Period pains

A mixed few days of news about the 2011 games. PES2011 has had a major scare, with the appearance of several videos showing players indulging in chained rainbow flicks. If the final game’s trick system is that forgiving, PES2011 will be PES2008 part 2. I don’t even want to think about that.

Following last week’s great FIFA11 gamespeed scare, two lads from the FIFA Soccerblog went for a playtest on Monday. They reported the gamespeed to be ideal. Hopefully the Slow setting will actually mean something this year

Sadly, as is now all-too-typical and totally INFURIATING, the FSB boys mostly played multiplayer. 1p vs 2p. Yet again the state of the AI was ignored. The single-player game was totally ignored. Ah, but when it was all over and they were in the bar, one of them nipped back to the demo room for a few games against the AI. It was literally an afterthought.

This issue has been a bugbear of mine for a long time now. When did 1p vs 2p become the default method of previewing a football game? Why is there seemingly no awareness that they should be looking at more, doing more, exploring more, reporting back on MORE than simply how much chortling fun it was to go head-to-head against their pals?

I don’t have access to any precise figures. But I would bet quite a lot of money that about 90% of football game players still spend about 90% of their time playing against the AI in single-player.

A very illuminating moment cropped up in the latest WENB podcast. Konami’s Jon Murphy and Steve Merrett were guests, and one of them—I forget who now—remarked in passing that when they’re showing journalists their new game, they’ll often pause it to highlight something new. E.g., “Look at what you can do in defence now…” And the journalists will say how good it is, ignore it, and get back to playing, totally focused on beating their mates. My ears pricked up at this, because that description sums up exactly how I imagine it.

It’s the last full week of August. As far as I know there’s still no clue about the condition of opposition AI in either FIFA11 or PES2011. It’s a major failing not just on the previewers’ parts, but on the parts of EA and Konami, who allow it to happen.

Or do they want it to happen? That’s got to be a reasonable suspicion. But there’s probably no need to hide the AI from the typical PES/FIFA previewer, because he’s not looking for it.

And so to my current gaming. Oh, I’ll be happy when this period is over and the 2011 games are here, believe me.

I’ve gone off FIFA10 again. I had a good few days with the game, but the lack of anything compelling to do with it has got to me once more. No doubt I’ll come back to FIFA10 for a visit when I’m putting together my end-of-year review in a week or two. Other than that, compared to my extensive time spent in FIFAs 08 and 09, FIFA10 has more or less passed me by.

I’ve mainly played Dwarf Fortress for the past week. I woke up yesterday morning thinking about how I was going to channel an underground pool into a reservoir for my dwarves to use.

Valkyria Chronicles II for PSP is out next week. I’ve got my preorder in.

And there’s also PES6(360). Now, after a few weeks, I’ve settled back into it enough to have some perspective. I’m finally experiencing its well-known limitations as limiting. But I’d still say it’s the best pure PES gameplay available on the next-gen consoles so far, which is shocking and shameful. And I’m still enjoying it enough to plough on with my ML career. I’ve got a quarter of a season left in which the Treble is out of reach. I have a Double to go for in this season, and then a fresh assault on the Treble is next. This should occupy me—and the blog—for the next week or so.

29 Comments

  1. I agree completely that those advance tricks need to be looked at carefully by the PES Team or should I called them Blue Sky Team, I don’t know anymore. What I do know is that advance tricks should only be done by certain players with technique and overall rating of 85 or higher. People who are into the whole trick-fest thing will still play that way as is the case in FIFA 10 but at least not any ordinary player will be able to perform the chains of rainbow flicks.

    It also irks me that no attention is being payed to the A.I. of PES 2011. Long range shots in PES 2010 quickly lost there charm once I figured out that the A.I. just back pedals when you’re approaching their goal at a normal pace. The goalkeeper situation, well don’t even get me started on that issue. I understand keepers make mistakes but some of the blunders in some of videos I’ve seen are just ridiculous. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I saw a video of the MLO Beta in where the keeper (Ivarov) goes into his push-up routine instead of just grabbing the ball.

    I certainly hope the bullet headers are nerfed to a degree and that crossing isn’t always so perfect for strikers to volley or head.

