Soccer isn’t called the “world game” on a whim. It is the biggest football code on the planet with fans and players hailing from all corners of the globe. The game is also the most popular video game in the ball sports genre, and with good reason. It is fun, has tactical depth and is usually pretty thrilling to play – and it's in the gameplay stakes that Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 on the Xbox 360 shines.
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Fans of the genre will love the direction this game is heading in. Pro Evolution Soccer may not always have had the best visuals or the current roster of teams or players, but this is one title where gameplay is king.
Pro Evolution Soccer 13 delivers fast paced play where precision and a constantly varied attack will yield dividends. You can’t just continually lob long bombs at your forward line and expect to score. Indeed if you do dare to take this sort of approach too regularly you will discover the computer controlled team is very adept at delivering a rapid rebound that often scores.
Instead you will want to switch between a flanking, passing game and making the occasional Ronaldo inspired run and dribbling past a few defenders. You will need to gauge the spread of defenders and work the ball, passing back to find space and eventually set up a great cross from the sidelines or a gap you can exploit head on. Patience and persistence is the key here.
While doing this you’ll notice that the humble art of introducing boot to ball has been given considerable polish. PES13’s new “Full Control” ball handling system really adds a few new layers to passing and even defending.
When pushing forward the duration of your button presses will help dictate how high your pass soars. This can be instrumental in helping you achieve a looping trajectory that arcs over defenders and hits the back of the net.
You can also now far more effectively trap or flick pass the ball forward, using a deft waggle of the joystick. Executing the perfect heel flick pass to set up a cross is something that requires true skill, but with the Full Control system it is also delightfully rewarding.
Thankfully the game lets you develop these skills in a tutorial mode. It is advisable to take this option as the new moves aren’t natural or easy at first. That said over time you’ll love the result, having mastered the system and developed quick skilled passing techniques. It can make Blitzkrieg like assaults on the front line of your opponent’s defenses quite effective and satisfying.
It is not only the art of booting the perfect pass that has been refined here either. Receiving passes has also been tweaked with PES13’s new player movement system. You won’t just be able to hammer passes forward and expect that your team mates will easily claim the incoming ball. If you miss-time the kick or don’t deftly pass the ball in a way that favors your forwards, you may well run the risk of an unwelcome interception.
The game now challenges you not only with the ability to execute passes with after touch, but to get your receivers into position of best control the ball. This adds another layer of skill to the process and again while it makes passing in the short term harder, the gameplay is more rewarding as a whole once you have achieved a certain degree of mastery.
Your opponents have also become more skilled and challenging. Variety and flexibility in attack is definitely the key as opposing defenders will get a feel for you approach if it is too consistent and you will be shut out. For the player defense has been rendered more satisfying as it is easier to now push for an interception or try and cut off an incoming ball by stalking the receiver.
You won’t have to opt for the late desperate slide tackle to steal the ball as much as you had to in previous games and this development helps the PES13 feel more balanced. As a consequence defending can be more enjoyable and rewarding. You won’t just feel like you are being teased in huge, televised game of “keepings-off.”
As you would have gathered from above PES13 is all about deft game play. Even though the graphical garnishing isn’t quite as impressive as rivals like FIFA, PES13 is still a decent looker. The visuals are workmanlike, yet effective, with smooth player animations, plenty of colorful stadiums and some nice lighting effects.
PES13 will reward you handsomely if you don’t mind putting in a bit of work early and learning how to use the new tools at your disposal. The game delivers a nice blend of serious sport with a few nods to arcade accessibility.
Gizmag Rating 8/10
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