I was bitterly disappointed with Pro Evo 2008. Like Konami had dropped off a basket full of soccer-ball-shaped lemons, and I'd eaten every last one. And I wasn't the only one; the game sold well enough, but there was a general feeling that Konami hadn't taken advantage of the next generation of hardware like they could/should have. Heck, they even made some parts of the game worse, crippling the team edit suite. So they've got a lot to prove with the upcoming Pro Evo 2009! Let's see if they're doing enough, by taking a look at the new/improved features this year.
BECOME A LEGEND - They'll tell you this was a part of the Japanese versions of Winning Eleven, but really, the institution of a "control a single player as he rises through the ranks" mode is a response to those found in the EA Sports games. Still, it's a neat addition, especially if you're the type who likes to squeeze every last Master League match out their Pro Evo, especially since you can save your player data and use it during online matches.
SPECIAL MOVES - No more combos or specific controls for special moves. Instead, these are going to be introduced contextually, and will be activated depending on where/how hard you can yank/twist the analogue stick when performing a certain move or dribbling in a certain direction.
GRAPHICS - Konami are promising that the game's had a "radical aesthetic upgrade". Specifically, they say stadiums now have better effects (including LED hoardings), depth-of-field effects and "new face and body detail", along with new facial animations. Which should be nice, but fall short of a full engine overhaul, which the series badly needs, since there's only so long it'll be able to polish up a stiff, robotic player animation system that was developed a generation ago.
EDITING - Ah. Some good, good news. The editing system - crippled in both current-gen versions of the game - is fully-restored for Pro Evo 2009. You'll be able to draw your own sponsors and club crests like you used to, along with new features like the ability to import crowd noises for custom home games.
Course, none of that will matter a damn if they don't fix the awful online play from last year, but we won't be able to test that until the game's out in the Fall/Autumn (unless you own a Wii, then it's out in 2009).