Anti-social loners are people too

Summer is definitely here. We’re about a week away from receiving the first concrete news of FIFA10. (And it seems that it will be called FIFA10, not FIFA2010.) PES2010 news will also be here sooner rather than later. Exciting times ahead.

About a month ago there was a big FIFA10 preview session held at The Emirates stadium in London. The embargo on that one runs out in a week or so. Great. Can’t wait.

There’s been something increasingly on my mind over recent weeks. Something I have to get off my chest.

Last year, the build-up to FIFA09’s release was pretty intense. It promised to be the finest football game ever created. (Arguably, that promise was delivered; just as arguably, it wasn’t.) Over last summer the first videos appeared, then the demo duly followed, and along with all the many hands-on preview articles that showed up in print and online, pretty much all the questions about FIFA09’s core gameplay were answered.

The burning question that was never answered was: what about Manager Mode? Had Manager Mode been improved since FIFA08’s serviceable, but ultimately pretty hollow, Manager Mode? Were there night matches now? Was there a more realistic transfer market? Had the sponsorship money been tweaked? Could you create your own club again?

There were dozens of ways in which Manager Mode was lacking. Fixing even a few of them would transform the playing experience.

But it wasn’t until the week of FIFA09’s release that I found out that Manager Mode was substantially the same as FIFA08’s. This information didn’t come from one of the many respectable websites that tracked the game’s development, nor from the several print magazines that are still clinging on to life in this post-print age. No, I got this information from a random poster on a  forum—somebody who’d had his copy of the game delivered early and had jumped straight into Manager Mode.

I didn’t believe it at first. I didn’t want to. Surely this couldn’t be true. Surely even one out of all those hundreds of previewers and reviewers, all summer long, would have noticed and told?!

I was, to put it mildly, upset. I was upset about the lack of progress in Manager Mode. For me a career mode is still any sports game’s main attraction. I am not and never have been (and never will be) a member of any online party. But I was oddly even more upset about having to find out about it from a forum. Seriously—it’s three days before release, and I’m only finding this out now? From some random person on a forum?

What were all the games journos playing at in all those preview sessions? Of course, what they were playing at was 1-versus-1 action, player versus player, like over-excited 10-year-olds who’d drunk too much fizzy pop.

Granted, those early previews are all about seeing the raw gameplay in action. That’s fine. What isn’t fine with me is that it remains the case, right up until the week of release. No reviewer or previewer ever seems to do anything much with their time on the game(s) than play one-off matches against other people attending the same event. They rarely do more than give the single-player modes a token glance.

Imagine that a games journalist went to check up on a new FPS and did nothing more than play the first few minutes of the first level of the single-player campaign. Such a games journalist would be in dereliction of duty. Yet that is exactly what dozens, eventually hundreds, of intrepid games journalists do, year in, year out, when it comes to PES and latterly FIFA. It’s got to stop. There has got to be a change.

I’m going to dare to speak on behalf of all my fellow single-player gamers. We’re not really a dying breed. It just seems that way. I believe we’re still the majority. We’re just not as visible as the online gamers. We might not get out of the house much. We haven’t had non-imaginary girlfriends for a while. But if you prick us, do we not bleed?

We need previewers and reviewers of PES2010 and FIFA10 to do us a great favour. We shouldn’t have to ask, but apparently we do have to ask, so I’m asking. We need them to actually play the career modes. Not just take a quick look. Not just play a game or two, then have a fiddle in the menus, then scuttle back to playing 1-vs-1. We need them to play at least 10 matches—long enough to see if there are night matches in Manager Mode. Is that too much to ask?

It’s great to see that technology has got to the point where so many football gamers are online gamers and nothing else. I’m happy for them, honestly I am. Properly considered, online football gaming is a whole new genre of gaming, a separate creation to the old single-player games that I cherish so much. I really do hope that my fellow PES fans who would love to play the game online actually get the online service they deserve this year.

