Matches of the Day

At the moment I’m not really playing any one game or mode. I definitely will be going back to regular PES2009 Become a Legend play soon enough. I’ll admit to not being as enamoured of the mode as I was a few weeks ago. The novelty has worn off. But the excellence of it remains. If I didn’t want to play BaL any more, I’d come right out and say so and I’d discuss my reasons. But I am still interested in it. I just need a break to spend some time with other games, which I’ve sorely missed. And I need to spend some time with other game modes in PES2009 and FIFA09, of course.

With my decent new camera, I have filmed two full matches from PES2009 and FIFA09. I filmed myself playing a Master League match from my old save-game as Coventry City. And I filmed a match I played in FIFA09’s Ultimate Team mode.

Don’t worry. I’m not about to post the full videos—at 700MB apiece, I doubt I’d find anywhere to put ’em anyway. There’s little duller than watching other people play football games. (Unless, of course, it’s August or something, and you’re watching a blurry mobile phone clip of somebody playing the imminent new football games. In which case it’s very interesting indeed—but then you’re still only really interested in what can be gleaned about the gameplay. There’s little or no actual interest in seeing how some random ‘trade fair guy’ is playing the game. Indeed, most often they seem to play it very badly.)

Instead of the full, dull games, I’ve put together two short highlights packages. One for the PES2009 match, one for the FIFA09 match. I was going to package these highlights complete with an actual voice-over from yours truly, TV-style. That would have been hilarious… The most whimsical jape of the season! But, sadly/fortunately, I didn’t have time.

Here they are, the PES2009 one first. I’ll set the scene. I’m using the Vertical Wide camera, BaL-style. It’s a useful familiarising tool. Playing with all 11 players using the BaL camera helps you learn its quirks, which are many. But then I started getting back into my old Master League career for its own sake. I’ve been sneakily playing ML matches, off and on, for a few weeks now.

I’m in the Sky Blue strip, naturally, playing against Zenit St Petersburg. This was a typical Master League match. After several near-misses, Bradley—a powerful, swashbuckling DMF in the best PES tradition—gets a fine goal (one that really showcases the joys of Vertical Wide). Then, after having had NOT A KICK all game, Zenit St Petersburg come at me with a late surge. Can you guess the final result?

The big news of the moment in FIFA09 is that everybody has been given some free Ultimate Team coins. If you were an early adopter then you suffered the most from its online teething troubles—and now you get 10,000 coins, gratis. If you bought the DLC later, after the online problems were mostly resolved, you get a decent consolation prize of 5000 coins.

I was very happy to see I had 14,000 coins when I loaded up the game. It’s been a week or more since I last played. I had a few Trades that came though for me to go with the bonus 10K.

I bought a Gold pack, a Silver pack, and put in some bids for some Silver-level backroom staff. I also made a cheeky bid for Arsene Wenger as a manager. That was in a two-day auction. At the time of writing I don’t know if the bid’s been successful. (I’ll edit it in here when I do know.)

Here are the highlights of my first match with my new-look Ultimate Team. All those Gold and Silver cards were like manna from heaven. My two-star team became a three-star team.

One of my new players is a striker called T Gekas. He plays up front in my 4-4-2 with one Gary McSheffrey, a former real-life Coventry City player whom I was very happy to acquire in the Silver pack. Watch for a great debut performance from Gekas:

Link: FIFA09 Ultimate Team - match highlights

Only now as my Ultimate Team starts to gel and become more powerful do I really, really feel the lack of a good offline mode. These one-off ‘club matches’ just aren’t satisfying in the long run, and I don’t like playing online. I’m never going to be an online player. Yes, I have occasional spurts of enthusiasm, but they never last longer than a day. I would love it—ahem, ‘just love it’—if FIFA2010 shipped with Ultimate Team built-in and with a comprehensive Master League-style offline career mode.

