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E3 2012: Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 Preview

Forging a new ID?

Take a quick look at Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 (PES 2013) and you’ll probably come away with the impression that it’s a re-skinned version of last year’s effort. Given that Konami hasn’t made any dramatic changes to the engine, no-one would blame you either. However, once you pick up the pad and delve into the game yourself, it soon comes apparent that PES 2013 is a different beast entirely.

Without putting on the rose tinted glasses, it’s a similar situation to the PlayStation 2 era, where each iteration of PES appeared to be identical to the last in terms of visuals. However, it was a totally different story when you stepped onto the virtual pitch yourself. The more matches you played, the more you noticed the changes compared to last year’s version. It resulted in you slightly adjusting your style of play, but eventually you embraced the differences and enjoyed the game just as much as its predecessor, sometimes even more.

At a basic level, the above is probably the best way to describe PES 2013 in its current state. That said, it’s a description that doesn’t do the new features and changes justice. Whilst the visuals aren’t a massive step up when compared to PES 2012, the on-pitch action most definitely is. Trailers and press releases can only tell you so much about the likes of “Player ID” and “PES FullControl”, it’s playing a few matches that makes you aware of their impact on PES 2013′s gameplay.

Throughout the years, PES has managed to replicate player individuality quite well, but the introduction of “Player ID” seems to have elevated the overall quality to another level. As you’d expect, the traits of star attacking players such as Ronaldo, Xavi, Ozil, Iniesta and Kaka will stand out the most. Whether it’s the way they move with the ball at their feet or their iconic goal celebrations, PES 2013 mimics each action rather impressively. It’s not all about the attacking players either, as both defenders and goalkeepers have been lavished with some “Player ID” attention too. This includes the way Barcelona’s Puyol lunges for the ball when trying to dispossess an opponent, replicating his “on edge” style of defending in PES 2013 very well. Even the way Casillas comes out of his goal to catch a ball is present, further highlighting Konami’s desire to deliver an authentic as possible experience. The animations applied to some of these traits, whether it be Ronaldo’s running style or the way Iniesta intricately turns, are also quite impressive.

It’s these players that usually stand out when you watch a match on TV, so it makes perfect sense that PES 2013 is aiming to do exactly that. The only worry would be that players such as Ronaldo and Iniesta could become overpowered with the introduction of “Player ID”, but it seems like Konami has managed to keep play balanced in the early code. It’s a passive ability (or feature, if you will), which means you can’t really spam it. Rather than activate yourself manually, it happens naturally dependent on the player who is in control of the ball. Yes, if you’re a good player, you’ll be able to get the most out of the ability, but thankfully defending isn’t a mystery like PES 2012, which means you will be able to combat these players to a certain degree.

Hold the X button (PlayStation 3) and you’ll track the player with the ball, keeping your distance until you feel the need to tackle. Pressing R2 in conjunction with X will apply pressure, on most occasions hurrying the opposing player into make a decision. When you do want to tackle a simple double tap of X is required, with the timing of your button presses being key to actually winning the ball. It’s a system that works well, complimenting the attacking side of the PES 2013 and giving you the tools to combat the talents of attacking players. Not only that, but it highlights the “Player ID” aspects of star defenders such as Puyol, Ramos and Pique. It might not be immediately obvious, but the system also allows you to play the defensive style of your choice. Playing against Barcelona and want to get stuck in a little? You can do exactly that by applying lots of pressure and pestering the star players with challenges.

Fully manual shooting and passing is another major new addition to PES 2013, doing exactly what it says on the tin. However, the implementation of the feature isn’t exactly the most intuitive. The current code requires you to press L2 in conjunction with the shoot and pass buttons to perform a fully manual version of each action. It’s an awkward way of going down the manual route, introducing a needless extra button press when an option in the control settings would suffice. To add to that, to perform a manual low shot, you have to press L2 and triangle, which is a baffling decision when you consider the shoot button is actually square. Why not just put low shot at the beginning of the pressure sensitive spectrum when you press the shoot button? It’s the simplest and most intuitive option, rather than pressing another button entirely. Hopefully Konami realise the error of their ways before the game is released, as the manual shooting and passing featured in PES 2013 is actually really good. You have full control over where the ball goes, which means initially you’ll be misplacing passes and hitting shots near the corner flag as you attempt to release yourself from old habits. When you do get used to it, the satisfaction gained from completing a fully manual long pass or smashing home a shot is just amazing.

