Over the weekend I literally blew the dust off my PSP to play a few matches on PES2008(PSP). I’ve also played another four or five matches in my ML career on PES2010(PS3). I squeezed in a few BaP matches on FIFA10. I’ve played Final Fantasy XIII and Football Manager 2010. I didn’t have time in the end to try out Red Dead Redemption (I should get time later today). Currently I’m enjoying a broader gaming life than I have been able to over the past 6 months, when my PES2010 ML career occupied 99% of my play-time.
My save file for PES2008(PSP) showed the last time I played the game: mid-November 2009. The ML career I’ve got going in it is one of my longer-term ones. I’m in season 2023, having covered roughly the same amount of time as in my PES2010 career. I’ve got an amazing squad of uber-galacticos.
Yes, it’s a very old-school Master League squad. It’s the kind of squad you can only dream about now, in the new age of Master League.
Can you imagine the wages bill for a squad like that in PES2010? The mode’s revamped internal mechanics now pretty much guarantee that a squad like this one would be almost impossible to assemble, much less keep. I say that’s a good thing. If I have a hankering to own every great player there’s ever been, I can always fall back on these older games.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Last-gen PES on the PSP is absolutely wonderful. It plays like a dream. There are a few issues (atrocious loading times; occasional penalty box slowdown) but the issues are nothing compared to the overall package—which is what PES used to be, when you think about it: an unmitigatedly great game with a few annoyances that you could easily overlook.
In my first match against Deportivo la Coruna, I went 0-1 down early on. I didn’t really know what I was doing. The muscle memory that we play individual football games with soon rusts with disuse, as we all know. 0-1 was how it stayed for most of the match. How to play the game returned to me gradually over the 90 minutes, but wouldn’t fully click until my second or third match.
However, in the 91st minute of this first outing, I fed the ball to Schwarz on the edge of the area. I took a pretty speculative shot that curled deliciously around a defender and inside the far post. The keeper never moved. Here’s the replay—wait for the second angle at pitch-level to see the extravagance of the curl:
I quite enjoyed that. As I did the following few matches: another few League matches that I won comfortably, 3-0 and 2-1; and then a D1 Cup match, which I lost badly, and crashed out of the tournament; and then I lost 0-4 to Benfica in the European Cup.
It’s been a challenging few years for the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise, I think it’s fair to say. But PES2008 is worth buying a PSP for on its own, IMO. Could anybody honestly say the same for the PS3/360 version of PES2008? Or even one of the better versions since? In 2010’s case, Master League, maybe, would be worth it on its own. But not for the core gameplay, not really.
Playing PES2008(PSP) yesterday I couldn’t work out why I’m not always playing it. The reason is that there’s a huge new matte black console on my shelf that demands a newer, shinier, better version of PES than the old-school version. It’s still waiting. We’re still waiting.