Platform: Xbox, PS3, PC
Release Date: 21/09/12
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PES 2013 Review
The annual war of footie sims is once again upon us, pitting fanboy against fanboy in the ultimate battle of minor yearly gameplay updates. Both EA’s Fifa 2013 and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 are due for release over next few weeks and the world will be set alight by bickering school children, arguing what is the better series. If you are new to the genre you will most likely be unaware of how long and sordid these two sport game’s histories go back, ranging from the original monopolisation of EA’s licensed FIFA franchise in the early nineties to Konami’s International Superstar Soccer’s breakthrough success on the N64 at the turn of the century. Since the two developers first butted heads as masters of the footie craft they have been regularly trading places at being the world’s favourite purveyor of football simulators, with FIFA most recently being on top.
Despite the series’ mod cons, consisting of commentary by John Champion and Jim Beglin, Master League season mode, licensing for the Champions League and Become A Legend, the key element of this year’s iteration of the Pro Evo franchise is advanced player control. This has been implemented throughout the game in a series of on-pitch functions, which include: ‘Dynamic First Touch’, full manual passing and shooting, manual one-twos and a variety of smaller button amendments.
The Dynamic First Touches are basically refined to multiple variations of trapping the ball upon receiving a pass. If you fire a strong pass to someone on your team a well timed quick tap RT will cause the recipient to trap the ball directly underneath his foot, allowing him to be in a better position of control. If you press RS as someone plays you the ball, the player will chip the ball up in the air, allowing you to either turn an opposing defender or, if you are feeling flash, let you chip the ball up and hit it on the volley.
Pro Evo 13 has full manual passing and shooting – press the left trigger and an arrow appears on-screen which can be used to accurately place a ball to your desired location. This is something ideal for anyone who suffers from the age-old problem of shouting to your TV screen that the ball was passed to the wrong player. It’s a great addition to a football game but I rarely found myself using it as it does require a fair amount of button fiddling for a slightly minimal pay off.
Minor amendments to the game’s mechanics include a power bar for goal keeper kicks, double tapping ‘A’/’X’ for a stronger tackle, a new low long pass and a button combination for amusingly nut-megging the goalkeeper.
Of course to learn all these new tools and tricks you will have to practice and upon loading up PES 13 for the first time you will be prompted to do some training. Although this seems like a good idea I quickly found this ‘aid’ frustrating as you have to copy exactly what is shown on screen in each skills tutorial. For instance learning a simple long ball actual entails crossing the ball, short headering it to another player and then shooting. The thing is you are not really told if you are doing it wrong bar a random ‘BAD’ that appears on screen as if by will, and upon most failures the section just simply resets. In short, there is a 2-touch inside foot dribble that I have been unable to complete until this day and I probably never will.
The music (as ever) is hilariously dreadful, mixing African drum beats with shitty trance noise which blares out relentlessly in every menu screen. In fact the music is so far off key this year that Konami have even gone as far as to having a horrible live Spanish song. Sometimes I think some people have no idea what they are doing; that or the music producers are just really into crap repetitive sounds that loop in a dull and extremely irritating manor. However, if you are like me nothing beats whacking on your own tunes through your console, so I won’t say music a real issue, more just something to point and laugh at, like the fat kid in Hook. Regardless, PES games are reknowed for years for annually releasing some of the worst soundtracks ever conceived on a video game, so why stop now?
With both developers under extreme pressure to release consistent and reliable titles you could almost feel sorry for the game’s creators. Then again the whole reason EA’s FIFA have (arguably) have taken the crown in recent years is due to taking significant and innovative gameplay risks. While PES 13 has its nuances and inventive tweaks they are quite frankly not substantial enough – sure I can now pass and shoot in any direction I want, or I can flick a ball up, turn and smash a volley past the keeper given the right circumstances but in reality using these new features are nice, but not game changing.
PES 13 is an incredibly solid football game - I wouldn't say it's a complete return to form but I would say it is a step in the right direction for Konami. The different modes are all standardized and fairly common - the big news for this year's PES are the new skill features, these are fun and intuitive but sometimes feel inconsequential, sometimes to the point you may even forget you can do them.
A very solid football game
New skill features are a move in the right direction
Great game to play with friends
Awful menu music
The 'training' mode is frustrating
When will Konami take the big plunge to re-invent the PES franchise
PES 13 as a football game is fine, but sadly that is it, just fine... its mediocre, it does its job and it's competent. Sure the new gameplay elements freshen things up a little bit but overall they do not raise the game to a higher standard. I will say however that it is definitely a step in the right direction for the series.
September usually marks the beginning of the demise of my bank account when it comes to video games. After the summer drought September comes forth with its gaming goodness to quench the thirst for new titles. Week after week we see huge games being released and we are all left scrabbling around trying to find the pennies/trade-in credit to afford all of them. Even though I end up not being able to afford all these games at once I always end up purchasing a football game – it’s the law right? If you like the sport you have to buy a football game each and every year.
Ever since 1997 I had been a Pro Evolution Soccer player; to me it was always the best representation of the game I love so much (and injure myself playing) and it was for a long, long time. Then it started becoming stale and the old enemy, FIFA, started vastly improving (and copying PES in a lot of ways). In 2008 I finally lost my patience with PES’s lack of innovation and started playing FIFA. I have been playing it now for four years, but this year I will be going back to PES for the same reasons I left it in the first place.
So, here are the three main reasons why I will be returning to PES.
I was good at PES; I would win most matches online and during the offline mode I would blitz through on the hardest difficulty. I got bored, what’s the point of playing with little challenge. I was useless at FIFA when I first went over and still am while online, but the single player game is as dull as dishwasher and I’m looking for something to play when alone. I miss wanting to play a football game by myself and feeling a challenge. As well as being dull, the single player seasons including the ‘Be a Pro’ mode are not a challenge, even on the highest level. By reverting back to PES13 I would have missed four years of the game and it will feel like a challenge once again.
PES can be accused of being lazy in recent memory; there wasn’t really any innovation going on and that’s why a lot of people fled over to FIFA. This year, after playing both demos I feel there have been sufficient innovations; the biggest of which is the full manual passing/shooting options. I always remember being infuriated playing PES when you wanted the ball to go to one player and instead it went to another. The manual passing in previous titles were mapped to the right analogue stick and it just worked horribly. This year, by pressing L2/LT it brings up an arrow; you direct that with the right analogue stick, press the pass/shot button of your choice to the desired level and the ball will go exactly where you have asked it to.
Now, reading that back it actually sounds pretty complicated but it isn’t. I’m certainly no master at it and in the demo I over-hit or under-hit passes with alarming regularity, but that loops back into my first point and the challenge aspect. I have something new to try and overcome and be the best at.
It’s actually bloody good
It wasn’t just the lack of a challenge that drove me away from PES and kept me away since, the games just weren’t very good if truth be told. FIFA had the best iteration of football out there. This year I’m not so sure which one will have the best truest representation but I don’t find myself as concerned with that. You will never recreate that in a video game, you have to go and play in real life. But, the demos of PES I have played have shown the game is fun, plays great, looks decent (although it will never be favourably compared with FIFA in that department), has interesting innovations and will offer that challenge. Here’s hoping the online holds up as I remember dodgy connections in previous titles before I disappeared from the franchise.
FIFA is in its B year with no real innovation as far as I can tell and although I will undoubtedly play it over at friend’s houses it is Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 for me this year. Roll on 21st September.PES 2013 Review,