This review was contributed by Rob Pike, Rocket Chainsaw community member.
It’s that time of the year again. Another round of football games are upon us and Konami have beaten EA to the punch releasing Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 a week prior to EA’s heavyweight.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 sees Konami introduce Player ID, Dynamic First Touch and some game changing manual pass and shoot options on top of the already impressive array of gameplay modes. Is this the year Konami will deliver the goods? Since PES has found itself on the PS3 and Xbox 360 the quality football sim fans knew and loved has been MIA. Konami have taken all feedback on board and delivered a football SIM no sports fan should miss.
The first thing you will notice playing your first match is that the physics and speed of the game have been tweaked from last year’s edition. The ball bobbles and bounces across the ground when passed at speed and will curl when passed over long distances. The ball physics and player movement give an amazing sense of realism, the weight of the ball feels perfect weather you’re firing a shot into the top corner or simply stringing some passes together.
Passing feels perfect – get the ball to a quality play maker and good things are going to happen. It’s not simply a matter of spotting a run and passing to that player. You pass to where YOU want the player to run, allowing you to create runs into open space. This may be possible in other football games but PES 2013 nails it.
Player ID is a new addition to this year. Not all players have Player ID but the ones that do run, shoot, pass, move just like their real life counterparts. Whether it be Ronaldo’s running action, Messi’s amazing turning circle or Robben’s amazing left foot shots. When you first boot up the game and create a profile you are presented with a host of “assist” options. Pass assist, shoot assist, tackle assist, etc. I chose semi assist, which is the lowest amount of assistance without going fully manual. When playing with manual passing and shooting the exact location of where the ball goes is all left up to you. This is for very experienced players only. I tried this option, and found my passing was all over the place – the shots were spraying everywhere except towards the keeper. My 10+ years of football gaming experience really wasn’t showing.
There is an extensive Training mode which shows you everything from different shot types to the various ways to trap the ball. Putting you in various situations and asking you to complete a goal. This is a great introduction to the game and I recommend even seasoned PES players run through this as they touch on all the new skills. Although the training drills are a great way to learn, the lack of feedback when failing the drills will turn some people off. A simple ‘too early’ or ‘too late’ message would have been very welcome.
Dynamic first touch (another new gameplay addition) has also added great depth to the gameplay. A perfect first touch inside the box can see a player trap a ball coming in at pace and give him an extra metre on his defender. Or, if you’re good enough, a perfect touch can see your player chest the ball up and produce a stunning bicycle kick. This is by no means easy to do. I struggled pulling this off in training mode let alone a match situation.
As well as having full control over your player’s first touch, you also have greater control of your shots at goal. Ensuring your player is on the right angle, suited to his preferred foot, is more important than ever to get a quality shot off. Holding R2 produces a controlled shot, with not much power but far more accuracy -perfect for 1v1’s with the goalkeeper.
The shooting feels perfectly weighted, whether it is a belter from outside the box, a delicate chip over the keepers head or a controlled shot curled into the top corner. Mark my words, when you score a quality goal in this game you will leap from the couch and celebrate, regardless of whether you’re playing solo or with mates. Please be mindful of others in the room when you do this. I startled my girlfriend more than once celebrating a big goal. Animations are still a bit stiff when it comes to tackles, but hopefully next year’s iteration with Konami’s new “fox engine” will bring its animations to a much more realistic level.
Master league is back and as good as ever. You can take a current team to greater glory or start off with master league default players and build them up and transfer quality players in. The latter does offer the best experience master league has to offer, in my opinion. A new and controversial addition to ML is the “Items” option. Every game you play, you earn points. These can be spent on extra training, which can be assigned to a player once purchased. Extra training will boost a players stats in a specific area. Players can have 3 extra abilities at any one time. You also acquire boots after winning certain games which you can assign to a player. Different boots increase and decrease different stats. Some fans may think this is taking away from the realism. The way I see it, real life players do wear the best boots available to make them perform better. It also adds a new element of strategy which is welcome.
Although master league is as addictive as ever it’s still very much the same master league as previous years. It’s not a draw card like it used to be and other sports games’ (Madden, NBA 2K ) career modes are light years ahead. Konami needs to focus on this mode if PES is to be a rival to the best sports sims. Master league online is also availble, as a mode where you start off with a default set of players and take on other real life players around the world to make in game money to buy better players. Sadly I could not find any games online, which is hopefully due to the fact the game only just came out.
‘Become a Legend’ also returns, where you can either step into the shoes of a current legend, or create your own and work your way all the way from training matches to the 1st team. Then as you build up your stats you can sign to a bigger club or stay loyal and try to bring success to your debut club. All this is much the same as last year’s edition, although the camera has been greatly improved and has made this mode even more accessible and enjoyable.
Although not revolutionary, the game does look very good. Player models do lack the polish of EA’s FIFA but you can clearly tell the difference between the players. Replays at times look stunning but can also see a drop in frame rate. The game also offers 3D, boasting a 3D specific camera angle which shows off the depth fantastically. Although I wouldn’t play like this all the time, it may appeal to casual players. Timing the perfect tackle is much easier in 3D and nailing a shot from outside the box looks stunning.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 is the PES myself and many others have been waiting for. Although some big licences are still missing, option files are readily available to fix all team names, kits and chants. The licences Konami do have are used to perfection. The UEFA Champions league licence makes a very welcome return and is represented superbly. This is a great football game, one that gives you complete freedom on the pitch and delivers in all the right areas and should not be missed by any football fan.