Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 Review
This review is being dual posted on PES Gaming and Soccer Gaming. Therefore, they may be some pieces of information or comments that apply to only one of the sites. I will try to limit this as much as possible, however I feel this is the best way to review the game and ensure everything gets said. It also means my review will be posted to a ‘neutral’ football gaming audience as well as a PES biased one, thus hopefully ensuring my opinions are honest and not just pandering to the needs of one or other (not that I would do that anyway!) Enjoy
I am not ashamed to admit then when writing this review, the hours of PES 2012 playing in the past six months would be in single figures. In fact, I feel it would be fair to say that in the calendar year of 2012, Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 would have fallen down into my forth choice footballing game (behind Football Manager, FIFA 12 and incredibly, FIFA Street) My minimal input on PESGaming.com has been an indirect result of this, as I have patiently watched, read and listened to Konami’s latest promises and plans, and deliberately removed myself from the usual hype and pre formed opinions that multiple demos, playtests and press releases entice out.
So when Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 finally dropped through my letterbox, it was with genuine anticipation and an open mind that I approached that first game. I was determined, as always to judge the game purely as a stand alone title, not comparing it to previous versions or other footballing titles, and in doing this, have actually been really pleased, bordering on surprised with result.
In a change from my usual review format, I have decided to split my review into three key areas, simply titled The Good, The Bad and The Same. Hopefully this will allow both fans of the franchise and those sitting on the fence to form an accurate and realistic opinion of PES 2013, and make them all the more informed of the game they may wish to purchase, or are definitely going to own.
However, before I do this I would like to just speak about an issue that must be addressed, and that is forthe first time in a long time, I have actually enjoyed my PES experience. The game played beautifully and was a huge improvement, in my opinion, on the second demo. I found myself wanting to go back for game after game, wanting to try out teams, players and tactics and actually felt like I was falling in love with PES all over again. Many other reviews claim that PES is ‘back to its best’ and based on my initial impressions on game play alone, it would be difficult to argue with that point.
So here we go, the things that PES 2013 does well. The initial point is the overall pacing of the game. It feels much more like a real football match as opposed to a video game. Slow, technical players seem to have worth and value, whereas speed players are only really effective if given space and time. A prime example here was a game I played as PSG vs. Braga. The Braga left back was much quicker than my PSG captain and RB Jallet, however due to limiting his space and getting close to him on receiving, not once did he manage to get in behind me. However, due to his constant pushing forwards, my midfielders and forwards managed to use their pace to exploit the acres of space he left behind him every time we regained. On the other hand, Zlatan’s outstanding close control and strength was a real asset, and saw him score two goals that relied on power and technique, without an ounce of pace needed.
The Player ID feature is welcomed, if slightly unnecessary. I will speak about this a little more in ‘The Same’ section, but the new animations for certain players (most notably Ronaldo’s shooting) are nice touches, and do give players a look of individuality. In truth, I didn’t feel different controlling Ronaldo to say, Benzema or Di Maria, but it was nice to have a different visual approach to each.
First touch control is hard not to be impressed with, as is the precision dribbling. These two features are long overdue in any football title, and whilst PES has toyed with both in the past, the feeling that timing and decision making when your player receives the ball genuinely may effect what happens later on during a move is great. Most people who have played the demo will have noticed these features, but they seem to feel a little more polished and together in the full game, as you would expect.
Whilst overall game presentation is very similar, the menu system feels a little tidier than previous games, and looks much more like a game from this generation. From a personal point of view, I was also delighted by the music, including a track that reminds me of a recent trip to Portugal. Whether this is due to giving the game a more international feeling, or just simply a random choice of track, it certainly worked on me.
Defending is much better as an overall concept. The new style of tackling (using x and R2 or double tapping X to either delay or lunge for the ball) adds an entire new dimension, and I felt really in control of my team out of possession. Goals I have conceded have been down to my own poor timing or a bad decision, and nothing to do with the AI, which is a real bonus. Good defenders will have an advantage here, and hopefully the more games played will give players the knowledge of who to attack with which players.
Interestingly, I felt teams tried to employ different tactics against me. Everton hit a long direct ball much more than I have seen in any football game so far (and got a goal from it) whereas, as mentioned, Braga were much happier in wide areas. Different ways of playing were introduced properly a couple of years ago, however I feel they are really starting to find their uses in PES 2013
I would like to point out in this section that, due to time constraints, I have not fully tested all the game modes, and therefore can’t really comment on Master League of BAL. I will point out that at the time of writing, Online access was not available. I will speak about this as and when I can.
