Xbox 360 Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2013

Does Konami score an own goal this year?

The war for football gaming supremacy kicks off once again this year with the classic war of FIFA versus Pro Evo and the battle is as fierce as ever. Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 seems to put the series back on the map after a few years of falling behind EA’s franchise, but can the licensing issues be overlooked?

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve played a football game of any kind, surprisingly considering what an avid fan I am of the sport, which is why I was dismayed when I booted up PES 2013 and not find my team as an option, nor does the Premier League exist within the menus, instead you get a few made-up teams and tournaments like the Champions League/Europa League to tackle, although I did find it curious that Man Utd was an option and yet no other real English clubs made the cut.

Ok so let’s leave that to one side and talk about the gameplay, PES 2013 feels very different to the football games I’ve played in the past; it’s still got that arcade feel to it, but yet the precision controls have stepped up a considerable notch, essentially putting the direction and speed that you pass entirely in your hands, so you can’t blame basics like poor AI or bad hit detection because you only have yourself to blame when it all goes wrong, and you can feel really damn good when it goes well and you bury a shot in the back of the bet from far out.

Selecting options in the menu is a lot easier than in FIFA games that I’ve played in the past, it’s more simplistic and follows the concept of “less is more”, which I mentioned in a previous sports review for NHL 13 that failed to do so, now PES 2013 is rough around the edges and FIFA has had the advantage over the past few years, but this year’s PES can take a lot away from it and really push to topple it in next year’s edition.

Basic things like poor animations and average commentary just hold the game back from true greatness, but on the other hand I think both Pro Evo and FIFA appeal to different types of football fans. FIFA is more about licenses, control and overall presentation while Pro Evo is unpredictable, faster and tougher to play, it’s hard to compare them when the fundamentals of their formula are as different as this, but PES 2013 tries to tackle FIFA at the control angle and ultimately does very well in doing so, but FIFA does still have the upper hand when it comes to the visuals and sadly, the licenses. Having said that, the career mode in PES 2013 is simply amazing and I highly recommend it.

The Verdict

Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 seems like a much needed improvement for the franchise, but the lack of licenses and visual improvement still gives FIFA the edge, but only just. The controls for PES have evolved greatly this year and it has a great career mode. Football fans should really try out both to see what works better for you…