I don’t want much, do I? But think how great it would be. EA should just scrap Manager Mode and replace it with an Ultimate Team/Master League hybrid. If that really happened I think I’d be the happiest football gamer in the world.


  1. Grilled Seabass

    Awesome! I’ve neglected Ultimate Mode for a few weeks in favour of Be a Pro and Football Manager, I’ll have to give it a blast this weekend and spend those coins!! Did you get any other good players in your gold pack?
    Have you played through all the offline tournaments then not-greg, I’ve completed two at bronze level but it seems theres a lot of life in the offline tournaments, particularly if you up it to WC+ plenty enough to last you until FIFA10.

  2. Grilled Seabass—Gekas was a Gold player, and has certainly been amazing so far. McSheffrey I mentioned. There were two others, both CBs, who’ve slotted right into my team and are doing well, but I didn’t recognise their names. One is a South Korean, the other is Belgian. I’ll look them up over the weekend and post back.

    Granted, the UT tournaments are decent, but I’m a career-mode man as you know and when I lament UT’s offline setup, that’s what Im lamenting. No tournament mode, however good, could compensate for that lack. In ISS I was more than happy with tournaments indefinitely, because there was nothing else. Here and now, we’ve had almost a decade of Master League in PES, which has thoroughly shaped my tastes and expectations of a football game. I’d even rather play Manager Mode than any of the leagues or cups in the main FIFA09 game.

    Like I say in the post, the dream scenario is for FIFA2010 to ship with UT (possible but unlikely, I think), and that it has an ML-like offline league mode (not going to happen, but it’s nice to dream). If that did happen, I think I’d seal myself up in my room and not emerge until September 2010.

  3. FIFA just looks so much more polished than PES in those clips. A good example of the dreaded scripting too, it was past the 80th minute so of course he’d finish the chance, regardless of how many saves you made.

    I am playing PES 08 for the PSP right now. After all these years I have discovered you can play a bit of football with the default team. One goal against Wigan was one of the best goals I’ve ever scored- yes, with the default team. I do have a few new signings thrown in there like Hoekstra and a Brazilian center back Lon Paerra. It was a goal that resembled ‘that’ Argentinian goal from the world cup. There were 15 or so passes from the defence to the goal, with a Castolo cross into a Guitierrez finish. Too bad I drew 1-1 with Wigans superman last 20 minute finish.

    Are you thinking of starting a new ML? It would be great to read and you can throw a few ideas in. No restrictions as such, but focus on keeping the spine of your team the decent default players (and buy Minanda regens etc), instead of buying the brilliant Bradley etc straight away.

  4. Not Given—taking your last point first, yes, a new Master League career is a very viable option indeed. Playing with Vertical Wide gives PES2009—the full-team game, controlling all 11 players—a new lease of life. A new ML would be immense, and I am very tempted. I’m still playing and liking BaL for now, though, so a new ML is only a fallback option. (For now…) If I did start another one, the only House Rule I’d operate, at least to begin with, is not to get any players I’d already had in the first career. So no Bradley, no Maldini, etc.

    When the Zenit goal came in the PES2009 match, I just laughed. Out loud. I could feel it coming, and it came. In the highlights I never showed the dozen-or-so opportunities I had to score the goal(s) that would have made the result safe. I only had time to show two of the more spectacular chances—the diving header that missed (I thought it was in when I connected), and the bouncing half-volley attempt from Yamada (I can never resist trying them).

    One of the things I’ll be watching carefully for in all the PES2010 previews to come (won’t be long now) is whether there’s any hint on the game’s scripting, or hopefully lack of it. But how many previewers will even play against the CPU, much less play in Master League? Instead, they’ll all just play 1 vs 1 against other previewers, like hyperactive 10-year-olds. Is there any other game genre where previewers and reviewers are so indifferent to the content and quality of the single-player modes?! Can you imagine a journalist previewing an FPS game not bothering to play much (or any) of the single-player mode?