Straight away, Konami had promised this game would be about Gameplay, so expect neglect elsewhere. The removal of League mode is absolutely insane. A simple mode that required very little programming and development and added at least another 25 to 30 games per season should never be taken out, and it is ridiculous to even consider it not being there!
The Manual Passing doesn’t work for me. Maybe I am not a good enough player to use it, but my feeling that is due to the same animations being used from previous PES, the game cannot really handle controlling, receiving and passing the ball at seemingly unlimited ways. If I want to have manual passing, I want control on how I strike the ball, with what part of the foot, and use spin and swerve to manipulate it. Unfortunately, PES 13 doesn’t allow this, and often, the game is its own worse enemy as I feel the pass I was attempting to play couldn’t be executed by the player involved.
A minor gripe, but transfers are a good month out of date. For a game that should be competing with the best football title in the world, to have a players at incorrect clubs is a woeful embarrassment. Konami have openly admitted that updates are on their way, but in all honesty, they should be in place now. To give you an idea of this, Arsenal has no Cazorla, Liverpool do have Borini, and Modric is still at Tottenham. I would say that at the current mode, Transfers are 50% complete.
For me, attacking AI is also still a little primitive. For example, as Real Madrid, I drove in field with Ronaldo to try and create space for Marcelo to overlap. Xavi Alonso and Ozil both banged into me as I ran towards them. The forwards movements, at times is excellent, however players still seem to be playing slightly on rails unless being Human controlled, and this is something that may become an issue the more I play.
As mentioned earlier, I have had less time with PES 2012 than others in the franchise; however, I still recognise many similarities between the games. When saying what the same in PES 2013 is, it is, of course, impossible not to reference the past. I will do my best not to go over old ground or speak repetitively, but this is what I have noticed.
Animations and in game graphics are virtually identical. The fact that the pre match screen (team line ups, anthems etc.) is a carbon copy will infuriate some players and baffle others. One addition to this from a personal point of view is that the home team always gets kicks off and kicks to the right. Every Time! This is surely something that needs to be looked it. To further discuss animations, whilst the first touch has improved, there are still far too many instances when a player cannot do what is required due to lack of an animation to do so. This could be stretching to keep a ball in or reaching for a header, but the much promised new game engine cannot come soon enough for these reasons.
Goalkeepers, for all their hype, initially feel very similar. The exceptionally frustrating push save is still in the game (whereby the GK holds his hand to catch it and the ball flies out of them). Positioning from GKs is better, but without extensive play over the course of months, subtle differences are not obvious here.
A personal gripe, fouls seem very much the same. Collision detection is still well below the level expected at the generation of gaming, and if this were a fighting game or Action / Adventure game, it would be slated for the unrealistic was objects interact with each other physically. I did give away a penalty in my first game, which was refreshing, however to often fouls go unpunished and good tackles get pulled back. My HD PVR was unavailable, otherwise I would have shown you a handful of points to prove this. If this frustrated you in PES 2012, expect to be equally wound up here!
Other than league mode, all the favourite game modes return. Training has been padded out to include a skill training mode, which is good for a couple of play through attempts in order to learn new controls. In terms of tricks and turns, the shoulder button (L2) is no longer needed in order to perform the basic ball movements (Spins, Chops etc.,) and R2 lends itself solely to moves which would fall under precision dribbling, (drag backs and L Turns). Once you have trained, the moves will feel very similar to they did in PES 2012, whether this is good or bad totally depends on personal opinion.
Edit mode is identical to last year, with a couple new celebrations and modern boots added in for good measure. (Balotelli’s Arms Folded and Nani’s Backflip included!) Stadium Creator I exactly the same too, so don’t expect any trees being pulled up here. Edit mode as a whole is still a string feature in PES, and is vital to give the game a more realistic feel. Whether or not no changes will appease the PES community remains to be seen
Finally, a few quick points that I feel fall into no specific category but should be mentioned
- Copa Libertadores & Champions League mode return. Near enough identical to last year.
- Brazilian League is licensed, and includes 2 official stadiums.
- Spanish League is heavily supported with numerous Stadia (and more to follow)
- Replay time is still limited to about 15 seconds, and there is still no upload facility
- There is a patch scheduled for Friday 21st September. How much this will effect gameplay remains to be seen.
I hope that covers the review. If you have any questions, please feel free to direct them in the comments box and I will do my best to get back to you. As mentioned, I have been pleased with PES 2013 thus far, and as someone who began to lose faith in the franchise over the last 18 months, feel that it may be showing signs of truly evolving and heading in the right direction.
Thanks for Reading