Twilight of the Idol?

My most recent four games have gone like this:

Marseille 2 – 5 Singers FC (Elcherino scored 4)
Singers FC 5 – 0 Feyenoord (Elcherino scored 3)
Atalanta 3 – 5 Singers FC (Elcherino scored 4)

and I was particularly unimpressed with this one:

Singers FC 7 – 1 Tottenham – (Elcherino scored 5)

Here’s a clip showing what happens almost every time it’s my turn to kick off, whether at the start of a game or after the CPU team has scored:

I’m up to 7th in the table with just four games to go. I won’t be able to haul myself into a promotion spot. The resurgence came just a bit too late. The third place is mathematically out of reach.

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Elcherino is the top scorer in the Division by a long way. Despite only starting to play after the mid-season negotiations, he’s on something like 33 goals (<<< that’s one blurry picture). The next-highest scorer, Viduka, is on 14 goals.

I’ll at least finish this season, but then… I’ll see how I feel.

Knowing what I now know about PES2008, I cannot take it seriously as a PES game. Among the many reasons why PES came to be such a phenomenal force in the football gaming world was that it possessed an undoubted quality of realism. It was the discerning football fan’s football simulation. Until now.

In what kind of football is it possible for one player to score 16 goals in four games, with at least – at least – a hat-trick in each? It might be possible in Sunday morning football or in school football, but even then it’s still extremely unlikely. In professional football it simply doesn’t happen.

I know, I know. Yes, I did watch and enjoy the Spurs 6, Reading 4 game on Match of the Day on Saturday night. I know that Reading were also involved in a 7-4 result earlier this season. And that there was a 4-4 game at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day.

But those are exceptional matches in real football. They account for considerably less than 1% of all games. Not more than 90%, as in PES2008

I suppose I could follow some sound advice and immediately place Elcherino on the bench, keep him there, sell or trade him at the end of the season, and limit myself to getting players of more modest ability thereafter.

I could do that. It might even be interesting, and fun, to try it out. But I don’t know if I really want to. I never had to resort to that kind of desperate measure before.

Severe disillusionment with PES2008 has set in. It has taken root in my soul and it won’t let go. FIFA08, for all its shortcomings, is a better football game than PES2008. I acknowledged this to myself a long time ago. Only now am I facing up to the fact. (Once again I have to stress that I am talking about the next-gen console versions of both games, which are utterly different from the last-gen versions.)

I no longer play PES2008 – I just sit there and work the controls. And I think of something else whilst doing so.

How did it ever come to this?

PES2008 is not a ‘proper’ PES game. That’s the awful truth. It’s not PES at all.

I’ve just about come to terms with it, but what terrifies me (frankly) is the possibility that PES2008 – with its arcade handling, its 100mph pace, its jet-heeled players, and of course its butter-fingered goalkeepers – is not an aberration due to the developer’s lack of time and playtesting (as most PES-followers assume), but instead represents a deliberately planned new direction for the entire PES franchise.

If that is the case, then we can probably forget about PES for the rest of this generation, in the same way that we used to automatically disregard FIFA. It’d actually be FIFA that would carry the football game torch forward. The torch that PES used to bear so proudly.

Don’t have nightmares.

8 Comments

  1. Depends how you go about it I suppose.

    I’m in the process of restarting my ML after my third season ended with me getting promotion easily with the most common score line being 3-1. In actual fact it was me either winning or losing by that score line, mostly winning though.

    Anyway my point is, what I’m thinking doing is (not sure what you’ve done) but turning transfer freqency to low (I used high in all other PES) and limiting myself to only being able to get new players once I off load old ones and then only a maximum of 3.

    I mean it looks like you might of found a gem in Elcherino. But in my new ML so far (only 3 matches in) it might be a different story of score lines.

  2. Also isn’t it your choice how you play the game?

    Were all fully aware of the way that with a half decent player you can run through defences like your on beginner but I choose not to play that way. I try and play the ‘proper’ way with build up play and try to score in the ways most fun to me. (I like big build up play, in an ‘Arsenal style’ which is most enjoyable and goals don’t come in such an abunance.

  3. paww2k8 – it’s the overall feel of the game that’s finally almost turned me off it completely.

    In my last ML I didn’t know that the dribble-goal method was a) So *easy*, and b) That *I* could do it! I’ve been an average player all my ISS/PES life and I just never expected to be able to pull off these kinds of goals in any PES game.

