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PES 2013: PES is exciting again - and it really could reclaim the footy crown

Hands-on with Konami's tactical contender

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The counter to all these attacking advancements is a new defensive system called Responsive Defending. Double tap X (on PS3) and your defender will dive in with a leg in an attempt to perform a last ditch clearance. It works well, but when mistimed can also work against you if you cause a foul or get mugged off by Ronaldinho as he simply hops over your lunge.

CLEVER BOYS
PES 2013's second 'pillar' is more of a promise than something that's strongly apparent in the early demo. ProActive AI makes tweaks to computer opponents, mainly in reaction to the new FC controls, and players are said to make space for you when you're pulling off Deft Dribbling moves on the touch line.

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In reaction to fan feedback, defensive lines now push a little further up the pitch rather than camping in front of the goalkeeper, as often occurred in PES 2012, with fullbacks bursting forward more readily to take advantage of space. More info on PES 2013's AI is promised for E3.

Pillar number three on Konami's football tripod is Player ID, which promises to take capturing the 'personality' of star players to the next level. Perfectly recreating Messi's arse-scratches is a claim every FIFA and PES seems to have made since 2007, but PES 2013 appears to have made more of an effort than past efforts.

Just as you can see in the PES 2013 teaser trailer, the dev team has captured the running style and shooting posture of Christiano Ronaldo, so he looks just as camp-arrogant in the game as in real life. "40 to 50" other superstars will get the same treatment in PES 2013, and thankfully not all of them play for Real and Barcelona.

Via a presentation video, we saw Kaka's frantic scramble runs, Neymar's piss-taking stepovers, Puyol's lunging tackles and - brilliantly - John Terry's attempted torpedo header clearance from the England vs. Slovenia game at the 2010 World Cup (we've literally begged Konami to release footage).

The build we played only featured two teams (Real Madrid and Flamingos), so we didn't get a wide-scale demonstration of how impactful the individuality will be in-game, but you can feel the difference when dribbling with Real's main man compared to the comparatively sluggish Ronaldinho.

In action, PES 2013 is a slower-paced game than its predecessor, which fits in with the extra time required to pull off manual passes, ball trapping and mental manual shots.

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It's a game that suddenly feels full of soul and encourages players to be more creative in their play - looking for the top corner, passing to Ronaldo who can dart through the box with ease, and flicking the ball over the last man after a long cross before slotting it home.

The slower pace, combined with the great PES FC additions, makes for a more tactical, skilful game, which not only shakes off last year's image as 'the arcade footy title' but, according to some FIFA-loving journos on our trip, might seriously be enough to see them switch allegiance this year.

Us? We were very impressed. Our upcoming FIFA 13 hands-on session suddenly has a lot to live up to...

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