Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 – Review

A review of Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 I wrote for the website

One of the main things that video games shares with football is the tribalism; my team/console is better than your team/console. It seems apt then that one of the biggest examples of this is FIFA versus Pro Evolution Soccer. Each year they get released, each year the fanboys line up behind one of them. So where should you put your money this year?

Historically, PES was always the better football game up until about five years ago when FIFA really improved itself. This coincided with the rise of X-Box Live and the online modes pulled players across from PES to FIFA. It didn’t help that PES took it’s eye off the ball, excuse the pun, and was never quite able to recapture it’s glory days on the PlayStationOne.

This year the gap has narrowed considerably. The game engine has been refined making it a pleasure to play. There is a detailed training mode to help new players pick up the moves, although that does swing from helpful to painfully annoying with alarming regularity. PES has the usual cup and league modes, not all of them licensed which is the perennial black mark against PES when compared to FIFA. That game has all of the licences and a few more that you didn’t realise existed whilst PES players have to put up with Man Blue and made up player names.

But that has always been the case with PES and it never mattered because it always delivered on the pitch. And this year PES is getting that swagger back, it feels tighter and a lot more enjoyable than in previous years.

PES still has it’s Master League mode, which is an in depth league where you build up your club, transfer in players and develop your youth team. If that isn’t enough you can live through the career of a single player having to play as part of a team which is an interesting variant of the main game.

The game has also pulled up it’s online socks this year feeling much more stable. You can also connect PES to your Facebook account to share results and so forth however this is just on the PC at the moment and should be on the consoles shortly. There have been a few teething troubles with the online system thanks to Data Packs causing crashes and downtime whilst the servers are fixed. It may just be teething trouble but this is always the gamble you take with playing online. The best way to play PES with friends is and always will be on the same sofa. That way you can really rub the goal celebrations in each other’s faces with impunity.

So, should you buy PES over FIFA? That’s a difficult question. If you’re a FIFA die hard then nothing the game will ever do will bring you over. It’s like asking a Liverpool fan to start supporting Man Utd, it’s never going to happen. But if you fancy playing a great football game and don’t care about the names then PES should be high up on your list.

Four stars out of five

Originally published October  22nd 2012

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