The last days of PES2011

PES2011: disaster. I’m as sick of it and as disappointed with it as I ever was with next-gen PES2008.

This is a hard post to write, but it has to be done. Barring a last-minute miracle, PES2011 and I are about to part company.

This has been building up for a long time. It hasn’t come about because of one bad session. As it happens, my latest—possibly my last ever—session on PES2011 was a very productive one. I played through to week 31 of season 6, and won promotion.

After matchday 31, the post-match celebrations fired, taking me by surprise. I couldn’t reach my phone in time to capture the scenes. Here’s the table showing my mathematical promotion. I think I’ll be good for the title as well. If I play on.

But whether I ever play another match in PES2011 is seriously in doubt.

I have tried to love PES2011, but I don’t love it and I don’t think I ever will. I loved the demo. I loved the first week or two with the game. But it’s been sharply downhill ever since. After over 110 hours’ play now, I think it’s time for me to accept that.

It takes a lot to tear me away from Master League. This will be the first time I have ever abandoned a PES without playing my ML career through to some kind of conclusion.

I just don’t think PES2011 is a good game of football. I think it’s a bad PES game, one of the worst we’ve ever had. And I don’t want to play it anymore.

Please note that I say “I think”, not “this is what the objective truth is”. I’m perfectly well aware that many find PES2011 to be a good game, perhaps even a great one. And as a PES fan I do respect that (not least because I thought PES2010 was a great PES game, and not very many did!). There are also perfectly decent, perfectly rational PES fans who thought PES2008 was perfectly fine.

In my view, then, PES2011 is beset with issues that would see it get totally crucified if this was FIFA we were dealing with. But because it’s PES, they are overlooked or explained away.

What are my main gripes with PES2011? I don’t know where to begin.

One of the most celebrated characteristics of PES has always been the feeling you get from it that it is a superb representation of the actual game of football in all its guts and glory.

I think that PES2011 fails completely at doing this.

What part of real football is represented in PES2011 by my players suddenly becoming unresponsive and motionless when the cursor fails to decide where to go? Player switching issues affect me so much that I barely even notice them any more. It’s quite something that I’ve got used to having two CBs frozen in place while the ball rolls between them.

What part of real football is represented in PES2011 by my full-backs wandering into advanced AMF/CF roles at random, even with all relevant tactical sliders on zero? (No, I don’t want to hear “have 4 CBs instead”, as if that’s perfectly acceptable. Because if this was FIFA…)

What part of real football is represented in PES2011 by my players adopting an awkward shuffling animation when receiving the ball?

What part of real football is represented in PES2011 by my button-presses failing to register when the game decides it simply doesn’t want to register them? Through on goal yesterday, I pressed for an early shot. That shot never came.

What part of real football is represented in PES2011 by any defender being able to catch up with any striker from any distance away, and for the game to actively assist this bollocks by making my striker dwell on the ball for long enough?

What part of real football is represented in PES2011 by the infamous stumbling animation where a player will collide and stagger and be rendered insensible for several seconds?

What part of real football is represented in PES2011 by my goalkeeper punching the ball into the path of oncoming stikers, when Goakeeping 101 stipulates that “if you can’t catch it, make sure it goes behind or a long way to the sides”?

What part of real football is represented in PES2011 by the proximity of other players rendering shots floatier than a beachball filled with helium on a windy day? Oh my God, if this was FIFA… Can you imagine?

What part of real football is represented in PES2011 by two, three, four, sometimes five or six CPU players permanently crowding and hassling the ball-carrier? Even the most high-tempo, high-pressure real-life teams have never played such football, not for 90 minutes.

I’ve heard all the arguments about each of those things somehow representing PES’s celebrated stats-based game engine, and I’ve even believed in the excuses, but in PES2011’s case, I just don’t buy it anymore.

PES2011 is not a terrible game in the way that PES2008 was terrible. The latter game was insultingly easy.

I think it’s more that PES2011 has been stuffed with so many ‘limiters’—chunks of code designed to handicap the human player and keep scorelines low—that I end up having to overlook and tolerate too many instances of wrongness every single match.

It’s too much for me. Maybe I’m growing out of football games, or games in general (a common worry for us gamers with jobs)? Who knows.

Over the weekend I’ll be uninstalling patch 1.02 and playing a few matches, just to see. This could be the last-minute miracle that I referred to up there at the start of my rant. I’ll report back on how that went on Monday.

I have to at least try. I feel I owe it to myself and to PES and to the 110 hours that I’ve already sunk into this game.


