To play the King

In Monday’s post I mentioned that, just lately, I don’t seem to have the time and opportunity to play games. Things have taken a turn for the worst. Since Monday I have only managed to play approximately 20 minutes of Puzzle Quest on the DS, and about half an hour of Everybody’s Golf on the PSP. I was sitting on a bus on both occasions.

I considered not posting at all today. There’s not much point in a non-gaming blog, is there? Even less point than there is in a general gaming blog when I’m supposed to be a football game blogger—specifically a PES blogger.

The wheel of life turns. Soon enough, I will get back to my usual routine. I’ll have time and space again to play games, games, and more games—until I’m heartily sick of games, probably. Become a Legend on PES2009 is first on my to-do list when I fire up the PS3 again.

One item of interest in the PES world is the recent return of WENB. That’s the Winning Eleven next-gen blog.

WENB started up in 2007 in the run-up to PES2008. Some sections of the PES community have never forgotten or forgiven WENB for acting as unwitting cheerleaders for that infamous game. Surely PES2008 was the most anti-climactic games release of this new console generation? Arguments still rage about whether Gears 2 or Killzone 2 or LittleBigPlanet have been successes or failures, triumphs or disappointments. My money’s on PES2008 as the worst game since E.T. on the Atari 2600. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration—but for most PES fans it’s emotionally true.

Post-PES2008, some of the Internet was not kind to WENB. Some of the criticism was deserved, in my opinion. But most of it wasn’t. Alas, in the run-up to PES2009, history kind of repeated itself. WENB hyped it up again, and we were disappointed again. Granted, PES2009 was a hundred times the game that PES2008 was, but it still wasn’t the game we wanted and needed it to be.

I don’t blame WENB for adopting a pro-PES stance, for taking the line that this time it was really going to happen. For one thing, they had a successful PES website to run. For another thing, the people behind WENB are clearly PES fans, and they wanted to believe too.

And then WENB disappeared. For months. I don’t know how or why, precisely. There was some mention on their forum of it being due to legal difficulties with advertisers, but I don’t buy that. Disputes with third party content-providers don’t take websites offline for several months. WENB was damaged by the downtime, and it suffered additional damage due to their puzzling silence.

But now it’s back. WENB is back, with its familiar greengrocer’s apostrophe’s and random news items. Of course, it’s all by way an appetiser for the main event: those traditional long summer months of PES rumour and speculation. They know that those of us who still remember them are following them still. As the summer unfolds the site will probably get back to where it was before in terms of traffic.

Their latest podcast is a welcome return to the virtual airwaves for Adam and Suff, the figureheads of the site. They’re as engaging and likeable as ever. They’ve got their podcast performaces down pat after notching up a half-century of podcasts with this instalment. It’s a decent listen, but I feel curiously detached from PES at the moment.

I’m wary of PES2010. I fear the consequences of it being just another average football game. There’s some talk—on WENB, and everywhere else that PES fans go—about whether PES2010 will be the Return of the King. Reading/hearing between the lines in the podcast, I think Adam and Suff are older and wiser this year as well. Perhaps they, better than anyone, know that if PES2010 doesn’t see the Return of the King, then the King is well and truly dead.

Updated: 25th March 2009 — 12:10


  1. I guess you’re right not-Greg saying that the king might as well be dead if it doesn’t regain its crown, but it would take nothing short of a miracle to see PES become king again. Surely how we define king is crucial in determining our expectations for PES 2010.

    We can’t expect a overhaul in graphics and animations. As much as I hate looking at the players running animation, it’s sad to admit that I think they will remain unchanged. The ball physics will be claimed to have improved again and yet for over a decade it seems the game hasn’t been able to implement top spin except on freekicks. Crosses are just floated in to the area (I know you can cross hard at the near post or low along the ground) and shots always have some under spin which means the ball only dips due to its weight and yet keepers inexplicably still seem to fumble those relatively easy shots.

    One more thing that I’ve noticed recently is that PES players are not sufficiently athletic. It’s as if PES was the kind of football Seabass goes out and plays with his friends at a local park. I realized that there were a couple of first touch animations that could only be performed if you moved your player around before he took his first touch. Other than that 99% of moves in the game (except sprinting which looks like it’s from another planet) look like they are performed in the cool headed fashion of senior players. Furthermore, the accuracy of these “advanced moves” is by no means guaranteed. It’s very infuriating to see your player run to meet a high ball and let it bounce off his chest and deflect behind you. In the same vein, I think its disappointing that a player cannot be running and keep the ball close to his chest.

