Microsoft Xbox 360 (PC, PS3)
ESRB rating: Everyone
Review rating: 4.0 stars
Ever since the first "Pro Evolution Soccer" game was released, it was obvious that the ... err ... goal of the developers was to craft a realistic professional soccer experience. Thankfully, triggering fan riots isn't an option, but gamers can experience nearly everything that pro soccer players and coaches do in real life. While "PES 2013" may lack the high production values found in the "FIFA" series, it still offers incredible depth and satisfying game play.
Casual soccer fans may not notice the numerous changes in this year's version, but that's because most of them are subtle. For example, defending players can no longer rely on automated tackles and now must manually time them to be successful. Offensive maneuvers also demand more skill, as players must use a combination of analog stick and pressure-sensitive button presses to deftly dribble around opponents and score goals.
Also new is a more accurate shooting and passing mechanic where players can bring up an onscreen arrow with the press of a button. This arrow shows where the ball will land and lets players line up precise passes and shots on the move. I also appreciate the ability to modify passes and shots in different ways by pressing the left and right triggers. Other improvements include a slower pace, improved ball physics and more detailed visuals.
Unfortunately, players aren't treated to any new single-player modes, and the Become a Legend mode is still rather bland for the first several hours. Playing online is also surprisingly similar to past versions, but one cool feature is that it can actually improve the offline experience. Now it's possible to earn items online that can be used in the offline Master League and Become a Legend modes.
Most of the improvements found in "PES 2013" seem to be aimed at core gamers, and that's certainly not a bad thing!