    Oh, and PES2008 on the PSP—brillant, brilliant, brilliant game. Remember when the PSP still wasn’t out, but we knew there was going to be a PES game on it, and we drooled at the prospect? (Well, I did. I drooled.) PES2008 is that game. Admittedly we had to wait three instalments for it to finally happen on PSP, but it was worth the wait IMO. Now, if Konami can just work the same magic on the PS3/360…

  5. Grilled Seabass

    I must admit I never experienced the scripting a lot of people talk about. I just found PES09 too easy, the fightback from the CPU never seemed to come.

    Also, although I agree journos should pay a more attention the single player, multiplayer really is where its at. I wish you could experience it lag-free not-greg, but Pro Evo against human opponents is SO much better. I always harp on about it, but the game engine really shines against human players, there’s a great variety of style possible that you never see when playing against the CPU.

  6. Grilled Seabass—Ahhh, the old scripting debate just wouldn’t be the same without somebody claiming never to have seen it! (In ML, whilst leading 1-0 you’ve never had your players suddenly acting as if they’re heavily sedated? Never seen anything like that?)

    I’ve actually played PES online quite a lot in the past, PES4 and PES5 in particular, also some PES6. PES4 was the year I first got internet at home and I wasted no time getting a PC copy and setting myself up.

    There was no built-in online lobby system back then (!) so we had to use a special 3rd party program (I forget its name). I used to play quite regularly, especially when I went through several months of unemployment (happy days). I was (and am) the kind of player who won’t just press start-start-start and then play, but will take some time to sort though my team and rejig the formation if required. The amount of players who would just quit the game in a huff when I took longer than a few seconds! All in all that period was the last time I really played anything online.

    PES4, PES5, and PES6 online (only the latter on a console) were all lag-free. I’ve got nothing against online play per se. I just don’t get time to indulge myself fully, and I prefer the immersiveness of Master League and the like.

  7. I haven’t been able to sit myself down and get into any one game recently, still very disappointed that i can’t get my PS3 online at uni so I could have a bash at UT.

    So instead I picked up my previously neglected copy of PES2008 on my grossly under-used PSP and you certainly are right, it plays the way PES should play, it’s got the gameplay just about in line with the good old days of the console games. Unfortunately however I just can’t seem to play it as well as I do on the consoles. I started a new ML (with the defaults of course) and I have experienced my worst first season in a PES game ever. Rock bottom of the table with my only results of mention being 3 draws, thats right no wins and only 3 draws for the season. I think I am in big trouble as far as keeping this save going is concerned, I’m more than 7000 points shy of paying my wage budget and I have just one game left of the season.

    Other than finding it much more difficult than I remember I must say that even the PSP version plays better than either of the PS3 versions so far, lets hope they can really step it up this year

  8. Interesting clips, looks like in PES you’ll shoot from ANYWHERE with a sight of goal. I rarely shoot that often out side the box, the edge perhaps but nothing like that. Those ‘chances’ almost seem wasted. Also what difficulity your playing on? Walking all over them. (ignoring the matches where nothing works, thats just PES).

    Back to back comparisons really does show the differences between FIFA and PES. How you can play them both is crazy in my eyes, PES is such a faster paced game (too much imho) and just becomes a frenzy of running as quickily as possible towards goal.

  9. stinger—I had a similarly bad first few seasons in my ML career on the PSP PES2008. See this post from March last year for example. The tipping point does come. As ever with ML, all you need is to get that first decent player who can turn a game for you on his own. Don’t know what to say about possibly having a Game Over. I don’t think even getting rid of a load of players will help you claw back a 7000 deficit—although if you play all the pre-season friendlies and win them all, you might just do it. Did you recklessly splurge on players in mid-season?

    By the way, I did go ahead and get a new computer last month as I said I would be doing, and I did get a copy of FM2009. It runs superbly on the new machine, including the 3D match, which looks brilliant and is a great addition to the series IMO. Sadly, I’ve had no time to play more than the opening match of the season since I got it! If/when I get more into it, I’ll post about it.

