If you’re a football (or soccer if you prefer) fan, you’re faced with a choice – Pro Evolution Soccer or FIFA. The games have their hardcore fans that refuse to acknowledge the other game, and then there’s the gamer that enjoys sitting on the fence and will jump on the game that offers more that year. Well, I’ve given my thoughts on FIFA 13 here, and so now it’s time for me to give my views on the latest Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) title.
We all know that the PES series had a series stumble a few years back, and ever since then has been trying to claw its way back to the top, which has been made harder by the FIFA games, which have set the benchmark for football games the past few years. PES made a pretty significant step forward last year in my opinion, and it continues on with PES 2013.
The changes aren’t major game changers, but rather several minor ones that build on last year’s game.
The highlight of a PES game is the gameplay, and this year the game features the option to shoot manually, which goes in hand with the manual passing. It’s quite simple to jump in and out of manual pass/shoot mode, as it is easy as pressing the left trigger button to activate manual controls. An arrow will appear to guide your passes and shots. I’m a huge fan of the manual passing, as it allows for a tactical game. Manual passing allows for the ball to be passed into an area on the field, rather than a player. This allows for the player to run onto the ball, rather than be pressured as they receive it. The AI in PES is smart enough to make runs, and get themselves into position so the manual passing works well here.
Manual shooting on the other hand didn’t get as much of a workout as passing, as I find scoring goals in PES quite challenging to begin with, but the manual shooting allows for greater control over where to place your shots, including the ability to nutmeg the keeper. The flow and the way the game is played in PES are much slower on the field than FIFA, but is a more realistic representation of the game. There aren’t too many high scoring games, but there’s an overall feeling of satisfaction when you defeat your opponent by one goal.
The problem with PES is in the movement of the players, as it feels quite stiff and somewhat robotic. There’s no fluidity that is seen in real life or even FIFA. The strength of passes and shots can only be measured by a meter, as the game offers little sense of weight in the controls. This is also the case for when jostling with another player. After playing FIFA, these were areas that were noticeable, as well as the movement of the ball. Whereas FIFA introduced a new feature where the ball reacted differently when passed to a player, the ball in PES still tends to stick to a player’s feet when passed, giving it an arcade feel.
On the plus, however, PES 2013 does include a bag of tricks that would make Houdini envious, as the game allows you to nutmeg your opponent, take knuckle shots, create opportunities with some clever one-two passing and apply tricks like feints and flicks when trapping the ball.
In terms of game modes, Master League and Become a Legend is available under the Football Life banner. Master League offers the option to play as a team comprised of Master League players or the existing squad of the chosen team. Lack of licenses has always been a problem for PES games, and while the teams aren’t called by their actual names, the players in them are usually the real deal, and the player models in PES are good visual representations of the players.
In Master League and Become a Legend, you’ll get to partake in some cut-scenes with characters that may influence your career, like your agent or secretary who also act as guides. The mode though moves along at a snail’s pace, as you’ll be interrupted to be told things that I really didn’t need to know, but then when something important like failing to acquire a transfer target happens, there was no additional info, aside from being told that you failed. More information or the option to counter offer would’ve been greatly appreciated.
The diehard fans of Pro Evolution Soccer will be delighted with the game, and PES 2013 is an improvement from last year, which is a good sign for the series.