But I also selfishly want the game modes that I play to be worthwhile too. Because, as the headline says, anti-social loners are people too.


  1. I’m the same – I very rarely play online. I never play Pro Evo online because of the lag, and because I prefer to play Master League/BaL.

    I don’t want that many changes to the actual modes in PES2010. More teams (the Championship) would be nice, and the option to move clubs in Master League, or become a manager after BaL, but other than that, I don’t want much changed.

    A few tweaks here and there to the game play wouldn’t go amiss – hopefully cancelling out the zig-zag dribble, but generally it’s a pretty good game as it is.

  2. Liam—but will we get BaL in PES2010? That’s something that I think they (the accursed previewers!) definitely will let us know about ahead of time. Fingers crossed.

    It’s funny but with PES2010 things are the opposite for me than with FIFA10.

    In FIFA10 I want the game modes to be improved, otherwise I swear I won’t buy it. I’d be happy to accept an incremental improvement in the gameplay as long as the offline single-player modes are vastly improved.

    In PES2010 the game modes are fine by me—it’s the gameplay. I won’t accept an incremental update in PES2010. I know that thousands will, but I just can’t. We’ve already been there, done that, with PES2009. If PES2010 is just another incremental update from PES2009, then I’ll do what I’ve done with the PSP version. On the PSP I’ve got PES2008 and that’s doing me very nicely, thank you very much. The PSP PES2009, an incremental update, might as well not exist. I’m more than capable of making PES2010 the first ‘proper’ PES that I don’t get. The role of previewers and reviewers for both games is oddly more critical this year than any other.

  3. I agree with you, and i’ll tell you exactly why online is crap.

    I fired up PES 6 on the 360 for a quick online match (it’s the only PES online that works) I chose Valencia and naturally I was up against Manchester United. It ends 1-1 at full time, with me having about 50 chances to win the game, so I’m fully expecting to lose at extra time. I score with Edu with 2 minutes left- a scrappy goal that I did deserve. He runs straight up to his own end and scores an own goal and sits on the replay screen indefinitely (you can do this in PES 6, what was Konami thinking?). I’m sitting here 15 minutes later still staring at him twiddling the replay over and over, waiting for me to quit, so he can get a 0-3 win. It’s unreal.

    What he doesn’t realise is I have the patience of a saint, and I’ll sit here for two weeks before I let him win. But it’s the people that ruin it, even if a game runs well online (PES 6) and is fun to play, the people will always ruin it. They will always play nothing but Manchester Uniter- even if they support City. They will always play 1-1-8 formations because the game allows it, and they will always sit for hours after you score a deserved winner to get a cheap win on their ‘profile’.

    The jokes on this guy though, i’m sitting here enjoying my current PSP master league while hes hunched over his xbox in frustration waiting for his 3-0 win.

    Things have picked up in it now, I am fifth in the table- fighting with promoted Everton for the title. Is PES09 psp just an update then? I was always tempted but never forked out the cash just incase it was. As much as i’m enjoying the PSP PES it’s still not as good as the PS2 version- especially in defence. If Konami released a PS2 perfect port I would be straight out for it.

  4. Not Given—I’ve heard about that infinite replay thing. I think it’s possible in newer PESes/FIFAs as well? Never seen it myself, but like you if somebody tried it with me I wouldn’t quit and would just leave it running as well, overnight if need be. For days, weeks, months, however long it took! Seriously I would.

    Regarding online play in general, I see its appeal and I don’t think it’s a bad mode in its own right. What alarms me about the current climate is the completely disproportionate (IMO) attention paid to it by the gaming press (online and print).

    PSP PES2009 is to PSP PES2008 what PS2 PES6 was to PS2 PES5, i.e. only a barely-tweaked annual update—or so I understand anyway. I’ve not played PSP PES2009 myself, just read about it.

  5. I don’t think that pes 2009 was just an update to 2008. I had a very quick go of 2008 last week and it seemed as though it had really aged compared to 2009.