  10. Paww—Bear in mind that I only showed the spectacular attempts out of more than 20. Two-thirds of my shots on goal were ‘normal’ chances. Having said that, yes, I do have a weakness for attempting spectaculars. Half-volleys from distance in particular—I’m always trying them.

    I play on Top Player difficulty as I have done since roughly two weeks after getting PES2009 (I had a period on Professional to acclimatise). After a certain point in Master League over the past few years (probably since PES6, in truth) my team has been so good that what you see in those highlights—me all over them—is the norm when playing against almost any team. In years gone by (PES2-PES5) it was not so. I always had a contest on my hands no matter how many superstars I had in my side, and no matter how long I’d played the game for. The considerably lower difficulty is just one of the disappointing things about PES in the current era.

  11. Nice to hear your playing and enjoying FM09. I have to disagree on the 3D engine however. I’m quite happy for it to be there but I turned it off just a couple of days after getting FM09, occasionally I’ll throw it on for a cup tie but other than that I just prefer the speed and look of the old 2D engine.

    As for PES2008 (PSP) I played my final game of the season and finally bagged a win, 2-1 against Celtic. I managed to offload a couple of players who were at the end of contracts but still have quite a deficeit to make up. It’s going to be important to try and win a few of my 5 arranged pre-season matches and hopefully sell off one or two players, including one of my guys I signed mid-season who is on quite a high wage

  12. stinger—ah but I came to FM via a different route. Long before I was ever able to afford a computer of my own, I had a battered old PlayStation on which I played and enjoyed the LMA Manager games. That conditioned me to expect at least some kind of visual representation of the match. The 2D matches were good but I find the 3D match just great. It runs brilliantly on my machine and I find watching it a pleasure in and of itself. My one misgiving is that I feel slightly more distant from the tactical side of things, which I know is one of the reasons the purists dislike the 3D match (and many still dislike the 2D matches!). As ever with me and any game nowadays, time will determine how I get on with FM2009 in the longer term.

    In PSP PES2008, don’t be afraid to go down to the minimum squad size to squeak through negotiations.

  13. The 3D engine on FM09 is something that I believe will grow on me as it is no doubt improved and expanded over the next few versions. I will also admit that part of my reluctance to use it comes from the fact that my laptop takes quite some time to load it at the start of each much and that makes it less worth it, maybe if i ever get a new one it will be something I consider again.

    The final point is that I am often doing other things while playing FM, often searching the net with the game minimised during matches, making the long loading times for the 3D engine even less worth it. Like I have said however I’m not one of those who hate the 3D match engine and think it’s a terrible addition to the series, I just don’t see their arguement, if you don’t like it then don’t use it.

  14. Haven’t seen nor use it but I bet within 2 editions of it they’re all converted (apart from the rediculously hardcore). People just like to moan about change.

    I haven’t played PES nor FIFA for about a Month now, feel little to no desire to either. Hmm.. guess I gotta hope the new games in Oct are a breathe of fresh air.

  15. Wow… seeing both games next to each other was very nice.

    FIFA “looked” a lot better…. smoother… more realistic. But the game was dull, goals had this “guaranteed” feel to them.

    PES “looked” like a video game. But it was much more exciting and a lot more “emotional” (like when the CPU tied)

    With PES2010 fixing the lighting, colors and animations to a FIFA-like next-gen appearance, I have no doubt in my mind that it will be the much more superior game this year.

  16. Well, when Zenit scored against you you had ample (!) opportunities to foul the players they used in build-uü and rushing out with defenders left their striker unmarked, so… that’s not the typical case of PES deciding that “it will score now no matter what you do”, that’s more you inviting it to.

    Also, the lobbed through pass you did right at the start of the FIFA09 video leading up to the first goal (0:36) was assisted, right? I’m curious about that because the latter (on the ground) through passes, like the one assisting the second goal (2:02), were really nice if they were on manual.