Beyond the improved passing (lofted passes in particular), shooting (much better than PES 2012, more weighty), AI runs and “Player ID”, the most impressive aspect of PES 2013 is the Deft Touch Dribbling. Again, it allows the star players to shine and show off their unique styles, but it’s the element of class it brings to the play that is most impressive. Performed by holding R2, players who understand its intricacies will find it to be an incredible tool for creating space and occasionally beating a defender or two. You don’t have to be in control of Ronaldo or Messi either, as smaller players likes Iniesta, Xavi and Ozil benefit from this feature too. It’s a fantastic feature, one you can only really full grasp when you play PES 2013 itself. Throw the Dynamic First Touch system into the mix and the on-pitch action gets even more interesting. Depending on the type of pass you receive you can attempt to control the ball exactly how you want. You’ll get mixed results depending on the control option you go for, but it’s another string in PES 2013′s realistic bow. Fancy trapping a long pass perfectly? Tap R2 and you can attempt to do exactly that, but you’re timing will need to be spot on if you’re going to be successful. Maybe you want to flick the ball as you receive it and beat the man near you. Sure, you can try and do that too. Press R3 as you receive the ball and the player you’re controlling will try it, but (again) timing is everything if you want to fully succeed. Even the AI will take advantage of the aforementioned features, occasionally making you look silly with a first touch flick over your head if you time a challenge poorly.

Headline features aside, Konami are placing great emphasis on improving the fundamentals too. Goalkeepers have been a bit of an Achilles’ heel for the last two years, but it seems like PES 2013 will do its very best to rectify that. Even at this early stage goalkeepers are much improved when compared to PES 2012. They not only exhibit occasional unique personal styles, but they catch the ball more often and attempt to push the ball away from the box where possible. Punches were more effective too, with the ball  travelling longer distances rather than falling into danger areas, resulting in annoying rebound goals. Referees also seem slightly improved, making more realistic decisions and being quite consistent overall.

It’s hard to completely judge PES 2013 at this early stage, as Konami are bound to make plenty of tweaks and changes before the full release. As far as first impressions go though, the fact that it left yours truly and many others wanting go back for just one more game speaks volumes. Make no mistake about it, on a visual level it’s essentially the same as its predecessor, but on the pitch (where it matters) PES 2013 is so different. It’s more open, more considered and (importantly) much more fun. There are a few niggles that need to be ironed out before release, especially the implementation of manual passing and shooting. However, if it lives up to the potential and promise shown at E3 2012, PES…no, football fans have reason to be excited when PES 2013 is released later this year.

Join the discussion
  • Morten

    Thanks for the write up. How was the sound and the general atmosphere during the games? Konami promised they would improve this aspect of the game – but have they? :)

    • Asim Tanvir

      It was hard to hear exactly the commentary and crowd during matches due to the E3 environment we were in, so I can’t really give an opinion there. However, myself and Gari will be playing the game again soon, I’ll be sure to report back.

  • Roberto

    I agre with Asapien, visuals are VERY important ie; nets/lighting/stadiums/the pitch,but,all I read from your write up is more buttons to press if you want to shoot WTF!
    This will be my last PES buy if it is the same crap as last year
    and I will go over to the dark side of FIFA because they have really got it going on.

  • Redskull

    Yeah NGB team well done and well done to Asim for the write up!!!!!! very detailed and i’m glad you broke down the response defending!!!! as i’ve been saying before its not only the communities that are getting excited but its the press and media as well!!! and it would be lovely if Konami could put the manual shooting and passing as a preset option rather than pressing L2 all the time, just like Gran Turismo i always like to drive manual XD, also thats a learning curve that i don’t wont to learn!!! i hope the WENB guys stress that to Konami or are surprised that Konami included it in the next code but yeah looking forward to the next game test impressions and answers to the questions we posted ( admitting that there’s quite a few so i doubt they will all be answered)

    • Asim Tanvir

      Thanks, Redskull. Yes, the positive vibes are coming from the press/media this year too, not just community, which is great.

  • Pjshj88

    Player ID osunds amazing. This is the way of the future. Complete individuality of all players.

  • Pingback: PES 2013 E3 Code Impressions | Daily Gaming Network

  • aa1to

    Well developed player individuality compined with team individuality and identity (i.e. correct stadiums for all primera division teams through DLC) makes for a possibly great atmosphere in this game. Gameplay improvements and overall development focus sounds really promising.

  • B6002

    “It’s hard to completely judge PES 2013 at this early stage” We keep hearing this for the last five years, i think PES 2013 will do like the other previous games, failure.

