Month: June 2008

Lazio noes

The end of season 2018 saw me 9 points clear at the top of the table with three games to go. My goal difference was a lot better than Valencia’s, the second-placed team. So even if I lost all three games (which would never happen anyway, not even to me, an average sort of PES player) the title was guaranteed to be mine regardless. As expected, I won the next game—game 28—and Valenica could only draw. And that was that. I’d won the League. Hoo-rah…

It’s only my third or fourth Championship (I think), so I’d be entitled to feel very happy with it. And I do feel very happy with it. Really I do. But… the whole season has felt like a bit of an anti-climax. I was knocked out of the Division 1 Cup in the first round, ending my hopes for a Treble. That was disappointing, but I had the chance of a great consolation prize: to finish the season unbeaten in the league. That gave me hope of securing something remarkable from this season, but the run came to an end recently with defeat at the hands of the division’s bottom club. So I can’t quite shake a feeling of ‘could’ve done better’. I suppose I’ll just have to rectify matters in season 2019…

Before I get to that, though, there’s the trifling matter of a European Cup final to deal with. My opponents were Lazio. I don’t think I’ve played them at all yet in this career. Actually, I’ve just checked back through the archives and I definitely haven’t played them yet. (I have played Lazio in PES2008, but it was in that other version of PES2008 that we don’t like to talk about.)

Lazio were staggeringly good. Even for a souped-up team playing in a cup final (the CPU team is always souped-up), Lazio delivered possibly the single best performance against me from any CPU team. They were faster, stronger, and yes, they were luckier. I can’t really make my traditional complaint about scripting per se. Once again I think my defensive failings in this match were mostly of my own making. But all match it seemed at times that Lazio’s players were immune to tackling—or, if they were tackled, then my players would mysteriously walk away a few paces and stop dead while the CPU player recovered his wits and the ball and raced away with it… Words cannot do justice to the sense of injustice I feel whenever this happens.

But anyway. Lazio were brilliant and the non-tackling issue was relatively minor in comparison. They took the lead, I equalised, then I took the lead—it was 2-1 to me at half-time. I was pretty comfortably holding them at bay. The second half started with a hurricane of incessant Lazio attacks. I still held out, but inevitably buckled towards the end, just when the finishing line was coming into sight. Gutted. 2-2, and looking like extra time. Then I made a schoolboy error.

A Lazio striker broke through my defence out on the right wing and headed in toward goal. I should know better, but I advanced my keeper by pressing Triangle. For a couple of versions now, there’s been a fault when advancing your keeper at an angle towards an attacker. The keeper makes a beeline toward where the ball was at the start of your Triangle-pressing, ignoring the CPU player’s continued run. This leaves a massive gap that the CPU player can hardly fail to score into. That’s what happened here.

2-3 to Lazio in the 90th minute. There was hardly time to restart. I had a token run down their wing, lost the ball, and the final whistle went. Ouch. This one hurt.

After the disappointment of losing the European Cup final I took my eye off the ball in league game 29, and lost 0-1 to Recreativo de Huelva. That meant I’d lost two games all season. Disappointing, but with the unbeaten record already gone, it wasn’t disastrous. I rallied for the final game of the season and trounced Deportivo la Coruna 6-0. My strikers ran riot. Andy Cole got a hat-trick, Giggs got two, and Kim Cyun Hi got the remainder.

My end-of-season record in the league is a pretty healthy one. I finished 1st with 74 points from thirty games. I won 23 games, drew 5 games, and lost 2 games (grrr). I scored 74 goals and conceded 24 goals, giving me a goal difference of +50. Now that’s pretty good—Valencia, the next-best team in the whole division, had a goal difference of around +18 at the end of the season. If I could just tighten up at the back a bit—in all competitions—I might well get into that ‘Treble every year’ zone where I want to be. We’ll see how it goes.

Next up is the pre-season 2019 negotiations period. With the seasons passing, it’s time to start making some plans for the future. I’ll be visiting the Youth list. And I’ll also be rearranging my First XI. It’s time to make some tough decisions.

Recreativo time

I only had time for one game today. One solitary game of PES2008. Time really is in short supply these days. At least it was an important game—possibly a title-winning game.

