Silver Linings of Disease-Ridden Clouds: Mediolana’s CSO Dives Deeper Into PES 2013

A recent brief illness gave Mediolana’s human Swiss Army knife of a CSO an opportunity to indulge one of his perennial obsessions: laid low and practically prevented from going into a public place lest the same become victim to streptococcal infestation, Asad Yawar fired up the one Windows laptop he has reasonably easy access to and installed Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 (‘PES 2013’).

This obsession stems from a particularly grim 2003-4 academic year, when the sole relief from a torrid ten months in the classrooms (and increasingly, as the year went by, the corridors) of a particularly mechanistic law school was Pro Evolution Soccer 3 (‘PES 3’), a heavenly soccer entertainment title whose port from the PlayStation 2 (‘PS2’) was so raw and genuine that one had to search in vain for any reference to a QWERTY keyboard.

As regular readers of this blog will doubtless recall, since the release of the final PS2-based iteration (Pro Evolution Soccer 6 or ‘PES 6’, logically enough in 2006), the PES franchise has been not so much a video game as a soap opera: struggling in vain to capture the magic of earlier versions, the PlayStation 3 (‘PS3’) editions have been characterised by generally flat gameplay and wholesale code rewrites which did not seem to take into account that the entire PES PS3 engine appeared to be fundamentally defective.

After an extensive bout of influenza playtesting – entering a 32-team Konami Cup as Zlatan Ibrahimović-inspired Sweden, no less, and going on to win the entire thing after breathless victories over Mexico, Argentina and Portugal – Mediolana’s CSO is happy to report that PES 2013 feels like a PES game; indeed, were his own coding skills not so infinitesimally limited, he would be happy to wager a sum representing several lively nights out in Ouagadougou that large sections of programming from PES 6 were liberally dumped into this latest apparition.

There is still much to improve, natch:

1. A Monodimensional CPU. Consistently attaining figures of 64% possession as Sweden against Latin American and Iberian possession football-defined nations is flattering, but not realistic. A CPU which knows how to vary the pace of the game and constantly get its star players involved would be more than welcome.

2. Ear Candy. Yes, the sound is better than in the ghostly 2009, 2011 and and 2012 PESs. Does this mean anything? Moreover, does this mean anything in the context of the joyous, ear-splitting sampled sounds that graced PES 3, PES 4, PES 5 and PES 6 and made an international exhibition match on PES almost more rewarding than the real thing?

3. Attention to Detail. What happened to the magical and extended medal ceremonies of PES 3? The wonderful action replay labels which highlighted the identity main protagonist for all to see? The simulated electronic board indicating the number of minutes of additional time to be play? Omitting such simple and popular features is unlikely to make the formidable task still confronting new PES head honcho Kei Masuda any easier.

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