This year's Winning Eleven is coming out a bit earlier than usual, Konami's announced, so that everyone will have it in time for the World Cup.
Reports based on a Famitsu preview and an unveiling event earlier today also identify some of the changes fans of the series - known as Pro Evolution Soccer in the west - can expect from the game, which is being released on PS2 in Japan on 27th April.
Player animation is a big deal, as ever, we're told - with shooting animations in particular coming in for close scrutiny by the development team.
According to reports on the Famitsu piece, producer Seabass and his team are also introducing a Simple Setting, which automates things like formations and substitutions - which should be enormously useful for those without the time or patience to learn the subtleties of Winning Eleven's hugely complex and versatile stat system. There's also talk of simplifying passing, shooting and through balls.
Apparently the refs have been reined in a bit too, and won't give so many free-kicks - something that annoyed people when initially adapting to last year's versions, which made it much harder to gain possession just by pressing forcefully.
Most of the other changes mentioned are to do with game modes - Master League, for example, will now allow you to select whether you want players to age or not. There will also be a new International Challenge mode, where you get to take part in regional qualifying for a World Cup of sorts.
Speaking of which, the amount of licensing has gone up - apparently the English, Italian, Dutch, Spanish and Argentinean national teams are now licensed.
On top of that there'll be a Random Selection Match, allowing you play as teams comprised entirely of randomly selected players - which is good news for those of you who play random teams during lunchtime or after the pub, anyway.
Finally, there's talk of a quick start feature that lets you skip through all the pre-match hoo-hah by pressing L1 and R1 together when prompted.
Expect much of this information to be clarified by Konami when it inevitably unveils Pro Evolution Soccer 6, which should also be released on a much wider range of formats than Winning Eleven usually is; expect PES6 to appear on PS2, PC, Xbox 360, PSP and perhaps others sometime later this year.
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