With this generation of consoles potentially drawing to a close, the Pro Evolution Soccer series had a chance to end it on a high note. Unfortunately, it continues its recent run of irrelevance with another subpar entry.
In PES 13, Konami has once again hidden its game behind a bunch of redundant and unhelpful menus. Rarely do you see a game pay so use so much text and menus and yet say so little of use.
The new Master League is an attempt to match up with FIFA‘s Ultimate Team mode, allowing you to purchase upgrades and equipment for players to improve your team incrementally the more you play it. It’s a very helpful mechanism for improving weak teams quickly, but it can also make good teams unstoppable.
In a sports game, though, it always returns to the gamplay, regardless of anything else. That’s also where PES 13 fails the most. The action is at points stilted, and at times fluid. There are two ways to control your play: manually or with AI assist. AI assist is, of course, easier, but the players who gets passed to are asinine at the best of times, and shooting is inaccurate at best. Unfortunately, manual play is a crapshoot as well, because it relies on perfect aiming precision from you, despite using the same analog stick for aiming as it does for running and moving. This makes it extremely difficult to aim in any direction other than where you are going anyway.
The commentators are adequate, though the Scottish one sometimes slurs his words in a way that makes it hard to discern what exactly he is saying. The graphics have been upgraded a bit from last year, making it a significantly better-looking game.
The last disappointment is a lack of licensed franchises. There are so many leagues and teams that it is understandably hard to license all of them, but you simply can’t release a game that doesn’t have teams with such worldwide fame as Chelsea or Arsenal.
Once again, PES has improved in a number of areas, but falls short in the all-important gameplay. And please Konami, fewer menus next year.
Pros: Solid online, Master League is a nice ‘RPG-like’ mode
Cons: Gameplay is still poor, missing key franchises, could be called A Game of Menus