Unreality bites

Well, this is a long old run-up to the 2009 set of football games, isn’t it? I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m finding it particularly tough to cope this year. Last year was bad enough—I thought October and PES2008 would never come (and now I wish they hadn’t)—but this year my impatience and hunger for both FIFA09 and PES2009 seems at least twice as bad.

In the meantime I am still playing the PSP version (needless to say) of PES2008, and FIFA08 on the PS3. I haven’t spoke directly about my ongoing careers (in Master League and Manager Mode respectively) for several posts. There’s been so much else going on. And, in truth, I do kind of feel that I’ve already said everything I want to say. At this stage, with FIFA09 and PES2009 so close, there’s an air of unreality hovering around both of my current games. So I’m really going to be focused on the approach of the 2009 games from now on.

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Having said that, it’s still worth taking a look at the end of season 2021 in my Master League on PES2008. I actually finished season 2021 on the PSP a week or so ago. I’m well into season 2022 right now.

It was a spectacular end to the season, one of my very best. I scored tons of goals and ran away with the title. After I secured the championship (five whole games early) it was quite instructive to just play the ball around a bit in my last few meaningless fixtures. With nothing to play for I stroked the ball around, trying to keep possession and score wonder goals. At times it was productive. But at other times I saw yet again just what lengths the PES AI will go to to control the rhythms of play and massage micro-outcomes for the sake of its bigger picture.

Here’s a clip that I’ve been sitting on for several days (painfully, in every sense). It shows me trying to pass the ball out wide during a spell of ungodly CPU pressure. Watch what the game brazenly does with this straightforward pass:

The game doesn’t even try to disguise its dirty tricks any more, does it? It makes the ball go straight through my player’s leg and into touch for a CPU throw-in. I was absolutely disgusted. It’s at times like this that I wonder how I ever got into ISS/PES in the first place. Has it always been like this? I don’t remember incidents like the above happening very often—or at all—in the distant past. But maybe I’m mistaken.

I had to put up with a couple of pretty shocking defeats toward the end of the season. In particular there was a torrid game against Barcelona where I felt like a helpless spectator rather than a supposed participant. PES over the past few years has been inching ever closer to that most dangerous place for any sports-based game: a largely interactive script where the ‘gameplay’ is tantamount to an extended Quicktime event.

Ho hum. A year ago when I started blogging about my daily PES habit, I never dreamed I’d spend so much time being so bitter about the transparently scripted nature of some elements of the game.

Will PES2009 see an end to incidents like the one in the above clip? No, I don’t think so either.

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After the season I was curious enough to check my league win percentage. I also checked all the other seasons’ percentages, from 2007 to 2020. For curiosity’s sake, here’s the full list of my win % from the start of my career to the present:

2007 – 0.0% (!)
2008 – 21.43%
2009 – 21.43%
2010 -28.57%
2011- 50%
2012 – 36.67%
2013 – 50%
2014 – 56.67%
2015 – 63.33%
2016 – 60%
2017 – 60%
2018 – 76.67%
2019 – 66.67%
2020 – 74%
2021 – 83.33%
2022 – 60% (so far, after 12 games)

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And that’s the current state of play between me and PES2008. Like I said above, it all feels very odd playing this game (and FIFA08) with the next, super-duper clutch of games just around the corner. I am still playing, though, and next time I’ll post an update about my progress in FIFA08.

12 Comments

  1. Hi not-Greg,

    I’ve just had a thought. With FIFA heading further towards realistic simulation with every incarnation of its game, it leaves a gap in the market for Arcade Football.

    Years ago I lent PES 2 to a friend. He hated the fact his longballs ended up in the stands rather than at the players feet (as they did in FIFA back then) and he called PES: ‘shit’.

    The lazy gamers out there want a kick-about. They want easy distraction and football without the hard graft, without the learning curve.

    I would hate Konami to spy this gap in the market and use their brand as a selling point for an Arcade game. I play Mario Kart on the Wii for my arcade fun. I haven’t played FIFA since about 1997, but I can feel my money going to EA this autumn.

    I await your opinions with baited breath (I don’t trust those WEBN bunch, it feels like they’re in bed with Konami).

  2. Big Al – This is something I touched on a few posts ago, calling it the Doomsday scenario. By accident or design, Konami wound up with a very successful BAD game last year. I hope it was an accident (if so it can be rectified), If it was a deliberate choice – the new arcade direction – then as PES fans we’re screwed, basically.

