The only way is up

I played PES2010 a lot over the weekend, and frequently thought: could we have been given the wrong game? Could Konami have packaged up the code for Winning Eleven—traditonally a faster and easier game than PES—and given it to Europe by mistake? I’m not being facetious (or not entirely facetious). It’d be a logical explanation for the often frantic pace and low difficulty of PES2010.

I’ve played lots of one-off Exhibition matches and Champions League tournaments. Occasionally I’ve found it disturbingly close to PES2008-levels of difficulty. Over the whole five days, those occasions have been in the minority: about 1 match in 4, say. But that’s still too high.

Helsinki 1-1 Brazil

I set up a 15-minute match on Top Player, playing as one of the weakest club sides, Helsinki, against the mighty Brazil. I should have been outplayed by Brazil, particularly as this is still a new PES game for me. And indeed things started promisingly. Brazil swept forward from the kick-off and bundled the ball over my goal-line to take the lead. But that was all they did in the whole 15-minute match.

They had 3 more shots, none of any consequence. I was able to dominate play with the Helsinki players. I had 15 shots, 8 of them on-target. I scored an equaliser that came thanks to an appalling ‘glitch’ (see below for more on that). Granted, I ‘only’ had 54% possession, but Brazil did nothing with that 46% except aimlessly pass it about in midfield, occasionally going on feeble exploratory runs that I soon snuffed out.

In PES games of years gone by, I believe I would have lost this match by a couple of goals. Or at least been comprehensively outplayed by the AI. Have I suddenly acquired elite Pro Evo skillz? I don’t think so. I’m the same average player I’ve aways been.

Lucky to get nil

I started three Champions League tournaments, on Regular difficulty (with Standard Liege), on Professional (with Fiorentina), and on Top Player (with Juventus). In my first two matches as Juventus on Top Player, against Arsenal and Dynamo Kiev, I scored 9 goals and conceded 0. I can’t remember ever being in serious danger of conceding.

However, there is encouraging news. Once those early group games were done with, the game seemed to step up a few gears. Arsenal thrashed me 4-1 at home. I was obliterated by them. I scraped through the group stage in the end. I squeaked through the first knockout stage on away goals. Then I met Barcelona in the quarter-finals. Again I was soundly beaten in both legs. Barcelona went through me like a hot knife through butter. I lost away 3-1 and I lost at home 1-2. It was quite a relief. In all of these more competitive matches I felt that old familiar Pro Evo buzz of satisfaction.

So just what’s going on with those easy games on Top Player? It’s not that the general gameplay suddenly becomes particularly easy. When I have the ball I still have to work for an opening. The problem lies with the CPU teams’ AI. It strangely goes very passive, and when it advances it’s almost completely toothless. It almost never does anything. Sometimes it’ll mount an attack, and sometimes it’ll bumble its way through my defences, and sometimes it’ll grab a goal.

PES2010’s difficulty is a hot topic on the forums, and rightly so. Could it be something to do with individual quirks of form arrows, or the new team sliders, or some mysterious ‘random seed’ element that Konami could have introduced for PES2010?

It might not be a glitch; it might be a feature

[Edit@20.30, 26 October 2009: I’ve looked further into this on the Training pitch, and now believe it may actually be a feature. Some players simply don’t jump, and it does seem random—at least on the Training pitch. Possibly I just happened to run into 3 instances of it in a row. I’ll talk some more about this in Wednesday’s post, but for now I’m only 50/50 about it being a glitch. This morning I was 100% sure it was a nasty bug, and I was angry about it. This being a blog, and manifestly NOT a regular games site with journalistic ambitions, I’ll leave my subjective and possibly unfair little rant just as it was.]

And now about that ‘glitch’. I haven’t seen this mentioned on the forums yet, but I’m sure it will be. Look away now if you don’t want your PES2010 experience potentially ruined. The ‘glitch’ is that serious IMO.

I’m saying ‘glitch’ in inverted commas because these days everything seems to be a ‘glitch’. It’s become a devalued term that means everything and nothing. It’s one of the most overused buzzwords in football gaming, coming a close second to the phrase ‘ping-pong passing’, but I digress.

I’ve seen this free-kick ‘glitch’ twice now. If I’d only seen it once, I wouldn’t even mention it. The first time I thought it had to be a one-off. The second time, I groaned. Groaned aloud.

Here it is. Here they are. In both cases, I’m holding the stick down and trying to delicately pop a shot over the defensive wall. The first replay is from a Juventus Champions League match, with a Wide view first to set the scene; the second is my equalising goal from that Helsinki-Brazil match:

Link: PES2010 free kick 'glitch'

See what happened? In both cases, the player(s) in the defensive wall who stand in the flight-path of the ball don’t jump. The ball flies over their head(s). Their teammates alongside them all jump, but they don’t, in order to allow me to score. The game gave me these goals. Gift-wrapped them. The game might just as well have smacked me in the face.

In the case of the Helsinki goal, there were two players in the Brazil wall who were underneath the ball’s flightpath. And so both of those players, ridiculously, had to be stopped from jumping. I felt pretty nauseated watching those replays. This is the kind of thing that makes me furious with any game. With PES2010, it makes me furious and dejected and embarrassed all at once.

