It's been a long time in coming, but Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 is finally out. We find the gameplay superb, but some elements fail.
Pro Evo: it's a funny old game
For those out there who have only recently picked up a video games controller, here’s a little history lesson.
There was once a land ruled over by Pro Evolution Soccer. Pro Evo – or PES – was a king widely adored by football-game fans; a simulation that required skill, deft touches and even some appreciation of tactics at a time when others used simplistic “press the button and score a goal” strategies. Under Pro Evo, racking up cricket match-like results was a thing of the past. You really had to work for that goal, but by golly Pro Evo made you feel good when it went in.
It had its issues, sure, but they were mainly in the gloss. A lack of licensing meant that teams were given names such as “Merseyside Red” (Liverpool) or “London FC” (Chelsea), while the commentary was always amusingly out of synch. But we didn’t care. We loved Pro Evo anyway.
The intervening years, however, were not kind. Pro Evo’s arch-rival for the throne, Fifa, stepped up. Suddenly we had a game with similar silky, skilful-on-the-field activity, but with all the good-looking extra trimmings on the top. Like a dad who has just got to grips with MySpace, Pro Evo simply couldn’t keep up.
It did try, and each year Konami would make assurances that change was coming, that revolutionary new features would herald a new dawn. But they never -materialised.
Which brings us swiftly to this year’s update, PES 2013.
The additions on the pitch might appear slight to the part-time player, but are certainly welcome additions in an area where the game already excelled. Defending has been improved, with new options such as shadowing and better front-on challenges meaning the red cards shouldn’t be coming out as much.
There have also been some improvements regarding the movement of the balls, which is far less predictable than before. Your first touch can make or break the game, and simple taps can determine whether you trap the ball to slow down play or flick it up to line up a volley.
Perhaps the best new feature is PES FullControl, which gives you, er, full control over the player and using the left trigger can call up a small, moveable arrow which shows you where the ball is going to go. It takes some getting used to, and on those occasions where you don’t deploy it you can find yourself playing dazzling, 50 metre through balls which, while great, probably weren’t what you were trying to achieve.
Another new feature is PlayerID, which gives certain well-known players distinct, recognisable mannerisms. Messi dribbles like Messi, while Vidic towers over defence like Vidic. If you’re not a huge fan of Ronaldo, you might want to look away. As the game’s cover star he gets a substantial amount of airtime.
But while the gameplay is predictably superb, it’s off the ball where again PES fails. The lag on commentary is still excruciatingly bad, while many of the players appear lifeless and dead-eyed. The menus are also pretty awkward and anyone using the Master League single-player mode will spend much of their time looking at an ugly calendar. And, despite protests from the PES devotees, there’s something not quite right about playing a match between Manchester United and Man Blue.
In any case, the proof will be in the pudding. By the time you read this, Fifa 13 should be on the shelves.
It was the game that blew the first-person shootersphere open in a way not seen since Doom, followed it with an earth-shattering sequel and another episodic edition, and then sort of disappeared. We’re talking about Half-Life. But it wasn’t forgotten and such is the love for the game that last year, two fans picketed the developer’s offices in Washington requesting the third instalment. Thankfully, the HL3 rumours have been flying recently, with sources suggesting that it’s going to be open-world unlike its linear predecessors and is going to involve puzzle-solving as well as straight-up shooting. But don’t hold your breath – nobody expects it to come out until after next year.
New hack-and-slasher arrives in the UAE
The UAE-based Tahadi Games has added another title to its growing roster of online multiplayer PC games. Age of Titans is a Diablo-esque hack-and-slasher in which you must take one of four classes of characters and rise through the ranks – with adventures across barren wastelands and lush jungles – to eventually challenge some evil Titan called Erebus. It’s free to play, but upgraded weapons and armour can be bought. If killing monsters, riding dragons and waving massive great hammers is your thing, this could certainly be something to occupy those dreary work hours. It might just be worth moving your computer screen out of visibility.