By Arthur Kotsopoulos
Being someone who has extensively played FIFA over the last decade, heading to the Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 preview event was a tough decision, especially knowing that the other people in attendance were hardcore PES gamers. They're group of guys who play this game religiously -- not for competition, but for the thrill and enjoyment that it brings. Learning all the tricks, the plays and changing the team around to suit their needs, these guys are dedicated to say the least.
After watching the 360 version in action, I decided to sit down and try my luck on the PS3 version (it ended up being the superior version, in my opinion) and was surprised to see that I wasn’t as alien with the controls as I had first led myself to believe. It had been 2 years since I played a game in the series -- PES 2010 -- so it would have been safe to assume I wasn’t going to hold my own very well.
If you’re only familiar with how FIFA plays, then you’ll have a quite a hard time coming to terms with attacking and defending in PES 2013 because it’s a very intricate game that requires much more thought and skill than its rival. Official licensing aside, PES 2013 is a personal experience; it requires skill, intricate touches and the ability to play to your team’s advantages.
Every tackle, pass and shot counts and are as crucial as ever when playing against an opponent of equal skill. One wrong move and you could see yourself on the firing end of a counter attack leaving the rest of your team in a scuffle to defend.
The game is tough and rewards you for your efforts, but the game is also extremely punishing and frustrating when you slip up or miscalculate any pass or shot. You need to make sure your defenders are where they should be and with amazing AI, players on both teams will always be moving trying to position themselves accordingly. If you sense defenders or attackers aren’t doing their jobs, you can manually control another player and make them run where you need them to if you see an opening yourself. If you dedicate yourself to master this mechanic then you could be an unstoppable force in PES 2013.
I played 4 matches that night, 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses; Whilst I was disappointed in my performance my opponents gave me high praise especially with my defence. In the last match I went up 1-0 with 10 men on the field and it wasn’t until the last 10 minutes of the game, that I had momentarily lapsed in defence and the game went 1-1. After that I felt the morale of my team had dropped and in the closing seconds I received the final blow to put me out of my misery. That unpredictability was golden, anyone would know that a good offence is a good defence and the fact I went up 1-0 with 10 men showed me that if it’s all about defending and counter attacking.
Going one on one with the keeper is never an easy task in PES 2013 and the shooting mechanics have also been revamped. Manual shooting seems like the best option when up against the revamped AI of the keeper. I found in FIFA 12 that with a little practice you could easily score finesse shots from outside the box almost 100% of the time; try that in PES 2013 and it’s a different story. The ball reacts in many different ways, depending on the player and the velocity it’s shot at, meaning you’re never guaranteed to score when against the keeper on your own. Manual shooting and passing aren’t as hard as controlling a second player, but they are as rewarding when you have mastered them.
Substituting gameplay for cosmetics, PES 2013 looks crisp in its visuals and I feel that PES has captured the movements and characteristics of each key player perfectly. When C. Ronaldo took a free kick, you could see that Konami took the time to capture his running and kicking style.
PES 2013 seems to be the first football game to give the player “full control” with a host of manual inclusions. It grounds the game as being more realistic and catering to the most hardcore of football fanatics, in the sense that you have the ability to strategically play the game exactly how you want to. Konami should have no shame in being proud of this product as it’s definitely a step in the right direction from the previous 2 years.