Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 (PS3)

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The problem with reviewing a football simulation game like FIFA or PES is that the one will always be compared with the other and there will be just as many apologists for one as there are foes of the other. I have heard a lot of these arguments over the last few days and, quite frankly, I have to ask: Who really cares?

PES 2013 Screenshot 1

It’s like the arguments between Apple and Samsung, Star Wars and Star Trek, Xbox and PlayStation, and so many more. My view is that they are both great games and if you like one better than the other, play it, or play the other one. Either way, you’ve got a fantastic football simulator that’s challenging, competitive and a great deal of fun to play.

I was very excited to take on the task of reviewing PES 2013 as I have played quite a few football simulators in the past and I was eager to see what the developers at Konami had come up for this year’s edition, and I was not disappointed.

PES 2013 Screenshot 2

The core to PES 2013 is, of course, playing football and competing against an AI opponent, against your friends or against the world in online. It therefore follows that the key elements of the game is the control and the gameplay. To begin playing the game I always recommend that you start with direct football, which means that you tackle, dribble, run, pass, cross and shoot. Don’t worry about fancy skills moves until you have the basics right. Believe me, most games are won just using these basic skills as opposed to using stopovers, nutmegs, sombreros, feints and knock-ons.

Once you have the basics mastered and you are winning a lot more than you are losing, you can then start learning the skill moves. PES 2013 offers a very nice tutorial for learning these tricks and you learn them against an actual opponent instead of just by yourself. Admittedly, getting the tutorial right is a challenge in itself, but once you have it, you can practice as much as you need to and add the tricks to your arsenal of footie awesomeness.

Mastering all the moves is incredibly difficult and I normally focus on four or five which seem to be enough to win most (if not all) of the games. The diversity of the moves is incredible, and once mastered (it takes a lot of practice), you can utterly bamboozle your AI and online opponents. Once mastered, the tricks are very satisfying to pull off.

PES 2013 Screenshot 3

One of the biggest drawbacks of PES 2013 is the fact that Konami hasn’t secured complete licences with many of the major clubs and players. In fact, of the English Premiership, the game is only licensed to use the names of Manchester United. They do have quite a few teams licensed (this includes the whole Brazilian league) but there are some glaring absences which, to me, detracts from the game.

There are quite a few game modes and I won’t discuss them all but I will mention a few of the modes that I really enjoy. Suffice to say, there is a very wide range of modes that are available to you, both in singleplayer, multiplayer and online formats. Some of my personal favourites are include ‘Performance Training,’ which is where you can enhance your skills and practice one-on-one with an opponent. This is quite a nice change to the game and you can not only practice your moves, but you can also perfect your timing and measure the effectiveness of the move. Once again, I must reiterate that there are a lot of moves to learn and they are very difficult to perfect – getting them right is very satisfying, though.

PES 2013 Screenshot 4

Going online to compete with friends and other players throughout the world is also a favourite feature of PES 2013, allowing me to prove my supremacy to all comers. As usual, the skill level of opponents in online mode is very diverse so be prepared to suffer a few setbacks as you begin your journey. Stick with it, however, and soon you’ll be playing in the big leagues.

PES 2013 continues Konami’s exclusive agreement with the UEFA Champions League, but this does highlight the licensing issue that I spoke about earlier. It’s all well and good that they have the license to use the Champions League name, but with many of the big names missing it feels like a bit of a watered down version of the tournament. There are enough teams to enjoy this game mode, however, and it’s very challenging and enjoyable – this trophy is still one of the more impressive in the world of soccer.

PES 2013 Screenshot 5

The ‘Become a Legend’ mode of PES 2013, however, is my personal favourite, allowing me to develop a player from a raw youth fighting for his place in the lower leagues into an international superstar. This game mode does require a lot of commitment and you are looking at the potential of playing hundreds of games. This mode gives you a very good view of what it takes to become a success in the very ruthless and cut-throat world of soccer.

I must admit that I got quite into this mode and found myself getting quite grumpy when the gaffer left me off the starting line up. And then when the team loses. They wouldn’t have lost if I had been playing! Wake up Mr. Manager dude! Anyway, this format is great fun and it’s quite amazing at the exhilaration you feel when you get your first international call up, or become a regular on the team sheet.

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PES 2013 has very few flaws. The gameplay is smooth and very realistic and I would say that the play is a bit more realistic than FIFA 13. There are a few glitches here and there, but these are definitely not enough to detract from the overall playing experience. Personally I am grateful that we have two fantastic franchises in PES and FIFA that are inspiring each other to deliver better and better football simulations.

Having played both FIFA 13 and PES 2013, I am loath to recommend one over the other. I think they are both fantastic games and each has a lot of merit. Yes, there will be things in each game that annoy you (like the length of time it takes for a substitution in FIFA 13 or the fact that the training mode in PES doesn’t tell you what you are doing wrong and makes you repeat a move over and over till you get it right), but each game is a fantastic purchase.

I highly recommend PES 2013 to any football fan or to any gamer who enjoys a challenge that you can really sink your teeth into. Get it, play it, love it!