My lovely Schwarz, running through the field

What’s odd about this screenshot? No, it’s not that there’s a penalty taking place in a PES game – that’s only become a total rarity in recent years. This is PES5(PC), which I’m still playing.

It’s the keeper standing a foot or two off his line, of course. Even in these days of cowardly real-life referees (and they all are), you wouldn’t see any of them allowing that to happen.

The PES2018 online beta that started yesterday might as well be taking place in another reality, and be about another game completely – because it is. PES in its online guise has never borne more than a passing resemblance to the game I know and love. The day PES turned its face to the online demographic was the day it grew sick. Everything bad that has happened in PES in recent years is because of online. ‘But without online, there wouldn’t even be a PES nowadays…’ I know.

Back at a real football game, PES5, I haven’t paid any attention to the league table since I resumed play a week or so ago. I couldn’t tell you what stage of the season it is. Until I played in the Cup, the D1 Cup no less, against ADO Den Haag, which always sounds more like a walled citadel in a fantasy novel than a football club.

I was 2-1 down from the first leg, and went 1-0 down here – at their place. Right. I rolled up my sleeves and started a good old-fashioned comeback against all the odds. I worked hard for two goals – Schwarz on target again, becoming my MVP for PES5, now – and got it back to 2-1 to me on the day, 3-3 on aggregate, with away goals being equal.

Alas, an old, old problem surfaced. The AI treats the score on the day as the score overall, and thought it was losing 2-1. It went into overdrive, and nabbed itself another when I could hardly keep the ball.

A couple of good wins in the league,. Good goals. Good gameplay. Here’s to the carefree, lazy, hazy days of summer.

The Schwarz will always be with you

There’s my keeper about to take a corner in PES5 on PC. I’m 0-1 down to Spurs and it’s stoppage time. Why not load the box and hoist one over and see what happens?

I think it was way back in PES4 when I started sending my keeper up to take late, late corners (and sometimes late, late throw-ins), when it was obviously the last action of the game and the final whistle would surely blow the next time the AI cleared the ball towards halfway.

Nothing happened here. The AI cleared the ball and the final whistle blew even as my keeper was performing the mad scurry back to his goal-line that we all find so entertaining, in game and in reality.

I’m still playing PES5 on PC. At the moment I’m not thinking about touching base with the other games I was going to touch base with. I mean the likes of PES2011 and PES2013, both beautifully patched on PC.

No, the little game from 2005 is going great guns here in the middle of 2017.

It is too fast by recent standards, and the Master League environment is missing many features we have come to expect.

But, the gameplay. The fouls. The player individuality. The latter two are pretty much 90% of what makes the first. I’ll say it now. You cannot have a ‘true’ PES game without fouls and player individuality. You can have ‘cover version’ versions, which is pretty much what we’ve had for several years now. But PES5 represents the original awesome sauce. Accept no imitations.

My Schwarz is only 18 years old, a Youth yet to reach his peak. He has a clumsy first touch that concedes possession all match long, but he still has the familiar howitzer of a shot on both feet.

Here’s a short highlights reel featuring all 4 of my goals in a recent 4-1 win. A Schwarz hat-trick is the highlight. The one where speedy Kalou races away on the wing to put in the cross shows how stats mattered in the old games.

 

PES5 Alive

A month or so ago, I grasped too early for PES5 on PC. I was still not really able to play on PC with the same convenience and ease as on console. And I had a nagging feeling that my business with PES2017 wasn’t done. Also, my third mistake was to start Master League from scratch, with the grindiest Defaults ever, after a long and exhausting PES2017 campaign.

Today, PES2017 is firmly done. Oh yes. There is not one particle of me that wants to play that game again (in a mostly positive way).

And after a domestic rearrangement (i.e., clearing out a spare room and putting a desk in it) my computing circumstances are such that I can play PES5(PC) as straightforwardly as on a console. Pull out chair, power up computer, play.

And finally, I’ve jumped into a Master League that I’ve been playing, on and off, for years. About 6-7 seasons in.

I’ve been having a couple of matches per day. PES5 is the gold standard for PES — for football games — that will never be toppled. Never.

Disgusting pandering to online multiplayers? No.

Fouls galore? Yep.

Player individuality in bucketloads? Oh yes.

Glorious goals. Wonderful rhythm to defence and attack. Deep, profound, interesting. Oh yes — and PES5 is ‘fun’. I mustn’t forget fun, the thing that ‘whippersnappers nowadays’ wrongly think is what PES always used to be primarily about. (10-15 years ago, FIFA was ‘fun’. PES was so much more than mere ‘fun’.)

I wish I had time today to post an awesome hat-trick from the young Schwarz. One for next week.

Here is the squad of players that I will be playing this classic game with over the coming weeks:

 

The last day of PES2017

PES2017 has ended for me. I started my usual Monday session yesterday, made it through a tepid 1-1, and thought, actually, this is the end of this now.

My Saint Etienne career will never have a resolution. My steam has well and truly been run out of.

PES2017 collapsed like the car at the end of the car chase in The Blues Brothers.

It’s almost the middle of July 2017. PES2017 was played more or less continuously (save for that week-and-a-half when I toyed with PES5) since September 2016.

13-and-a-half seasons of Master League.

That’s some pretty good going. The game’s stubborn longevity will be reflected in my end-of-year review of the game at the end of next month.

I will spend the time between now and the PES2018 demo flip-flopping around some more. Just relaxing and enjoying myself, and filling up my batteries for the next great campaign.

I might end up on PES5(PC) once again, and this time give it a proper go. Except, if I do, I won’t be starting over, or even resuming my Season 2 Defaults save. Instead I’ll land in media res on my long-established 7-season career. This means bypassing the long, painful seasons of acquiring better players, and skipping straight to the part where PES5 gameplay is the classic gameplay I remember.

I also have a wonderful installation of PES2013(PC), patched to its eyeballs, that I fancy stopping by for a while.

Ditto PES2011(PC). This game is arguably more PES2014-style unfinished business for me. I walked away from PES2011 back on the PS3 without ever winning anything.

And then there’s PES2014 itself, on the PC or PS3. Arguably the game’s last ‘true-PES’ instalment. We’ll look back in 10 years and say that PES2014 was the dividing line, mark my words.

That’s it. There is no more today. I haven’t played anything else yet.

I did watch a video of PES2018. I wondered how ‘responsiveness’ became the watchword for a generation, when all it seems to achieve is to make PES look like a frantic mess. And eerily like FIFA too.

But they can never take the old games from us. I’ll spend the next few weeks wallowing in the rich heritage of PES. And maybe FIFA too, who knows. (FIFA07 on PC? I might just do it, you know…)

End-of-year-review of PES2017 to come near the end of August. The score will be somewhere around 8/10. I’ve got to decide how savage to be about no-fouls. I’m thinking ‘moderately savage’ at the moment.

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