    I wish you’d stop hinting that bal won’t be in the new one!

    To slightly back track on my first post, i would actually love to have multi player master league online. The joint master league was one of the great gaming adventures of my uni days (along with mario kart), and seeing as i don’t live with my friends anymore, coupled with my girlfriend’s reluctance to play ps3, online is the only way!

  6. Grilled Seabass

    I must admit I played hundreds of online games on PES6 360 and that didn’t happen to me once. Plenty of people quit on me though. Perhaps the replay bug wasn’t known back then.
    Totally agree, I never read the FIFA previews but PES previews always had little to say about master league. I guess its because the previewers dont have very long to sample the game and instead concentrate on gameplay. But I want more than the perennial “improved master league mode…”

  7. Grilled Seabass

    Liam – Yes!! I’ve often dreamed of online co-op master league. My uni mates and I also used to always have on either pro evo on the PS2 for multiplayer master league (or 1v1/2v2 tournaments) or Mario Kart on the Gamecube. Yes multiplayer ML is one of the great multiplayer modes of all-time. Sadly I think it’d take Konami about 20 years to incorporate something so massive as online co-op ML.

  8. Grilled seabass, it’s almost like i spent my uni years with you!

    I’ve played legends online with my friend and that seemed to be lag free with us both on the same team. I can only hope they could do the same with multi player master league.

    Did you guys also have background stories on the players?! In our one martin palermo was a womanising alcoholic who had never recovered from missing 3 penalties for argentina in one match!

  9. liam—it was PSP PES2009 that I said was only an incremental update to PSP PES2008. Or do you mean those games—and do you mean PSP PES2009 is substantially different to PSPPES2008?! If so, pray tell. I might have a look on the PSP PSN store to see if there’s a demo. I was in town today and saw the PSP PES2009 on a preowned shelf.

    Still going for £25, unfortunately. I also saw the 360 PES6 going for £2—very tempted, but I’m wilfully resisting getting any more new games of any description now until the Autumn.

    Oh, and I also saw the 360 and PS3 versions of FIFA08 going for £4. Now more than ever is the best time to find out what the fuss over next-gen FIFA is all about, and FIFA08 is just the game to do it with.

    I don’t know if you’re following the FIFA10 build-up but the tagline on EA’s teaser site right now – How BIg Can Football Get? – coupled with some heavy hints in this week’s FSB podcast, lead me to suspect that FIFA’s Manager Mode (or Ultimate Team?) might be going MMO this year. If that’s what it is (or even something vaguely like it) it’ll really show up PES as being effectively stuck in the PS2 era. Only just over a week to go before the NDAs run out…

  10. Grilled Seabass—I can understand the lack of coverage when the initial previewers might be rushed into a developer’s office and sat down with the game for an hour. It’s the ones who get considerably longer than that who puzzle me, and the full reviewers who get full copies of the game puzzle me even more.

    GTA4 previewers were put up in hotels and played the entire game all the way through over the course of several days. That’d be overkill for PES/FIFA, but a proportional level of attention to the offline modes would be nice.

    At the moment it really is an afterthought. The most we can look forward to, before we either get the game ourselves or read about somebody else getting it on a forum, is a paragraph or two in a print magazine article in the month of release. The online gaming press has the most opportunity to report on Manager Mode/Master League in the run-up to release, because they publish every day, whenever they like, in real time. But they completely ignore the opportunity. It could be argued that this is a function of their form: online press, online games. But I think it’s just sloppy. I think they just rush in like the proverbial over-excited 10-year-olds and send the entire sessions playing each other. If they play the CPU at all, it’s Exhibition games. If they look at Manager Mode/Master League at all, it’s for a token game or two—not nearly long enough to explore all the things that I want to know about. Are there night matches in Manager Mode? Does the Master League transfer system still use points instead of real currencies? Can you transfer list a player and offer him in a trade-in deal at the same time? Dozens of things like that.

