Pro Evolution Soccer 2013
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
UK Price (as reviewed): £36.00 Incl. VAT
US Price (as reviewed): $59.96 Excl. Tax
Pro Evolution Soccer used to be the game for 'proper' football fans, the one with a sense of nuance and flow, the one that placed fluid gameplay over trifling things like official licenses, the one where playing as London FC instead of Chelsea didn't matter thanks to an understanding of what gives the beautiful game its name.
But in the last few years PES's attempts to evolve and build on what made the series great failed to keep up with the strides made by FIFA – in terms of both gameplay and presentation. Each year Konami would add new 'revolutionary' features, claiming the upcoming iteration would be its best yet, a 'return to its roots', and every year they failed to deliver.
PES 2012 made a decent stab at emerging from FIFA's shadow, but was still let down by erratic keepers, passing that often felt scripted, illogical off-ball runs and a ball that acted unnaturally, seemingly attached to your player's feet by invisible string.
With PES 2013 Konami once again promises a dramatic improvement in gameplay, placing the burden on three new features: PES FullControl, ProActiveAI and PlayerID. And whaddya know? This year's features don't just ignore type spacing and the rules of capital letter usage, this year they actually deliver on Konami's promise and address the major problems that have mired the series' last few efforts.
PES FullControl does exactly what you'd hope – puts full control in the hands of the player. Passing and shooting is manual, letting you control power, direction and trajectory every time the ball leaves a player's feet. Hold left trigger and a small arrow over the player with the ball shows where it will go, letting you aim passes directly to your intended recipient, signaling an end to attacking movements cut short by the game misjudging your intentions. You can also choose players to send on runs and control movement of the player off the ball during one-twos.
The ball’s movements have also been drastically overhauled - no more string and a lot less predictability. This means your first touch has never been so important in a football game, and you can now choose to trap the ball with RT, flick it up for a volley by clicking the right analogue, or knock it on with a jab of the right stick. It’s a simple addition but one that brings an extra sense of autonomy to attacks, allowing you to create space and slow down play at the touch of a button, keeping defenders guessing while keeping control squarely in the player’s hands.