Pro Evolution Soccer is currently going through a transitional phase. Unfortunately over the years the majority of gamers, myself included, fled to a competitor whom of which I will try not mention. But each year the gamers who once fled lace up their boots and grace the PES turf to
pray see whether or not it has returned to its former glory and title as the best football game around. Can Pro Evolution 2013 keep you running on its own turf?
One of the foundations of Pro Evolution Soccer is the gameplay, and while it hasn’t improved greatly since the Pro Evolution we all love and know, there have been some subtle improvements which progress the overall football experience. The player’s first touch is now more crucial than ever and with some correct timing and extra practice, you’ll be using the right trigger to its full potential. It’s also worth mastering the left trigger which allows you to pass the ball precisely in the direction of your choosing. This can be great for splitting a defence, or even when taking a shot on goal. It goes without saying that practice makes perfect, but in Pro Evolution you really get the feeling that you’re getting better with each game. This perhaps came down to the fact I was adjusting to a different style of football game from what I am used to playing: *must resist urge to say the name*.
After playing a few games and trying out the new additions to the gameplay it’s clear to see that Konami have nearly won me back. Just nearly though as nowadays gamers are more demanding and expect more than just sleek gameplay; and I’m no different. It’s hard to explain but there’s just something missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it. This isn’t helped with one of Konami’s main problems over the years; team licenses. No one wants to play as London Blue or Merseyside Red do they? And while the licenses are growing each year, it is extremely noticeable and takes the pizazz out of the game.
Without trying to contradict myself, one of the licenses Konami have managed to acquire over the years is the Champions League and the Copa Libertadores de America (South American equivalent). I love these two modes and while they are just glorified custom tournaments, nothing beats the teams entering the cauldron of a football stadium while the Champions League theme tune bellows out in the background. It sends chills down my spine, makes my hairs rise on my arms and it even has me sitting watching the full cut scenes pre-match, something that I usually try to skip.
The other modes available include the return of Master League (where you can build your own team over seasons to eventually a team of superstars, or at least that’s the aim), and Football Life. The latter has you start a career as a player/manager in South America or Europe with each season challenging you to make it through the respective leagues. You’ll also be able to experience the Champions League and Copa Libertadores de America here if your team is good enough. Throughout the season you are also challenged with signing players and being the manager of a top team. If you just want to play though and don’t want the stress of a being a manager (not that it’s that realistic) you can hand the reins over to your assistant coach who can sort out the mundane stuff. This can also be played in the ‘Become a Legend’ mode where you control and play as one player throughout the match.
One of the main things I was hoping Konami had sorted out was the online aspect of the game. You can play online Master League which I thought was pretty sweet however it just seems to take an eternity to find a game, and that goes for all online game modes. It seemed on numerous times entering numerous lobbies that the matches were either password protected so that friends can play friends, or it just wouldn't connect to the host of the game. Hopefully an update comes to sort these issues and it would be a decent alternative to offline.
Presentation wise there are some things that could be improved. I think it’s time the menu system received a complete overhaul. At present there's even an option to watch a full match where the computer will take on the computer for each mode in the game. Who does that? They could also do with changing the team selection area where you have to use an on screen mouse to select players and swap them with the players on the bench. It’s just a bit fiddly and unnecessary. Graphically though the game is great with the majority of players looking like their real life counterparts.
The atmosphere of the crowd reflects the action on the pitch with many chants supporting the team and the crowd going wild when a goal is scored. Pro Ev 2013 also features a cracking soundtrack with tracks from Rednek and Imagine Dragons to name a few. It just a shame the commentary is becoming dated and in need of a breath of fresh air. Jon Champion returns yet again and is joined by Jim Beglin in the commentary booth. I just found the commentary average at best and feel it could do with a complete change. I personally find Jon Champions voice a little grating on the ears and also noticed Jim Beglin seemed to repeat sayings quickly.
Overall Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 is a great step in the right direction for the series. There’s still plenty of areas that can be improved, specifically the online aspect of gaming, yet more licenses and the menu system could do with an overhaul, but if you’re looking for an alternative to *the other game*, or are a Pro Evolution Soccer loyal through and through, you will not be disappointed with what’s on offer here.
- A positive step for PES
- Champions League licence returns
- Improved gameplay
- Online setup seemed poor; delay in getting a game
- Still lack of team licences
- Still seems to be missing that something special