Willem, it was really nothing

I’m glad I stuck with PES2009, because the game has opened up to me after I gave it the chance to. Sadly, I’m now seeing (and feeling) more and more the resemblance to PES2008, which isn’t good. I am enjoying PES2009 at the moment, but I enjoyed PES2008 for a few weeks last year, before it all went horribly wrong. I can’t help but worry the same thing will happen with PES2009. But we’ll see. For all the similarities to PES2008, there are some rewarding differences.

Whisper it, but PES2009 can play a slower game of football than FIFA09. The overall pace seems about the same to me. Your players even seem to enjoy a fraction longer on the ball in PES2009 than in FIFA09. Granted, this time enables the more arcadey dribbling style that PES is now notorious for; but it also enables a patient passing game, if that’s how you choose to play.

It’s a shame there’s considerably less freedom to do things with that time on the ball, but still—there’s a pretty deep PES engine under the bonnet. At this time of year every PES fan turns into an elderly aunt inspecting the newborn’s face for the first time. Who does PES2009 look like?! PES2008, most obviously—but going further back? At the moment I can’t shake the impression that PES2009 is a reskinned PES2. It just has that whole feel to it. When I won an International Cup I half-expected the credits to roll with We Are The Champions playing in the background. Anyone who ever liked PES2 should like this game. But after any amount of time enjoying FIFA09, PES2009 can feel like a step down.

As much as I’m enjoying PES2009 now, it still doesn’t compare to what I can get out of FIFA09. After I experienced these positive vibes from PES2009, I loaded up FIFA09 for a few games. Just to see.

And now I can feel one of those FIFA vs PES footballing metaphors coming on. Can’t. Resist…. Here goes. FIFA is up near the top of the table and boldly challenging for the title, while PES is just holding steady in mid-table.

I’m toying with several ideas of how to proceed. Whatever I do, it’ll be difficult. My favourite idea at the moment is one season on, one season off: a season of Master League followed by a season of Manager Mode. But what I want to do is play FIFA09 as much as I want right now, and come back to PES2009 only when I’m good and ready. I’ll probably end up doing that.


Second session on Master League. I’ve played another eight or so games. There have been some surprises. Among the surprises is that the Default players are better this year. Not much better, but just enough to make the experience of playing with them slightly less gruelling. Another surprise is that I’m still in the D2 Cup. I usually get knocked out in the first round in my first season, but I made it through 2-1 on aggregate. That’s another sign that the Default crew are better in PES2009.

My 4-3-3 formation is a ludicrously attacking one for such a limited bunch of players. But after years of Master League, and thousands of matches, I don’t know how to play PES any other way. I briefly played with a 4-2-2-2 back in PES4 (I forget why now). I experimented with a 4-4-2 for a few games last year. But otherwise it’s been 4-3-3 all the way. Maybe that could be a special mission for the future: play using a different formation, and win the Treble.

After a promising start to the season—an almost unprecedented two wins and a draw in my opening three fixtures—I was riding high in 3rd place. Sadly, the old Default player rot quickly set in. Soon I had no one fit, and those who were fit couldn’t play. They felt more like the Default players from last year: the worst ever.

My divisional neighbours STOKE CITY won a narrow 1-0 victory. That’s where it all started going wrong. For the next 5 games I didn’t win. I drew one, and lost four. I scored about two goals. Willem II thumped me 3-0 along the way.

The league table doesn’t lie. That’s what football managers say on television and I believe them.

My wild early hope for promotion in season 1 would seem to be gone. I’d have to pick up some decent results between now and the mid-season negotiation period, then sign some good players, and have a storming second half of the season. Outside chance, but still possible.


  1. I’m surprised that you don’t use Guttierrez? He is one of the best default players and actually turns out pretty good when his stats grow. Is it through blind loyalty to the original gang of alcoholics and womanisers (you know who you are Espinas).

    Also play El Mouktabi (or whatever his name is) in defence.

    Part of me always threatens to try and win the master league with the default players (and just resign the regenerated ones when they retire) but it just seems like that one challenge too far.

