PES 2013 review (PS3)
Competition contender or footie failure?
When PES first arrived on the scene, it turned the football gaming genre on its head. Unrivalled Levels of detail and graphics to match made a statement in a big way. I remember it taking me almost 2 days of playing to score my first goal, and from then on, I was hooked.
Sadly of late, there have been very few mind blowing moments. Once the EA Canada guys started to perfect PES’s formula in modern FIFA iterations, they surged ahead and have been there for quite some time now. This year’s outing however, has a few glimmers of hope amongst the thick blanket of confusing mistakes.
Player ID is one of the standout features of PES 2013. Messi moves and dribbles just like Messi; Ibramovich towers over everyone; and Ronaldo’s penalties and free-kicks are spot-on. It is rather refreshing to see that not just a handful of stars have been given this makeover, but all of the big names.
In true PES style, the visually representation of the sport has been implemented beautifully. Whilst it does still lack the overall polish of FIFA 13, it is by no means an ugly game. The same applies for the games audio which is responsive and relevant, but nowhere near complete with some repetitive loops. I did find the crowds reactions to be interesting, when the home team scores, they roar, but if the opposition starts to rise up they do become somewhat uneasy.
Fully controlling your players’ movement with first touches, accurate dribbling and full manual shooting and passing, opens up new depth to PES. Manual one-twos allow for an additional level of control, giving more options on attack and defence. Defending has also been improved by allowing you more control over your defender and choosing exactly when to execute the tackle. Proactive AI is also a new feature, whereby the defending AI adapts to the situation and makes more intelligent and decisive decisions.
With the specific team licensing still coming in through in bits and pieces, PES 13 is all about the Champions League and Copa Santander Libertadores. Both of these tournaments are extensively covered and detailed, with UEFA lending the rights of both the onscreen motion graphics and the official UEFA Champions League anthem. Over and above these two main modes, you can also participate in the Cup Mode which offers 6 different Cups – which are all spin offs of the World Cup, AFCON, EURO and Copa América. A nice little touch even sees Bafana Bafana lining up and doing the Diski when a goal is scored.
Football Life allows you to live out the career of a player or a manager. You can also take this online, but just as the rest of the online experience, it’s dogged-down by the same frustrations.
These frustrations I speak of make the online experience in PES13 torturous, agonising and extremely disappointing. The data packs, which update player rosters and club stats, have to be re-downloaded every second day. These packs often corrupt the ability to even enter online mode, and even if you do manage to get in, you have to try and find an opponent who has the same data pack as you (in about 50 or so attempts, was I able to finish one full match).
With PES 2013 not really knowing whether it’s a simulator or an arcade experience, the game tends to lose its unique identity. You do get the feeling that the PES series is again on the edge of glory, but sadly it’s once again playing second fiddle to the much more commercial and easier to adopt FIFA. Lets hope that the next years outing can once again return PES to the top of the football-sim tower.