[Games] Modding Pro Evo 6

Aside from emulation, and the odd PC-exclusive like Starcraft II, the only compelling reason to own a gaming-capable Windows machine is the joy of modding. For the uninitiated, modding is that art of tinkering with a game’s content to either add new maps or characters (as is often the case with first person shooters), to completely reversion a game into something else (both Team Fortress and Counterstrike began as mods of other games), or sometimes to expand upon an original game, and correct some of its flaws.

Sports games have always been prime candidates for PC modding (sadly the closed architecture of consoles means modding console titles is both incredibly hard, and often legally dubious). The annoying nature of commercial licenses often mean that a developer who has crafted an excellent title then has the chance to update it with next years rosters cruelly yanked away because someone else has snapped up the licence. It happened in Formula One where Geoff Crammond developed the four greatest F1 games the world had ever seen before Bernie Ecclestone’s cronies flogged the exclusive rights elsewhere.

At last, Molineux in a football game!

At last, Molineux in a football game!

So the modding community steps in, finding ways to add new car graphics, change sponsor decals and even add entirely new tracks. It means keen gamers can patch and update their title to keep the drivers and circuits current, even though the engine remains the same as that released in 2002 (GP4 mods appear to exist right the way up to the 2007 season).

The same is true with football, where FIFA’s all-conquering dominance in the licence stakes means otherwise enjoyable titles like Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer are let down by a lack of accurate player names and kits. In recent years PES has fallen by the wayside somewhat, overtaken by FIFA not just in terms of licencing, but – for the first time ever – actually playing a less enjoyable, less realistic game of football as well.

Perhaps the zenith of the series was 2007’s Pro Evolution Soccer 6, a game that was significantly more fun that it’s successors. Fortunately PES6 is one of the most highly-modifiable games I’ve ever seen, and the PES-loving mod community have made full use of that.

It’s possible to spend weeks tinkering with every aspect of the game. From player’s faces to kits that can be designed in Photoshop down to the last pixel. It’s even possible to vastly increase the number of in-game stadiums, adding 3D models and custom textures for other grounds.

The ShollyM patch in action

The ShollyM patch in action

Brilliantly though, if you just want the most comprehensive, up to date football experience you can get with the PES6 engine, you need not spend hours tinkering, just a few minutes downloading something called a superpatch. There are several available from various websites, but the best I’ve come iacross recently is from a chap called ShollyM. His 2010-2011 season patch is relatively easy to install (just unzipping a few folders and copying them into the install directory). It’s feature list though is definitely not simple.

He’s replaced every menu background, all the music and renamed all the unlicensed leagues, cups and teams with their real life counterparts. He’s also updated the rosters to be current to this season, and added new faces for as many players as possible. Of course the patch now includes up to date kits with the proper sponsors, league badges and typefaces for names and numbers. Best of all thought, his patch includes scores upon scores of new stadia culled from keen modders all over the world. This means that every team in the game has its own accurate stadium. No more playing through a season as Wolves in some generic ground, there’s Molineux, accurately modelled right down to the ads for a local radio station.

It's not just English stadia - here's Sampdoria's ground

It's not just English stadia - here's Sampdoria's ground

It’s a fantastic piece of work, and something I’d encourage fans of football, and PES in particular to check out. PES6 may be getting on for four years old, but with a lick of paint and some TLC, you can turn it into the most comprehensive football sim around.

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