This morning I experienced the free kick ‘glitch’ on my new Master League. I scored my very first goal with it. Not happy at all. I anticipate the obvious solution: don’t do it, then. But what am I supposed to do with free kicks? Blast them all into row Z, just to be on the safe side?

Link: Master League - free kick 'glitch' 3

I don’t know where any of this is heading any more. I’ll just play the games and write the blog and let the future take me where it will.

Starting my Master League this morning has perked up my spirits. Wednesday’s post will be about the setting-up process and the first games.

All through this first week I’ve been awarding PES2010 daily scores.

Saturday’s score was 7.5/10. Not a bad day with the game really. Despite the increased speed this plays a decent game of PES. But sometimes I have to ask, why won’t the AI do things?

Sunday was the day of the free kick ‘glitches’: 7.5/10*.

Running average score (4 days): 7.87/10*

*In light of the ‘glitch’ possibly being an actual feature, I’ve amended those scores accordingly. Sunday’s score was 6.5/10 when I thought it was definitely a glitch—it’s now 7.5/10. I’ve adjusted the running average accordingly from 7.32/10 to 7.87/10. Whew. This blogging lark is tiring me out. I just want to go and play a few games now.

Updated: 26th October 2009 — 20:51


  1. Grilled Seabass—I love the feeling – the handling, I should say – of FIFA10 and even though I’m playing PES2010 for now, I’ll never declare for one or the other. It’s a long old football game year and the last few years have taught us all some bitter lessons. Tomorrow’s post sets the scene for me for the near future, but beyond that who can predict anything? After PES2009, and before it PES2008, I’m wary of early enthusiasms, and it is still early days.

  2. Ive just had the most bizarre FIFA session yet, I may as well be playing PES. Decided to make a custom super league full of the best teams and use Valencia, as well as trying Legendary difficulty. After the first 5 matches I have won 2 drawn 1 and lost 2- not as bad as I had thought. Inter Milan stuffed me 0-5 in a match that was over inthe first 10 minutes and the last match against Milan was PES scripting at it’s finest. Leading 1-2 in the final minutes and the ref shows 4 minutes added time- which turned out to be about 14. Of course Ronaldinho scored an arcade like shot from nowhere in minute 13, and the ref near choked blowing on the whistle when I had a good counter attacking chance. First time that this game has felt like the old PES, and its taken legendary to do it.

  3. Mike Mike—you CAN edit your ML team’s kits! Just go into Edit mode in the main menu and edit the kits in there. When you load up your ML, the changed kits will be loaded with it. I think it’s odd there’s no option in the mode itself, but this method works just as well, with the added bonus that you can change your kits at any time.

    I’m not a big music man, but after the depths of 2008 (“we’re gonna play football! (Soccer!) Football! (Soccer!)…”), anything is a step up. And is it me, or is one of the tracks one of the main ones from FIFA07?

  4. Not Given—ahhh, we’re like old fishermen leaning on the bar, telling each other stories about ones that got away, etc.! I know you’ve got a strong belief that next-gen FIFA is really the story of the PESification of FIFA, and I agree almost entirely. The shooting remains resolutely old-style FIFA in my opinion, but everything else- the general handling etc., especially in FIFA10 – seems a logical development of classic PES carried over to the new consoles. Again I have to say, it’s where we all imagined PES itsef being now.

    And – you’re on Legendary already?! I’m being left behind… I don’t know when I’ll get back to FIFA10, it’ll have to be soon I think or I’ll lose everything I gained.

  5. Haha I know. This is the only place I can vent, can you feel the anger in my last post? Ironically I welcome the fact that scripting screwed me over, it gives the game longevity- a necessary evil. When it happens i’m both angry/disappointed and pleased I am getting PES like satisfaction.

    I think you were right about only playing one football game. I tried playing both last year and never got up to world class on 09 (without the super charged MM players anyway). Although I am technically scraping a few wins on legendary, i’d be sacked in two weeks if I started an MM on it. I don’t like being sacked in football games, I like having poor runs of form- it makes the wins all the more satisfying.

    Having said all that I can feel the same thing as last year happening. Your posts about the ML is making me want to buy PES..

  6. Not Given—I wouldn’t be doing either game justice, or myself any favours, by trying to mix them up and play them together. In any case, I don’t want to right now… I’ve started Master League. I’ll say no more now. I’ve already said too much. Tomorrow’s post says it all.

  7. I Think i will finish my (increasingly frustrating and unsuccessful) 1st Manager Mode season in FIFA, with Liverpool, playing on World Class and mostly manual settings and so far being rooted to the foot of the table after 5 games with a massive 0 points!!!
    Of course id rather be getting a spanking than winning each game 5-0, all in the name of challenge and longevity!

    But I think Monday i will splash out on PES10, and get a ML underway, the prospect of managing youth teams and forging a bunch of unknowns into a world class team is too appealing, just such a shame it wasnt FIFA gameplay to go with the rest of PES’s modes and offerings!!!

  8. Paul—Sooner or later I’m going to have take a deep breath and play FIFA10 again. I worry about doing so on a number of levels. Has PES2010 ruined FIFA10 for me, or will FIFA10 ruin PES2010 for me? I don’t believe the two games can be played together. It’d be like trying to drive on the left one day and on the right the next day.

    You’ll enjoy PES2010 and ML, I think, but brace yourself for a shock to start off with, and the inevitable ‘dip of disgust’ after a few days.

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