  1. I only have issue with the defenders catching the strikers when clean through. Other than that I have very few complaints. I am still on v1.01 so I’m hoping the uninstalling of 1.02 could be your miracle. It does seem that there’s been a massive change of tone since the patch was uploaded. Good luck!

  2. Liam—surely you’e noticed the featherlight shooting issue and the goalkeepers ‘excitingly’ patting the ball not to safety as they should do, but straight into danger? There was a lot in ver. 1.1 that annoyed me too. But yes, 1.02 raised it all to a new level of wrath, so the patch-uninstallation will definitely be given a fair chance to work.

  3. I think your being a bit of a girl about all this if I’m honest, yes there are issues, but I certainly don’t get them to the degree of which you tirade on about, has it occured to you that your just not that good at the game? But instead blame everything on pes’s issues and gaming code for the reason as to why you don’t enjoy it? Sorry if that sounds harsh, I think we are totally different people and have different outlooks on the game and it’s problems that’s all. I like to find ways around them…..and there are ways……, I am dissapointed that you’ve come to this though I really am, I will miss your adventures. Have you tried a different copy of the game? I just can’t believe you suffer the problems to the degree that you do that’s all.

  4. Awaiting moderation? What happened to free speech?!

  5. Batesy8—I’ve got a filter in place designed to screen out anything related to WENB/Adam/Suff, and all main swear-words. Believe me, you would have a filter like that in place too, if you saw some of the X-rated stuff! It sometimes scoops up inoffensive posts at random for no reason I’ve ever been able to determine. As for free speech… no such thing on any website. I do keep hearing about something called /b/ or 4chan (?), which is supposed to an anything-goes website, but I believe that websites, blogs, forums, etc. with some degree of comment moderation are the norm.

    I’m more than happy to be criticised and have doubts cast on my attitude to the game. And, ah, it has occasionally occurred to me that I’m not very good at PES. I must have referenced my averageness/below-averageness at PES at least several hundred times over the past few years. 😉

    I’d refer you to paragraph 9 of the post where I acknowledge that my view is a partial, personal one.

    I’ll miss my adventures too! If it comes to that, of course. And I am telling the truth, at least as I see it, about the issues I have with PES2011.

  6. I wasn’t trying to say you were lieing! Lol, I just feel bad for you that you have so many problems to the intense degree you have them, especially as your a pes stalwart, plus it will take away my thrice weekly enjoyment!

  7. Batesy8—it’s a case of critical mass, I’m afraid. Think of the times you’ve had issues with PES (any PES). Now imagine the issue(s) cropping up several times per game, every session. At some point it would wear you down, and I feel worn down by the perfect storm of all the issues I listed (plus a few I’ve forgotten about).

    Will this change? I’ve actually got high hopes for the uninstallation of patch 1.02. I did get on better with PES2011 before its arrival.

    I was going to do the patch uninstallation thing right now, Friday morning, but the snow is bucketing down outside so I might have to leave for work early. It’s a rollover to tomorrow morning, if so.

  8. Yeah I’ve noticed the lighter shooting but it’s not an issue. I just adjust how long I press the power bar. It’s the same with the much praised passing system. Not an issue in my eyes. The player switch issue isn’t apparent in BaL either. I know I sound like i’m championing it but I’ve only played about 15 games on this installment. It’s more that I think there’s an excellent blog to be written based on the adventures like someone did (albeit fleetingly) on pesfan a few years back. Add your take on it and it would keep our lunchtime Reading entertaining!

  9. wow…it has really come to this? i was with you on PES 2010 so i kind of expected you to experience PES 2011 the same way i have. I’m finding it absolutely brilliant right down to the shooting. I have some minor gripes but they seem to have been magnified tenfold in your game.

    i’m actually disappointed i won’t be reading your ML adventures anymore, if it comes to that!
    it remains a complete mystery to me why this year, people’s experience with PES 2011 differs so vastly…perhaps we have come to expect too much from footy games?
    But look at it this way; your time away from footy gaming does mean more time for ‘proper’ gaming. I’m actually a bit miffed fallout 3 (GOTY edition) is sitting on the shelf gathering dust. i’ve completed it once but want to complete the add-ons too dammit! However, PES won’t let me:)

    Hoping for that miracle to pull through for you!

  10. sorry o hear that PES´s faults are effcting you so much, back to 2010?

    On another not this this weekend i plan to finaly make that dols vid i was on about as i type the first bid is importing into window movie maker. One question, the videos from my Iphone .MOV aren´t reconised how do i get around it?

