PES 2013 by Konami launches on PS3, XBOX 360, Wii and PC this autumn and will give FIFA 12 a run for its money this year if the online rumblings are to be believed. The PES franchise has been around for 16 years and progressed through many iterations both in title and game play style, so what makes Pro Evolution Soccer so popular?
If you live in North America, the chances are that unless you are a die-hard 'soccer' fan, this event will simply pass you by, but if you live in the rest of the world, most specifically in Europe, then as every PES fan knows, the football season starts in August, but you only get to play out your own footy fantasies come October, when the latest and greatest version of PES hits the video game shop shelves.
It all started way back in video game time, actually 1996, when Goal Storm was released on the PlayStation. Since then, PES has moved through several naming conventions and the latest update will be called PES 2013. It will go head to head like it has for the past 16 years with Electronic Arts (EA) and their masterpiece – FIFA (12). There are really only these two games vying for gamers' hard cash every year and if anything that makes the competition even more fierce.
You see the two games have battled it out year on year and this year PES stands a chance of getting back to the top of the pile. It has been languishing behind the past 5 or 6 years, due in part to complacency, but also the resurgence and downright brilliance of FIFA.
The facts of the case are this your honor;
FIFA (which stands for Federation Internationale de Football Association) as the name might suggest, is an officially endorsed football game, this means that the game comes complete with all the real player names, team names, football kits, competition names and stadia. PES has never had these rights and has had to rely on an editing mode and the ingenuity of the gamers who buy the game to recreate all of the aforementioned details, liveries and stadia. This has fostered a powerful online community purely along editing interests, but when coupled with the obvious game play advantages of PES you begin to see why the popularity of the game is still so high.
So what are these game play advantages?
Well, the trade off in the licensing situation has always been overcome by the sheer beauty of playing PES – it is a game for footy fans. The actual game play has always more closely mirrored the real game, whereas FIFA has traditionally suffered in this area. Playing PES in the first few years was always pure fun, games were high scoring, but varied, FIFA always felt stuck and the ball never seemed to like like a real football, feeling much too floaty. By comparison, PES footballs have always had a weight to them and challenges between players have felt meaty.
An analogy between the two games is to think of FIFA as being a Premier League or Champions League setup, it looks polished and has endorsements coming out of its ears, but it is not really true football, it's a pre-packed version of the game designed to ensnare glory hunting footy fans, the ones who shout about how great their team is despite knowing nothing about their own teams history.
Pro Evo on the other hand is jumpers for goalposts, dirty knees and eating soggy cornish pasties on a cold, wet Tuesday night away to Barnsley! The analogy might be lost on many and that to some degree proves a point, football is not always shiny, multiple step-overs and pink Nike boots, it's about the teams outside the Premier League who still have fans that turn up for every home and away game, despite not having seen their side win anything for years. That is real football and that is what Konami have tried to encapsulate, despite being based in Japan.
To a large degree they have succeeded, but the line has been blurred between the two games in recent years. FIFA has now moved very close to matching the whole ethos of PES, some say their game play is actually better, I still disagree with that statement, but certainly with the online patches available now to PES gamers, they can sidestep the licensing issue and create photo-realistic players, teams and kits – which means the two games are very much on a collision course to meet in the middle.
Konami have cheered up their fans in the previous years by securing license rights to the England national team, two Premier League teams and various other leagues and players around Europe and the world. This has unduly helped, but give me a fake named Man Red (Manchester united) and quality game play any day over the FIFA version of football. At the end of the day I buy football computer games because I like to play games that recreate the beautiful game, but PES does it better and I'm just hoping that the next installment of PES 2013 will again give me that option to take the mighty Derby County to European Glory!