It would be unfair to discuss FIFA 13 without talking first about its competition — PES 2013.
I took PES 2013 for a test drive this past weekend, and I have to say that while the demo Konami released this summer was underwhelming and a bit deceiving, the finished product was better. Having said that, PES still has a long way to go if it ever wants to be on top again. Konami did a lot more under the hood to refine the game mechanics from last year’s iteration and it’s a good and bad thing.
If you feel an absolute need to play with licensed teams, you can take at least an hour to hit up some of the PES modding forums where you can get the option files needed to get all the ‘licensed’ teams and events that you want as well as updated kits. PES still has rights to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup competitions as well as Copa Santander Libertadores. But with the mods you can play the World Cup, recreate Euro 2012, Africa Cup of Nations and so on. The modding by itself is what sets this title apart from FIFA as EA tends to try to milk money from the Euros and Word Cup games by selling separate products. However, Konami still misses by not having current roster updates at this point in time.
Konami didn’t do too much to add to PES 2013 compared to PES 2012. You still have same options of Football Life and a few other modes to play, but what is a new is a training mode where you can play and improve your skills in many areas.
Graphically speaking, the game isn’t different from last year’s version and you will still see many of the same canned celebrations that you saw before. My biggest concern is the frame rate (running on the PS3) seems to just chug along as the graphics engine really starts to show its age. I will say, compared to FIFA 13, the faces are slightly more accurate on PES 2013.
On the plus side, the gameplay mechanics still seem precise although I think defensively it’s more a hit and miss this year as sometimes I feel like I am button mashing just to try and stop passes but offensively when you have the ball it’s a joy to control. Learning stick movement and direction when dribbling takes practice and patience, and where EA is now touting First Touch Control, it works naturally here.
The AI is still hit and miss but somewhat improved. Defenses will close down routes in a hurry and the AI plays hard on the ball when needed. The one gripe I had, which made it over from the past games, is still the corner kicking issues. When you go to take a corner kick, no matter where your team moves, the AI will ‘slide’ and follow your player parallel to where you are going like they are literally stuck to you. Thus it’s still difficult to win many corners.
But overall, Konami shines on the field.
Commentary still needs to be improved but again, I can’t help but think due to licensing issues, that’s still going to be as hamstrung as it’s going to be.
As far as the game modes in Football Life, Master League and Be A Legend, a lot hasn’t changed and this is what in my opinion hurts PES 2013. I played 8 games with Master League but stopped because I really wanted to wait until I had proper updated rosters to really feel like I was playing this year’s iteration.
One interesting thing I noticed is that playing in both modes, I still feel so isolated from the rest of the world because you don’t see a lot of updates popping up unless you go to specific menus to get them. And that was also another pet peeve of mine is that the menus are the same as last year’s. A lot of these issues take away from the immersion of watching and being a part of the game. You can’t see league leaders and you have to dig around to find your standings. And it’s pretty boring and flat the way it’s displayed.
Also, I caution anyone playing Master League during the transfer period to not skip your dates! If you are in the middle of a negotiation, skipping dates means you will not get any kind of message of what happened until after you get to the date you are going to, and by then it’s too late. Furthermore, you don’t even get any kind of warning that the transfer window is closing so keep a close eye on what you are doing.
Another weird thing I noticed is that some player’s morale will not change regardless of what you do. I had one player who complained about his playing time even though he started every match, regardless if he played the whole 90 minutes or if I substituted him. I’m hoping this was just a bug in the system.
As far as Be A Legend was concerned, it has taken one step back. On the plus side, now you can purchase items to boost your character’s stats. But a minus is that you get no manager feedback pre or post game. Your only objective is to do just enough to stay in the Starting XI. One other thing: Almost all of the players’ ratings are nearly the same every game and it seems that it only increases with scores and assists.
In the final analysis of PES 2013, and I know many will debate this in the months to come, where EA did a lot of things to improve their game, Konami was content to improve the gameplay itself and while that is commendable, some of the bells and whistles that EA added will separate the two games. PES 2013’s game modes can and will keep many busy but sometimes one can’t help but wonder how much greater PES 2013 could have been with a little added immersion.
3 out of 5 stars.