The Pro Evolution Soccer series has seen a somewhat fall from grace this generation. Games from PES 2008 to 2010 were shunned by some of the fanbase, who instead seemed to go into the arms of its arch rival, FIFA. The games were also a far cry from what Konami had developed on the PS2, which provided some of the best football games around at that time. PES 2011 introduced some changes that benefited the series and PES 2012 improved upon them further. The latest game in the series however, PES 2013, takes even bigger strides and brings new features not only to the series but to the genre as well. Boasting one of the best players in the world on the cover, PES 2013 looks to take back the Ballon d’Or from the clutches of its rival.
PES Productions went back to the drawing board on this one, describing it as realising the essence of football. They wanted to introduce features that made the player connect with the ball and the game of football better. Characterizing it as giving the player more refined controls, deeper freedom, and more complex AI. This comes down to the main area they announced for the game, PES full control, ProActive AI, and Player ID.
Full control is the heart of PES 2013′s gameplay and it works well. Full manual passing, dynamic one twos, dynamic first touch, full manual shooting, deft touch dribbling, and response defending all add together to make for one of the most promising games in the series in years. Each one of those features adds something different to the gameplay and adds a dynamic value to the title. Full manual passing works as you’d expect, you hold down a trigger and press the pass button and voilà, you have unassisted 360 degree passing. The feature has somewhat of a massive learning curve but is a deadly feature if mastered and used correctly. Players have full control over power and direction, making for an excellent added feature. Dynamic one-twos work in a similar fashion. Players can give the ball and get it back with complete 360 freedom, tiki-taka football is now a reality. Previous titles forced one-twos going forward and not allowing the freedom of play, but undoubtedly that has now vanished. No doubt drawing inspiration from Barcelona’s style of play, the feature is a good one and brings something new to the genre.
Shooting is another one of the aspects PES productions improved upon. With the default settings on shooting now being less floaty and providing more satisfaction when firing hard at goal or shooting with finesses. The added weight to shots also allows players to take more risks when shooting and gives the gameplay a more complete feel when compared to PES 2012. This allowed them to implement Full manual shooting. Much like Full manual passing the game allows you to shoot anywhere on a 360 radius and will definitely leave some beginner players blushing at the results. In addition, another new feature in Deft Touch dribbling comes into its own. Deft Touch allows players to take a more precise dribbling motion which helps dictate play more. Players can use the feature to dodge incoming tackles and weave past opponents. In some cases the feature can prove to be a bit over powered but no doubt in the final polished product it will be toned down.
Finally, Response Defending gets a run-out and effectively improves on the defending from PES 2012. Players can choose to jockey off the attacking player and time tackles with more freedom, which is definitely a much needed improvement. You can adjust the distance between the defender and the attacker if you’re facing a skilled dribbler, pacey player or a midfielder that can hit sweet shots. The feature works well in most cases, although it does take into account if your defenders are donkeys or not. In essence the feature should be massively polished off come release date.
ProActive AI and Player ID are the last of PES 13’s innards and show off some of the behind the scenes features of the game. PES Productions made some tweaks to the AI of your players on the pitch so that they are more tactical. Generally players can only control only one player at a time, so it’s a headache keeping the shape of your team, but with ProActive AI, AI controlled players move up when needed and keep the shape of the defense so no gaping holes are present. Aside from that, Player ID also makes its debut. PES has already been known for bringing a gameplay style that replicated individuality of players and gameplay, but PES productions is taking that a step further with Player ID, bringing different animations to certain big players, as well as young and upcoming talent. The likes of Ronaldo and Neymar will have their running, shooting, dribbling style all replicated in the game. It stands on its own as a great feature and will become even better if Konami add to the roster over the games lifespan before the next iteration.
When playing the game all the above features come together into something that is fun to play. Going to full manual passing on the fly is something of a great feature and adds a dynamic aspect to the gameplay which in turn could see special moments happen within the game. A wonderful manual through-ball or spectacularly hit manual wonder shot are all possible and leaves gameplay in a sort of enigma as to what could take place. Animation wise the game still lacks in the early E3 build we played, but the improvements are there to see and come the final product in October, we’ll hopefully see if the game has taken a new direction.
As a whole product in general, Konami seems to be taking the necessary steps to make this years PES a good one both on and off the park. To back this up, PES 2013 will include 20 licensed La Liga stadiums, a myPES facebook app to offer statistics and more key areas as well as comparable features with friends. We’d also expect to see even more features and licenses before the full game gets here.
From the early build we’ve played its easy to see that, so far, the game has taken massive strides from that of last year’s version. In the end the new features of the game will be defined by the overall polish of the final product that Konami produce, so lets just hope that this rising star reaches its full potential.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 is due out later this year on PS3, 360, PC, PS2, PSP, Wii and 3DS.