  11. Sorry to read that things have worked out this way not-Greg. It really does baffle me how after 5 years Konami still haven’t released a truly great PES, especially after PES 1-5 were each mind-blowing in their brilliance.
    Although I had a good month or two on PES2010 ML, I loathed the gameplay compared to the glorious FIFA10. I can understand how you have had enough of wasting your time on a sub-standard product. I’m still undecided as to what console and footy game to pick up this Christmas. PS3 with PS2 version of PES2011? PS3 version? Wii version? Xbox360 with FIFA2011? Ah but no ML… but I can play with friends back in the UK occasionally… decisions, decisions. I too don’t have a great deal of time for gaming, so I want to make the right choice.

  12. Use not patch. i was using patch and the game sucks, without patch is a great game!
    Sorry my English, Im brazilian and dont know how to speak English so well!!!!!!!

  13. Not-greg i rememebr u sying something about Windows Movie Maker being a bit temperalmentle?

    I´m having a worse time with it then you are with PES!

    think i´m guna giv it a miss…

    heres my no.1 goal of 2011

  14. Liam—BaL always sounds good in theory but as you know I’ve envountered obstacles with the mode that I can’t get past. This year if I have any further business with PES2011 it’ll be ML first and foremost. BaL is extremely theoretical for me right now 😉

  15. The thing I hate the most about this year’s game is the player wandering. I take a lot of time and put a lot if thought into where I want my players lined up on the pitch, only to have them go all over the place during the match. It completly destroys build up play.

  16. #1—it’s never over until it’s over, but it looks like it’s over…

    All I can say now is that I will be playing PES2011 again and we’ll see what happens. As ever, the blog isn’t any kind of ‘proper’ website, and my posts are not announcements of a new quasi-editorial position. So I could love the game again this time next week. I seriously doubt it though. I’ve taken a dislike to PES2011 I’m afraid 🙁

  17. not-Greg,

    That’s a shame to hear; I’ve found PES2011 to be better than last year’s PES, but maybe you could start a new ML in PES2010 (or continue your old one if you still have the save somewhere?).

  18. Max—I last used Windows Movie Maker in 2006 or so, and it was a temperamental bugger back then—I’m not surprised to hear it hasn’t changed. Random freezes still the main issue? I got around it by just saving very, very frequently.

    You’ll still need to convert your .MOV files to .AVI files. Try Handbrake. I use it to convert AVIs to watch stuff on the iPhone and it does the job well.

  19. Grilled Seabass—I still have to see how the game plays once I’ve deleted update 1.02 (I was reasonably happy with the game until that point), but it doesn’t look good.

    As you know there are plenty who feel PES2011 is a great PES game. Having loved PES2010 myself when so many disliked or even loathed it, I’d always respect that and recommend you find a way to road-test PES2011 for yourself. Who knows, you could love it. That’s the topsy-turvy world of next-gen PES, alas.

  20. I can’t say I disagree with a word.

    You’re not complaining that the game is too difficult, you’re complaining about the way the game plays, and I agree with you 100% — I haven’t touched it in weeks.

    If you own a wii, give the wii version a go with the classic controller. It’s the best PES of the year, and after the wretched PS3 version it’s more than a breath of fresh air — it’s a gust.

  21. Willian Ribeiro—your English is perfectly fine and a lot better than my Portuguese 😉

    The patch is coming off as soon as I get time to do it. I will be playing PES2011 again, ver. 1.1 hopefully. I had a good time on that. I’m not too keen on playing FIFA11, or in reverting to an older PES just yet.

  22. Ken—it really makes my blood boil when I see my side-backs moving into the central AMF positions. I’ve tried everything short of 3-5-2, having 4 CBs, etc. I want my usual back 4 behaviour back! As you say it just makes the game stupid. Very unhappy with this issue in particular 🙁

  23. Darshan—I still have all my saves going back to PES2008! I’ve been a compulsive backer-upper in the next-gen era. I could go back easily enough to PES2010 (or PES2009, or even—spit—PES2008). I will be giving PES2011 one last shot. PES has meant too much to me over the years.

  24. cklarock—exactly, the game just does too much wrong. It offends me in some personal way that only PES2008(PS3) has ever done before.

    I had a Wii for 2 weeks in the summer of 2008 and traded it in. I was unhappy with the erratic motion control, particularly in Tiger Woods.

    If, as seems 99% likely, this is it for me and PES2011, I’ll fall back on PES6(360) (the third coming of that game!), or even FIFA11 for the statutory 2 seasons of Manager Mode/Career Mode.

  25. There you go, PES 6 for the win.

    Now that was a game whose flaws were so vastly exceeded by its enjoyable qualities that you forgave it the odd scripted goal or heavy-handed moment.

