Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 Review

By Dave Horobin, 6 years ago
Towards the end of the last generation, Pro Evolution Soccer was considered by many to be the place to go for the most authentic football experience in gaming. Sure, FIFA had all the official players and clubs, but for straight up gameplay, PES was a long way out in front.

This generation has been far less kind however, with each year’s PES release seemingly getting weaker and struggling to find it’s identity, whilst, FIFA, has gone from strength to strength.

With Pro Evolution Soccer 2013’s release today, we take a look at the latest iteration in the long running franchise to see if it’s finally back to its old winning ways.

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Before we begin, I’d like to just clarify that it’s been a good number of years since I have spent any real amount of time with any PES game, and although I try out the demo each year hoping for a return to the franchises glory days on the PS2, I normally end up feeling let down and return to playing FIFA.

Instant control

Within the first few minutes of gameplay, It’s clear to see that PES 2013 has rediscovered it’s form. The lightning fast pace seen in has been reduced to a more natural speed, allowing players more freedom and a far greater sense of control when on the ball. This is mainly down to the hugely revamped control system that allows you to have total control over the direction and weight of every shot and pass.

When you first start the game, I’d strongly suggest a run through the game’s training/tutorials, where you will learn some of the new techniques on offer. I jumped straight into a match like a clumsy centre back, assuming I would know how to play, and whilst the game was fun, it wasn’t until I revisited the training games, that I could fully appreciate just how much freedom there is on offer. Some bits of skill do take practice, and at times they do frustrate, but once you have them under your thumbs, there is great satisfaction to be had when out on the pitch.

All of the new found ball control is down to PES’ new “PES Full Control” feature which allows for players to put the ball anywhere they wish – at any height, speed or direction. When doing so the skill level of the player you’re controlling, the speed they are running at and direction they are facing are all taken into account to decide how accurate the outcome is. Pulling the left trigger brings up a directional arrow that can be moved 360 degrees, with the weight of the pass decided by pressing either the A or B button. The same trick can also be used when taking a shot at goal by pressing the X button alone or along with the right trigger for added finesse.

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It does take a bit of practice to get all of your fingers working together in unison, but once you do have it, curling an effort successfully into the top corner from 25 yards really does give you a sense of satisfaction.

When receiving a pass, using the right trigger you can instantly bring the ball under control or flick it into space - allowing more time to play the perfect pass or take a shot at goal. When in possession of the ball, the right trigger is also used to keep the ball under close control which allows for skilful dribbling and shielding of the ball from defenders.

The development process hasn’t all been aimed at turning you into the next Paul Scholes; the game’s defending has also been improved. Holding the right trigger allows you to jockey your opponents to slow down attacks, whilst a quick double-tap of the A button will see them go for a well-timed challenge. Be careful though, the referees do seem to be extremely whistle happy, with the softest bit of contact often resulting in a free kick.

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The AI in both defence and attack have been improved, with team mates looking to close down attacks or move into space when attacking. There are the odd moments of craziness where a player will needlessly put the ball into row Z instead of playing a simple pass, but on the whole, they do a good job of keeping the realism and speed of the game throughout.

The beautiful game

Although PES doesn’t boast anywhere near the same number of officially licensed players, teams and stadia that FIFA does, the ones it does include are all reproduced well. The graphics and animations in the main are well done, but there are some clunky moments such as goal celebrations and the lifeless crowd. The match commentary supplied by Jon Champion and Jim Beglin quickly becomes repetitive, with the same phrases being recycled in most matches.

On the side line

Whilst the game has made huge steps forward in gameplay, all the problems off the pitch return. The game’s menus screens are ugly and at times hard to navigate. The lack of licenses detracts from the realism that the gameplay deserves, with even the official UEFA Champions League game mode featuring unlicensed teams.

The Be a Legend and Master League game modes whilst fun to play become annoying, as after every match you are taken to a cut scene of you and either your agent or secretary telling you the same information over, and over and over…

The final whistle

Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 has taken some massive steps in the right direction, and is a definite improvement over the last few offerings. The gameplay is fun and rewarding with a number of game modes that all help add to its longevity. Compared to FIFA, it still feels like it is at least a year behind in terms of the overall presentation, but the new Total Control features certainly match, and in places better those on offer from EA.

It’s been a rough few years for Konami’s football franchise, but with PES 2013 it appears as if things are back on track.
Dave Horobin
Written by Dave Horobin
Dave is the TrueAchievements Social Manager and has been a Newshound since 2010. When he's not chasing developers and publishers for early review copies, he can usually be found on the TrueAchievements social pages discussing all things TA related.