PES 2013 Review (PS3, Xbox 360)

Konami has promised that PES is going to be pushing boundaries, offering an open and adaptable footballing experience and making individual skill a bigger part of the game than ever before.


In recent years, the progress PES had made seemed to slow somewhat and, at least in terms of accessibility and presentation, it lost ground to its competitors. This year sees a glorious return to form for the franchise with a few genuinely new ideas.


You’ll begin as usual by giving the game a few little details about your level of experience and so on. You’ll then be encouraged into the training modes that will show you the basics. This can be skipped out, if you’re a PES veteran or if you just want to get on with it but it’s worth completing all the training tasks to learn the intricacies and the new control moves, even if you’re well experienced with previous PES games.


Training Offers Real Improvement

The Performance Training mode is eventually quite useful, at least in patches, but vague instructions and a complete lack of feedback on what it is that you’re not doing properly conspire to make certain training tasks a case of trial and error. Frustrating repetition and an eventual unexplained fluke mean that sometimes you’ll progress without you ever really learning what the game set out to teach. In some instances, all the Performance Training mode serves to do is prove that you definitely shouldn’t ever rely on the pot-luck nature of certain skills when you fashion a valuable scoring chance.

The licenses are more robust than ever, with Champions League and Copa Libertadores signed up. Several big leagues have signed deals to be represented but unfortunately for some of our readers, that doesn’t include the English Premier League, which only has Manchester United under official license. That’s not a major concern, PES releases are usually very closely followed by any number of unofficial edited files you can use to add in all the proper names, teams, kits and badges.

Player models are lifelike enough, without being universally perfect and the game generally looks quite gorgeous. The player animation, in particular, is so fluid and lifelike that it adds a layer of realism above any previous releases – at least in as much as how it looks. The only time the visuals were a let-down was with the little video swipe with the PES logo when you transition from gameplay into a replay – it’s badly digitally artefacted and often slows the frame rate for the second or two it flashes across the screen. Certainly not a big concern but an odd one, nonetheless.

PES 2013

Music is significantly improved too. No longer are we subjected to an overwhelming majority of mimicry in particular styles. Tracks are licensed and reasonably varied. While that might sound like a minor thing, it makes a big difference to the menus where navigation is simple and intuitive as well as being swift and responsive. The combination makes the whole package feel more polished than ever before and even though transfers aren’t quite up to date (RVP isn’t at Man Utd yet but Kagawa is) and some of the makeshift kits are a bit basic, it’s still a level of presentation that represents the series’ best in years.

Where PES has always been strongest is in its Master League mode. This returns, along with the option to play an online version of it where each match is against a human opponent. Those are tucked away behind a Football Life menu option which also contains the Become a Legend mode which again allows you to play through the career of an individual.

So far, everything we’ve touched upon has simply been the PES we know and love (or not) with a bit more polish and some incremental improvements. PES 2013 is more than that, though. There’s a real step forward for the series in this iteration and it makes the game feel really fresh. This is the PES experience that really feels, perhaps for the first time, that it’s a proper next-gen game. Most of that is down to one little button: RT/R2.

Here’s the Game Changer

When defending, the right trigger is used in conjunction with a face button for applying pressure and choosing your moment to tackle. Held together, the buttons stand off your opponent, closing him down. You can stay like this indefinitely, directing him into unfavoured channels or slowing his advance but it also helps to set up the perfect timing for a tackle. It’s easy to pull off, but needs to be timed perfectly to really master.

What’s good:

  • More licensed content.
  • Presentation has been honed.
  • New controls and animations conspire to make a real difference.
  • Master League mode is still brilliant.

What’s bad:

  • Commentary, obviously.
  • Some minor visual issues.

When attacking, that right trigger is a real game changer. It traps the ball and takes it under control. While that might sound fairly pedestrian, if timed perfectly – and again, it’s very tricky to master – it buys you an extra yard of space that can enable a tight turn or a half second of control that unlocks a defensive line and makes so much difference. Really take the time to learn the intricacies and there are nutmegs, flicks and control moves to be found within the trigger mechanic. Used in conjunction with the new ability to slightly guide the runner during one-two passes with the right stick and the possibilities for smart attacking play around crowded penalty boxes are unparalleled.

That focus on individual skill manifests itself in a much deeper way than first imagined too. Players like Ronaldo will be able to spin on a pinhead, dancing around the ball as they do it but you’ll need to play to the skillful player’s strengths in order to get the most out of them. It really does encourage you to learn how your chosen team plays and utilise their strengths in a much more personal way than before.

That’s not to say it’s perfect. Commentary is as dire as ever, replays aren’t as polished as we’d like and it can still be quite easy to beat goalkeepers on their near posts – especially if they’re not one of the world’s superstar ‘keepers. It’s nothing that has any major impact on how the game plays but there is still some room for improvement.

PES 2013 has made huge strides forward in how it plays over last year’s game. It’s no longer a case of living with the slight, niggling issues with the gameplay, animations and fluidity of it all so that you have the astonishing depth of the Master League mode. Those concerns have all been addressed and the game has generally been strengthened throughout. In addition, the new control systems add genuine depth and character to the game in a way which will make a significant difference to how it’s played. Konami has done an exceptional job with making the controls and animations all feel realistic and it translates into a fantastic on-pitch experience.

Score: 9/10



  1. This is exactly what I wanted to hear. My only issue now is whether to go 360 or PS3.

  2. Great news. Have always enjoyed PES but its been clear for a number of years that they have needed to up their game. Will pick this up as soon as it drops to the £15 price point.