    “Can you imagine a journalist previewing an FPS game not bothering to play much (or any) of the single-player mode?”
    If it’s a multiplayer shooter, yes, of course – take the Unreal Tournament or Quake series — they might have singleplayer, but who cares?

    “including the 3D match, which looks brilliant and is a great addition to the series IMO”
    I only played the second-newest FM 09 patch, but there it was horrible ugliness (which I can bear), but it all looked so fake compared to the little dots I got used to that looked like they were actually playing football. Feet don’t really connect, players seem to stand around near-still while ‘charging’ their passes/shots, etc..

  17. stinger—my new computer isn’t a very high-end one by the standards of modern gaming PCs, but it’s good enough in the graphics card and processor department to load the 3D matches quickly (about 4-5 seconds usually) and then render the matches in what seems to me a gorgeous level of detail. The 3D match is really just the 2D one depicted in another form—in another dimension. The only downside at the moment is that I tend to get absorbed in following the action on the pitch, when as we all know the little ‘clues’ in the text display are where the game really tells you what’s really going on. “He’s winning everything in the air today”, etc.

  18. Paww—I’m also going through a spell of not really being bothered about playing PES/FIFA. It’s lasted about a week. The difference is I am still playing them! Mainly out of habit, it has to be said. I think it’s the arrival of proper spring/summer weather. Maybe football gaming is an activity I associate with the lengthening dark nights of October and then winter, and when April/May comes, it knocks me off my stride.

  19. TareX—there are pros and cons with both games. For example, I had a great FIFA09 session this morning with a huge wow-moment (post to come on Weds probably). Right now I’d swear it was the best football game ever made. But there can equally be sessions that can feel totally sterile and empty. PES2009 is always the more ‘gamey’ football game and it can look faintly ridiculous next to FIFA09, but proportional to time played, I have enjoyed PES2009 more this year. (So far…)

    I have to say I don’t share your certainty about PES2010 being a better game this year. I’m hopeful, yes, of course I am. I want to believe… But I got burned too badly by PES2008 in particular for me to really believe in PES2010 until I see it.

  20. Lkz—thanks for your comment, and you are quite right: my powderpuff defending was atrocious. In particular I misused the secondary pressure, which left the hole for the Zenit player to receive the ball in. In my defence I can only say that was a single panicky passage of play in a sequence where the CPU’s drive to get the goal was relentless. Think of that CPU ‘surge’ at its worst – this was that. All my skilful 5-star players, Nedved, the lot of them, suddenly were unable to trap or pass a ball. And… well, you know the story.

    I went through a phase of being fed-up with FIFA09 and went back to all-assisted for a period, but have since switched back to my usual mix of manual and semi-assisted settings—except for through-balls, which are indeed still on assisted. I love mounting attacks like the one that led to the second goal. Using manual through-balls I couldn’t finesse those passes enough. I think it’s a good trade-off for playing on World Class difficulty and with my other settings. In particular semi-manual shooting, which I’ve still not really mastered. You should see the open goals I still miss.

    Re. the hypothetical games journalist failing to examine UT or Quake’s single-player aspects, yes, granted there’d be no point (although the PS1 Quake 2’s single-player campaign was a great FPS experience IMO—I played it all the way through, twice, back in the good old days of unemployment and infinite time…). But this goes to the heart of what I fear when it comes to the likes of FIFA and PES – that the single-player modes will be eroded as the years pass, until single-players are left with just a token effort every year, or even nothing at all. We’re not there yet, not even close to being there. So why do games journalists seem to assume that the only thing they need to report back on when they preview PES/FIFA is how it plays up against another person? Maybe in the future that’s all there’ll be, but that’s not now. I’ve got a special post coming up tomorrow about this.

