A long-awaited evolution of Pro Evolution?
Without delving into a long-winded missive on the transition of power between rival sports franchises, Pro Evolution Soccer has arguably been on the backfoot compared to its competitor in certain regards for some time. That's not to say that it's been downright awful for the past few years, but it's not quite on the level of its magical PS2 era predecessors.
Konami wants to change that with PES 2013. You may have noticed some of those changes with the recently released demo. We've been toying with a slightly more advanced build than what you're playing at home right now. Here's our initial thoughts on the game-in-progress...
2013: The Year of First Touch Tweaks
From the get-go, PES 2013s first touch feels phenomenally better than in PES 2012. The bounciness of ball physics feels like a solid counterbalance to a heavier ball in past games. Theres a sound buoyancy that offers the same level of chaos and tactical foresight seen in Konamis usual sports rival. The flicks have been refined so that with a click of the right stick, you can pop the ball up. Weve been unable to stop chirping boop! every time the ball bounces up for a volleyed shot. This is a good Benchmark of Fun.
We didnt know just how much wed appreciate those revamped ball physics until we started playing with them. We popped in PES 2012 for posterity. That didnt last long. The additions and refinements to touch are much more intuitive and fun to incorporate than anything weve seen in a PES title in many years.
The physicality feels better
Its not just about players sticking feet out for a stop. On more than one occasion in our playthroughs, we felt a strong sense of physical play. Players dont just tackle opponents off the ball, they will collide to take them off, quite jarringly. The best analogy? Its like driving a car and taking your hands off the wheel, momentarily. Even if youre late on the tackle button, theres a good chance that if youre controlling a big bruiser, you may win the ball back, regardless. Just play cautiously. Too many bumps off the ball and the refs whistle will start getting a workout.
AI is better at knowing where to be, but not always
Although at times, the Konami-touted ProActiveAI had some mental flatulence during our playtime, it feels like the linkup between players is more intuitive. Teammates know where to be, mostly at the right time to link up a pass. Combine that smarter AI with last years off-the-ball improvements and the (still ergonomically awkward) R3/right stick CPU runs, and the overall PES experience feels fantastic. PES 2012 was a game that offered some good additions, but undermined itself via other means. So far, this game feels like it clicks much more than past titles.
But... the tutorial is awfully idiosyncratic
PES 2013 feels really smooth to play, but with the number of revamped maneuvers, youll absolutely need a run through the tutorial mode. Unfortunately, its typically PES-obtuse in the most uncharming way. By that, we mean that the introduction of new movesets feels somewhat stilted and confining. If you miss the third step of a three-step maneuver, itd be nice to re-watch the tutorial videos from where youre making a mistake. At other times, the instructions could be clearer about what the game wants you to do, and how (a video with where to press and move a stick isnt enough when AI defenders are breathing down your neck as you try) it really wants you to do it. On more than one occasion, it felt like we cleared a section through sheer luck more than skill.
We dont like to play backseat developers, but some sort of early/perfect/late meter to get the timing right for certain moves would be immense. As it stands (and given the course of Konamis tutorials for PES), this will likely be the tutorial mode youll experience in the final product at least, the lions share of it. Although some of the sections will prove maddening to clear.
Now that you have the demo...
Tell us: What do you think of PES 2013 based on your play time with the demo? Is it clicking for you? Do you feel like the action is leaps and bounds above last year's game? What are you happy about? What do you wish it had more of?
Let us know in the comments! We want to know what you think.