Richard Sawyer

Winning Eleven 6: Final Evolution

12th June 2005
reviewer: Richard Sawyer
rating: 5 out of 5
developed by: Konami
published by: Konami
rrp: £59.99
formats: PS2/GC

Konami have once again stepped up to the spot and taken aim at EA’s open goal. It is obvious they are going to put it away, but with how much style is the question?

Winning Eleven 6: Final Evolution is a Japanese only release, and for those unfamiliar with it, should be considered Pro Evolution Soccer 2.5. Good news is that the series makes it debut on Nintendo’s GameCube, and this is the version we have tested.

Firstly the whole game is in Japanese, and could pose some problems to those unfamiliar with the Konami menu layouts. These can easily be worked around by using a translation from the Internet. As well as this the tactics, names and commentary are in Japanese. The tactics can be “learned” from a translation, and the names can be edited, but you must live with or turn off the commentary. Some players, myself included find that the Japanese commentary is far less annoying than that found in PES2, and you will also find that they get into the spirit too a far greater degree. A blessing in disguise it maybe but that doesn’t get around the fact this game doesn’t start on a level playing field with UK releases, yet still many importers have flocked to purchase it, so much so in fact that many online retailers are reporting huge delays getting the titles into the country. All of this for a semi-sequel to a game that already has a full UK release.

Graphically the game is superb; the animations are spot on, the frame-rate smooth and the player models are clearly made up of more polys than ever before. The kits are good enough without being supremely detailed. Whilst the sound effects are good, the commentary is a little “unethical” as I have already explained. All of this is quite irrelevant though; this is all just a vehicle for the gameplay, which of course is king in football games.

The simple fact is that this plays the best game of football around. You really have to earn your victory in this game. You cannot simply run at the defence and hope to knock a few goals in from long range, no sir this isn’t how it works. “Working the ball” will be a phrase you become accustomed to using; as you gracefully shift the ball around the opponents penalty area, hoping to see some space open up. This is a game in which you’ll feel proud of your 1-1 draws, disappointed at giving a late goal away when 2-0 up. This all seems a little sad, but when you have to concentrate and hone your skills so intently before you can make any real impression, you will be proud of the smallest thing. This is the key to the series’ success and something that EA still fail to realise. For me Fifa is like the village slut, you win with ease once and enjoy it, you come back and do the same time and time again and it becomes mundane, you move on, the slut gives it away to the next guy. Winning Eleven however is the foxy hard to get girl you always fancied. You work hard at it and eventual she puts out, all of your mates are impressed and beautiful relationship blooms. This may seem a little abstract for some, but those who have played Winning Eleven and Fifa will know exactly where I am coming from. So do you want the slut or the girl of your dreams? I know which one I’d prefer to wake up next to.