It’s game 27 of season 2018. I’m 9 points clear of the team in second place, Valencia. I came up against Recreativo de Huelva. I don’t remember mentioning them before. I don’t remember ever hearing about them before, out in the real world, despite them being the oldest football club in Spain. I think they must be the Spanish equivalent of Bolton Wanderers.

I beat them 6-0, easily. It felt great. At the final whistle my players started running around like maniacs and hugging each other. Naturally, I assumed that other results had gone my way and I’d won the league. However, I didn’t see any awards ceremony afterward, and the game went straight back to the ML menu.

Could I have pressed START too enthusiastically and skipped the awards ceremony by accident? I hate it when that happens. RPG games are the worst for that. There’s a big, pregnant pause during which the game appears frozen, and eventually you pluck up the courage to press START experimentally, only for that press to come a split-second after a lengthy (and probably important) cutscene has started, which of course you have now skipped by mistake. Whoops. I thought maybe I’d done the same thing here in PES2008 with my league championship awards ceremony.

Then I took a look at the league table. Valencia had won their game as well. I was still 9 points ahead, with three games left. So, it was mathematically possible—in theory—for them to overtake me if I lost all my remaining games and they won all theirs. Never mind the fact that my goal difference is so much larger than theirs that they’d have to win them all 12-0. That’s just not going to happen, not even in PES.

So the league is mine. I’ll just have to wait for another game or two to make it official. Before I play another league game, I have to play the European Cup final. It’ll be against Lazio. That’ll have to happen tomorrow now.

Bigmouth strikes again

Yesterday’s press release from Konami was a bit of an anti-climax. Announcing that they are going to release PES2009 this Autumn is a little like announcing that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. What was the point of it? I suppose the point was to provide official confirmation of the fact—we’ve always just assumed there’ll be another PES this year. Now we know for certain that it will definitely happen. Great.

But what I want to see over the next few months are details—not just screenshots (although I’m sure we’ll get plenty more of them). I want to know about the gameplay. I want to know that the goalkeepers aren’t as uniformly, laughably terrible as they were last time. I want to know that the PS3 version won’t require two mega-patches to make it run sort-of-okayish. I want to know that a five-year-old playing on the hardest difficulty setting won’t be able to dribble with Gary Neville past the entire opposition team and then (virtually) stoop to head the ball over the line. I want to know that 6-5 scorelines will again be what they always used to be on PES—a true rarity.

I appreciate that I’m wanting a lot here. Given the nature of games development and the marketplace, I’m not likely to get any definitive answers until I actually have PES2009 in my hands. I certainly won’t be trusting previews and reviews again after last year. Yes, I think the gaming press will be warier of PES this time around, but no, I still don’t trust them. Speaking personally about the PlayStation3 version for a moment, I think one of the telltale signs of quality (or lack of it) this year will be the appearance (or not) of a demo on PSN before the release.

I’m sure there are still people playing PES2008 on PC/PS3/360 and enjoying it. Good luck to them, but for me that version of the game might as well no longer exist.

I still have my PS3 copy on the shelf behind me here. As a PES completist I cannot get rid of it, no matter how poorly I rate it (easily the worst PES game by a very long way). I might stick it back in the disc tray later on this summer, for curiosity’s sake and for a laugh. But otherwise? God willing, PES2009 will be a triumphant return to form for the franchise. If so, 2008 will become the PES year that we don’t like to talk about, and which we pretend simply never happened.


It’s season 2018 of my career on PES2008—the PSP/PS2 version, naturally... I’ve reached game 24 unbeaten in the league, and was on course to complete my first unbeaten Master League season since PES5. Almost incidentally, I was a long way out in front at the top of the league. Valencia, my perennial league rivals, were 11 points behind me.

Earlier this season I was knocked out of the Division 1 Cup by the bottom team, RC Strasbourg. As often happens in PES, the minnows seemed to raise their game to epic proportions. When I met them again in the league in game 25, my spider sense started tingling. I sensed the trap. I felt that the game would go all-out to stop me in this fixture. The question was: could I avoid the trap?

No, is the short answer. Damn it all to hell, but Strasbourg beat me. They played with supernatural excellence, tackling hard, running for 95 minutes, defending in depth, attacking with verve and panache… I lost 3-2.