    Normally my Pro Evo careers see me win the lot on Master League, win the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue one with unfancied teams, and win all the cups. The fact that i’ve only got a World Cup and one Master League game under my belt says a lot for Become a Legend. Now have 12 goals in 32 games which isn’t too bad for a limited 18 year old rookie!

    good post again, reminds me of that dreaded stage after the opening games and before the negotiation period. The stage when you get really annoyed and start shouting at the computer.

    In regards to what now seems like an age old debate, you’re probably best (like you say) going ahead with the season on, season off approach. Have just started to notice a few comments lately about FIFA losing it’s appeal after a few weeks. I’ll be interested to see how this develops.

  2. Another good post ….
    Id deffo reccomend picking up REID in your negotiation window, he plays as either an attacking CM or Wide Right player, found he has good pace and skilly, good agility and good dribbling stats, i scored a beauty of a lob with him from my own half on PES 08 Master League, you’ll pick him up for next to nothing too.

    Will be interesting to see how you get on with the one season on, one off method, personally im going to finish my first MM season on FIFA then continue with my BAL mode on PES for a few weeks, itching to score that first goal!!!!!

    I cant really see FIFA losing its appeal for me, certainly not after a few weeks as Ive yet to experience the Be a Pro Mode, online or offline, and I would like to try a Manager mode campaign in an unfamiliar league such as Argentina or the Japanese K-League, just to mix it up and experience new clubs and players I dont know about, rather than relying on tried and tested formulas with well known clubs, such as my trusty 4-1-3-2 formation with Liverpool at present.

    between FIFA and PES i can certainly see it lasting me up until the 2010 titles being released. Just gotta find time for Resistance 2, Far Cry 2, LBP, WWE SVR09, Fallout 3, Motorstorm 2……………………..!!!!!!

  3. Liam – there’s a few players that plenty of other ML players would swear by. I’ve picked the ones I like, but in their time the others you mention have done okay for me. Not that it matters much WHO gets picked now, because the buggers can’t play more than 1 game at a time, sometimes not even that. The ML players are annoying me so much right now. The good start was an illusion.

    I remember in the run-up to PES5 Thierry henry did a press interview where he said he only ever played Master League with the Default players,and he won everything. I was impressed. I think it’d actually be impossible on Top Player, surely?! He must have been playing on Regular (or 3-star difficulty as it was then).

    Yes, I’ve read all about the famous FIFA09 comedown after a few weeks. I’ve yet to experience it. Breaking off for this week of PES might have delayed it—IF it’s real. It might be real, who knows. FIFA08 was a good game all year round for me; hopefully 09 will be too.

    What’ll I be playing most in January? March? May? I’d bet on it being FIFA09, but I’d never call it certain. PES2008 last year (great for a few weeks, then nosedived dramatically) taught me that.

  4. Paul – I’m with you on the forthcoming release schedule for games. Personally I’ve picked out Fallout3, Mirror’s Edge, and Football Manager 2009. I’ll probably pre-order them. LBP I’m concerned about, as to me it looks like a great idea in search of a game. User-created levels are fine in theory, but they mostly seem to be penises, vaginas, or Halo-themed penises and vaginas, unfortunately. I doubt I’d have time to spend creating my own uber-levels, so what is there for me? I’m waiting to see how LBP plays out post-release, rather than snapping it up straightaway.

    Oh, and I’m already past the negotiations period – played it through this morning. Picked up some non-entities. Post to follow at the weekend, or Monday.

    I can’t see FIFA09 losing its appeal either. It really is where I imagined PES would be by now, when I imagined PES in the next generation. But anything can happen.

  5. Greg – loving the title of this entry. Probably my favourate Smiths song, either that or The Headmaster Ritual (see if you can work a pun around that song sometime!)

