Game Preview: Pro Evolution Soccer 13
When I purchased my first football game back in 1999 I revelled in playing as Gianfranco Zola and Gianluca Vialli, coaxed by John Motson and the tagline All the Clubs, Leagues and Cups.I fell in love with the FIFA franchise, a game that would be surpassed in quality, but never in sales thanks to its aggressive pursuit of the rights of teams and my own determination to play as Chelsea, and not North London Blue. Times don’t change all that much and as Pro Evolution Soccer and the FIFA franchise grew in parallel, it was made obvious to me throughout much of my youth that regardless of the fact Konami developed the superior game, I would trade this for Van Nistelrooy’s, Henry’s, Robben’s and Rooney’s as the years went on, time after time. The current generation of consoles has been unkind to Pro Evo, and FIFA managed to claw their way back into a market that had undermined their integrity for years, now though, PES has struck back once again and produced a truly mind-blowing title.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 is the most realistic football game to date, and whilst that’s expected for each new game that every year brings, PES delivers an experience that drapes you in everything soccer, in all the Super Sunday’s and Monday Night Football you’ve ever watched. In the heightened graphics of the pre-match handshakes and the subtle touches of national anthems and animated cameras behind the goals, you forget that you’re playing at the ‘Royal London Stadium’ and become truly immersed in every match.
The physics and impact engines create lifelike challenges, and more importantly lifelike reactions in those players that fall to the ground as a result. The player’s movement too is strikingly similar to those players you see week in week out, and Konami have even gone as far as replicating the traits of a number of specific players; noticeably in the pacey, short steps of Cristiano Ronaldo. This movement on the ball is certainly an improvement, but it’s often led to movement off the ball taking a back seat, Pro Evo 2013 has approached this both visually and in the mentality of the players, creating insightful off the ball movement and an alarmingly similar aesthetic to real world football. Whether it’s the positional play of the full-backs who replicate offensive defending perfectly, assisting your wingers high up the pitch, or Neymar collapsing backwards on the floor as he misses a sitter, Konami hit the nail on the head in this gaming experience.
The players are a little heavier than those of their competitor, and whilst this certainly adds to the feel that Pro Evo provides us with, the close control dribbling system dubbed Deft Touch Dribbling seems it might be a little bit easy to grasp and abuse. Considering this and the fact that I’ve twice struck the ball from thirty-five yards or so with the instep of Ashley Young over the keeper in just a couple of short games, it seems that there may be a small number of feats that could be accomplished time and time again by whoever grasps the technique with a fair amount of ease. These minor problems and the use of another ineffectual weather system are my only complaints in a game that has surpassed anything I could have hoped for, and it seems that PES have finally squeezed everything that they can out of their current engine.
In Pro Evo’s inclusion of the new PES Full Control, you now have, as you can imagine full control over every shot, every pass and every cross. No longer will you find the ball err frustratingly towards the closest safe target rather than finding its way to the feet of your intended recipient, and whilst it is admittedly hard to grasp and a little daunting at first those players that stick in and develop the capability of mastering it will have total control the likes of which we have never seen in a football game before.
Thanks to the market, FIFA won’t need to desperately improve on their last game in order to reach the top of the charts. They won’t need to step up or make any drastic changes, or alter a formula that has proved solid over the last few years. Whilst a continuation of Ultimate Team and Head to Head Online Seasons, accompanied with the knowledge that you can play as Arsenal at The Emirates and AC at the San Siro will surely be enough to help FIFA leapfrog PES in sales, it will need to deliver an awful lot in order to produce a better game than Konami’s latest installation of Pro Evolution Soccer.