It’s Blackadder V in all but name

I’m taking full advantage of being back on the PS4. Here is one half of a PES2016 match in my resumed Master League, with me providing spoken commentary:

The sound quality isn’t great. I recorded the voice track on my phone, and kept moving around. Sometimes my voice is muffled, sometimes it’s crisp and clear. And it’s slightly out of sync with the on-screen action at times. Sorry about that.

I’m aware that few readers actually watch these spoken-commentary vids, so I will summarise what I talk about:

  • I reminisce, briefly, about classic Mathieu, and lament his averageness in recent editions.
  • I recommend a TV sitcom and go on about it for ages.
  • I play badly.
  • I finish making a nice cup of tea and proceed to enjoy drinking it.
  • I play badly.
  • I develop a theory of authority in football games, and outline the reasons why I think PES2016 possesses only a small amount of it.

PES2016, frankly, looks terrible in this video, pretty much all frantic end-to-end arcade action. But it’s not helped by me being distracted by what I’m saying. And despite me saying there were no fouls, the stats screen shows there were some in the unseen first half.

Tuesday will see me giving the above treatment to some FIFA16. I’ll try to keep the sound quality crisp and even. I’ll also try to cover a few matches, and muse more about the game itself than what I’m watching on the telly. And hopefully I’ll play better.

Between the wars

I’ve yet to start playing anything else in my post-PES2014 world. PES2014 was a huge, filling meal of a football game. It’ll take a while to feel hungry again.

The urge will come back — it always has before, and there’s no reason why it won’t again. For now I’ve been amusing myself with other games. Not just other football games, of which more below, but other games.

I think it’s time for Witcher 3 to get a good play. How could I not?

Kaer Morhen

When I was growing up in the 1980s, if I’d seen a screenshot like this one I’d have gone stark staring insane at the prospect of the world I was growing up into.

I played a couple of hours of Witcher 3 some months ago, enough to know that the game itself more than lives up to its promise. I’m also very partial to an in-game cardgame, and Witcher 3 has a doozy.

I’m not going to like the mushrooming quests and sub-quests and sub-sub-quests, but I will see how I do.

And there’s other football games too.

I’ve had a few matches on The Greatest Football Game Ever Made, where I scored these two beauties with a certain J. Mathieu popping up in that famous DMF hole:

That second goal won the ECC against Barcelona. NB: this is all only on 4* difficulty.

Am I tempted by PES5?

I’m always tempted by PES5.

I’ve also been back to PES2016, and played some of FIFA16.

Here’s a vid of four goals. One from PES2016, one from FIFA16, one from PES2016, one from FIFA16.

The first goal shows what happened in the first few seconds of my very first match back with my ML team in PES2016, after 6 months or so away:

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve touched, really. I had a whopping transfer kitty in PES2016. I amused myself by spending much of it on Drogba.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2016_20160617125642

PES2016 could do with being a lot less frantic in the middle of the park. Those damned slide-tackles are the problem. They’re ridiculously effective. When out of possession, there’s no reason not to spam slide tackles pretty much all the time. There are rarely any consequences for getting one wrong. PES2016 is a no-fouls football game.

FIFA16 is also a no-fouls game for me, it turns out. Just as with PES2016, most of my matches in FIFA16 end with pitifully few fouls, or no fouls at all.

FIFA has been a good football game for pretty much the whole of the past decade. But I never seem to play it that much. FIFA15’s 5 Career Mode seasons was something of an anomaly.

If I was a betting man I’d predict I’ll play a bit of FIFA16 and then spend the last few weeks of the footy game year on PES2016, or maybe even PES2015.

It’ll be something on PS4. I can’t face the PS3 and its loading times again.

Although, having said that…

PES2011 is one that sort-of got away. Back in 2011 I flounced off in a strop about the stumble animation. Regular readers will know that I do this quite often, but usually slink back days later, sometimes hours later.

I didn’t slink back in PES2011’s case.

It’s generally reckoned, even by me, that PES2011 was one of the series’ finest editions. So there’s that.

I don’t feel any sense of pressure to make a decision. I’m just enjoying some post-PES2014 relaxation.

When I settle on a football game again, I might even choose to play a non-career mode.

But I will never play online. Online football gaming embodies the opposite of everything that’s worthwhile in football gaming. I include even ‘good’ human opponents in that sweeping judgement. I’d rather not play football games at all than play anything online.

