PES 2013 – The Only Video Game For Footy Fans

PES 2013 by Konami launches on PS3, XBOX 360, Wii and PC this autumn and will give FIFA 12 a run for its money this year if the online rumblings are to be believed. The PES franchise has been around for 16 years and progressed through many iterations both in title and game play style, so what makes Pro Evolution Soccer so popular?

If you live in North America, the chances are that unless you are a die-hard ‘soccer’ fan, this event will simply pass you by, but if you live in the rest of the world, most specifically in Europe, then as every PES fan knows, the football season starts in August, but you only get to play out your own footy fantasies come October, when the latest and greatest version of PES hits the video game shop shelves.

It all started way back in video game time, actually 1996, when Goal Storm was released on the PlayStation. Since then, PES has moved through several naming conventions and the latest update will be called PES 2013. It will go head to head like it has for the past 16 years with Electronic Arts (EA) and their masterpiece – FIFA (12). There are really only these two games vying for gamers’ hard cash every year and if anything that makes the competition even more fierce.

You see the two games have battled it out year on year and this year PES stands a chance of getting back to the top of the pile. It has been languishing behind for the past 5 or 6 years, due in part to complacency, but also the resurgence and downright brilliance of FIFA.

The facts of the case are this your honour;

FIFA (which stands for Federation Internationale de Football Association) as the name might suggest, is an officially endorsed football game, this means that the game comes replete with all the real player names, team names, football kits, competition names and stadia. PES has never had these rights and has had to rely on an editing mode and the ingenuity of the gamers who buy the game to recreate all of the aforementioned details, liveries and stadia. This has fostered a powerful online community purely along editing interests, but when coupled with the obvious game play advantages of PES you begin to see why the popularity of the game is still so high.

So what are these game play advantages?

Well, the trade off in the licensing situation has always been overcome by the sheer beauty of playing PES – it is a game for footy fans. The actual game play has always more closely mirrored the real game, whereas FIFA has traditionally suffered in this area. Playing PES in the first few years was always pure fun, games were high scoring, but varied, FIFA always felt staged and the ball never seemed to behave like a real football, feeling much too floaty. By comparison, PES footballs have always had a weight to them and challenges between players have felt meaty.

An analogy between the two games is to think of FIFA as being a Premier League or Champions League setup, it looks polished and has endorsements coming out of its ears, but it isn’t really true football, it’s a pre-packaged version of the game designed to ensnare glory hunting footy fans, the ones who shout about how great their team is despite knowing nothing about their own teams history.

Pro Evo on the other hand is jumpers for goalposts, dirty knees and eating soggy cornish pasties on a cold, wet Tuesday night away to Barnsley! The analogy might be lost on many and that to some degree proves a point, football isn’t always shiny, multiple step-overs and pink Nike boots, it’s about the teams outside the Premier League who still have fans that turn up for every home and away game, despite not having seen their side win anything for years. That is real football and that is what Konami have tried to encapsulate, despite being based in Japan.

To a large degree they have succeeded, but the line has been blurred between the two games in recent years. FIFA has now moved very close to matching the whole ethos of PES, some say their game play is actually better, I still disagree with that statement, but certainly with the online patches available now to PES gamers, they can sidestep the licensing issue and create photo-realistic players, teams and kits – which means the two games are very much on a collision course to meet in the middle.

Konami have cheered up their fans in previous years by securing licence rights to the England National team, two Premier League teams and various other leagues and players around Europe and the world. This has undoubtedly helped, but give me a fake named Man Red (Manchester united) and quality game play any day over the FIFA version of football. At the end of the day I buy football computer games because I like to play games that recreate the beautiful game, FIFA now does it well, but PES does it better and I’m just hoping that the next instalment of PES 2013 will again give me that option to take the mighty Derby County to European Glory!

A Beginner’s Guide to the Video Game Music Composition and Remixing Community

Over the years, video games have developed into a multi-billion dollar industry. Today’s games involve millions of hours of work and take years to produce. The music contained in these games, as well as older games, is an equal work of art that is often overlooked. Whereas movie soundtracks have been praised for years, until 2005 video game music was largely a curiosity outside Japan. It is only recently that concerts consisting solely of video game music, such as Play! A Video Game Symphony and Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy, have sold thousands of tickets around the world.

Some games today are even marketed on the strength of their soundtracks’ primary composers.  For example, the 2008 Xbox 360 game Lost Odyssey advertised in its pre-release commercials that its music was composed by legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu.  Unfortunately, however, many game music composers and artists remain underappreciated compared to those involved with movie soundtracks.

With the increasing popularity of the Internet in the late 1990s, an online video game music community began to form.  One of the first sites, VGMusic, offered and continues to offer strict MIDI sequences, largely of older (NES and SNES) consoles.  Contributors to VGMusic sequence songs and then submit them for the world to listen.

By 1998, the community consisted largely of independent sites offering MIDI and Impulse Tracker (*.it) files. Some of these songs, which began to move towards “remixing” as it is known today, were mashups of 20 minutes of music from an entire game’s soundtrack.  Searching for songs was a tedious task, because there were no one-stop sources for such remixes.

In 1999, OverClocked ReMix, a site that limited its postings through strict juding, was formed.  Still popular today, the site has received contributions from hobbyists, aspiring artists, and professional composers such as Jeremy Soule.  A panel of judges evaluates and votes on each submitted song, and at the time of this writing, fewer than 5% of submissions are posted.

Compos, or online competitions that challenge participants to produce the best songs, started to appear around 2000, but took a hit when the heavily vaunted Ultima Eternity competition folded. Later, live instrument recordings became popular, leading to the creation of  Dwelling of Duels, a competition where at least one live instrument is required in a song.  Each month, competitors are required to interpret a piece from a specific game or series, and members of the popular game music forum The Shizz vote for the winners.

Also popular early in the decade was VGMix, which was perhaps the first site that allowed composers to post music without judging.  VGMix lived through three different iterations, but much of its music has been lost as a result of security violations.  As of this writing, the site is currently in a state of disrepair, with many of its features broken and registration disabled.

One major contributor that helped bring a great deal of attention to game music was the Mid Atlantic Gamers’ Festival, or MAGFest.  While MAGFest also involves thousands of people playing games with each other in a huge LAN party, as well as events geared towards game development and appreciation, game music has taken an increasingly larger role in the festival lately.  Professional composers have attended, and OverClocked ReMix judges have convened a panel to discuss the site and its community.

The online game music remixing community has grown so large and has such a long history that participants have written hundreds of songs, moved from middle school to graduate school, and obtained jobs in the music industry.  There is at least one instance where two remixers met through the Internet and later married.

As the game music community moves forward, several programmers and composers have teamed up to create a new resource, remixSite, which allows anyone to post video game originals or remixes for feedback.  Because songs on remixSite are versioned, contributors can track their submissions across versions and help each other improve their musical abilities.  This process of incremental improvement is hoped to move the game music community to even greater popularity and visibility.

As more and more companies use live instruments in their recordings and spend more production resources on games’ soundtracks, the future looks bright for game music.  Anyone who has even a passing interest in gaming would be well-served to browse through what the game music community has to offer.