  3. Looking forward to this as was unimpressed with the FIFA 2012 demo. Great review, Thanks

  4. Been playing both demos since they came out.
    Was very impressed with attacking PES2013 demo 1, but I lost some of the mojo in demo 2, FIFA13 didn’t initially impress me but the more I’ve played it the better I’m finding it & I’m leaning towards FIFA again.

    Problem with a PES demo is that it’s impossible to get a taste of the career modes and the real depth they offer, it makes FIFA seem like a 5 minute arcade game in comparison… Being able to coach a play in one area of his performance over a year or so and see improvements on the pitch is so rewarding, it really encourages you to think the long game & makes it far more than just about signing a ‘dream team’ although of course that’s possible too.

    What I’m most looking forward to with PES is the migration to the Konami’s FOX engine and then the balls-up they’ve made of most of this generation may start to be forgotten.

    • The FIFA 13 demo was horrible. Really, really horrible. Everything seemed slow and cumbersome. And the players looked like they were ice skating rather than running. :|

      It’s so annoying that it will sell more than PES because people can’t be bothered to learn a new game.

      • “It’s so annoying that it will sell more than PES because people can’t be bothered to learn a new game.”

        Its not just that though – PES has lost a lot of fans since the PS3 iteration of its games. They have all been poor. I never thought as a die hard PES fan i would ever buy a FIFA game, but the last 2 years FIFA has easily stolen the crown.

        This year however, its seems PES has returned to form, i loved Demo 2 especially after the helpful reminders in the training mode.

  5. I think I’ll pick up Pro Evo on PS3 this year, at least at first anyway.

    Not on day 1 though- I’m already planning on buying both Little Big Planet and FIFA on Vita in the coming couple of weeks, and maybe Borderlands 2 if I still have money.

    It’s coming to that time of the year again, isn’t it?

  6. Any news on pro vita?

    This is a good score & review Shame the online quitters FIFA fan base will carry on to get that lag fest

    • What is it with PES fans being so self-righteous? I used to love PES but the gameplay isn’t for me these days, it seems to slow for my liking. People don’t buy FIFA just because it’s popular, it’s popular because people enjoy it.

      PES fans always seem to think they’re above FIFA players because they play the (now) less popular game. Different people like different things and there’s a reason FIFA sells so well, it’s enjoyable.

      • Wait what, I stated a fact FIFA lags online that’s one, 2. They quit when they losing. At what point was I being righteous unless you meant type I was right

      • Not trying to get into an argument here but you are not stating a fact at all. FIFA has bad servers at times but it doesn’t lag for everybody – something you claim is fact. Maybe it is your own connection that is the problem? I have DC’ed a few times (hence why I say the servers can be bad) but never experienced any lag.

        Also people quitting, so what, you get the win now move on. Also if it really bothers you that much you can change the search perimeters so you only get put against people who have a low DNF (did not finish) percentage.

      • @Yiddo dude you made a sweet comment below keep it at that obviously you will defend FIFA which is expected. It’s nothing do with my Internet but FIFA.

        Pro has a better online experience if you quit certain times you get a warning, if your Internet lags you get a warning then am sure a ban for a few days.

        Each to their own & my own is pro nothing do with me bring a fan, I tried FIFA it’s ok if am trying get into footy game you know it’s like a training session before the main game which is pro

      • Fair dues. But i’m not being a die hard, defensive FIFA fanboy but it honestly doesn’t lag for me. It only DC’s occassionally, that is all.

  7. Good review. I have played both the latest demo of PES, and the FIFA demo and I must say that I felt that FIFAs gameplay was more refined and more fluid, and just felt more realistic. I loved PES on PS2, but even after the latest demo I still find it to be a very wooden and stale game, and it just feels like it hasn’t moved on.

    I personally cannot see why everybody is raving about it, and once again for me I will go for FIFA, but this is still a good review none the less and when this inevitably goes down to £15 I might give it a try for a short while.

    • What a lovely comment – being able to disagree but in a complementary and respectful way is very rare online these days. Kudos to you :)

    • I have to agree, based on the demo alone, if Pro Evo gets 9/10 then I’ll be surprised if Fifa doesn’t get 10/10. Althought Fifa hasn’t changed much, that doesn’t stop it from being excellent.

      I find the player movement very rigid in Pro Evo, and instructions seem to be ever-so-slightly delayed, although it’s much much better than last year.

      I noticed Fifa seems to have finally stolen the great “form” feature showing players’ current form or score with the green “up” and red “down” arrows – (at least I think that’s what it’s for). I really hope Fifa finally introduce the “Play again, different teams” option though, it’s annoying having to go back to the main menu all the time when playing exhibition games with friends.

  8. PES is a solid game this year. I can totally see it getting good reviews and stealing some of their old fans who are fed up with EA. FIFA’s single player is abysmal, I am a huge football fan, yet I’ve avoided to buy the last iteration because of all the stupid bugs 10 and 11 ones had in the career. This year, though, I’ve decided to jump back on the FIFA wagon, it’s EA’s last chance, otherwise for ’14 I’ll just go back to Konami, which seems has finally found the right path.

  9. PES for me this year. FIFA felt so boring this year and the first touch thing is a stupid and useless addition down to pot luck more than anything. I was in the FIFA camp and have been since FIFA 07 but im glad to have PES back to its former glory.

  10. Viva la PES. Great review and nice to see PES starting to return to form. I may have to wait for a bit of a price drop as I want Borderlands 2 more, but will definately pick this up soon.

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