PlayStation 3 Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 -

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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

PlayStation 3 Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2013

How does PES stack up on the pitch this year?

FIFA, Pro Evo, FIFA, Pro Evo, FIFA... you get the point. For a good while now, these two soccer champs have hammered it out, fighting for top of the leaderboard with every entry from their respective series. The last few years have been good to Pro Evo, but with this year's FIFA 13 being tremendously good, will Pro Evo finally be relegated?
Firstly, if you're looking for an immersive, almost sim-like soccer (football) game like FIFA 13; then you're in the wrong place. What PES 2013 is, is a subtle blend of arcade intensity with controls that are deep enough to be at home in an arcade fighting game.
It is this odd combination that immediately makes PES 2013 more accessible than FIFA 13, as casual players can join in, make some ridiculous runs, and enjoy the thrills. The more rooted player has the chance to delve deep into the control system and learn how to heel-flick a pass over their shoulder and it genuinely is worth taking the time to learn and practise the on-the-ball skills, as it makes the experience far more rewarding.
Also present is PES Full Control.  This feature that gives players the ability to put the ball exactly where they want it on the pitch, at any height, speed, or direction is something that relies heavily on your skill levels.  
PES 2013 introduces a few subtle ways to receive the ball, including traps, gently lifting it past an attacker to run on to, or stopping the ball dead.  This ability for added control is best practised in the training mode, which you will need as these moves require a lot of practise (and patience). Once mastered, the game’s Deft Touch Dribbling mechanic allows players to control the ball with more precision at their player’s feet, allowing them to nutmeg goalies, skin opponents, or make better passing attempts.
Then there's the career mode, now named Master League. At a glance, it's pretty much the same mode as last year; you have your 32 man squad, backboned by a 30-strong youth team. You still choose the lineups, tactics, and formations, as well as have the deciding word on transfers and financial transactions. You even choose how you're represented in-game by creating your appearance, name, and nationality which then acts as kind of avatar for all press conferences.
If you played last year's PES, then you're probably thinking "well...that's the same as 2012..." and; you're be right. Where it differs is, would you believe, the boots. 
Yes. The boots.
Boots impact the quality of a players game, so the more matches you play, the better your chances of unlocking boots, which in turn give your players that little bit of extra accuracy or allow them to be faster on their feet. You can also, if you have the spare cash, attach three other items to players to improve their performance (three is the max). Perks, if you will. 
Whether one likes these changes will depend on who's playing, but myself; I am not a fan. It doesn't feel as though I am improving — it feels more like cheating. 
The AI isn't quite as good as FIFA 13, but, it is still reasonably smart most of the time.  Your actions, and your teammates' responses create a full and thorough experience on the pitch.
That is, it is thorough except for the looks.  This is not a bad looking game and the majority of the players do look like their real-life counterparts, but victory celebrations and various other animations feel flat and the crowds look, well, rubbish.
It might not have the deep sense of realism that FIFA 13 holds, but for a kick-about and the option of turning it into something a little more, PES 2013 is certainly a good way to go.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PC, PSP, PS Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Mobile Phone.

Article first published as PlayStation 3 Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 on Blogcritics.

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