  2. A few interesting points raised in your blog today mate that I had swirling around in my head.
    I have too seen the chained rainbow flicks video, that skill would be impossible for any real life player to accomplish, catching the ball in the perfect position as its drops out of one rainbow flick to launch straight into another!?!? no chance!
    Apparently this video has been tweeted to John Murphy by thousands, and he isn’t too happy with it!! so hoping it will be fixed.

    theres obviously a fair few game play vids kicking about all over the web, i watched one earlier… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL3X2S1PvFg&feature=related
    nothing special but doesn’t rely on fancy skills and tricks, and i think shows the freedom of passing off quite well and the gfx do look very nice!

    It does astound me that games reviewers never ever test the CPU modes out, only seem to want to get early bragging rights over their mates, surely they’re not fulfilling their duty as games reviewers if this is the intended scenario. Probably why FIFA metacritic’d 90%+ last year….. because no one bothered to play the manager mode properly therefore missed the hundreds of glaring bugs!!

    I have given up worrying about certain intricacies of FIFA this year, whether the new Career mode will be any good or wether PES’s dodgy AI will be back, im just going to buy both, enjoy them for what they are and I at least know il have superb game play with FIFA, and a great Master League Mode as always with PES… in an ideal world these factors would be combined into one massively immersive playable game, but this is not an ideal world by far.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with your last statement there Paul – I doubt these multiplayer exploits will have too much of a bearing on my single player experience – I’ll be buying FIFA 11 for two player booze ups and PES for the far more important single player experience. If EA pull something out of the hat with their career mode or Konami manage to get the gameplay looking half decent then that’s a fantastic bonus.
    I certainly harken back to the days when I knew nothing about a game before it came out – nowadays I feel like I’ve picked over a game’s bug riddled carcass before I even played it! And yet still I read all the previews and forum nastiness – it’s like a morbid addiction I can’t kick. Present blog apart, of course, not-Greg!

  4. Paul—and did you notice that the player doing the flick chain was the goalkeeper…?! I didn’t notice it until my second viewing.

  5. I just saw the chained rainbow flick clip. You know what, before seeing the clip, I had suspected that the linked tricks are too arcadey, and completely stupid. Having seen this, it might actually break the game, completely.

    I cannot think of a better implementation of FIFA’s. It’s not wrong to borrow from them, nay, STEAL from them. EA stole Konami’s control scheme before, as well as many other ideas. But the “linked” tricks is horrible. Seriously, when was the football question, “How many tricks can I do successively?” rather than the more realistic “will I be able to pull off this trick successfully?”….

    After playing WC 2010 last week, I hated it, and thought the game was horrid. I couldn’t wait for PES2011 nirvana… but unless they change that linked tricks thing (they won’t) the future of PES 2011 is in serious jeopardy.

  6. Chris—the last paragraph of today’s post shows the way forward. As of Friday I’m getting back to what this blog is really supposed to be all about, i.e., a record of my football gaming with the football games I’ve got now. PES6(360), ahoy!

    Let the future take care of itself. I’m sure both games will be fine: brilliant sometimes, and very good for the most part, and—unavoidably—bad in some ways but in ways we’ll learn to live with.

  7. Personally, I think the ability to assign tricks into button/stick combinations is fantastic — it will let each gamer customize the way they approach 1-on-1 situations, rather than learning someone else’s control system.

    The simplest fix would be to link tricks to a range of ability scores (dribble accuracy, agility, response and technique), limiting who can even attempt which tricks, and include fail animations for each trick — it should not work more often than it does work, generally.

    Most of you don’t watch the USA national team play much, but if you did, you’d see Jozy Altidore try step-overs from time to time trying to beat his man. If you were watching that, you saw his clumsy efforts fail every time. That’s what a player with poor touch attempting tricks should look like. Slow, clumsy, fail.

  8. bkmelendez—that should be the way it’s implemented, only a handful of players—two? three?—capable of doing such extravagant tricks. But none of them should be capable of doing a chain of even two. It’s just not something you’d ever, ever see in a football game.

