My first impression, unsurprisingly, is that I love the game. NB: I have never not loved a new football game to begin with. Even the ones I went on to dislike, or even hate.
What’s a great tradition in PES? Playing the new game and feeling unsure about it. That’s a great tradition. Your muscle memory remembers playing a different game all year. Your hands feel all confused…
PES2013 recycles the same tradition of day-one strangeness. My passing started off all over the place. Admittedly I started on zero-bar assistance, but soon went up to 1-bar just to get a handle on the new game. (I’ll go back down to zero-bar eventually.)
Passing values are different, animations and animation speed are different. It all affects the speed and quality of the gameplay.
The first session on a new PES game should be at least partly confusing. It should sow a few doubts. If it didn’t, there would be something wrong.
I played my usual round of England matches in Exhibition, as every year. I started with two warm-ups against Scotland, on regular, one on Professional. Then Germany on Professional. Then an International Tournament—all with England. They’re a useful calibration tool, being a good team (still overrated, of course), but not a great one, and with a nice mixture of familiar players.
I probably played 10 matches in total.
First thing that hit me was the game speed. This is a triumph for us oldies (of all ages) who simply can’t be having the dizzying game-speed that’s threatened to become de rigeur over the past few years.
It’s exactly the speed I would have chosen for the game if they’d let me. This is the first time Konami didn’t piss about with the pace of the game. If anything, it’s slower than the demo(s). I heartily approve. Could this be the first time ever that I stay on default speed after day 1?
PES2012’s shooting was, most people agreed, shite. Really, really bad and unintuitive and unsatisfying. I called it the worst shooting in PES history and I totally stand by that. I appreciate that not everybody suffered to the same degree, but I can only go by what I saw and felt.
Over-aiming was never a satisfactory workaround in PES2012, but it’s what we got into the habit of doing. Pushing or pulling the stick all the way up or down to try to get the ball to go to the goddamn corners (and then sighing when it went straight to the middle of the goal).
The good news is that AIMING WORKS in PES2013—but there’s a stiff price to pay for our year just gone of over-aiming. Muscle memory again. I found myself continuing to over-aim, and almost hitting the corner flags at times. It’s going to take a while to learn to trust the proper PES aiming system again. This is a day-one oddity that I am very, very happy to have encountered.
Next, shooting power. The forums, bless them, are crying about shooting power having been nerfed from Demo 6.4 (or whatever the fuck they’re always going on about).
Bollocks. Thanks to my annual routine, I get to play my opening matches with a range of shooters, from weak to strong. Step forward, Rooney and Gerrard. Need I say more? Need I even hint at the festival of shooting practice they gave me, on Regular difficulty? Eh?
Cannonballs. Blockbusting thunderbolts of whizz-bang, rootin’-tootin’-shootin’.
Rooney and Gerrard. Even Welbeck was getting in on the act. Even Carroll.
PES2013 has removed the R1 knock-on that we used in PES2012 to get the ball out of feet and generate a powerful strike. PES2013 relies on stats and context. The ball can feel as if it’s stuck under the feet and shooting is hampered. But no: space and time and technique, that’s what it’s all about.
I’m a big early fan of the shooting. It’s fair and balanced. Shooting with weaker players—Henderson, Parker, Milner—is noticeably less powered. Not underpowered. (Underpowered in comparison to what?)
I’m quietly a bit worried here. I was happy with the difficulty levels in PES2012, and see no reason why they should be changed. It’s too early to be sure, but I have a feeling the difficulty levels have been ‘rezoned’, and not in a good way.
Playing on Regular felt a whole load easier than last year. Professional felt a bit harder (and indeed, I lost two of my three International Tournament group matches, against Serbia and, uh, Panama).
Probably not a serious worry, but I’ll be keeping an eye on it.
Keepers are my big early worry. Three times in my very first match the CPU keeper flapped at tame shots that he should have caught. This led either to corners or the ball staying in my possession. Once, it led to a goal. (After which Jon Champion yelled It’s a goal to remember forever… Oh yes, there are some new lines for him and Beglin.)
Sorry to end on a negative, but it’s something to keep an eye on. PES2013 feels like a great football game, but all football games, even great ones, have their Achilles’ heel. Please no, not keepers—not again!
I’ll be back at noon tomorrow with my usual Friday post. I should get two more mammoth sessions on the game tonight and tomorrow morning. Second impressions are always better than first ones.