    I’m sorry that this turned into a rant at PES. I am still playing PES 2008 and certainly recognize its very strong points but I just needed to point out these items that I think represent a lack in their gameplay. I have nothing to say about Fifa because they basically copy what PES do and repackage it nicely with a few extra features, flicks, and tricks. The truth of the matter is that PES has remained significantly unchanged over the years. If it’s going to be any menace to Fifa any time soon, it’s going to have to push the envelope. At this point, PES really has nothing to lose. How about thinking outside the box and adding some new features and bringing some changes to game play, as a way of showing what’s to come in the future.

  2. I just listened to the WENB podcast, and I was curious. At the end, it sounded like they were expressing that 2010 is do or die for PES just as you paraphrased them at the end, making the king analogy. Is it your opinion that if they don’t effectively catch up or surpass Fifa this year that it could mean PES are completely out of the radar for good?

  3. not-greg

    I will give their podcast a listen. As you know I am not an Adam fan, curious to hear what he has to say in the forthcoming months regarding both titles. Now he has officially put his mugshot onto the FifaSoccerBlog along with Suff and Mo from WENB.

    I really hope he leaves that site alone along with his fan-boyish comments. It’s in good hands with Chris Bauer, Placebo and Co.

    540+ games on FIFA 09, the game was becoming a little stale, FIFA fatigue as I call it. So, I went out and bought a host of games, to go back to my gaming past and broaden my gaming experience rather. Highlights being Bioshock, Resident Evil 5, Fable 2 and the amazing NBA 2K.

    3 weeks later, these games are once again put to the back burner. FIFA Ultimate Team has made the FIFA experience even BETTER for me. So addictive, starting off with an average set of players and your created player who is also captain and your best player statistically. Performance related games earn you coins which are used to buy packs of cards and better players. I have not bothered so far, I am enjoying playing with my 1 star team on World Class. A real challenge.

    The gameplay has been tweaked, the difference in AI is noticeable. The commentary team from UEFA 2008 has been implemented. Strangely I started a new MM on the PS3 with the NY Red Bulls and the new commentary team were present. I have played 8 games and no side-step bug is apparent.

    EA and Mr Rutter have taken FIFA to a new level and I hope this mode is here to stay. I hope they take a similar route with Manager Mode in FIFA 10. I am going to disagree with your views in that as much as MM has it’s faults it is so much superior than PES ML (which is so dated and that friggin dog) due to the SUPERIOR gameplay and the ability to freshen it up by switching clubs which I do every 2-3 seasons. Chris Bauer did a podcast recently and I agree 100% on his assessment of ML.

    FIFA 09 is everything I wanted from a football video game.

    Steph Wheeler

    IMO EA with FIFA09 have done a lot more than basically copy what PES do and repackage it nicely with a few extra features, flicks, and tricks.

    They have set the benchmark in football gaming. Yes it has flicks and tricks, but it takes hours if at all to perform these in competitive matches. The animations are sublime, shooting, variety of goals (contrary to what others say) and the headed goals again (contrary to what others say) can be done on a regular basis. Example my 1 star Ultimate Team in my first match, I scored 2 headers a looping back post header and a downward header, both controlled by me on WC.

    It is more than a fancy packaged title as you put it.

    I was a PES fanboy and one who has played 350+ games on PES 2009. More importantly I am a FOOTBALL fan who wants the best football gaming experience and FIFA gives me that and more.

    I really hope PES 2010 comes up with a new engine and returns to it’s former glory. If rumour has it, they will need the extra 200 people they have employed. If not, I know that I will have a top notch football title in FIFA with it’s fancy packaging, flicks and tricks.

  4. Heraldo I am not going to argue with you as I am in a weak position. I haven’t tried next-gen Fifa. I am actually glad that I got the other side’s perspective. And going by what you said, it’s even better as you have been a PES fan, have given PES 2009 a whole lot of playing time. Thanks for posting, I am interested to get the views of a football fan, as you put it. Going to check out the Bauer podcast.

  5. lol funny you should write about E.T. on the 2600 , I followed your link to the wiki, & was suprised to read that it was a flop.

    For me it was one of the memorable gaming experiences of my childhood, during the years I owned an Atari 2600. Then again, I spent all my hardearned pocketmoney on cartridges, so I made sure to get value for money, playing day out, day in. I even played the Asteriods game (that came with the console) in one sitting, until I reset the score counter 99999 -> 00000 🙂

  6. steph_wheeler

    You won’t get an argument from me mate. I have been a Pro Evo fan since the start and have so many fond memories. With 300+ games in PES 2009 shows what I think of PES still, it still has many pluses but as publicly stated it needs a massive overhaul in terms of animations and an engine overhaul. Employing an extra 200 people hopefully will help bring back much needed success to the PES series on the next-gen platform.

    I still play both games, but FIFA is light years ahead. I only switched to FIFA after reading not-Greg praising FIFA 08. I am glad I lost my PES fan-boy attitude and gave it a go, as I said earlier 09 is an astounding game, yes it still has faults but overall it’s a brilliant game.