PES2014: a very belated end-of-year review

PES2014-largeMy PES2014 adventure has come to an end, and with it one of the most rewarding and personally satisfying spells I’ve enjoyed on any PES game.

For 3 years, PES2014 was always The One That Got Away.

The one that almost nobody played. The one that almost everybody disliked, or even hated.

I didn’t like it either, originally. I can forgive lots of things in PES, but PES2014’s complete absence of long-range shooting was unforgivable. Long-range shooting is the ‘moneyshot’ of football gaming. You can’t have a great footy game without it. It took them far too long to even partially fix this issue with patches.

The late patches in April-May 2014 resolved most of the game’s issues, and even made it possible to score some long-rangers. I picked up the game and played it, off and on, every now and then, and looked forward to a time when I would give it a proper go.

That time came along this year. I’ve played 11 seasons in Master League. It’s been a remarkable experience. The past five months’ blog posts must be seen as constituting my detailed impressions, so I won’t recap everything here. But I will sum things up.

The final table of my final season:

PES2014 season 11 final table

This was the Team of the Season:

PES2014 season 11 TOTS

Bit disappointing to get just two players in there.

PES2014 season 11 final awards

And I lost the Champions League final to Barcelona, who were as good as their billing.

The AI in PES2014 is one of the strongest I’ve ever come across in a football game. Its variation of attacks and goals is pretty outstanding. Yes, there are moments of stupidity, but these came to seem part of the charm of this eccentric edition of PES. If I was scoring PES2014 on its AI alone, it’d get a solid 9/10 from me.

Those readers who have watched Tuesday’s spoken-track video will already know from my sign-off that I regard PES2014 as the last football game of its kind. What does that mean?

It’s my settled view that PES2014 was the last football game designed with the single player uppermost in mind.

After the caning that Konami got for a risky PES – one that tried a few new things, that not enough people liked – multiplayer became the priority. I understand why, even if I deplore it. It’s just the reality of the market. There’s little point bemoaning it, although of course I will continue to do that.

I started playing PES2014 in January this year. That’s five months of solid football gaming.

My main finding is that ‘responsiveness’ – automatically seen as a good thing on the PES forums – is a grotesquely overrated commodity in football gaming.

PES2014’s notorious lack of responsiveness is the game’s best feature.

Lack of responsiveness is what makes a football game a football game, rather than an arcade-em-up with 22 nimble ninjas pinging a ball around a green rectangle. Yes, that is an unfair description of PES2016, but it’s not completely unfair.

Football games of 2016 and beyond could do with more sluggishness, more clumsiness, and more all-round lack of responsiveness. Sadly, the expectations of online multiplayers now dictate the content and style of football games. Online multiplayers expect fast, flowing, responsive, ‘fun’ gameplay.

PES2014 often isn’t fun. But here’s the kicker: Classic PES was never about fun.

It’s a flagrant rewriting of history to claim that ‘fun’ was the defining characteristic of the era of PES that everybody harks back to (PES2 to PES6).

Yes, it was fun – but it was so much more than fun. Fun was just a subset of its greatness. PES2014 harks back to that hallowed tradition. Fun has its place, but it’s not at the forefront of the experience. It’s not dished up to you. You have to work for it.

In that sense alone, PES2014 was perhaps the last game of its kind.

And so we come to my final review-style score for PES2014, which poses me a problem.

9/10 would be too high. 8/10, on the other hand, would be too low. 8.5/10 would feel just right, but I don’t deal with halves…

So I’m going to invent my own unit of measurement, and give PES2014 a final score of

43 RESPONSIVENESSES OUT OF 50

Which is a cunning method of giving it about 8.5/10 anyway.

8.5/10 (or 43 Responsivenesses out of 50) is at least double the score I’d have given it back in 2013/14 itself.

It took a lot of patching and a lot of time for PES2014 to come up to snuff. And I would still say that PES2014’s shooting is the least satisfying shooting we have ever seen in PES.

But overall?

PES2014, it has been a pleasure.

PES2014: Finale

With voice commentary from myself.

Apologies to readers who customarily read my posts from behind internet filters at work or college, or who are otherwise unable to access the audio component of this video for any reason.

I’ll do a conventional end-of-season post on Friday, complete with musings on the way it all went, on PES2014 in general, and on the next few weeks and months on the blog.

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