Pro Evolution Soccer, or Winning Eleven as it's known in Japan and North America, has been a staple in sports video games since the mid-90s, when it set the standard for realistic sports simulation. The series dropped off the mark earlier this generation as its competitor, EA Sports’ FIFA series, took the mantle as the must-have football game on the market. Now, after a modest last few entries, PES 2013 is a redesigned ‘Winning Eleven’ experience, turning to community feedback to overhaul its gameplay mechanics.
Check out FullControl gameplay in action!
The result? The new FullControl and Player ID systems, while not especially easy to grasp, take the series in a whole new direction, and seemingly for the better. The gameplay is smooth but tough, making scoring a challenge but certainly more rewarding. The most obvious difference is that PES 2013 doesn’t feel quite as “arcadey” as last year’s game, which seemed to take a page out of FIFA’s book of accessibility rather than create an experience of its own. With PES 2013 the game returns to its root, dictating precise passing, perfectly timed through-balls and clean shots, making for a satisfying football gaming experience.
Check out PlayerID AI contro in action!
Players seem lighter yet also have an added sense of stiffness, a nice balance compared to last year’s games where player controller was inconsistent and unpredictable; a quick turn now not only looks realistic but feels realistic, while sprinting with the ball is neither overdone or underdone, making for quick bursts of speed that aren’t quite fast enough to pull away from an opponent but are enough to keep the player ahead with some advantage.
PES games over the last few years didn’t quite feel like the original Winning Eleven games from last generation. I was admittedly one of those obsessed gamers that would import the Japanese version of the franchise, just to be that wannabe cool guy with the different boxart and commentary. Believe it or not, PES was once the dominant football title going around, at least in the early years of the 00s. That quality decimated over the years, and the series didn’t dictate quite the same amount of skill and delicate execution, but I’m happy to report that PES 2013 seems like a big step in the right direction: it’s tough, punishing, rewarding and frustrating, elements I think are important for any sports game to offer that true sense of realistic competitive gaming, be it against the AI or friends.
Most impressive about the game’s mechanics is the level of precision needed to pull them off: while the mapping of a full manual shot seems simple (L2+left analog square), you need to manage it with time, speed and precision, all without getting tackled by an opponent. In actually trying to pull off one of these “full control” maneuvers it’s easy to see just how deep the gameplay can get. While you can try for a simple, quick shot at the goals, you’ll rarely get the ball past the relentless AI-controlled keeper, and the manual shots seem like a far more appealing proposition going forward. They’re no easy feat to pull off, though, and this is what makes PES 2013
feel tougher and more real than it has in previous years. It seems like the PES
development team has refined the manual controls for the better.
If one thing stands out about PES 2013
, it’s that it truly feels like a game for the “hardcore”: in being less reliant on basic mechanics and more focused on manual controls, gamers are encouraged to experiment with the game’s control offerings, expanding how you interact with your team and hit the back of the net. Furthermore, with things like “Response Defending” -- which allows you to pressure the ball handler and tackle more efficiently, among other things -- scoring doesn’t need to be at the forefront of your strategic gameplay, which gives the game a more rounded and balanced football feel.
By Gaetano Prestia