    I know that the decision to move away from button responsiveness from players was strategic by Konami, but it’s loosing them the tactical fight. I don’t need the outcome to be assured, but if I instruct my little digital avatar to try, he has to try. I’m with you — if I press shoot, and Schwarz just dribbles into the keeper, I’m pretty much through.

    In PES 2011, the much-hyped “power bar” is next to meaningless anyway because what half power or third-power means varies so widely from situation to situation that it’s not useful as a feedback tool to train player proficiency. Why even include it, if the game is going to pretty much decide how to weight my passes based on its read of the situation?

    Likewise, FIFA 11 would be a much better game if its passing system was consistent throughout the pitch, rather than behaving one way in defense and build-up, then an entirely different way in the attacking third. That’s a really heavy-handed way to prevent 10-0 games and as a behind-the-curtain thinker, it drives me nuts.

  26. Now that was a game whose flaws were so vastly exceeded by its enjoyable qualities that you forgave it the endless string of scripted goals


  27. Max—I just watched your goal.

    Bloody hell!

    That, for me, is an example of the ultimate PES goal that I’m always trying to score. Distance. Half-volley. Swerve and dip. In off the bar.

    You should make a movie with just that goal in it.

  28. ck—not forgetting my installation of PES5 on PC. I could easily sink back into that. The only impediment there would be the fiddliness of getting out the laptop every time I wanted to play. I prefer the convenience of consoles.

    I’m glad you noticed FIFA11’s passing problem in the final third—I’m amazed it’s not talked about more often as a reason why next-gen FIFA is actually a bit dumb. The game forces the angle of the pass unnaturally compared to what has preceded it, usually with the same players who were swapping laserlike passes just seconds before in midfield. But as soon as they hit that final third, the defenders magically attract the ball… It’s one of next-gen FIFA’s biggest sins, and one of the reasons why it’s not a viable alternative for me this year.

    I’m still going to have another patchless tilt at PES2011 though. I can’t give the thing up yet. There needs to be a proper balance between the negative issues I list in the post and the neutral or positive side of PES where you’re just happily playing and it’s either fine or great. I.e. I can accept as much as a 40:60 ratio between Stupidity and Absorption. What’s led me to this stage is that I’ve had more like 80:20 over the past few weeks. Sometimes 90:10. It’s too much, way beyond my personal threshold.

  29. Max, wow. literally thats a proper stonker!!!!! thats one of the best goals ive ever seen in on a console!! i loved the way it arched into the top corner! you had no right scoring from there but boy did you deserve it! well done that was incredible!!

  30. Ckla – I’m intrigued by pes2011 Wii. But why try it without a decent master league mod? If you want a footy game that simply plays well, then surely FIFA is the logical choice?

  31. @Grilled Seabass:

    I try the wii version because I try all the PES titles over a year. I do play FIFA as well. Of all the 2011 football games, I think the wii version plays the best game. It’s smooth and lovely — PES 6 with more animations and 16-degree dribbling. The lack of a 2nd division or Euro League makes Master League a bit less interesting, but the gameplay is still worth a run-out, and there are some unique modes that are fun as well (one called Champions Road in particular).

    For me, FIFA has two quirks holding it back:

    1. As I mentioned to not-Greg, the nerfing of passes in the final third is a bit of a fun-crusher, and

    2. The heaviness and physicality of the game isn’t to taste.

    I will say that this year’s FIFA really did solve the variety of goals problem, and I do pick it up from time to time. Usually, though, it’s a bit like an ex girlfriend that I haven’t seen in a while — at first it’s nice, but after a few minutes, I remember why they are exes. 😉

  32. Thanks CKLA I’ll bear that mind. It’s reassuring to know that if I do plump for a Wii I’ll be able to play a decent footy game.

  33. not-greg

    I don’t blame you. The new PESes have never caught my attention for long. You have spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours on football games- which aren’t up to scratch anymore.

    I bet youve had the thought that quitting PES will be detrimental to the weblog. If you stop playing master league everyday, readers will move on, if they are no longer interested. Thats probably true too. I think if something is no longer fun anymore, stop doing it. Play whatever ‘proper’ games you want, for however long you want. Don’t feel constrained by an internet diary and dont let it drag your gaming life down to a job as well. Gaming is supposed to be relaxing fun not blood boiling and stressful.

    The fact that this weblog has been going for so long is a great achievement and ill be happy to stay and read every post for the next 3 years too.

    But please dont live out your free workless time to appease us internet people. Do whats fun again, even if that means stopping your weblogging about PES, and losing an audience that’s 90% fickle. (and 10% of great regular contributors that I see reply all the time.)

  34. Not Given—I still want to play football games and probably always will. Not just because I find them satisfying and pleasurable and fun and absorbing in their own right (when all is well), but because they fit in with the rest of my life so neatly.

