Pro Evolution Soccer has had a tough run this console generation. The franchise was the pinnacle of football games during the PS2 era and after all these years, it seems like they might finally be back on the right track. The team has a renewed focus on core mechanics and gameplay depth that might stand to set it apart from the FIFA franchise, especially for those players who do not care as much about having every league under the sun in their game. PES is also played as an E-Sport in South America and these changes seem geared to helping the players differentiate their skill levels and let the best truly shine.
The first important change for all players is the goalkeeper AI and animations. Anyone who has played PES over the last few years is well aware of how poor the goalkeeper AI and animations were. The keepers would score on themselves as well as miss easy saves on a regular basis. There was also the problem of poor animation choices that would exacerbate the situation by having the keeper lie flat out for a ball that could easily be fielded by simply kneeling in front and picking up the ball. Having had the chance to play and test this system a bit at E3, it feels like the goalkeepers made the correct decisions and had the correct animations the entire time, although there wasn't time for any extensive testing.
The main emphasis for this game is full control over every element of play, from dribbling and passing to receiving passes and shooting. The dribbling control is designed around being able to move the ball around your foot and shift your foot on the ball to fake out defenders all without taking away from the speed of the game.
In terms of passing the system allows for 360 degree passing instead of the usual auto targeting and 8 directional passing. Receiving passes is quite a treat as the design allows you to control how you wish to bring the ball down out of the air, allowing you to chip defenders, or bring in passes off the chest for a quick shot. The full manual shooting is very complicated but basically intends to allow you to place the ball wherever you want with whatever spin as long as you've got the personal skill for it.
All of these new features are very complicated and I'm not afraid to say that I passed and played and dribbled the ball out of bounds many times while trying them out. Fortunately for the more casual player, this system is controlled with an additional button, the Left Trigger, so it will not hinder the fun. However for those players that want to learn the new system, Konami has promised a full performance training mode to allow players to experiment and learn through tutorials and challenges how to master this very complex system.
Look for Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 on store shelves later this year.