PES 2013 PS3 review – Yesteryear favourite’s triumphant comeback

“Football, bloody hell.” For once I actually agree with Fergie’s red wine-gargling ramblings, because they sum up PES’ up-and-down PlayStation career perfectly.

From outright elation during the series’ PS2 heyday to things going a bit ‘Thursday nights on Channel 5’ in recent seasons, it’s been an emotional loop-the-loop on par with a Paolo Di Canio post-match presser. So it’s a relief that a raft of incremental improvements ensure Konami’s 2013 outfit sneaks back into title contention.

PES 2013 PS3 review

PES has been busier than Daniel Levy on deadline day this year. Firstly, it’s signed up snazzy attacking options, with the addition of refined new dribbling mechanics. These include Deft Touch close control on R2 – basically FIFA’s Precision Dribbling.

Not quite as useful, but still damn satisfying to execute, is the Gazza-style, Colin Hendry-shaming Sombrero Flick pulled off by clicking R3 and pushing back on the left stick. Combining the two makes skinning a man (er, not in unpleasant, Martyrs-flaying fashion) easier than ever before, and PES 2013 gives you huge scope for exhilarating individual flair.

A reworked defensive system has also been tapped up in a swanky Milanese hotel over a cheeky espresso. Hold-up play works much like FIFA’s manual tackling. You hold x to shadow an opposition player, combine it with R1 to lunge towards the ball and then double-tap x again to go for the challenge.

Less erratic than EA’s efforts last year, it fleshes out PES’ defensive side with thoughtful nuance. Though you can still pile in with crisply satisfying sliding tackles if you want to embrace your inner Shawcross.