    When I played the FM2009 demo on my old low-spec laptop the 3D match was awful. It looked like a MegaDrive game. The players barely moved and when they did they moved weirdly. None of them actually kicked the ball (they kicked space around the ball!). It was just a mess. Now with a decent-specced desktop I find the experience wholly different. There’s still a space-kicking issue I’m afraid, but this is after all just a 3D representation of the 2D match, and both are in turn just representations of an abstraction of an idea about what a football match within a management sim computer game might play out like… Hey, I grew up playing and enjoying the original Football Manager, and thought its ‘3D match’ was brilliant too. I’m easily pleased…

  21. Where did you get too on your PES 08 psp ML? DID you get to the point where it was too easy to win trebles every year?

    I’m in season 3 now, promoted last year in 2nd place. Six games in and we are just out of the relegation places in 12th, heres the embarassing part- im playing on normal. I found the PSP version so hard I could never get a career going on top player, because i couldnt survive the first season. At least this career will have mileage, because the minute i win a trophy I can up it to profession- and eventually top player. To be relegated on normal would be a first though..

    Recognise any players? The current first eleven of PES United is GK- Hart, RB- Jackson, CB- Mattson, CB- Lon Paerra, LB- Gabilondo, CM- Kuzmanovic, CDM- Lassana Diarra, CM- Hoekstra, RWF- Kerzhakov, LWF- Derbyshire, CF- Kim Cyun Hi.
    That teams strong enough but I also have a subs bench which includes Camacho, Vassel, Chopra, Podolski, Khumalo, Montolivo and Lehmann. If I get relegated with that team on normal i’ll sack myself.

  22. Not Given—if you get relegated on Regular it’d be the most embarrassing and shameful thing that’s ever happened to a PES player… No, seriously, remember the old wives’ PES tale about Regular being harder than Top Player? There’s some truth to that (but not much!). At least you’re enjoying a PES game again.

    And have a look back at some of my posts from the start of my PSP ML. I started out on Professional level and it took me 3 seasons to get near promotion. The first two seasons I think I won 1 match. ONE match. It was easily the toughest-ever start to any ML campaign. I didn’t graduate to Top Player until I was in Division 1.

    I still think if you’d gone into PES2009 on Professional or Regular difficulty instead of trying to tough it out on Top Player from the start, you’d have found a lot to like in it. Zig-zag dribble aside, it really is the bog-standard “PES on next-gen” that its predecessor damn well should have been. (One day I’ll get over next-gen PES2008. One day.)

    Had a little smile at seeing Jackson, Mattsson, Kim Cyun Hi, and – Camacho! He’s still in my PSP team and performing well, although in his late-30s now. (Or is he a young Regen at the moment? I don’t remember…)

    In answer to your opening question, yes, eventually the tipping point comes, as it always comes. But not until about season 2018 or so, for me – it would probably be sooner for you.

    When I stopped playing it regularly I did feel I could win any match easily enough – but when I resumed playing it recently, I was almost back to square 1. I barely won the league in this season just gone, and was eliminated from the Cups early. In season 2023 now, I’m really enjoying it and plan to play on and on for as long as I can. I doubt I’ll ever get another PSP version of the game, so eventually I should see what happens when you get to 50 seasons. And if BaL and FIFA09 ever go properly tits-up I’ll still have something to blog about.

  23. “No, seriously, remember the old wives’ PES tale about Regular being harder than Top Player?”
    It’s easier because the AI just stands around (in the way of your potential attacks) and does nothing. If you play against Top Player Barcelona, you can counter them to bits all the way to London. And score and score and score. There’s little danger of conceding to PES AI on any difficulty level outside of “I will score now” ML moments.

    P.S.: I wish your thingie here would send me reply notification emails. I guess I’m a forum/chat person, not a blog stalker. And where do I find your email contact address gadget to acquire your gamertag (or rather how do I find said gamertag in general)?.

  24. Lkz—good point, I’ve now added a ‘subscribe to comments’ widget. You can be updated about new comments even if you don’t leave one yourself, and of course unsubscribe at any time. I promise to sell all email addresses to the Russians and/or Nigerians…

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