* I totally understand this game came out in September 2012, but it just showed up at my door about a month or two ago from the powers that be. I also reviewed FIFA 13 for gotgame as well.*
I do have a confession to make that may bother some but I feel it is good for transparency. I’m a life long football (soccer) fan that played the game as a child, in high school, and college as well. However, I’ve only ever played FIFA video games. So, when I first put the game into the disc tray I did not know what to expect, but after playing over 100 games in various modes, there is still plenty the team at EA Sports needs to apply to their FIFA games. A lot of Konami’s newest football simulation seems outdated, but that is just the outward appearance. On the pitch, Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 delivers one hell of a football simulation.
From the start PES 2013 wants players to go through this rather lengthy tutorial, which is entirely optional, but actually proves to be quite necessary because PES is vastly complex. PES plays like what you see on television every weekend with the right amount of substance and sizzle to always keep players guessing. To put this in plain terms, “it just feels right” with how the players move on the pitch, manual passing and shooting gives players accurate control over the ball and which player it will go to, and the defending is spot on as well.
To put things into perspective, I can play FIFA 13 on the highest difficulty, I felt like I had to relearn how to play a footy game after getting blown out a few times on the professional (the third) difficulty in PES. This happened mainly because PES makes a player feel like they have to work to break down the defense and you have to know what to do for every situation. FIFA may have improved physics, but it still feels like the players are on hyper speed and it does not take much to blow by defenses and find the net, speaking of finding the net, shooting and passing take time to get used to in PES 2013.
Shooting is a rather delicate process in that location is more important than how much you hold down the shoot button. Not to mention, the ball tends to have a more natural direction in PES and shots seem to miss as they would according to the trajectory of the ball. Passing in PES feels more natural as well and players actually may have to pass the ball around horizontally just as much as vertically to get through a defense. Most importantly, the player has to lead the pass, the player has to figure out how much to put on the ball, and the direction is important as well. FIFA’s shooting physics sometimes feel like it creates faulty goals and the ball just goes in even if it should not. FIFA’s passing feels smashed together, especially because FIFA’s “smart runs” make the game feel like its on auto-pilot. PES and FIFA may share a lot of the same features, but PES gives a sense of reward with everything you accomplish in the game that FIFA does not.
The thing I probably enjoyed the most about PES is how refreshingly difficult defending is. In FIFA, pretty much running over the ball grants a player possession. This does not happen much in PES because you have to actually press a button to tackle a player. So, players must learn to be in the right positions and know when to press the button in order to avoid fouls. Sometimes, I felt like the game didn’t read my press of the button, but for the most part it wasn’t a problem and I felt rewarded when I stopped a huge play on defense. The new ball control system (which is also in FIFA 13) makes stopping runs and one-two’s even more of a challenge, but it is never overwhelming either.
PES does have some warping issues that do detract from the gameplay a bit. It occurs mostly when passing the ball around a lot, you will see the ball warp through a player or the player begins in one place and then winds up in another. I even noticed this a few times with goalkeepers where they would grab the ball out of the air completely out of the 18 yard box and the game would warp the goalkeeper back inside the 18 yard area as if nothing wrong just occurred (even though that action would be immediately penalized in the real game.) Other than that, I never really noticed much slow down or anything wrong with the physics.
Once you get off the field, PES feels like it is still playing catch-up to the immense amount of features and additions EA puts in FIFA every year. It is great that PES has the official license to the UEFA Champions League and Copa Libertadores, but when the kit licenses and official teams are not present it is still a bit jarring to the casual fan. Even though nothing beats the Champions League anthem playing before a game begins. Similar to EA’s NCAA games, Konami does allow for players to download modified rosters so that they can get the rosters and teams up to snuff. But there is still just something weird about not seeing the actual Liverpool team play the actual Chelsea team. Not to mention, that EA has added a generic version of the big tournaments in their Manager Mode now, so Konami having the license doesn’t really mean that much.
Another place where Konami lags behind is in modes. PES offers basic online play compared to all the team and season features FIFA has. PES’ Master League, Master League Online, and Be A Legend Modes do return for another year. The Be A Legend Mode was very fun to play, but I still like the way FIFA gives you a rating as you play and shows you where to be, instead of just “auto moving” players. It also feels miles behind FIFA due to their being no way to talk to your manager and you cannot play international games either. The Master League Online is basically PES’ version of FIFA’s Ultimate Team without all the Phishing scams. Then there is the Master League itself. There really isn’t a way to communicate with your team and the transfer system seems completely archaic and basically comes down to total luck as to whether a player signs with your team or not.
The graphics in game are hit and miss. There are players faces and figures that look spot on and then there are others that just look so generic you wouldn’t know who they were supposed to be. The menu’s and graphics outside the game are generic, as well as the repetitive soundtrack. Then there is the announcers Jon Champion and Jim Beglin who sound uninterested and repeat a lot of the same lines over and over. I actually like Jon Champion when watching English Premier League games on television so it is weird to not hear the same enthusiasm when listening to his announcing on PES 2013.
Overall: At the end of the day though, if you are playing PES it is because you already know how great of a football simulation it is. I don’t think I have to say anything to persuade you to play it. The new additions on the pitch add to the series long love of authenticity and make you feel as if you are on the field with the players. The only problem is the lack of licenses and modes can make the game seem bare compared to FIFA’s grandeur. Maybe for 2014, Konami can focus on adding more life to those modes and maybe adding a bit more from EA in that area. I just hope they don’t touch the on field action, as they’ve done in the past, because it is virtually perfect on the pitch.