One of the biggest rivalries between franchises has always been the Pro Evolution Soccer aka Winning Eleven vs FIFA debate. While back in the PlayStation 2 era, the FIFA games were always known for their arcadey gameplay and the PES games for their simulation, the tables turned in the current-gen consoles. The FIFA series had become the de-facto football simulation game with the fast-paced arcade gameplay taken up by the PES games. While last year’s PES 2012 (yeah, I don’t understand the naming convention either) wasn’t enough to take the crown away from FIFA 12, we’re here to see if this year’s offering – Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 – is good enough to do it.
Let me just get this out of the way—Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 is a fun game. While it doesn’t offer the deepest levels of simulation, PES 2013 still manages a very entertaining game with its fast matches. The biggest new addition to the game is Full Control. Full Control lets you take control of a ball as soon as it touches a character’s toe. This takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you can pull off some pretty awesome looking plays. Other than that, the controls are more or less standard football fare, with the X button for short pass, Circle for long pass, Triangle for through ball and Square for shoot. Defence also follows the classic controls of X for tackle and applying pressure, Circle for a sliding tackle, Triangle to get the goalkeeper to be more proactive and Square for clearance and applying pressure.
Getting ready for the big game
For newbs, the game has an extremely in-depth tutorial mode that introduces you to many of the more complicated aspects of PES 2013, including the new Full Control. The tutorials are extremely important or you’ll make the same mistake I did for my first match and go in blind, losing five matches with big point differences (and at least half of the opponent’s score being self-goals because you suck at the game) along with a lot of dignity and self-respect in the process.
The AI in the game performs as well as you’d expect in a game like this, with the computer-controlled characters in your team managing to make their way to the general area where you passed the ball, and the computer-controlled opposing team also managing to make their way to the general area where you passed the ball, thus kicking off (get it?) a tug of war of sorts between your characters and the opponents. Tackling in the game is based on precise timing, which is a change from the previous game. Back in PES 2012, you just had to generally hold the X button and the tackling would happen. While this is great for newbs, it didn’t offer the control more hardcore players would like. In 2013, you have to tap X twice with the precise timing and precision of a laser scientist trying to perform laser eye surgery on a raccoon that’s binged on coffee. Why would a laser scientist try surgery? Go and ask him, wise guy.
Full Control lets you control the ball as soon as it gets to you
When it comes to game modes, PES 2013 has a wide variety of those. While it does have the standard exhibition and tournament modes, including some sponsored tournaments for specific football leagues, it also has a very detailed career mode that allows you to manage a team through football seasons. Another career mode is where you play through the career of a single athlete. Speaking of which, PES 2013 still manages to have one of the deepest character creation tools in sports games. All of these game modes have been polished to a mirror shine, thanks to the practice Konami gets because of yearly releases of the games in the series.
What’s a sports game without the ability to play with other people, right? PES 2013 has some options for multiplayer, including the standard friendly match option. Other than that, the game also has tournament mode in multiplayer, as well as online mode – as is common for every game these days whether it needs it or not. Football games do need online multiplayer mode, though, and PES delivers. Along with the standard ranked match and unranked match options, the game also allows you to play an online version of the career mode with other people all over the planet. You could set up your team, play matches and trade players with other people.
The goalkeeper is one of the best photobombers I've ever seen
While the game isn’t exactly the best sports game I’ve played (that award would go to NBA Street Vol. 2 back during the PlayStation 2 era), it’s still a very fun game; doubly so if you’re a fan of the franchise or the sport. In fact, Pro Evolution Soccer would easily qualify for a ‘Must Buy’ for any fan of the sport and makes for a nice change of pace from the simulation-heavy FIFA games.