  11. Grilled Seabass

    non-greg – Interesting… though I suspect ultimate team will be revamped and included and there’ll be a seperate manager mode. And I agree, even in reviews, let alone previews, there is zero detail about ML mode, even though most palyers will spend a great deal of time on it.

    Liam – lol, yea we did the backstories too! for example when Maldini retired we said he had cancer, so we gave the whole squad skinheads in support of Maldini. Lots of crazy things like that, including making up squads of customised celebrity players etc. Great times, I cant believe how much free time we all had back then…

  12. Grilled Seabass—in the FSB podcast Chris Davies, its genial host, says that the tagline – How Big Can Football Get? – is significant, and he doubts that anyone will be disappointed when we find out what it relates to.

    I am officially very, very curious.

    Speculating, I can only imagine that the ‘big’ side of things relates to something online. So it follows that this new mode is (1) online and (2) like nothing we’ve seen before.

    That can only be a career mode MMOG, surely? Something like Football Manager Live—except in FIFA, and you physically play all the games yourself, and presumably have the ones you don’t play simmed for you.

    What else could it be? What else fits the two criteria – online, and like nothing seen before – ? (Assuming I’m on the right track of course.)

    If it turns out to be something MMOish, I don’t know if I would be into it really. I think it’d be a flop after a while with nobody turning up for matches, but I’d at least give it a go, and take my hat off to FIFA for pushing the boundary yet again.

    Another option is something to do with Ultimate Team. Could it be a drastically expanded Ultimate Team – a Master League-type Ultimate Team?! But would they trumpet that with such a tagline?

    I suppose we’ll all find out at the end of next week.

  13. On the PSP 08 there doesn’t seem to be any space for over 99999 PES currency, can anyone confirm you can over. I’m sure you can on the PS2 version so if you can swap ML files, you would think you could on the PSP version too.

  14. Not Given – don’t know offhand, but I’m sure I had >100,000 points on my PSP career at one point. I will have to check later, I might be misremembering. But I agree that with the transfer of savegames from PS2 to PSP and vice versa, it should be the same on both. If it’s not then it’s a bad bug.

    Is this a different savegame from the one you were struggling in btw – or are you cheatin’ in your ML career!

  15. No I haven’t got anywhere near those points yet! I can just tell that theres no space for another digit- otherwise it’ll be outside the box!

    I’m doing okay now, 4th in the table. I’m debating whether to play this on normal indefintely until I win something, or move up to professional next season. The CPU has still beaten me and held me up on a number of occassions. Technically I could still win the league now, but i’d have to beat Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal 3 matches in a row- it’s unlikely. Heres another question, do classic players that i’m only buying in the PES shop now, go into my career soon after, or will they never be involved in this career?

  16. not Greg

    Oer at EVO WEB there are screens and vids that have been leaked from a French PS3 mag – they are from the day EA had at Arsenal’s place a few weeks ago – at the phrase 360 movement is being used.

  17. Not Given—still not able to check for myself, as I’ve got another game in the PSP and it’s on standby. I’m pretty sure though that you can go above 99999, as it doesn’t take long to get to the stage where you’re earning lots of points season in, season out. I’m not sure though, as I’m the kind of ML player who’ll notice that I’m building up 50,000 points, say, and spend them just for the sake of it, so I might never have got to the magic number.

    Don’t know the answer to your classic player question I’m afraid.

  18. bais—I’ve been absorbing all the news with great interest since it started coming through last night. All very, very interesting. I’m very happy about the Manager Mode news. I’m letting it all sink in and should post about it on Friday now.

  19. Grilled Seabass

    Can anyone sum up the latest news? I’m behind a firewall at work and PES chronicles is one of the few sites I can see. Cheers

  20. Grilled Seabass—the big news for me is the overhaul of Manager Mode. All the things that make the mode as it is so ludicrously unbalanced—transfer silliness, sponsorship money, player growth, etc.—have been addressed. If it turns out to be true, I’ll be very delighted. There were two videos up on DailyMotion with the EA producer talking about it all in some depth (an EA producer spoke for more than a minute without mentioning online play—it’s a miracle!), but they seem to have been taken down now.

