Remember way back, when Pro Evolution Soccer was the dominating force within the football video game tug-o-war? Many would still consider Pro Evolution Soccer 5 one of the greatest games on the previous generation’s consoles, not just in the category of sports either. Many university degrees were failed with the priority of finishing a Masters League for the fourteenth time. Understandable really, so surely with the ground work put into place with a fabulous physics engine throughout this series, moving up to the next generation would just be a case of making it look prettier right? If only that was the case. Many were still taken back by the frightening level of playability and simulation within FIFA ’09, and almost reduced to vomiting blood with the staggering level of rigidness and downright frustrating stupidity that was Konami’s first attempt at Next-Gen football gaming. After the dusty vomit had settled, it was clear in the figures that there was a dark cloud looming over the Japanese franchise, turncoats were seen but not heard at every corner, the Pro Evo fanatics were spotted shuffling into old abandoned warehouses for secret FIFA 09 orgies; the pigs. Although like many, the conversion of allegiances was re-affirmed the very next year. FIFA 10 built on what was a rising success by tightening little faults and once again exposing its rival’s flaws with revolutionary game play. Last years Pro Evolution Soccer saw the team starting build a potentially workable game, yet still deep rooted flaws to leave it dragging around on FIFA’s coattails. So surely the terribly early release of a Pro Evo ’13 demo would again expose Konami’s hand in showing a beta version that is barely football. This was not necessarily the case.
The team here at HD Eyes were very eager to ‘lambast this stink pile’ by testing the new demo. Surely it was just a regurgitation of the filth that they’ve produced over the last 5 years on the Xbox/Ps3? Not quite.
The demo allows you to choose from Germany, Portugal, Italy and the English Bulldogs. There is also another glimpse into the franchise Pro Evo is determined to stick with, the Brazilian League and the Copa Libertadores. Now in the past this is something that would have seen cheese and bacon quiches thrown at every member of the Konami teams faces. But with the re-emergence of the Brazilian league, with players like Luis Fabiano and Ronaldinho returning home and the world cup coming to Rio in 2014, this could be seen as a nice job from Konami with the quality of football on that side of the world increasing. They may not be able to compete with FIFA’s official licenses, but this gives them a platform to work on at least. The national teams on the demo are also official.
The gameplan/formation setting is another function the developers have tried to bespeak. A unique system that lets you change your formation very organically, it feels very alien at first but after a few goes it makes it easier to incorporate certain players into the team by dragging them round parts of the pitch with your left stick, these can then be stored as your own formation. If anything it is certainly a world away from FIFA’s team setting. As expected, there is a restriction on many other options on the team selection page before you delve into the game itself.
Its clear from the first few passes that the gameplay is trying to distance itself from FIFA, the passes are sharp and flashed into feet. The only thing here is that its hard to differentiate between players, surely Pirlo should stand out in the Italian team as an inch perfect passer with beautiful precision, but even Ballotelli and Chellini were thumping thirty yard daisy cutters to feet without even looking. On the positive side this improves the flow of the game, though from an arcade perspective. Another key feature that seems to be missing from the game is any form of manual jostling. With FIFA you can control the momentum and strength of the footballer by holding a trigger down and challenging with an opponent either during or when receiving the ball. In Pro Evo it seems Konami are still leaving this to chance, yes you can position you player in the right area to receive the ball along the floor or in the air, but it would be nice to be able to stick your elbows out and make use of the potential strength at your disposal. Granted during runs and plays the physical presence of particular players is still an advantage. Shooting is very sensitive compared to FIFA; a few shots taken in the first game are still travelling upwards as we speak. It is hard not to apply what you have learnt in the other franchise and try to implement it here. Although as arcade-ridden as most aspects are in this demo, the shooting elements are fairly realistic, whether that is headers, volleys, scorpion scissor kicks etc. Jostling comes back into view again with the defensive elements of Pro Evo. There only two functions, the standing challenge and the slide, you could also ask a teammate for help closing a man down with another button but your own defensive abilities are again limited. There is no way to track a player without doing it manually.
There are other little functions unique to the pro evolution soccer franchise like the manual button, where you can direct every form of kick with the hold of a trigger. But the main disappointment lies with the advertisement of a revolutionary physics design that is supposed to make the game stand alone. But these elements are aspects of previous FIFA games from many years ago. This is not to say that the demo shows promise, it will make a great arcade multiplayer game, with two or four players that will be light relief from intensity of FIFA’s simulation. This year Pro Evolution Soccer ‘13 will get closer to being a contender than ever before, it is just now whether they decide to go down the arcade route to become a very different game. Feel free to try out the demo and leave your thought below.
The demo is available now on Xbox live and Playstation network. The PC demo will be available at www.konami-pes2013.com.