    There’s a lot riding on PES2009, probably more than Konami knows.

  3. Greg

    What will be your take if the AI in PES 09 continues along the lines of cheating?

    FIFA for many people has the godlike (as you call it) AI maintaining possession for long periods. I have to say I have only came across this playing on Legendary recently.

    Lots of people were still happy with 2008 and reading the forums it appears the hardcore/veteran PES players were the ones disgusted with the ping pong 2008. The people who are happy with PES are the ones who dislike FIFA’s simulation of football, which you have to master. I am glad I made the switch this year.

    I will play both games if the speed of PES is drastically reduced. Both games are different and this could be the first year that both titles come up trumps.

    That’s what I am hoping for.

  4. heraldo – my wish for PES2009 is for a next-gen PES5, cheating AI and all. I know it’s not much, and I should really be demanding more. But if it’s the game that I thought PES2008 was going to be (i.e. a next-gen, ‘classic’ PES), I’ll be satisfied with it.

    Of course, FIFA09 might just come along and blow it out of the water. I’m mentally prepared for 2009 to be a full year of FIFA, if that’s what it comes to. If FIFA09 makes PES2009 seem like an arcadey kids’ game, I’ll bite the bullet and make the jump full time. And wear a black armband whilst doing so. It would truly be the end of an era for me personally.

    Like you a major concern for me with PES2009 will be the speed of the gameplay. After FIFA08 nothing can be the same again in football gaming, and no matter how loudly the kids complain, the pace of FIFA08 was in the right area. The pace of PES2008 (on all platforms) was in the wrong area…

  5. not-greg – apparently PSM3 France are trashing PES2009 – this according to some Frenchies over at evo web.

  6. Yeah as Kiwanis said it has been slaughtered. Here’s a couple of the links from the thread.

    http://forums.evo-web.co.uk/showpost.php?p=1423345&postcount=2660

    http://forums.evo-web.co.uk/showpost.php?p=1423412&postcount=2670

    I will still await the demo before judging.

  7. Kiwanis – I’ve seen the scans. My French isn’t what it used to be so I’m relying on the rather ad hoc translations people are providing. It sounds like the mag has given PES2009 a comprehensive kicking. I’m most disturbed by the comments re. lack of control (i.e. pre-determined, ‘scripted’ moments) and dodgy AI.

    heraldo – I’ll also await the demo but I’ve got a nasty feeling of deja vu about PES2009.

    I pre-ordered my copy of FIFA09 yesterday. I’ve yet to do the same for PES2009. With the PES2009 demo not arriving until ‘the week of release’, it just reinforces my growing pessimism right now.

  8. I don’t know what to expect to be honest.

    I can’t see the 2 boys at WENB making the same mistake as last season and giving false impressions.

    I know PES has been known for its gameplay but looking at the EA Press Conference Video, it looks as though FIFA 09 has the full package this year.

    Also I find it strange releasing the demo on the week of release. If you are confident of your product surely release it earlier especially after the disappointment last year and the hype of FIFA 09.

    I always buy on the day of release, usually midnight at ASDA. Do you get it earlier by pre-order?

  9. heraldo – I want to stress that this is not guaranteed, but last year I ordered both FIFA08 and PES2008 with GAME.co.uk and received both on the Wednesday of the week of release – two days early.

    I’m planning to do the same this year, and hoping for the same outcome.

    Having said that, my MGS4 pre-order with them had the cheek not to arrive until release day itself, so like I said: it’s not guaranteed. All they do guarantee is delivery for release day. They send out new games about 3 or 4 days before release day, so it’s all down to your postman after that.

    (I.e. if you pre-order with GAME and something goes wrong, don’t blame me!)

  10. not-greg you seen the PSM UK scan’s over at PESFAN? makes for interesting reading, especially Seabass boasting of their “momentum” system i.e. obvious scripting in PES2009

  11. http://forums.pesfan.com/showthread.php?t=205444

    Konami producer admits PES is “bent” i.e. has obvious scripting in PES2009

  12. Kiwanis – thanks for the pointer, I’ve just been over and grabbed all the scans (you never know when they’ll be removed).

    I won’t be able to read the whole article until later but I’ve just skimmed it now, and I have to say I mistrust the print media more than the online media. It was the magazines who misled us the most last year and I won’t trust a thing any of them have to say about PES2009. In this era of downloadable demos the magazines are in trouble and they know it, so they have to keep games companies on-side for exclusives etc.

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