Near the middle of season 7 of my Master League career in PES2011. Below is the current table—probably my last such table from this Master League for a while. Because I won’t be playing on for now.
See this post from a few weeks ago for context. This has been brewing for a long time. It has not come out of the blue.
THE ROCK AND ROLL YEAR
This time last year, I was working hard on a video that told the epic tale of my promotion campaign in PES2010’s Master League. As a record of my abiding affection for what was a great PES year, that video is still well worth a look today.
What a difference between this year and last. There’s no full-length PES2011 video. The chances are pretty slim that there ever will be a PES2011 video. (It’s not impossible. I won’t rule out a resumption of this ML career at some point. And Master League isn’t necessarily the only show in town, as will be seen…)
I just don’t like PES2011 very much. That’s what it all boils down to. Oh, I did like it to begin with. I even thought PES2011 was The One foretold in Legend. The Anointed One we’ve all been waiting for. A football game robed in white linen, riding a pale horse…
But the final PES2011 that emerged in October was dismayingly unlike its brilliant demo. The full game seems like somebody made a ham-fisted effort to polish it before release, and then ran out of time before fixing all the new problems they’d caused.
Side-back wandering. Eccentric player switching. Frequently catastrophic heavy touches and ‘run-ons’ with the ball. Lack of player responsiveness. Forced first touches when you just want to clear the ball from danger. That infamous stumble animation (groan). And many more.
The way it plays—its handling—just feels wrong to me. It doesn’t feel like a real PES game. It feels like a single-player version of high-pressure, high-speed, online football. Which I thoroughly detest, as I have always said.
It is worth noting that the major PES forums are full of PES fans who seem to adore PES2011. I’m not saying they’re wrong. But I think it is significant that many of them are enthusiastic online players.
I don’t recall many predominantly offline, single-player players of PES2011 who are entirely satisfied with the game—although they do surely exist and are also not wrong. It’s mostly a question of personal taste, in the final analysis, and PES2011 isn’t to mine.
I’ve given it a good go since I reached breaking point. I carried on playing for 20 hours—something I would not do for any other game.
PES has a powerful presence in my life. It’s not something I can casually walk away from. And I’m not. I could be back at some point.
15 MINUTES OF FAME
One of the suggestions made to try to counter the game’s rushed, hurry-scurrying style, was to play 15-minute halves.
I gave it a try. I played two separate sessions of 15-minute matches, about 8 matches in total.
I did see what everybody was driving at. You get time. The most important difference it makes is in one’s own attitude to the game.
15-minute PES matches do promote a more thoughtful game. But the core contents of those matches remain the same. There’s still the wandering side-back issue. There’s still the stumble animation. There’s still the way players are often locked into runs with the ball at their feet. I felt I had time to do things in 15-minute matches—but I didn’t particularly want to do anything much.
PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES?
At exactly 10:29 on Christmas Day morning, I took the PES2011 disc out of my PS3 and put it back in its box. I felt a great sadness. This was unprecedented. Even the fateful year of PES2008 saw me muddle through to February.
Then an hour later I took the disc back out again, and put it back in the PS3, and started her up.
No, this was not some Hollywood-style dash to the airport to declare my actual love for PES2011.
I’d simply remembered that there was a time when I looked forward to doing more in PES2011 than just playing Master League.
To what do I refer? This picture provides a clue:
Yep—it’s one of the setup screens from PES2011’s Become A Legend mode. More on Wednesday.