E3 2012: Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 Hands-On Preview – A Whole New Ball Game
Written Wednesday, June 13, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Playing second fiddle to FIFA for pretty much this entire generation, having been the football purist's choice during the previous console generation, recent history hasn't been particularly kind to the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise. But after years of playing catch up with EA Sports and the all-conquering FIFA series, it looks like Pro Evo could be finally back on track with PES 2013.
Konami's rebuilding of the series supposedly began with Pro Evolution Soccer 2011, which we found to be severely lacking. PES 2012 improved upon the revamped formula, making for a far more satisfying, well-rounded and solid game of football, and PES 2013 potentially represents the pinnacle of what the PES team set out to achieve in the first place. As this generation faces its imminent death rattle, PES 2013 could be the game to put Konami back at top of its game.
The obligatory back of the box features have a ring of the familiar, with PES FullControl AKA 'PES FC' recalling the 'Total Control' system implemented in PES 2011. For PES 2013, FullControl is at the top of the list of new features, introducing complete freedom with a dynamic first touch mechanic that enables you to place the ball wherever you want. At least that's the idea. Happily, it works rather well, letting you manually place passes and shots on goal by holding down the right trigger, while pressing the corresponding face button.
PES FC unlocks the ability to dynamically perform runs, accurately place passes and pinpoint your shooting, and with the pace slowed down to a more manageable, less frantic speed, you're free to consider your tactics during build-up play. Holding down the right trigger will also trap an incoming ball and keep it close to your feet, giving you the opportunity to stay in control of the ball with deft touches while you weigh up your options. Trap the ball and time a click of the right stick, and you'll pull off a neat little flick move that gives you the chance to lob defenders and make a lethal attacking run.
Other improvements extend to the player AI, which is now informed by the game's 'Player ID'. Apparently, more than fifty players have been fully realised for PES 2013, and during our hands-on matches, we're shown how cover star Cristiano Ronaldo performs thanks to his Player ID. His running style has been carefully replicated and his likeness is spot on, as is his shooting style and other attributes. He's a fast and skilful dribbler, possessing a set of attributes and abilities that closely match his real-world skills.
A whole host of other players have received the same treatment, although we don't get much of a chance to scrutinise each player on the pitch to see what's what, despite playing as the star-studded FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. You can be sure that players like Iniesta, Xavi, Messi and Kaka all have their own signature abilities and animations though.
Keepers have also been improved, boasting enhanced movement and an ability to make better decisions, according to Konami. That said, we did find Valdés off his line when he really should have been nearer the goal mouth, which lead to us conceding a goal. Perhaps this is just teething problems for the goalie AI. Pro Active AI meanwhile helps hold up the defensive line, and ensures that players use space more efficiently. It's all part and parcel of making PES 2013 one of the most faithful representations of the beautiful game yet, and certainly one of the best PES titles in recent years.
Playing PES 2013 feels like reuniting with an old friend, albeit one that's learned a whole host of new tricks. Getting to grips with all of PES 2013's FullControl features might initially seem daunting, but once you're able to master and harness the potential that the newly implemented mechanics present, the ebb and flow of matches should prove massively gratifying. Of course, you can leave all of the manual control features at the door if you must, but you'll be missing out on a lot of PES 2013's nuance and depth.
Executing swift one-two passes or hoofing home a ten-yard screamer (FullControl shots certainly move fast) utilising the precision of FullControl just feels right, and although it'll take time to master, it should prove a worthwhile enough addition to PES 2013 to help bring the series back to its glory days. It's just a shame that it's taken so long to get PES to this point.
Boasting a greater level of TV-style presentation and a litany of new features that look poised to bring back the depth and playability that made PES a true rival to FIFA in the first place, PES 2013 is looking good.. For the first time in years, the choice for football loving gamers might not be so clear cut. This isn't the same PES that's been mired by weaknesses in its game despite it's brave design goals, year after year. PES 2013 is more akin to the old PES that we know and love, with evolution actually being a fitting description this time around. This year, PES 2013 could have the title of best football video game in the onion bag, even though the commentary still needs work. Your move, FIFA 13.
PES 2013 will be kicking off this fall.