PES2009: Become a Legend – 1st impressions

March 30th, 2009: the day I finally got around to playing Become a Legend. That’s six months after PES2009 was released with BaL as one of its crown jewels.  I know, I know. It’s almost unforgivably late of me. Who do I think I am, with my Master League this, Master League that; with my Manager Mode boo-hoo-hoo this, Ultimate Team hip-hip-hooray that? And as for playing anything at all online, well, forget it.

But now I’ve started—albeit late, and albeit tentatively—to dip my toe into the waters of other game modes. Become A Legend was billed by many as PES’s answer to FIFA’s Be A Pro mode. However, it’s fairly well known now that Be a Pro was itself a ripoff/tribute/inspired by Winning Eleven’s fantasista mode.

You create a player, and play as him for the duration of an entire career, aged 17 to 35. They say that an Attacking Midfielder is probably the best all-round position to play in one of these solo-player game modes, so I went with that. I created myself as an AMF, envisioning myself turning into a classic PES AMF over time. The most valuable players I have ever had in PES over the past few years have been AMFs.

You get to customise your player’s appearance using one of those multi-menu affairs that seem to go on forever and ever. You can position your nostril hair at a 30 degree angle, and that kind of thing. Here’s the final head I ended up with:


There I am. No, I’m not really that bald.

So to the game itself. The first thing you do is play a match for the benefit of the ‘scouts’ watching you. I played quite badly in my scout match, I think (see below), but still got a few decent offers. I signed for Manchester City.

One of the factors that held me back from trying BaL before now is that I have played FIFA’s Be A Pro mode—in last year’s FIFA and in this year’s FIFA—and not been very impressed. Oh I’ve liked it well enough at the start, for something like 20 minutes. Then the rot set in. I’m afraid something similar happened with BaL.

It frustrates me to only have control of one player. I want to be the one playing all the passes and trying to unlock the opposition defences. I hate just watching the game going on without me, as it seems you have to do for most of the time. I hate being patient, waiting for the ball to come to me, playing my position.

Unfortunately, my first six or seven matches in Become A Legend did not go well. Admittedly I was my own worst enemy in matches 1 and 2. I had no idea about double-tapping R2 to call for a pass. And I was chasing all over the pitch trying to insinuate myself in passages of play that had nothing whatsoever to do with me. This was emphatically not the way to play this game mode, I soon realised.

I started playing ‘properly’, sticking to my position, using the L1 button to ensure I didn’t stray too far, waiting for the flow of the game to come near me. I started going on what I thought were intelligent runs and calling for the killer pass. The pass never came. Most of my time was spent just aimlessly twisting more or less on the spot, watching instead of playing. In one match I touched the ball 3 times. In the next, 9 times. These were all training matches and the atmosphere was totally silent—almost eerily so.

It was pleasant, actually, almost Zen-like. I had a shot on goal in one of the later matches. The manager switched from 4-4-2 with me playing as a CMF to a 4-5-1 with me playing as an advanced AMF just behind the lone striker. I saw a lot more of the ball and was effectively a second striker. It was at this point (just before my play-session had to end) that I started to see just what this game mode might be, if I stick with it. I can see why and how this game mode has so many followers in the PES community.

I’m not abandoning Become a Legend, not yet, although I’ll admit to being tempted. I have a keen awareness that I have probably not played it right. I’m still trying to play it as if it’s a regular, familiar game of PES, instead of something quite different. I’m going to give this thing time.


  1. Sonuds like a similar experience to mine on BAL.

    I hate sitting around a passenger in a match, always want to be in control of where the ball is going.

    Eventually got in to a flow with the game scoring a few goals from midfield but it just wasn’t to my liking.

    I’m keen here more about Ultimate Team with screenshots!

  2. Interested to read your first impressions. Similar to mine in being frustrated. However, as the game goes on and you get used to it, you’ll see a lot more of the ball. I’d urge you to give it at least a season.

    Also, your stats will increase in the same way that the master league players would, so you get better as time goes on. I think that when you score your first goal in the first team, you’ll get one of those shout out loud pro evo moments!

  3. Paww – I’ll be posting about Ultimate Team again on Friday (and back to BaL on Monday), but no screenshots I’m afraid. There’s a good article with screenshots on Ultimate Team on the FIFA Soccerblog, and probably loads others scattered elsewhere around the internet by now.

  4. Liam – last night’s 6 or 7 matches on BaL was possibly the most disappointing play-session yet.

    I’ll post more on Monday (by which time I hope things have turned around) but in the last match of my session I went an entire half without touching the ball once. I wasn’t playing like a maniac either. I was playing properly, making runs etc., but no matter where I was on the park, no matter how much space I was in, the idiot AI seemed to prefer to pass to other team-mates who were surrounded by opposition players.