    I could stop going for the dribble goals but it’s all a bit ‘FIFA97’ if you ask me. In that game I quickly discovered the almost guaranteed method of scoring where you dribbled down the wing and crossed into the middle and your striker was there to pound the ball into the net, time after time.

    After discovering that, I could never take FIFA97 seriously. The same kind of contempt for PES2008 has come about because of its easy dribble goals.

    But it’s not all about the dribbling. In my whole 5 seasons in the first ML career, I only scored roughly 5 or at most 10 goals by dribbling (I really was an innocent back then). I was crafting 80% of my goals using Arsenal-style pass and move tactics, just as I have always done. I got most of the remaining goals through my beloved long-range shooting (still very satisfying in PES2008).

    It’s the arcade feel and cricket scorelines of PES2008 that are the most serious drawbacks IMO. No matter how disciplined I am, no matter how I restrict myself, those inflated scorelines will just keep on happening in Master League.

  4. Hi ‘Greg’

    Been reading your blog for a while, and have to say every word that you say is true. I’ve now got FIFA and am playing that more than Pes 2008, but in all truth I fancy a return to Pro Evo 5. Put it in the other day and had a great 3-2 game vs. Arsenal.

    Its matches like that which made PES the game that it WAS, and no longer is.

    Take my advice, ditch the 2008 edition (almost as bad as the manager game…) and go back to the old Ps2 editions, but don’t stop writing the blog!

    Cheers,

    Chattaway8.

  5. Wow. Now I think I fully understand why you were advising me not to throw good money after bad in trying to play this game.

    I suspect I’ll be renting the US version when it ships and hoping that it it’s a better game than the version you have.

    Remember when the game launched, and Seabass spent all of his press-tour interviews apologizing? At the time, I thought it was very strange (and oh so Japanese), but now I understand. The game is pants. Seabass knows it is pants, and he wants us to know that he knows it’s pants.

    Now, I’m no psychology expert, but that says to me that most likely the arcade-y play of this release is an aberration rather than an intention; you don’t usually apologize for getting it the way you wanted it.

    My $.02, there. PES 5 here you come. It’ll make a better blog anyway. πŸ˜‰

  6. ^ p.s. I’m also going to pick up PES 5 in the next week or so and start playing it again. I liked 4, but it was 5 that truly hooked me on the franchise.

  7. Chattaway8 – thanks for your comments, and no, I won’t be stopping writing the blog. I really do play the game every day, and often thought in years gone by that a blog about it would be doable and a good way to put all that time to practical use.

    I’ve 99% decided to abandon PES2008 at least for now, but whether I go back to PES5 will depend on how reliably it runs on my PS3. If it plays up, it’ll be PES6 for me.

    AND there’s the forthcoming PSP version of PES2008 to look forward to. It’s a ‘last-gen’ version, i.e. PES6 with a lick of paint rather than the supposedly next-gen version. (Those of you who have the last-gen PES2008 might well be the lucky ones…) I’ll only be getting the PSP version if it has player development in Master League, though. PES6 on the PSP had Master League but no player development.

    ck – you should be okay with the last-gen version of the game. I would never, ever, under any circumstances recommend anyone to buy a next-gen console for the next-gen version of the game. I keep repeating the point but it’s worth hammering home: the two versions are utterly different games. I’ve noticed on PESfan this year that it’s created a hell of a lot of confusion and talking at cross-purposes. The PS2 players seem to be content with the game, on the whole, albeit a little miffed that it is brazenly just an update of PES6.

    And I do remember Seabass’ pre-release anti-publicity campaign. I thought at the time he was getting his retaliation in first, so to speak, about the technical problems afflicting the game, especially the PS3 version. I think you’re correct and that he was also – or mainly – talking about the gameplay.

    Still, I’ll have to see PES2009 for myself before I can rid myself of that one small nagging doubt. If PES2009 is another fast arcadey goalfest, we’ll know that PES has changed forever.

    We’ve had arcadey PES games before. PES4 and PES3 are often cited as arcadey PES games. I never saw them that way myself.

    One of the things I’ll have to do at some point over the next few months is spend at least a few days/weeks with all the PES games in turn. I still have them all. Hey, if I can find copies of the old ISS games in town I’ll even go that far back.

    The main game will be PES5, though, followed by FIFA08 – this year’s elephant in the PES room. I was playing FIFA08 this morning. My PES instincts say *NO!* but my gaming forebrain just loves it.

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