    Good to see back in the Master League. A welcome return to the blog depsite your increasing defection the FIFA09. whichever way you go, I’m sure it’ll make for an interesting read. I’d suggest sticking with PES09 for at least a couple f seasons and if it’s worn off by then, turn to FIFA for good,

  6. LOL @ the Penis & vaginea themed Levels on LBP!!
    Im not overly enthusiastic on the game to be honest, it seems a nice idea with the user created levels but im thinking next gen Lemmings!?

    Far Cry 2 should be delivered tomorrow though im looking forward to this as I loved the first game. Cant see me finishing it any time soon with Pro Evo and Fifa on the go though.

    If any readers fancy a light hearted game of FIFA online anytime, my PSN ID is xPJRx – look me up or add me.

  7. Andrew – “The Headmaster League Ritual”?

    I still haven’t decided about what to do. I’m pulled in both directions. I think this shows just how powerful a hold PES has on me after all these years. I think it’s clearly an inferior game in the here and now. I vastly prefer FIFA in almost every department (its career mode is a big minus), but the ingrained PES-devotion just won’t go away.

    Paul – I’m not into platform games at all, haven’t been since the days of Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy on the Spectrum (probably before your time). LBP will have to do a lot to convince me.

  8. Jet Set Willy was a classic, had that on the Spectrum 128k +2

    Just in the process of knocking up a little FIFA fan site, have mentioned your blog on there Greg, hope you dont mind, if you do let me know and il take it off.
    http://www.fifafantasy.moonfruit.com still in development at the mo, only started it an hour ago.

  9. Paul – ah, the Spectrum 128k+2—an abomination! I’m from the rubber keyboard generation…

    I don’t mind a link at all, I’ll return the favour if you keep the site going. It certainly looks very good. Hmmmm. This reminds me that it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing the FIFA equivalents of PESfan and EvoWeb etc. popping up. I saw some talk from ex-referees on PESfan the other day about starting a FIFAfan site. There’s a definite gap in the market.

  10. Formations were always something of a bug-bear for me in the past. Seems like I’ve overcome that issue recently.

    I always used to swear by a 4-3-3 formation (not too disimilar to yours) but on FIFA09 and PES6 I’ve come in to my own with a 4-4-2. Its just something you’ve got to get a feel for I guess.

    Although on PES2009 I found myself tempted to slip back in to that comfort-zone of 4-3-3. Its the sort of formation that when your running away with a game its a wonder to be hold, if your struggling its agony trying to claim the midfield!

  11. Hi not-Greg, love ur blog. I’m a long term PES fan as well, but unfortunately like you, been gutted about how PES2008 turned out and now enjoying playing FIFA09 on my mate’s Xbox360.

    I’m going to get my own next gen console tomorrow, but still can’t decide between 360 or PS3. Any suggestions?

    Honestly speaking, I only play soccer game on my console (the same as all those past years) and don’t really care about what other exclusive games on each console. So really would love to get some helpful advices from you guys 🙂

  12. “Its the sort of formation that when your running away with a game its a wonder to be hold, if your struggling its agony trying to claim the midfield!Its the sort of formation that when your running away with a game its a wonder to be hold, if your struggling its agony trying to claim the midfield!”

    So true.

    What I’ve been doing on the last couple of PES games is try to replicate what real-life teams who play the 4-3-3 do: shift between a 4-5-1 when defending and 4-3-3 going forward.

    Usually, I set the 4-3-3 as my default formation with my 3 midfielders arranged in a triangle (holding midfielder sitting just above the back 4, a CMF forward and to the right-center, and an AMF in the hole and to the left-center). The 4-5-1 is associated to a strategy button, pulls my wingers back into SMF positions and sets either two holding midfielders with an advanced AMF to spring counters, or a flat 3 with a DMF/CMF/CMF combo. The latter works wonders as far as winning balls, and helps hold a lead when you need to.

  13. Infinideas – I can only go on personal opinion as I dont own an XBOX or never have but do have the PS3 and can say its one of my most valued gadgets ever!! Apart from the games, and as you only play footy games you can forget the 1st/3rd party exclusives etc, I use mine just as much for Bluray movies, streaming tv episodes, films etc from laptop to PS3, browsing the web, for Photos…. put short the PS3 is more than a gaming machine, its a multimedia hub, and in my opinion, much better placed for the future with its cell processer, changable Hard Drive and Blu Ray Player.

