Preview: Pro Evolution Soccer 2013

August 16, 2012

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take a brief look at Konami’s imminent Pro Evolution Soccer 2013, now only a couple of short months away. While soccer games aren’t necessarily my forte, I was able to make a few observations during my playing time that I hope will be of use to the swathe of football fans out there. I suspect, however, that many will already know if they are PES  or FIFA fans by this point, although there may be some elements at work here to sway some of the EA-faithful.

I am told that the biggest new feature to PES 2013 is the way it handles team and player stats. Instead of having an overall array of stats for each team, ensuring that all of their players handle exactly the same, PES is making a concerted effort to differentiate some of the more well-known players. This is called ‘PlayerID’. These famous football stars will have their own individual stats, characteristics and animations, ensuring that fanatics can easily recognise them on the field, and add a bit more strategy. Rather than treating every player on the field as identical Subbuteo pieces, you’ll now want to keep track of certain stars and think about how to best utilise their abilities.

Actually playing PES 2013 made it easy to see the difference between the series and its main competitor. While FIFA features all the streamlining and pristine graphics that cargo ships of money can buy, PES seems rougher, but more dedicated to a hardcore market. There’s a multitude of different tricks and moves that are available for you to perform, but they’re not immediately obvious. It’s much harder to effectively pass and score goals if you don’t grasp some of the more advanced features. My game consisted of missed goal after missed goal, as both my opponent and I sent soccer balls launching into the stands. It wasn’t until I studied the control sheets that I realised more is possible. Jockeying and taking control of your defense is much trickier, but more realistic than in FIFA. Aftertouch on the ball during goal kicks can produce the control needed to score points. Just hitting the ‘strike’ button isn’t going to win you any goals.

I didn’t necessarily get a handle on all of this – or any of this – during my time with the game, but I can appreciate that what’s present is intended for the people who know their stuff. If you really know how these players are supposed to act, and how Zidane or Torres would handle a certain goal, or what kind of opportunities a certain free kick presents from a certain position, then PES 2013 should be up to the task of matching your knowledge.

It’s a game that can only be truly judged by the football game community, when it hits Australian stores on 31 October, 2012 (although that won’t stop us from getting a review out, anyway). There’s a demo available for the game right now, which should provide you with the best insight into how the mechanics of this game work, and how they differ to FIFA, so check it out now on PSN, XBLA or PC.