    Uncharted 2 is wonderful but I just can’t wake up, get some breakfast, sit down and play it. It’s a night-time game, requiring a night-time kind of atmosphere for me to give it proper attention.

    Footy games are part of my routine in a way that other games, even my beloved MGS, Civilization, etc., never have been and never could be. I’ve often wondered what I’d do about the blog if the urge to play football games ever disappeared, but it never has yet. Not for long anyway. Thanks for the thought though, it is appreciated. But some kind of football game has been in my life for most of the past ten years, and as tomorrow’s post will outline, that’ll continue.

  35. Only just had chance to log on and see Fridays post.
    Bad times mate…. seriously bad times, but can totally appreciate your mindset and think youve persevered quite well until now.
    As ive experienced all the issues you have written about and more i can fully appreciate PES’s unforgiving abysmal nature at times.
    Just faar too many niggly little shocking elements that all add up to form one highly aggrevating experience, and anyone that says that none of those issues appear in their game are either such PES loving fanboys that they refuse to acknowledge the bad points or theyre so unobservant and blinkered that they legitimately dont know theyre there, which i find impossible.
    I’ve never ever in my gaming life experienced a game so frustrating, and not becaus eim just bad or average at the game, im ok, not a world beater, not useless, just Ok, i like hard games i like to have to try over and over again to beat the game, on whatever difficulty level, as i know if i cant do something or cant complete a level or kill a boss, that its my ability thats lacking and i will persevere and try to win, which i always do eventaully.
    But PES11 is diferent, the game handicaps you in so many ways quite obviously intentionally that it cant in my eyes, be considered a decent game let alone representation of football.
    Konami have seriously dropped the ball this year, or should i say, failed to switch to their defender who’s let a forward walk past then parried the shot right back into the path of the attacker for a tap in!!!

  36. Paul—I don’t recall anyone saying they never see any of the issues, just that they see some of them but not all, or that they see them but aren’t bothered by them. I see all the issues listed in the post and more, and I am bothered by them enough for it all to make me seriously consider my future with this game.

    I think a lot of it is down to what you’re personally prepared to put up with. I was happy to endure a lot of wrongness in PES2010 because I got such a buzz out of the game overall. It allowed play to flow. You weren;t guaranteed to be swamped with defenders within a few seconds. The ball had weight and inertia. When it came to shooting, a long button-press meant something. It had a tactile feel that PES2011 seems to lack.

    Oh, and PES2010’s Master League didn’t feel curiously rough around the edges and unfinished. That helped too.

    I’ve just put the finishing touches to Monday’s post which will show me trying to give PES2011 one more go. I have to try, because if I do walk away it’ll be unprecedented. I played PES2008(PS3), the worst football game ever, until the February of that PES year!

  37. Hi, perhaps you’re being a bit hasty in binning PES2011. Hardly been playing it myself but only due to the time spent playing GT5 since it came out. Stuck it on today and played four games on top player, won three and drew one. I’ve had to adapt my play since the patch but seem to play better now that I’ve done it. The aggressive AI defending leads to players being out of position which makes the AI team more open to attack. I only seem to have real trouble against poor teams who defend deep at the moment.
    Why don’t you grab yourself a copy of GT5 and take a break for a bit?

  38. Sounds like you need a new challenge with PES 2011. I am sure you will figure out what to do. Its a shame you are thinking of leaving this game behind, especially as you have dedicated so much of your effort into writing about your adventures. I look forward to seeing what you decide next.

  39. The Dribbler—as this is a blog, i.e. a regular personal diary, my shifting opinions and adventures in PES are not any kind of editorial position that I’m obliged to stick to, so I could just as easily be back in ML this time next week. It has happened before. I loathed PES2009 when it first came out, but ended up playing a very engrossing full ML career regardless.

  40. Point taken. LOL. I also know from PES that it can be frustrating in certain modes which leaves you debating what to do next, so I can definately see where you are coming from. I lost my first 5 games badly in the 2011 offline master league, so gave it a rest, went back, and now enjoying my second season with better players. My online ML also suffered as I couldnt get to grips with the gameplay from the start. I jumped straight in to ML online without trying out the game when I first purchased. I think that was my downfall and made me practice more. But seeing the cost of the players now and how much you get per game, the only way I can now buy decent players is by playing more and more matches even if you lose. I am sure it will pay off in the end.

  41. The Dribbler—I still plan to play ML Online, despite my loathing for the online game. As an ML fanatic it would feel wrong not to at least try it. Who knows when that’ll be, though, or if anyone will still be playing it by then? I’d guess at February/March.

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