're a bit more in control than you were in Pro Evo 5, and although the game keeps all the technical passing stuff that bogged down last year's game, the fact it all rolls along at a quicker pace makes it seem more fun. That, thankfully, is the news we were after.
Apart from that, though, the game is pretty much identical to last year's title. The menu screens are still appalling throwbacks to 1986, all weird text and awful music, the sort of music that usually plays in the background whenever Ron Jeremy's onscreen with his trousers off. The Master League, what we refer to as the singleplayer game, is also unchanged. If you select the classic Master League it's identical - featuring the same teams, players and upgrading structure that's been the core of Pro Evo's solo game for years.
Master League's Match Mode lets you pick the proper players, or at least the variations on player and team names that Pro Evo uses as the official licence still belongs to FIFA. So you'll be playing as London FC (Chelsea) or Tyneside, which almost certainly means Newcastle. See how much we know about football! You can also play a regular domestic league, with Italian, Spanish, English and Dutch divisions to compete in, as well as cup competitions. But this year it's not about Master League and cups - it's about Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.
There's not much to be said about how Pro Evo 6 looks. It looks like Pro Evo, especially when playing from the 'zoomed out' wide view that lets you see more of the players and pitch. Character movement is smooth and fluid, but then it's been like that since 2001. Even on close-up camera shots of the players, you'd be hard-pushed to tell if this was an Xbox 360 game or one for the old Xbox, thanks to a very similar style.
On the plus side, we're happy that it looks like Pro Evo. The makers have resisted the temptation to apply Xbox 360 shininess to the players, as the FIFA developers have done, and there are no 'new ideas' or flash concepts to get to grips with. The same camera angles are there as well as the same replays - you can slip right back into the warm bath of Pro Evo within seconds of getting your first hit on Xbox 360.
The play is largely unchanged too. In fact, the biggest alteration comes thanks to the Xbox 360 controller - Pro Evo 6 now makes full use of the black and white bumper buttons. So yes, Evo 5 used them on Xbox, but who the hell bothered? Now it's easy to press the bumpers, and the default settings - which make LB your crucial switch player button and have RB as the sprint - encourage use of the full range of Pro Evo's controls.