    It’s a bit of a myth that next-gen FIFA’s trick system is easy to use/abuse—I’ve never used one in a FIFA game, and have struggled to use them much even in training, and I think most players approach the game the same way. You do get the occasional FIFA trickster prodigy who might put out a video or two, but that’s by no means representative of the game. We’ve got to hope this alleged PES2011 tricksiness is in the same kind of vein: rare.

    From the evidence of the past week there was quite a bit for Konami to have worked on from the MLO Beta stage to the final build. Fingers crossed.

  9. TareX—we’ve got to hope that there’s truth to ‘word on the street’, i.e. that this is an older build than the final game (which has got to be set in stone at this stage, surely?).

    I mentioned PES2008 in passing. That game’s wonder-dribbling mechanic (almost any upper-medium-rated player was capable of doing a Maradona ’86-style dribble several times per match) wrecked what might otherwise have been a tolerable PES in many ways.

    How about PES2011 and these wonder tricks? Nooooo……

  10. ck—weirdly, I’ve somehow managed to see every match the USA national team has played in the World Cup competitions from Italia ’90 through to this year. Due to various factors over the years, work, life, etc., I’ve missed a few matches played by England. Seeing every USA match is just one of those quirks of circumstance. Bring back Tony Meola!

    As for these Jedi PES tricks, I think the final game will work more or less as you describe. Because if it doesn’t work that way… if the first week of PES2011 sees an outbreak of mass trick chains… there’ll be a shit-storm like nothing we’ve seen so far. The Konami next-gen curse strikes again?

    Nah, it’ll never happen, it can’t happen. I still have good feelings about the game.

  11. Yew! Ess! Ay! . . . Yew! Ess! Ay!

  12. Seriously. Stop. Worrying. Even if PES 2011 is nothing more than 2010 without the “rails”, with total freedom of passing, it will be a MAJOR upgrade. That’s my main gripe with the game now – passes don’t go where I want, and a lot of the play feels scripted. Just eliminating those two worries would be perfect for me. Alas, most of the talk about the game has it being even better than that.

  13. I think its safe to say that the PES 11 chained skills ‘bug’ if you want to call it that will be nerfed, as the abuse John Murphy was getting through twitter over it was quite intense, id find it hard to imagine he wouldn’t have gone back to the dev team and said “whats all this about!?”
    The FIFA skills argument is a double edges sword, i think the actual implementation of it is very good, and Ive used a few skills in matches when trying to buy some space down the wing or one on one with a defender and trying to make a yard for a shot, and used correctly it can be pretty effective. On the other hand you get ‘the kids’ who memorise and perfect every single skill in the book and combinations of them, and then when you play online all they ever do is choose the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea or Man utd, because these teams all have lots of players who can do every skill, then they just rainbow flick, 360 turn, step over and rabona you to death, and you see the goal vids appear on youtube with them beating people using skills for every goal …. hardly imaginitive or realistic!

    I finally got to the end of my first Master League season in PES10 last night, winning Div 2 (or the Coca Cola Championship as I have called it) with 4 games to spare, CHAMPIONS!!! Now to sign some quality players… oh and Not-Greg .. Castolo The ‘Myth’ scored a belting edge of the box volley to give me a 1-0 win that clinched guaranteed promotion 😉 I was going to record it but didn’t have the console hooked up to the Recording device.
    Next time …
    I also wandered past Gamestation last night and picked up a copy of PES6 for the 360 at 99p!!! just to see what all the fuss was about!
    I don’t know whether to think that PES6 was well ahead of its time in terms of the Pro Evo life cycle for game play, or that not much at all has developed over the next 4 years and in PES10 ?!
    It did play very nicely though, i particularly liked the dribbling engine and awareness of the AI, obviously the graphics looked a bit dated with that ‘Matte’ effect on the colours, but if you combined PES6 game play with PES10’s ‘Chrome like’ shiny graphics then you’d have a belter of a game!

  14. Ken—I’m not over-worried about teh tricks issue, but I’m sure you’d agree it could potentially break the whole game if left unchecked. We’d have to self-police and even though that’d probably work for me (I never, ever even attempt tricks anyway), just knowing it’s there undermines the whole authority of the game, if you know what I mean. As if you turned on BBC News and the newsreader was wearing a clown’s red nose (and it’s not Red Nose Day). It would tend to make the content, no matter how serious, seem absurd and trivial.