    • Asim Tanvir

      I hope that’s not the case, B6002, as PES 2013 has shown incredible potential at this early stage.

  • Dragonbeard

    Hi Asim,

    That made for a good read mate! You covered the fundamentals of the current code and delved into more detail, where others had not. You also weren’t shy to give constructive criticism where it was needed.

    I hope you are able to get your thoughts, points across to Konami, especially regarding a more intuitive manual system for passing/shooting.

    Quick question(s) about real-time action during gameplay for PES2013. Last year, be it through mistakes in the final code or the shear amount of patches that were applied, bogging down certain gameplay features, but quick-freekicks never worked.

    Sure the whistle would blow, the players would shape for a quick freekick and even re-position, but then the game would freeze and you would just get a cut-scene back to the standard free kick scenario, where player positions had all been reset. In other words, there was no way to take advantage of players out of position!

    Don’t think I’ve seen this particular area covered in any write-up as yet and was very curious to find out.

    On another note, but also related, are the real-time thrown-ins still intact from PES2012 & have there been any additions, such as keepers placing the ball on the 6-yard box before taking a goal-kick. Not that I truly believe the latter has been implemented in this iteration, but just like to clarify.

    • Asim Tanvir

      Thanks for the comment, Dragonbeard. Good question, it’s something that can slip away amongst the new features, so thanks for asking. Quick free-kicks worked fine when I had the opportunity to use them (only around 5 or 6 from what I remember), this means no black screen. I will pay closer attention to this when I next play it though.

      In regards to real-time throw-ins, they still seem to be the same as PES 2012, no major changes.

  • 3nRi

    does shooting fell more like in pes2011 (i m talking about power) were you in able to score a longshot

    • Asim Tanvir

      I didn’t score one, as I was using manual shooting (does take a while to get used to), but did take a few and they felt great. Like I said in the preview, the shots have real weight to them, which was a real complaint last year.

  • maverick

    Have to agree with B6002, more unnecessary changes instead of improving the errors from the previous year. PES 2011 only needed a couple of things to be fixed, Goalkeepers and AI and maybe the ball physics, instead the game was revamped creating more bugs. Same thing year in, year out, one step forward followed by two steps back in the development process.

    Another thing, if Konami really wanted to win the fans back they would upgrade their servers. The amount of lag during a game compared to FIFA is diabolical. They have 200,000 users online at one time, compared Konami’s 20,000. Honestly, I have fibre connection and most of the time its like using 56k modem. Every other game there no lag issues what so ever.

    This is the 21st Century and its all about online gaming, seriously Konami you need to fix up.

    • Asim Tanvir

      Totally agree, maverick. Online is something I have been talking about for a while now, and it has been fed back to Konami. One can only hope they deliver when it comes to online in PES 2013.

  • Manu

    +1 @maverick

  • Martin

    Any impression yet of Master League?
    Will they drop the cutscenes, and constant nagging of “why aren’t you playing me?”?
    What about a return of post match performance/stat growth? That was one of the pleasures and feedback that I missed A LOT in 2012…

    And finally training… OMG training… How dull it became in 2012… Individual player training, training for cards?

    I dont see any info anywhere on this… Nadda, zilch, squat…

    • Asim Tanvir

      Thanks for the question, Martin. Nothing regarding Master League yet, as it is still very early. Expect Master League impressions when we get preview code, which should be around August time. At this moment in time, Konami are focused on showing off the new gameplay.

  • HoB

    Nice read.

    Disagree about manual passing and shooting though – having a menu option (as seems to be the case) is fine if people want the equivalent of taping L2 down, but the manual modifier itself really has to stay. It gives you the best of both worlds, being able to instinctively and intuitively pass in tight spaces as with modern football, while also allowing you the freedom to weight and direct a pass to your own liking when an assisted pass would likely choose the wrong path. If you haven’t been using it in PES 2011/12 you’ve been missing out on something very useful indeed.

    I can’t speak for shooting as I haven’t tried it yet, but I certainly can for passing. It’s far better, far more expressive, far more realistic even, to have assisted AND manual passing, rather than assisted OR manual. I don’t find it any harder to use than the precision shot, or initiating a 1-2, or playing a lobbed through ball. And to be honest, it’s unlikely that people who want to use manual passes (all the time or just occasionally) are going to find holding L2/LT adds any complexity. From the sounds of the stuff you can then do with the right stick it’ll be the least of their worries!

    So many times I’ve cursed FIFA for not having both, as someone who alternates between semi and manual controls.