I’ve been trumpeting my unbeaten run since almost the start of the season. I just haven’t been able to stop talking about how great I’d feel if I managed to pull it off. Me and my big mouth…

The game was a pretty good one, with the lead changing hands a few times, near-misses, and miraculous saves from both keepers. I was disappointed about the result—and, as ever, deeply sceptical about the pre-destined feel of the game, but I’ve had worse. At least I felt largely in control of this game, and could only really blame myself for all three Strasbourg goals. Play enough PES Master League and you end up paranoid that the programming code is out to get you; but you also know when you’ve just defended recklessly, and could have secured a different result with a bit more careful, disciplined play at the back. It was the latter failing on my part that caused this result. And I just had to take it.

So that was the unbeaten season gone—again. Oh well. At least I still have the League and European Cup double to go for. That’ll still make it a great season by any standards.

The defeat by Strasbourg was matched with a win by Valencia (of course). They were now ‘only’ 8 points behind me, with four games to go. It was impossible for me to lose the title now. Wasn’t it?

A break came for the European Cup semi-final. I met a rather lacklustre AC Milan, and thumped them 3-0 at home. I don’t think I’m tempting fate too much by saying that the second leg should be a formality.

Heracles Almelo held me 1-1 in the next League match. Again I could only really blame myself. Heracles played at 100mph with a suspicious amount of skill and strength for such a lowly-placed team. But I still had chances, and again I was at fault defensively for their goal.

And Valencia won again. Now the difference is 6 points. Hmmm.

Hand in glove

Getting back to business in PES2008 after a few days away is always a pleasure. Familiarity breeds contempt, and absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: computer games and the game of football fit together like a hand in a glove. My gaming habits have altered over the years. The days when I could routinely play games for 12 hours a day are now long gone. I miss those days.

Most kinds of computer games require a specific time commitment. You have to sit down regularly and give them the same kind of organised attention that you would give to a film—Metal Gear Solid 4 being a singular case in point. Now, like most people I love Metal Gear as I love life itself, and I love MGS4 as the sine qua non of Metal Gear, but when it comes to the best use of my time I vastly prefer the on-the-go, day-by-day, long-term commitment that a game like PES demands of me.

The same goes for any sport-based game, really. I have a career going on my PSP copy of Tiger Woods 06 that I still dip into occasionally. Ditto Madden 07 on the DS. One thing I love about playing PES is the episodic, bite-sized experience that it allows me to have of it. I’ve now been playing ISS/PES almost continuously for nine years; I’ve been playing this one career in PES2008 since early March 2008, a period of roughly 14 weeks. As great as a Metal Gear game can be, it just doesn’t lend itself to the same kind of long-term play. Even when I replay MGS4 (and I’m planning to replay all the MGS games, including the four PSP games, in chronological order at some point over the rest of the summer) the process will still have a definite beginning, middle, and end. Once I’ve finished them all I won’t play them again for a while, if at all.

But PES is open-ended, endless. PES, for me, is the ultimate sandbox game. Grand Theft Auto and its ilk can take a running jump.


After 24 games in season 2018 of my ongoing Master League career, I’m riding high at the top of the league. I’m still unbeaten and would very much like to stay unbeaten until the end of the season. I have only ever had one unbeaten season in all my years of Master League, and that was way back in PES5. I’ve gone through loads of seasons where I’ve lost just one or two games, but I’ve only ever had that one unbeaten season. Fingers crossed.

A couple more steady wins in the league have left me 11 points ahead of Valencia. There are just six games left. The league is surely in the bag, but I won’t be making any assumptions and relaxing any time soon.

Earlier this season I went out of the Division 1 Cup, dashing my hopes for a Treble. The only trophies I have left to go for is a League and European Cup double.

In the first leg of the European Cup quarter final against Galatasaray I did a good job of nearly blowing it. Somehow I allowed them to score 3 goals against me at home. Happily, I came back to level it up at 3-3 before the final whistle blew, which made the second leg a lot more viable than it might have been.

The second leg was potentially treacherous in so many ways. Galatasaray had the away goals advantage, and they’ve been one of my traditional bogey teams in PES over the last couple of years. I needed to win the match, obviously. I needed to score early and hang onto my lead, and then build on it if I could. I did score early, and scored two more to make it 0-3 to me on the day, 3-6 on aggregate. I went through to the semi-final with ease. What was I ever worried about?

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