  15. Not sure what the big problem is with the tricks. I’m assuming that most of the readers here play offline anyway. So the only people abusing the tricks will be yourselves? I don’t imagine the AI going over board on them.

    Speaking of tricks, does anyone remember International Superstar Soccer back on the Super Nintendo? You could only score from about 3 positions, but if you timed it right, you could flick the ball over your head and keeper at the same time with your heel. Now that was a great trick!!

  16. Paul—no one’s called the trick chain thing a bug. It seems, currently, to be a conscious feature. There’s some suggestion about possible collusion by the ‘defending’ player(s), but that’s just Internet talk IMO. Even if true, even if they stood off him deliberately, the fact that the chained flicks are technically possible at all, and by a goalkpeer to boot (!), are the major issue here. They’ve just got to go.

    People still play PES6(360) online, if that’s your kind of thing (it’s not mine, as you know). I had a look today out of curiosity and the lobby had 20 people in it at 10.15 on a Thursday morning.

  17. Liam—Adam on WENB has been playing singleplayer ML on PES2011 for a weeks now and he occasionally drops nuggets of info in his posts on their forum. He says the AI never uses any tricks at all, much less the now-notorious rainbow flick. So we’re going to be okay, us single-players.

    As I touch on in my reply to Ken above, this issue, for me anyway (as a non-online player), addresses PES2011’s credibility as a serious football game. No, I’d never use them myself, and in playing ML offline I’d never have them used against me, but just knowing they’re in the game and seeing the backwash from the fiasco that the online side of things would generate, would be very bad for the series IMO. People have wrongly jeered FIFA for a few years for its allegedly easy tricks (they’re not). PES getting the same treatment would be horrendous. Especially if justified!

  18. Quite interesting that you deem unrealistic tricks to be a game breaker, the chained flicks are absurd agreed but as we said, offline players needn’t worry.
    In my opinion the decision by Konami to completely overhaul the series from the ground up, then only to go and include options to have players with pumpkins for heads, spartan helmets, baseball caps, and play with sweet wrappers and marbles instead of balls is just plain ridiculous, talk about designing a sleek new state of th art car and painting pink and yellow blobs on it!!!!
    taken seriously… flicks yes (not chainable or over abused)… Novelty players and balls … NO!!!!

  19. @Paul: I’ll grant you the pumpkin heads and candies are ridiculous, but the ” rel=”nofollow”>Easter Island heads are the single best feature for a new football game that I think I’ve ever seen. It’s only going to add to the realism of a mid-week evening Easter Island cup tie, when (as we’ve all seen) the statues come down off of their jagged cliffs and attempt to use their ancient rituals and stone-age powers to overturn a 2-goal away defect. Just magical.

    After I’ve had PES 11 for a few weeks, and uncovered the one or two niggling little bugs that might have been ironed out with just a few man-hours work before release, I am going to curse the name of the person who decided that some Konami employees should spend time putting that stupid s-it in the game. It’s amazingly odd, and unless they literally ran out of useful things to do during development, there’s no reason to keep any of it.

    Do Japanese PES fans get drunk and play as ostrich-riders versus dog-heads? Does anyone? Really?

    I got started in the series playing PES 5 (Winning Eleven 9 in the States), and as my presence on this blog suggests, I fell in love with the game. I remember discovering some of the weird stuff in the PES shop and having one of those WTF moments, before finally deciding that this was one of those things that you find in Japanese games sometimes that just don’t translate between cultures; the RPG obsession with star-signs was another for me, or most of the dialogue and story in Final Fantasy Tactics.

    Maybe there are fans over there who have been clamoring for the more ridiculous elements, or the return of samurai hairstyles and afro blowouts?

  20. Paul—oh yes, I’ll be safe in my offline bunker, but I actually think the tricks might be game-reputation-wrecking. PES needs a big 2011 without the kind of stick it’ll get if a large number of online players are skipping across the field doing rainbow flicks. If that happens, it’ll deservedly be a laughing stock.