  7. steph_wheeler – good comment packed with points that few PES fans would disagree with. One thing I must stress for anybody else reading the post and comments is that the PES2008 I talk about in the post, and the PES2008 you mention, are two completely different games. The one I mention is of course the notorious ‘next-gen’ version on PS3, 360, and PC; the one that you and I are both still playing is the much superior, so-called ‘last-gen’ version on PSP and PS2. Roll on a few years’ time when at least the whole next-gen/last-gen distinction will be well behind us…

    Re. the Return of the King metaphor, it’s been a fairly common one on several PES forums for several months (feels like years) and has recently been the title of a locked thread on the WENB forums, indicating that WENB plans to continue its (IMO) over-strict policies on its forum. As much as I like Adam on the podcast (unlike heraldo!), I think he’s a really poor forum moderator.

    You may also have been listening to a different podcast. The one that I was talking about was podcast 50. I’ve just noticed podcast 51 has popped up, and contains the discussion towards the end about it being do-or-die for PES2010.

    And in answer to your question, it is indeed my strong belief that 2010 is IT for PES. Third time’s the charm, as they say. It’s now or never. Do or die. Put up or shut up. After this coming October there’ll be no more excuses.

    heraldo – it’s really great to hear you’re still getting the maximum pleasure out of FIFA09. As you may have seen, I’ve wobbled slightly on that front, although I have to say I’ve had no time to relax into anything games-wise over the last few weeks. (Going back to Assisted controls was mainly in the hope that it could save me time and improve the experience in the short bursts available.)

    I saw the Ultimate Team update and looked at the download screen, but was put off by it being a >1GB download! Did I read that right? Anyway, I thought it was >1GB, which is a 30-minute download on a good day for me, and I just couldn’t spare the console time to let it happen. But I will let it happen soon, because…

    …The good news is that I have some time off work coming up and I plan to wallow in a sea of gaming for a few days straight. It’ll be nice to use my PS3 in particular for something more than watching missed TV shows on BBC iPlayer (which it does superbly well, as it happens). I still have to finish Valkyria Chronicles.

    I have to find and listen to that Chris Bauer podcast. I’ve seen a few of his short videos about PES2008 and I liked what I heard.

    diego – it was probably your age making ET seem better than it was. I was still a child myself at the time and remember seeing it in action at a friend’s house, and thought it was a decent game. But any game was a decent game back then! It flopped massively in America and has since become a byword for bad games, which is why I reached for it in the post when I wanted to cite a bad game. I’m sure there are many worse games. Superman on N64? PES2008 on PS3? *ba-bum-bum-TISH!*

  8. Hey not-Greg 🙂

    I too was ecstatic when I hit that WENB bookmark and it brought a site that WORKED. Then imagine my excitement when I saw the story: PES2010 rumors…

    Well, first, before you tell me, I know exactly how much grains of salt I should take rumors by, esp PES rumors, and especially after the 2008 and 2009 iterations of the game. But, I BELIEVE THEM.

    I didn’t believe them last year. Simply because the game was too messed up to expect a revolution. I expected EXACTLY what PES2009 turned out to be. A humble graphical and gameplay upgrade.

    But the rumors that PES2010 will have a new animation/graphics engine, as well as the +200 hirings ALL MAKE SENSE, this time. They are supported by FACTS this time. Facts such as, PES2009 being a remedy of PES2008 while the real next-gen game comes out (and this is exactly what PES2009 turned out to be). Facts like Konami was talking about PES2010 in August 08, even before PES2009 was released. Facts like Seabass expressing open admiration to FIFA’s animation system. And finally, it’s a fact that when a company takes the next-gen turn, THEY HIRE, MASSIVELY.

    So yes, PES2010 will be a revolution followed by many small evolutions, till a newer generation of gaming arrives….

  9. Not-Greg, I did listen to both WENB podcasts. Not that you should verify but both actually raise the do or die question at the end, it seems. I listened to half of Chris Bauer’s podcast and felt kinda bored. The points he raised didn’t really appeal to me and he himself warned that the podcast could get boring with only him speaking for a major part of it. Will listen to the rest soon enough (he has a guest coming in at the end) and digest and hopefully have more ideas to share.

    TareX, I am a bit skeptical about the facts that you state. Seabass officially recognizing the efforts of Fifa. Really I don’t know how to take that. Was it out of curious fascination that he wanted to comment on that, sort of like him saying “Hey, look at these EA guys who are trying to pull a trick on us with their ‘brand new’ engine.” Or was it more like, “Bloody hell we are way behind! Let’s me make an acknowledgment statement just to save our arses.” But it seems last year was the most direct feedback we ever got from Seabass. So who knows. There is so little PES PR (less than I am happy with at least) that I don’t know what to say. I am certainly not going to go by wild rumours, and the facts you mention cannot be seen as such in my opinion. Only I am willing to consider your final point about increased hiring during a new generation transition, which is valid only presuming that one of the more believable rumours is true.