    On the topic of formations i found myself losing my 3rd game in a row and subsequently the last game, of my Manager Mode season on FIFA last night, so switched to a 3-5-2 Formation, as Liverpool, Playing Gerrard up as a 3rd striker in the ‘hole’ with a Defensive Midfielder shielding the Back 3. 2 wide Wingers and 2 central attacking midfielders….. certainly overpowered the opposition and had numerous attempts at an equaliser but unfortunately was caught on the break and ended up conceding a second!!

    Greg – Thanks for the link exchange, plan to work on the site over the weekend, there is deffo a gap in the market for dedicated Fan sites of FIFA that share all the latest news, a la WENB or PESFAN.

    Also scored another scorching volley with Torres Last Night…. Link to come.

  14. Hi Gregory and others,

    OK against my better judgement I rented PES2009. My thoughts? After being on top for so long, PES goes down hard this year. I desperately tried to find any positives in PES 2009, but I couldn’t manage even that. The game is fun, if you play it once that is. Graphics are sad, realism level is even worse, and the fact that FIFA 09 is so good this year will not make life any easier for PES 2009. Being a devoted football fan and having played so many football games for years now, I can firmly confirm that this is not the football game you want to be playing this year. FIFA 09 to PES 09 is exactly what FIFA 02 was to PES 02. For all the hardcore PES fans out there, good luck finding any positives in this one.

    And Greg went is that guide to semi-shooting on Fifa going to appear?

  15. Paww – like I say in the post, I’ve got to the stage where I can’t play PES with any other formation than 4-3-3. Upon reflection I think this is a symptom of the underlying game not having really changed for almost ten years! I’m happily playing FIFA09 with a 4-4-2, a 4-5-1, a 5-3-2. Maybe it’s because I’m willing to experiment in FIFA…

    Infinideas – thanks for your comment, and I have to echo Paul’s recommendation below your comment: PS3. If only for the reliability. The free online features are a bonus. But really, the 360 is cursed with reliability issues. Other than that (if you wanted to take the risk) the 360 is a damn fine console. Living with crashes/freezes is part of the 360 owner’s burden to bear. The PS3 has frozen mid-game on me just once in 14 months’ regular play.

    ck – but for PES’s ability to switch formations on the fly with strategy buttons, I doubt I’d be as wedded to the 4-3-3 as I am. FIFA, of course, doesn’t let you switch formations in-game: you have to go to the menu and do it. Consequently, I’ve had to learn to play with the more balanced formations.

    And a bugbear for me with PES2009 at the moment is the DMF in my 4-3-3. I’m used to getting a fair few goal-scoring chances with him rushing forwards from the ‘DMF hole’ to crack in long-range shots. But this year, so far, not happening. That’s about half my goals gone at a stroke…

    Paul – I’ll add your link later today. I’m planning some work on this site myself. Nothing major, just freshening up the sidebars. I’ll add it when I do that.

    kiwanis – I already reached the same conclusion, but with slightly more of a positive spin: PES2009 is adequate. It’ll do. It’s been shown up as a stagnant franchise. It’s a shame.

    FIFA09 is where I’ll be spending the near future. But after last year and the way PES2008 plummeted in my estimation (and probably infected my view of PES2009), I’m cautious about hanging out the bunting for any football game. But FIFA09 does seem to me to be almost everything that I once thought next-gen PES was going to be. This makes me feel quite sad about PES.

    And that post about semi-manual shooting should be up Monday or Tuesday now. It won’t be a guide as such, just what I’ve found. In brief: on assisted, if the analogue aim is a clock-face, you can get away with shooting from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock. (In the Arena view; adjust for Tele, etc.) On semi-manual, that window of aiming comes down to about 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock, and even narrower when shooting at an angle. There’s a bit more to it (of course). I’ve already done the terrible Paint diagrams, and hope to get the post up for Monday/Tuesday.

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