    Some people think the biggest news is 360-degree dribbling.

    Slower gameplay and tweaks designed to end ping-pong-style matches.

    You can play as a goalkeeper in offline Be A Pro and 11 vs 11 online.

    There’s a full Training mode.

    Nothing else truly concrete yet, which slightly puzzles me as I’d have thought if a publication was going to break the NDA, it’d go the whole hog. I wonder if there is anything else to come.

    EDIT – disappeared videos have reappeared on YouTube –
    part 1:
    and part 2:

    Well worth watching when you get the chance.

  21. Grilled Seabass

    Thanks man. I’ll check those videos out when I get home tonight. Sounds like a few tangible improvements. I bet Konami’s will be ‘improved master league mode’, ‘team vision 3’ and ‘all-new animations’.

    Enjoy the Champs League final tonight folks.

  22. I really hope FIFA can capture the variety and unpredictability of the ML, although it worries me when he says it’ll be a “2 or 3 year project”. I have heard bad things about FIFA 09s transfer system, but thats the one area I was always very unlucky in. Even as Valencia I was firing in offers for everyone (Alonso, Iniesta etc) and they never accepted the offers. The one thing I know they won’t have done, and which still throws MM into question is regens. I don’t like the idea of a generation down the line having made up players- they need to copy PES unashamedly.

    How does PES capture the reality and conventions of football so well? In my ML I had a great run in (5 straight wins) which give me a shot at the League title- but I had to beat Chelsea. After a cup final like match were we both attacked- Chelsea won 0-1, which knocked the stuffing out of us. Our last 4 matches then went 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0- 2 draws and 2 losses, which saw us grab 4th by one point. Although it was a frustrating end, it could happen in real life, the defeat by Chelsea ended our season- as it would. Does PES do this through scripting? It did feel like I couldn’t string two passes together after the Chelsea match, was it me or the game?

    It’s good to be knee deep in an ML again, even if it is a PSP one. I’m slowly building an English side too, instead of buying the best players- I am creating a realistic side. 7 out of my starting 11 are English players, and I have the likes of Camacho and Podolski on the bench. The fixture pile up is insane at the start though, the whole team will be used……

  23. Grilled Seabass—after the last few years’ various disappointments, I’ll be waiting a good while before breaking out the bubbly. I have to say though that I’m hopeful. And I still hope for great things from PES2010—let’s see what the next-gen’s prodigal game has to show.

  24. Not Given—yes, I caught the reference to 2 or 3 years’ work too, and didn’t like it, but he then seemed (seemed) to go on to list those improvements as being in FIFA10. Although he didn’t explicitly say so, which is a concern. Certainly if we don’t see at least those listed imrovements in FIFA10 I’ll be unhappy.

    Let’s wait until the full official announcements, and see/hear what the usual websites have to say about what they’ve seen. I’m really looking forward to finding out what WENB/FSB make of FIFA10. But what’s the betting they all get back from Canada having done little else than play each other in 1-vs-1 matches?!

    PES Master League seasons are scripted right up to their eyeballs. When you’re down in mid-table you will pretty much always be able to get into the top 6, and then the top 2, if you win consistently enough. The top team(s) will lose/draw just enough to let you overhaul them. The game sees to it that the human player has an interest in the season right to the very end. I’ve seen the same thing happen in FIFA’s Manager Mode, to be fair.