  10. Well the way he made it, was in the famous HD video with PES2009 running the background. He said that Fifa his year plays a great game, the interviewer asked him what he likes or would like to have from FIFA, he said definitely the animations system.

    Also, Suff and Adam said that when they were in Germany last August, Konami WAS unofficially talking to them behind the doors about how great PES2010 will be… and you don’t do that unless, they have been coding for it THAT long, like any first attempt at a next-gen title.

  11. What can I say, I am appreciating your optimism. Hopefully, the return of the King is imminent. EA watch out!

  12. How I can sympathise with the lack of game playing time not-greg. I’m no closer to completing Valkyria Chronicles. Simply been put on the back burner.

    I did do something that suprised me recently, borrowed a copy of PES2008 (PS3) and started playing a ML season. I was ashamed with my early form (3 wins in 10 games). Suddenly it all came in to place after that and scored something rediculous like 20+ goals in 5 games! My goal keeper is still making silly mistakes though, giving away easy goals to bring teams back in to games they don’t deserve which is always disapointing. Still I’m trying to get the title in the first season with liverpool. Arsenal are on fire in my ml season. only two defeats all season (to me =) ) Strangely found them easier to beat than Derby who pasted me twice. – I went to the effort of doing all of the transfers etc..

    As for PES 2010 (how are we going to be saying that, 20-10 or 2000 and 10?) I don’t have alot of faith in it. The shine has worn off for me and unless they can pull off something spectacular I will be buying FIFA 10(?).

  13. Hi not-Greg et al.

    I see that WENB is back – interesting as to why they went away but I can’t really say anymore as most of what I did hear was very much second-hand info.

    Personally I don’t know why anyone would take WENB seriously. The record of the WENB boys with regard to unintelligent and sycophantic fanboyish hype directed towards Konami, and their substandard crappy products i.e. PES2008, PES2009, is there for anyone with memory greater than a goldfish to recall.

    So all this “our contacts say PES2010 will be x20 better; we have seen a much better version than the demo” etc., which quite frankly is all WENB produces, is in my view the blogosphere version of white-noise. Annoying and to be ignored.

    Anyways not-Greg – if you are playing Fifa09 on the PS3 and want someone to play a decent (non-cheating) game with then drop me a line.

  14. Thanks all for your further comments – looks like the ‘whither PES?’ posts are going to be a regular feature from now on…

    TareX – I agree that it does make sense that this year could finally, finally, be the year that PES arrives on the current generation fo consoles. Certainly teh comments from teh guest on Podcast 51 would support that view. But like many another PES fan and WENB-reader of old, I’ve been hurt too often. This year I’ll need to see the demo, and I’ll need to see several previews from separate trustworthy sources, before I’ll put in my preorder. (That goes for both games, PES2010 and FIFA2010. In PES’s case, the gameplay is what I’m worried about. In FIFA2010’s case, it’ll be Manager Mode.)

    Still, September/October is a long way off. There’s spring and summer to enjoy first. I’m getting too old to be wishing my life away.

    steph_wheeler – I haven’t the time to re-listen to podcast 50 to see if they said what you remember them saying at the end. All I’ll say is that I never consciously copied them. Why would I do that anyway?! I’ve got more than enough of my own thoughts to talk about.

    BIG scepticism about PES2010, as I said above. Believe it when I see it (and play it). Until then, the King is dead, in my view.

    Paww – I’ve got just two missions left in Valkyria Chronicles, but because they’re the last missions they’re huge and would take a couple of hours. I’ve got some time off soon and will finish it then, and will post a spoiler-free overview (not a review) of the game when the time comes.

    I remember your love of next-gen PES2008, but hey, #it takes diff’rent strokes to rule the world (yes it does…)#

    kiwanis – I heard some disturbing WENB rumours too, but you have to take everything on the Internet with the proverbial pinch of salt, and at the end of the day all we want from them is screenshots and information and the like about PES2010. WENB will hopefully ditch the reflex fanboyism this year—even if their contacts with Konami depend on it. I know they’re running a PES fansite, but what we need from them this year is truth. PES2010 is the last desperate hope for something good from PES in this generation. If it’s not forthcoming, time to wave PES bye-bye and make do with fond memories of the PS2 era. WENB’s future will also depend on it, so yes, we’ll have to watch out for that consideration affecting its editorial policy in a bad way. Certainly if their forum moderators’ almost hysterical reactions to any kind of criticism is any indication, it could be another bumpy year for WENB. Ultimately though it’s up to us, the consumers, to read or not read their articles, and listen or not listen to their podcasts, and then run everything trough our own critical filters. I’m looking forward to it 🙂

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