Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 – Preview

Title   Pro Evolution Soccer 2013
Developer  PES Productions
Publisher  Konami
Platform  PC, PS3, X360, 3DS, PS2, PSP, Wii
Genre  Sports
Release Date  Autumn 2012
Official Site

I suck at football. In fact, I’m alright at most other sports, but there’s just something in my makeup that says that balls shouldn’t be kicked around. The same thought extends to football games, but that has never stopped me from indulging on occasion. The question of which of the two main football games has never been one that plagued me, mostly because I didn’t play enough to really care. Given the choice, I would probably choose Pro Evolution Soccer, because it’s the one that I’ve always played. I’m given to understand, however, that PES games have turned shit.

For a long time, PES was the game that the cool kids played; the ones that really cared, anyway. They looked down their noses at the peons who enjoyed FIFA and mocked them endlessly. Everyone knew that PES was the best. It was more fun, it looked better and it was simply a superior game. No one cared that the names might have been wrong on occasion, because the game was great fun.  Apparently, though, when I wasn’t paying much attention, all that changed. Now it’s the FIFA players that stride around looking at their noses at the hardcore remainder who play PES, decrying the unlicensed teams and sniffing at the graphics. Truth be told, I can see their argument – to a point – but it is also tough to believe that PES is so disliked, especially after seeing the plans for PES 2013.

It must first be said that FIFA and PES have gone in two completely different directions over the years. FIFA has focused heavily on creating a fast-paced experience that lends itself superbly to playing with mates. The games are over quickly and invariably end with a result at the end of the ninety minutes, which means that a ‘winner stays on’ system works perfectly. They’ve put a lot of effort into making the game look good and licensing as many players as they could.

PES, on the other hand, has gone down a route that resembles a simulation game, more than a party one. The fun is still there of course, but it’s found in different ways. The games are paced more realistically, seldom seeing goal-fests of twenty or more in a four minute match, simply because there isn’t time. They also make the effort to ensure that the game looks as real as possible, so those hoping to dribble a ball down the whole pitch and then score are likely to be sorely disappointed.

This year, the team working on PES have tried to really put the power into the player’s hands. Passing can be completely controlled, from the direction and speed of the ball to how the receiving player continues on with it. For the first time ever, shooting can also be completely manual, which makes scoring goals virtually impossible at first, but after you get used to it, it makes every goal intensely satisfying. They’ve also changed up the AI so that it has become more proactive and aggressive, and it can also be prompted by your actions so that it is easier to pass the ball according to your plans. A great example of this is when you hold on to the ball without moving, the players around you will run on ahead to get themselves into good positions to receive the pass. It’s something small perhaps, but it should change the experience for the better.

Yet despite the depth that the game has, the idea is to make it accessible. The control scheme has been kept as simple as possible to make sure of that, functioning, in the most part, with just a few main buttons. Access to the more advanced techniques, like the manual shooting and passing, can be achieved through the menus or by a quick tug of the trigger, making the game just as easy – or as difficult – as you want.

Konami have put a great deal of effort into ensuring that players get the most out of the game as they possibly can by tweaking the multiplayer. They want it to be as simple as possible for you to be able to play with whomever you like, and to ensure that the multiplayer experience that you have is always fun. To this end they have created a new feature called communities, which are essentially guilds for your football game – a group of members who are judged and ranked together. When playing online as part of a guild all your major stats – wins and losses etc. – are tracked, and contribute to the ranking of your community. Communities also make it nice and easy to play with your friends. Whenever they pop up as on PES you can invite them to a game and, if they accept, you can be playing each other in seconds. They don’t even have to be playing online at the time. It reminds me of the battle challenge method seen in Street Fighter IV, but with control over who you challenge, and it looks like it’ll make playing with friends a walk in the park, which is certainly no bad thing.

There is also a new rivalry system set to make an appearance in the master league (an online manager mode, for those of you who aren’t up to speed on PES jargon), which works as a filter to find the best matches for players. No one likes playing the old pro in their first match, especially when their team is obviously so much better than yours. In PES 2013 this shouldn’t be an issue, and even if it is we were assured that the game was more about the skill of the player than the stats of the teams, so who knows?

If you’re the type to showboat for your friends then you’ll be in luck, thanks to the new Player ID system, which basically makes some iconic footballers instantly recognisable. And it’s not just down to the way they look, with Konami having analysed the way they run with and without the ball, the way that they control, and, of course, some of their signature moves. The system should leave you in little doubt that it was Ronaldo who scored that goal, simply from the way he acted on the ball. Each player will also have a more realistic set of unique stats – the strength of the team (which can sometimes influence what stats are given) has absolutely nothing to do with it. All of which means that sometimes you come across a player that can pull off the most awesome moves with ease, which instantly creates a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

That warm fuzzy feeling seems to be what Konami are going for with PES2013, and they showed a genuine desire to make the game as accessible and enjoyable as they could, without compromising their own style. The result is a great deal of fun, even though it may not be quite as quick as a game of FIFA. The depth of play that PES provides, while still remaining so simple is astonishing, and adds an extra layer of interest to a game that, superficially at least, is about kicking an inflatable pig’s bladder the length of a field. And while it may not challenge FIFA for sales supremacy when it comes out in a few months, it may well get people talking. Who knows, maybe this is the year that PES gets cool again. The game certainly plays like it could be.

Last five articles by Keegan


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