    In 10 years of playing ML now I think I’ve only ever had nothing to play for in the final stages of a league season a small handful of times. Granted, this isn’t Football Manager (and clearly doesn’t want to be). The exception to this comes when your team is so good and you’re so experienced with the game that you streak into the lead early and stay there, and wrap up the title with loads of matches left. For me, these ‘runaway seasons’ have only come in PES6, next-gen PES2008 (*spits*), and sadly in PES2009 too. Before PES6 I almost never had an easy season no matter how many great players were in my team, but I’ve gone off on a tangent…

  25. Lots of talk of PSP PES, I’m going to be moving abroad for a year come the end of summer and my PS3 won’t be following me, but I’m increasingly curious to hear about the PSP as an alternative.

    Is it that good? – From what I can remember being said here, it sounded as if the PSP version is almost like PS2 style-PES. Am I correct in thinking this?

    Also dare I suggest it, any other titles you think are worth a mention on the PSP? – I simply couldn’t justify spending the cash on one just for PES! – I will check out review sites but first hand info from reliable sources are a much better start imo!

  26. Paww—in a nutshell, PES2008 on the PSP (and PES2009, to be fair) is just like playing the PS2 versions on a handheld. That’s good or bad depending on your view of the old-school PES games. I know you don’t have an extensive history with them, but I doubt you’d be disappointed. You could easily pick up PES2008 on the PSP for a tenner or less.

    Don’t get the PSP versions of PES5 or PES6 whatever you do (unless you get them for free or something.) Neither of these versions has a proper Master League. There’s no Wide camera and no ML at all in PES5. In PES6 there is an ML but the players’ stats don’t change, ever.

    The PSP version of PES2008 has its drawbacks. You’re missing two shoulder buttons on PSP, so that takes some getting used to (super-cancel is weird). There’s some slowdown when a penalty area gets packed, but it’s actually quite rare and no worse than we’ve seen before in PS2 PESes.

    As for the PSP, it’s got a superb games library. I’m baffled why it’s counted as a flop. Bear in mind that I have peculiar tastes for a gamer. I tend towards strategy and RPG games. I love PES2008 (of course), Monster Hunter Freedom 2 (gaming Marmite), the Metal Gear Solid games (all of them—the card games and the Portable Ops games), Tiger Woods (I still play the 06 version regularly), Patapon, Disgaea, the GTA games, and so many more that I’d love to have time to play.

  27. PS2 PES wouldn’t be issue for me, certainly better than no option whatsoever!

    I know nothing of the games on it but everyone has their different tastes..

    They seem like a flop to me because everyone I know whos bought one, doesn’t own it anymore. Obviously not the sort of thing that impressed them enough to keep it.

    I haven’t spent a great deal of time looking but the new ones cost a small fortune (360 money :/) Looks like I’m going to have to do some more research. May have to pop down to CEX and see if I can barter a deal, have a few things to trade-in.

  28. Paww—you’ll hear a lot of that kind of thing about the PSP, people saying they never use it, and even that they don’t know where it currently is in their homes (that one, whether true or not, is a bona fide PSP-related meme that has spread across the Internet like wildfire over the past year or two, if you’re interested in such things).

    I’ve had mine since launch day and I wouldn’t be without it. If it broke or I lost it, I would immediately get another one. Yes, long weeks sometimes go by without me touching it, but I like knowing it’s there with all the great games I love (PES2008 and Monster Hunter Freedom 2 in particular).

    You should easily be able to get hold of a nice preowned PSP and a copy of PES2008 or PES2009 for cheap. As you know, people are always getting rid of them without them being used much. It’s a buyer’s market.

    At this time you might want to wait (if you can) for the E3 exhibition next month, where it’s rumoured Sony will introduce a new PSP model. It seems, though, that the new model won’t have a disc drive and you’d have to download all your games (*coughs* which might work out cheaper in the long run *winks, nudges, taps side of nose*).

  29. I believe you forgot you to turn your cap around backwards and hop on one leg but I do think I get the jist of what your saying. 🙂

    Useful info though not-greg I’m not in any desperate need to buy one now and could sit and watch the auctions go by till the summer ends before I buy one. So I’ll keep that in mind thanks!

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