    The ostrich heads and etc. have been in PES since the halcyon PS2 days. I barely noticed them then, and regarded them as what they probably are—a bit of Japanese whimsy. I doubt they’re meant to be anything more substantial than Easter Egg-like, er, ‘things’.

  21. ck—as I mentioned in my reply to Paul above, I’ve always seen PES series’ animal heads & similar as being a bit of Japanese fun, a touch of eccentricity, Easter Island Eggs that are hidden in plain view, that kind of thing.

    I’ve never used them even for a bit of fun myself—that’d involve a trip to the player appearance Edit menu, and as you know I don’t indulge in that kind of thing.

    It’s pretty certain that if PES2011 ships with exploitable tricks in multiplayer, they’ll be used to the utmost online and a veritable hurricane of fury will be unleashed on the world. However, it’s now a few days after the video appeared in the wild and we’ve yet to be deluged with footage of other MLO Beta players doing the rainbow thing. By now I’d expect tons if it was really that easy. Hopefully this is just a minor bump in the road in this election campaign (as the PES2011 buildup is increasingly coming to resemble). It’s a long road to the big day all right…

  22. I’ll be honest; if multiplayer is broken (and it will be unless then “linked tricks” system GOES AWAY), there’s very little reason to “pay” for the game, beyond moral conscientiousness…

    The reason why I’m looking forward to a next-gen PES, is mainly because PES is a LOT of fun when played with another human….

    The AI is good and all. I’ve been playing against the AI for the past 7 years… but companies are now combating piracy by releasing strong online modes. KONAMI should follow suite.

  23. TareX—I’ve been watching the forums over the past 24 hours and they haven’t exploded with people claiming to be ‘rainbowing’ all over the place, and I’ve seen no other videos, so… hopefully this issue isn’t a major one. There’s a lot of worry out there about it though. The PESverse is awaiting PES2011 as if it’s the Second Coming of PES. Which, yes, it kind of does have to be…

  24. I share you frustration with the lack of reporting on the AI. Especially after last years offering where the AI looked for all the world like gold medalists in the 2009 “Keep the Ball for the longest time possible without offering any real goal threat whatsoever regardless of the score in the match world games”.

    I did just stumble upon this video

    http://multiplayer.it/video/pro-evolution-soccer-2011-pes-2011-per-ps3/pro-evolution-soccer-2011-pes-2011-videoanteprima-gamescom-2010.hi/

    which seems to show a single player game in action, note the lack of a pass guage for the Milan players, and it looks half decent. Hurrah!

  25. I disagree with this contention that overpowered tricks are irrelevant for offline players. Personally I prefer the AI to set a very stiff challenge (helped by ‘house rules’ for ML if necessary), and then use everything possible to try to win – tricks, unorthodox formations, whatever. Not sure I’ve got the discipline to avoid using certain controls if it’s a crucial match – would be like refusing to shoot from sweet spots!

  26. Rafas Evil Beard—thanks for the link, the game looks really good in that. The passing looks amazing. And yes, I’ll say it again, all PES2011 needs to be is the PES franchise’s equivalent of FIFA08. Not the actual game, of course: just the impact, the startling change, that FIFA08 represented. We’d all settle for that I think.

    The last-but-one WENB podcast with the two guys from Konami gives a massive clue as to why we never hear anything about the AI from the summertime previewers. They turn up in groups and they get lost in gleefully playing against each other. EA and Konami have got to start cracking down on that behaviour—unless they’re happy with the situation, of course.

  27. abbeyhill—I’ve never regarded the tricks as being part of the set of controls for a football game. They’ve always seemed to me to be extras. The most I’ve ever done on purpose in PES is the trusty double-tap of R1 stepover, and I remember a time when I only ever did that—just that!—by mistake.

  28. Rafas Evil Beard,

    The AI in that video looks really good. They seem to be attacking, and actually taking shots when they have a chance to, rather than just getting into a good position and then passing it backwards.

    not-Greg,

    I don’t think I used any tricks at all in PES2010 and I can’t recall ever seeing the AI using them either. That’s how I like it.

  29. Darshan—yep, us single-players are still on course for the first ‘best-ever PES’ on next-gen. Remember the days when the new PES being the best-ever was a routine occurrence, year after year? I miss those days, I think we all do.

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