Whatever you think of its current position in the market, PES is a series that carries a certain emotional resonance with many players.
I first played PES upon returning from living in Sri Lanka (where video games are hard to come by) in 2001. The last football game I’d played was Steven Gerrard’s Total Soccer 2002 on the Game Boy, and before that Sega Worldwide Soccer at uni.
PES was an utter revelation. After an hour or so playing it on my mate’s PS2 I knew I had to own it, and by the end of the week I did. And it was the start of a quite ferocious love affair, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since the days of Sensible Soccer on the Amiga.
I was the guy who imported the Japanese Winning Eleven International multi-language version and boasted about how Winning Eleven 7 International (which was kind of like PES 3.5) was BY FAR the best version (which it was).
But from the first time the series hit next-gen it became clear that the tide was turning. I didn’t defect immediately – FIFA 09 and FIFA 10 still sat somewhat uneasily with me. But by the time FIFA 11 rolled around I was a convert. And there’s been no reason for me to think differently since.
I’m not going to lie and say PES 2013 changes all of that. I won’t go on at length here about the extent to which I lusted after the FIFA 13 demo. But what I will say is that PES 2013 has had me playing all weekend.
Make no mistake – PES 2013 is a really, really good game. If, like me, you’re a FIFA defector then you’ll know how big a statement that it is.
I’d recommend that your first session with PES 2013 is dedicated to the Training Games. It’s through them that you begin to grasp the new intricacies of the controls and clever additions the PES team has made.
And it’s fair to say that PES 2013 does better FIFA in many areas. Its one-touch manual passing (activated with L2) is smart because it’s both entirely optional and also instantly deployable. That perfect throughball has never been so satisfying.
Many will likely bemoan PES 2013’s adaptation of the new FIFA 12 defending method (though not me – I loved it), but it’s implemented very well indeed. And while they’re tricky to learn, the basic set of offensive tricks are cleverly designed and potentially very effective, without ever descending into the flamboyant or absurd.
The option of taking control of the intended recipient for free kicks or corners is very smart – once you’ve tried it you’ll puzzle why we ever did it the old way. And team management is definitely a big improvement over its rival, allowing for effortless positional tweaking on the fly.
On the pitch the action is fluid is that typical PES way, with teammates making intelligent runs and balls zipping pleasingly from player to player. The use of R2 to tweak both ball control and dribbling is clever and offers the novice player an accessible route into the trickier side of the action.
If you’re a diehard PES fan then PES 2013 is going to absolutely delight. But even if you’re not, Konami’s game still warrants your attention.
Yes, the Master League has descended into somewhat of a (really quite obtusely Japanese) parody, the Premier League has a grand total of ONE licensed team, and we’re yet to try online, but the fundamentals of a great football game are very clear to see.