KICKING off just one week before FIFA 13 makes its own appearance on store shelves, this year’s Pro Evolution Soccer update looks like a genuine title contender.

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PES 2013

Publisher: Konami

Price: £49.99

Format: PS3 (also on Xbox 360, PC)

Age rating: 3+

KICKING off just one week before FIFA 13 makes its own appearance on store shelves, this year’s Pro Evolution Soccer update looks like a genuine title contender. After years of playing second fiddle to FIFA, both in terms of sales and innovation, PES 13 comes laden with gameplay tweaks, with new ways to shoot, pass, dribble and defend.

Crucially, PES 13 has toned down the zippy arcade-style thrills of last year’s game. To be honest, you probably won’t even notice the dip in speed, because the build-up play is much more fluid than before, with off-the-ball runs and killer passes opening up the beautiful game like never before.

So what’s new? Perhaps the single biggest improvement is the implementation of full manual passing and shooting. By holding down L2, an arrow appears around your player’s feet, enabling you to dictate the direction of the ball using the right analogue stick. It’s a clever, intuitive system and in no time at all you’ll be spraying the ball around like Paul Scholes in his pomp.

Your shot stopper is also much improved compared to last year’s butter-fingered goalies. Keepers are more likely to make intelligent saves when required, either by hanging on to zingers or tipping them over the bar, while their distribution is more precise, helping create quicker counter attacks. Similarly, your back four are more alert to goal poachers and will quickly shut down attackers, cut out through balls and cover for each other.

Other improvements include Player ID, which aims to mimic the playing styles of the world’s top players, while Dynamic First Touch lets you instantly trap a ball and bring it under control, use the momentum of a pass to turn a defender or even pull off a spectacular scissor kick. Dribbling has also been given an overhaul, letting you go on mazy runs that leave defenders looking like they’re wading through treacle.

On top of all that, we’ve yet to mention the beefed up Master League and Become a Legend modes – now included under the umbrella term of Football Life – or the new ranking system for online matches. Suffice to say that this year’s PES exhibits a welcome return to form and could even topple FIFA from its lofty perch as the number one footy game.

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