Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 Review

Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 Review

You don’t have to walk far down the dusty corridors of gaming’s recent past to stumble upon a time when fans of the video-game take on football had a wealth of choice at their feet.

It seems almost ironic that at a time when kids got their football fix from venturing into the great outdoors and kicking one about there were football games all over the place and now when more seem to shun the real thing in favour of its pixelated brother there are but two options.

And here I am about to embrace one that played a big part in my, and many other gamers distant past.

Pro Evolution Soccer. It’s a name that reverberates around the hall of fame, it can send gamers of a certain age into a hazy dreamlike state as they remember a time when there was only one realistic choice for the armchair footballer.

Pro Evo Soccer is the epitome of the sleeping giant. It’s been there at the top of the league, basked in the glory and clutched every honour bestowed upon it. It seemed unstoppable and FIFA looked like it would forever remain in the shadow of Konami’s machine.

And then it all went wrong. Pro Evo failed to evolve. If anything it actually took a few steps backwards. Its weak arcade like offerings were being obliterated by the slick, licenced FIFA games and the future looked bleak.

And now here we are in 2013, and against the odds playing a Pro Evo game that has once again got gamers arguing about that old chestnut, PES or FIFA?

Well, hopefully you’ve cast an eye over my earlier review of EA’s latest. If not, erm…fair enough, I do tend to waffle a bit, and now we’ll take a look at how PES 2013 shapes up.

I think it’s important when approaching a PES game to do so with an open mind. I like many others long for a return to form from the old pro but it’s vital I take the rose tinted glasses off.

It comes as a great relief that with this latest PES I didn’t need them at all.

Konami have done a sterling job. Last year was an undoubted return to form for the franchise. I remember the look on a long time FIFA loving friend’s face during his first taste of PES 2012, he went straight out and bought it following the full-time whistle.

And this year Konami have taken more, larger, steps to restoring the shine back to this classic.

Forget about the fact that there’s less licensed leagues and teams than FIFA, and okay, it does bug me a little playing Merseyside Red, but it is only a minor irritation. Let’s face it if Marcus Fenix was called Hubert Rumpydumple it wouldn’t change the brilliance of what was happening on screen, and the same rules apply to PES games. So long as the on pitch action is of a solid variety then the packaging is irrelevant.

With PES 2013 that on pitch action is better than solid, it’s superb!

Konami have captured the essence of football. As an ex-player (before the legs said ‘no more’) I find the game seems to appreciate a football brain. The movement of team-mates and the use of your own vision, or an ability to read the game pays dividends and feels very true to life.

Konami have made controlling the players both in attack and, importantly, in defence a very fluid affair. I say importantly in defence because one gripe I had with last year’s game was that defending was a clumsy nightmare.

Dribbling appears on the surface to be pretty simple, but then a trip to the training pitch will bestow some Yoda-like abilities upon you and you’ll get an understanding of the serious depth of moves on offer to those willing to spend the time practising.

PES 2013 is a game that players can take from it what they want. If you want a quick blast you can pick up and play but if you want to become a force to be reckoned with in the online leagues then there’s an incredible amount of tricks and tweaks available to master. Add to that certain big name players having their own signature moves and the realism smacks home again, it’s a great way of truly differentiating between players as well, something I felt FIFA fell a little short in doing.

As I mentioned, the defending is far more natural this time. Where 2012 would see a lumbering centre-half left flat footed, struggling to make any sort of dent in a strikers progress, this time defenders feel like they were built to stop. Players need to use a bit of nous to nick the ball, jockeying and holding until the ball is ripe for the picking. It works brilliantly and feels just like defending should do. The rewards are for intelligent play rather than launching studs first into the tackle.

We have manual passing again and this time it’s backed by manual shooting, this is a tricky one to master but feels brilliant when it comes off, of course to get the truest to life game of football this is the way to play, just be prepared to practice.

PES 2013 plays a great game. The teams play as you hope they would. Barca feel like Barca should, big teams can dominate little ones in possession but the smaller clubs can sit back and hit on the break and still nick a win. Despite some of the team names there’s a genuine football feel to things.The to and fro, the end to end, the all out defence, the fast flowing attacking, all of this is and more is in there. One of the reasons I used to love PES was that there were these moments that would make you go ‘wow, that was just like real football’ and that’s a place PES 2013 can once again take me.

Graphically it’s much the same as the previous outing. The player models, for me, are a little less true to life than FIFA’s version and the same applies to the overall look. FIFA just about tips the scales in this respect but PES is certainly no light-weight.

In terms of the options, well, Master League is there of course, it’s the same tried, tested and perhaps now slightly dull mode. The online version is a far more sprightly place to play and could actually pull me away from other modes I’ve been used to spending time with. The challenge of building a team of nobodies to become a football force is daunting and great fun, especially when taken to the online realm.

Become a Legend, where I spent much of my PES 2012 time is back and as good as ever.

There’s a brilliant training mode where you can practice and fine tune all those skills and free kicks to perfection. It’s very enjoyable and bestows a lot of knowledge and moves upon the player but I wish the whistle didn’t have to blow before every set piece, it began to grate beyond belief.

Overall then where does this new PES sit in the league table. Well, much like in Spain it’s always a two horse race, and despite the gap being closer than ever this still isn’t quite the game to drag players from FIFA. There’s very little between them and I can only talk from a personal perspective but for me EA’s game will still just about get more time on the pitch. PES 2013 has without a doubt restored my own faith in Konami’s title and the possibility that the game could yet dethrone FIFA is very real. No doubt for some it already has. For me though it’s not quite there.

FIFA is more polished but importantly it’s also fractionally more fun.

PES though is a stellar football game in its own right and deserves a place in every fans collection, it delivers a match that is so close to the real thing the only thing it’s missing is the half-time orange.

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