EA Sports is a juggernaut, but companies like Visual Concepts and Konami prove that there is still plenty of room for competition.
EA has, with considerable success, cornered most of the annual sports games. They produce a high quality, heavily-licensed product that is meant for the widest audience of consumers. One area where they still have some stout competition is from Konami's long-running Pro Evolution Soccer franchise. I recently spent some time with PES 2013, although take note, the last soccer game I seriously played was FIFA 99...yeah. And, I haven't played FIFA 13, but, it's clear to me that PES 2013 caters to a more serious soccer fan, and while it doesn't have the budget and all of the league licenses of FIFA, it does offer a strongly technical game that many consumers will be looking for.
I actually played a version of PES a year or two ago and like most sports games, didn't give it another look after reviewing it. I found PES to be too uptight for my tastes (I prefer arcade-style sports games for the most part). This year's version feels the same, which fans of the game will appreciate. Meanwhile, I find myself struggling to get through the lengthy (and fully optional I should add) Training which includes over a dozen types of drills from dribbling (and 2013 includes 'deft dribbling'), shooting, and trapping. Ever heard of a nutmeg shot? Knuckle shot? I haven't, but if you have, they're here and I presume faithfully recreated from real soccer.
PES 2013 includes a lot more than detailed Training. A variety of difficulty settings -- six or so, from absolute rookie to full-on mastery -- allow noob players like me to face the CPU and kinda sorta stand a chance. The Latin cup, UEFA Champions, and a few other leagues and cups are included, with support for CPU play, local and online play, and watching the CPU play itself. I understand from reading other articles online that a community feature has been removed from this year's PES, making local competition play more of a pain to manage, so if by chance you stumble upon this review and didn't know that, it may be an important missing feature for you.
While FIFA has just about every league under the sun to choose from, PES has quite a bit less, but it does have the most popular teams and players, at least from Spain, and that of course would be Messi and Ronaldo. I actually played with more obscure teams and found the AI and controls to be good, although how they compare to previous years or with FIFA I cannot say. I can tell from what little of FIFA 13 I saw Nathan play during his review that PES 2013 doesn't match up well in presentation, whether you're judging by the menus, commentary, soundtrack (or lack of) or in-game visuals. Animations of players isn't bad, but the technical detail and textures are bland. It'll be interesting to see how much Konami invests in a next-gen release of PES, as the current graphics presentation needs some significant re-tooling.
That said, if you can look past the lack of some key licenses, a reduced presentation quality, and less modes of play, PES is still a worthwhile consideration if you're on the fence about FIFA.
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