    • Asim Tanvir

      Howdy Chris. I see where you’re coming from and, my opinion aside, I think both options should be included in the final game. I know quite a few players would like the manual passing and shooting as a setting (bars or whatever), whereas some would like the modifier. Giving the players options is never a bad thing really, and that’s what I hope Konami ultimately do.

  • ZadoTSR

    I totally hated pes 2011, it had too many flaws in my opinion, sold it after a week, bought 2012 n still have it but I seldom play it because of a host of factors ie:
    -Ball physics(no consistency in ball behaviour between passing n shooting. Needs better ball physics not a patch.)
    -Lack of balance between attackers and defender. Too attack minded.
    -Lack of sense of control over ur players esp in defense, defenders move out of the way of CPU attackers, they refuse to jump n let attackers get the ball.
    -Pitiful animations (can be solved with better game engine plus the addition of player id).
    - Bad collision system, players moving through each other ( needs next gen engine n physics). This is important for defenders.
    - Players making Ilogical movements esp when playing against CPU, some that are superhuman. (seems to have been addressed in 2013, we will see)
    -All these are problems were the few i could think off carried over from pes 2011to 2012. Both 2011 n 2012 lacked stability, I hope Konami fixes the stability issues of this engine so as to deliver the best game possible for pes 2013 because at the end of the day 13′s predecessors failed because of these issues n stability.
    In my opinion pes 2010 is the best of their next gen games despite its flaws, match scripting issues n ifrerior animations, it’s a more stable platform that allows the player to do anything they can imagine whilst attacking n defending. It was a more balanced out game.
    I hope pes 2013 is stable n gives us all it promises, but Konami should seriously start working on a next gen physics engine for this franchise. With this limited engine they can go toe to toe with FIFA, imagine what they cud achieve with a superior engine.

  • lampy10

    killer preview! Love how you hit all the key areas so quickly and to the point. I’m very excited. For me, I still play PES 6 as my go to game. Though I do appreciate several of the next gen elements. Was curious if the ball predictability and movement feels more organic in PES 2013 then the last PES games? Is it more similar to PES 5 or 6 in that in those games anything could happen. It feels like the ball is completely separate from the players, so the ball can take any sort of bounce. Even if I try and pass a defender and I over dribble for example, it could in theory hit off the defender’s shin and still fall right back to me. PES 5 and PES 6 always had this sorta unscripted elements to things. I haven’t seen that since those games, rarely does the ball fall in completely natural and organic ways all over the pitch, bounces, deflections, etc.. IS THAT BACK IN PES 2013 based on your playing, can sorta anything happen? Or do you feel the next gen engine no matter how far konami push it, is just a different engine that doesn’t really allow this and that’s that?

    thanks mate!


    • Asim Tanvir

      Thanks for the comment, lampy10. Yes, ball movement is more organic, as in it is a separate entity from the player. There is definitely an element of unpredicatably in a good way, if that makes sense. In terms of the engine, different topic of discussion, but the current engine creaking a little, as it is being pushed to its limits.

  • Dazza

    Keepers still got gardening gloves on I see

  • ZadoTSR

    Is it possible to play several games in pes 2013 that would end with a 0 – 0 score, or with u shutting out the opponent (ESP CPU players)? It was almost impossible in pes 2012, infact most games would end with rugby scores. What’s ur take on the defensive aspects of this game?

    • Asim Tanvir

      Yes, it most certainly is. You can do a Chelsea and set your self up to keep out the opposition and play a cautious, counter attacking game. The improved defensive side of the game (which I talk about in the preview) helps greatly when it comes to this, allowing you to play to your defensive strengths or just play a Madrid style “nasty” style.

  • vice

    any info regarding the online world, more precisely are they finally getting rid of the nonsensical region restrictions? as you know, right now if you live in western hemisphere, you can only play against similarily-located gamers. i would enjoy playing against someone from england for a change. maybe there’d be a lesser chance of his picking barca or real. relatedly, are they addressing that issue as well?

    • Asim Tanvir

      The only word (well, mainly) regarding online at the moment is that there should be less or no lag due to the slower pace of the game. Obviously, your connection and your opponent’s will still play a part is the overall stability. I understand where you’re coming from though, it would be nice to play against people from other regions. I will feed this back to Konami, thanks for the comment.

  • Benayoun_15

    Hey mate ,

    Do you know if it’s possible to play with a club like Santos against European teams?
    I really want to play with Neymar\Ronaldinho against my friends who would probably won’t play with the Libertadores clubs.

    • Asim Tanvir

      Will check for you and let you know asap.