PES 2013 PS3 review – Yesteryear favourite’s triumphant comeback

Most importantly, both passing and shooting have been significantly refined. Last time out, pinging even simple ten-yard square balls could feel like walloping a shuttlecock with a sledgehammer.

Thankfully, passing is now defter and more subtle. Toying with tiki-taka tactics is further aided by Perfect Traps on R2 that enable you to cushion and kill the pace of a pass deader than Emile Heskey’s career.

New types of net-busters like the ‘knuckle shot’ (a double-tap of square) also bolster the one key area where PES was already ahead of its EA rival. Where shot power was hard to gauge last year, pinging an onion bag-blaster into the top corner is both easier to judge and is beefed up with hugely satisfying heft. Shooting is undoubtedly PES 2013’s star summer signing.

Like the Arse inevitably selling their best player every season, though, PES continues to be hamstrung by presentation problems. No licensed Prem teams aside from United. No Bundesliga sides at all apart from Bayern. Slowdown continues to plague post-goal cut-scenes for at least the fifth game running. And the music and crowd sounds are predictably so awful you’ll contemplate Van Goghing your ears off.

A special word for the boys between the sticks, too. And when I say ‘special’ I mean ‘Pepe Reina dropping a mega, match-costing rick on a par with his recent bloopers against Hearts and the Gunners’.

Contrary to promises from Konami, keepers are still a huge liability, regularly spilling three or four simple saves a match. Seeing as your AI opponents are as likely to suffer from terminal Pan-handed-itis as your own goalie, though, the keeper issue remains an irritating annoyance rather than a match-borking game-ruiner.

But while familiar faults persist, PES 2013 marks the biggest step forward for the series on PS3. FIFA 13’s liquid animations and peerless physics system still give it the trophy-hoisting edge, but now PES’ unique strengths are refined enough to make it a genuinely worthwhile alternative. And hey, if nothing else, it’s probably the only footy game that’ll ever feature Motherwell as a Champions League outfit.

Just watch those sales sky-rocket in North Lanarkshire.

Our Score

Score: 8