It’s not much to say that PES 2013 is an improvement on its predecessors. Each year has seen the once sporting superstar of the PS2 era make iterative improvements to its core systems, but must have felt inconsequential compared to the technical might of FIFA. However what separates Pro Evo from its rival – aside from those oh-so alluring official licences – is also its biggest flaw: an overreliance on theatrics.
That’s still very much the case in this year’s iteration – scripted sequences enabling a startling amount of impossible near-misses rattling off the crossbar in the space of a few minutes – but Konami’s major revisions in 2013 are the most dynamic improvements to the series to date. Firstly AI has more wits about it, making the entire team feel as vital to success rather than relying on one or two superstar players. New systems imbue passing, defence and shooting with more accuracy, introducing new tricks – flick ons, turning defenders, instant control – that announce PES 2013 as a much more technical game.
With the simplicity of days gone by now absent, the full training module included isn’t just a welcome addition but an essential exercise. You’ll need the practice to yield any strong results in Master League – an engaging twist on your standard league play – proving far from a doddle even playing as a top-tier club.
Graphically player likenesses have been improved across the board and there’s been much effort made to make animations feel credible, distancing itself from the archaic stiff shuffling that has been ever-present since the series’ beginning. Ultimately it still lacks the gloss, authenticity and slickness of FIFA, but PES 2013 equals its rival in terms of technical excellence, depth and sheer enjoyment. It has taken a few years too many to get there, but PES has finally returned to form.
Reviewed by Bryan Murray