    It was so bloody stupid that I just had to laugh. At least three times a simple short pass from my supposed AI team-mates would have put me in on goal. I mashed R2 to within an inch of its life, but nothing came my way. I couldn’t help thinking “why am I doing this?”—why, when I’ve got so many other games to play, and other things to do besides? It all felt like a total waste of time.

    As you may have gathered from this I’m not a big fan yet (!), but occasionally the sun does peek through the dark clouds and I do appreciate what this mode is all about. At the moment I do see enough for me to keep going and at least play 1 whole season. But the team-mate AI is utterly atrocious. I can say now that if that nightmare game last night turns out to be anything like the usual way of things, I’ll never learn to love BaL.

  5. It really can’t be that bad, but again I am impressed with your honest opinion. Going to try a bit of it myself (“Fix” mode as it is in PES 2008 PS2) . . .

    Brb. I have an errand to run.

  6. I am going to try a version of it, maybe with the Master League. I tried the fixed control setting in PES 5 before, and it was all right then. I would get average ratings as a central midfielder (average and below average ratings being very typical in my PES experience, and in no way is this a criticism of Seabass’ rating). But I get what you say. It could be fun at times, but it doesn’t look like something to spend most of your time in terms of gaming. We’ll see what your final impressions are at the end of the season, or if you will surprise us all with an early dismissal.

  7. steph_wheeler—I know BaL can’t be that bad, but I’m finding it that bad at the moment. I haven’t been back on it since the terrible, terrible last session. I was literally just staring at the screen watching the CPU play against itself for about 75% of the time overall, and in some matches 95% of the time. I think this is due to me not getting to grips with using 1 player yet, but even so – could the team-mate AI really be that bad, or is the game simulating more experienced players not wanting to pass to a raw 17-year-old? I really hope it’s the latter, because if that’s just how the AI is then this is not going to be the mode for me.

  8. Not-Greg

    I have some recommendations for you at the beginning of BaL

    First, redistribute your strenghten points the first two seasons for speed and stamina exclusively…if you’re like me and like to play all over the field you’re going to need both attributes. I recommend trying to get at least 85 points in stamina in order for becoming a regular in the first team and having a chance of playing a full game

    Try to get in a position where your teammates will have no other option other than passing it to you, this might mean getting into a position that is not the one you’re registered but might help you in keep in touch with the ball more times. In most of the games in my become a legend career i have like 35 touches with the ball or more since I am pretty active both in the offensive and defensive side. Also there is a special ability called “playmaking” wich you gain by getting 75 or more in the Short Pass Accuracy and the Long Pass Accuracy fields that might help. Getting this ability is a most for your position since your teammates will pass the ball more regularly to you.

    Try getting into a higher ranked team soon that might suit your style of playing.

    Try to get at least a grade of 7.0 in every game. Since you’re an AMF you will be receiving better grades if you make a lot of good passes.

    Be very patient, this mode is hard as hell since your player is crap at the beginning. I quite get the best taste of this mode in the fourth season in my first BaL and further on.

    I too became dissapointed at the beginning and drop it for a month, then tried master league and became more frustated with my crap players. At the end I got back to BaL and since then I am addicted to it. I have a second career as a striker in my fourth season and I am doing quite well.

    Hope these tips can help you. Cheers!

  9. carlos – thank you for the tips, I have absorbed and accepted them all, and will implement next time I play BaL. Truth be told I was considering never playing it again but I will give it at least a whole season, as I said I would. I will next post about BaL on Monday now.

    One thing about the team-mate AI, I have been making runs into all areas of the pitch, very good runs IMO, but no passes have come to me. Deeply frustrating.

    But I will persevere.

  10. well i see what you mean,
    it gets really annoying waiting for passes and watching th game go right pass you

    but after your first season, players pass you the ball more and you get better over time. its worth playing but it takes an age to get your player to have good stats. its very addictive so your first and second season can fly by. the AI is annoying though and some players are greedy and dont pass you the ball, this makes you want to beat ur controller because you could have easliy scored. but when your stats finally get good, you will be running circles aroound your oppenets.

    it is a copy of be a pro but it is still a desent mode on pes 09. overall its addictive, fun, and it needs a lot of work doing to it to make it super.

  11. atesy – thanks for your comment, and for the encouragement. I will persevere with BaL despite getting almost nothing out of it so far. As I say at the end of today’s post I plan to devote the next week to BaL, and I’ll admit that part of me (most of me) regretted saying that. It’s a different tempo, a different philosophy to the regular game, and just has to be got used to. I’d always wonder what might have been if I don’t give it at least a season, preferably two.

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