Arshavin it all

The performance of Barcelona in Saturday’s Champions League final impressed me in spite of my usual disdain for ‘tippy-tappy football’. Whilst watching the match, I had a PES-related epiphany.

I now believe that Seabass & co. based the footballing style of PES2011 on match videos of Barcelona in action. PES2011 is very conducive to Barca-style one- and two-touch passing. In fact, the AI’s constant pressing positively encourages it. And that constant pressing itself is another real-life Barcelona trait.

Inspired by the match, later that night I reloaded PES2011. I played a couple of games in my Anderlecht ML career. Not fancying too much of a grapple with the game engine, I knocked the difficulty down to Professional.

I had a great few games, scored some great goals, played some lovely Barca-style stuff. The stumble only appeared when I tried to not play Barca-style. All in all, I saw only the good in PES2011 and little or nothing of the bad.

I am not, and probably never will be, a fan of PES2011. But I might be able to play it occasionally without being disgusted. Judging by the ambient forum chatter over the past 6 months, it seems that even those who love PES2011 agree that it’s best consumed in small doses, that over-familiarity is the breeder of contempt.

I won’t be going back to PES2011, but I hope to be able to play it once in a while.

Meanwhile, back on PES5… I’m still playing it despite it being on the PC and damn awkward to start up much of the time.

This is the acid test for me and PES5(PC). To set up and play PES5 on the laptop takes more effort and bother than to play any game on the consoles.

First I have to restart the laptop from hibernation, then wait for Windows 7 to wheeze and groan its way back to life, then fend off any of several random antivirus and Windows Update notices. It can be 5 or 10 minutes before the machine’s in a fit state to be used for gaming.

Then if I want to play on the TV screen I need to get the HDMI cable from its hook on the wall, plug it in, and connect the other end to the TV.

Then I plug in the Xbox360 controller for Windows. Then I’m ready to play some PES5.

Whereas to play on a console, I just turn it on and sit back. I miss my back-compatible 60GB PS3 desperately, needless to say.

At the moment I am persevering with the whole PC rigmarole. PES5 is so worth it. With each session my rediscovered regard for the game nudges up another notch.

I’m just starting season 2, having failed to get promotion last year.

In the pre-season negotiations I managed to sign none other than… Arshavin. It’s 2005 in-game and he’s an unknown 23-year-old. I got him from some club—I forget which—in a trade-in deal.

H. Almeida and Aquilani have come along for the ride as well. Alongside Zidan I’ve suddenly got a decent frontline.

I picked up Ricardo Costa in defence.

And just like that, I’ve got the skeleton of a good team.

For the start of the new season I whacked the difficulty up to Top Player. In my first few matches I’ve noticed a difference already. I don’t think I’ll be getting promoted this season either, put it that way.

I’ll talk about it in more detail on Wednesday—which, in case you haven’t noticed, will be June 1st.

That’s June the first.

Bleeding hell. Next thing we know, it’ll be Christmas.


  1. Grilled Seabass

    I too think PES2011 is geared towards TicTac football. It’s really difficult to dribble past players compared to 2008, or even pes5. For that reason I pass ASAP, and therefore rarely see the Fucking Stumble.
    As a Manchester United fan, I was gutted we list but felt no shame, they’re the best team I’ve seen in my lifetime. Really beautiful stuff.

  2. Not a huge fan of tip tap football or whatever it is, but was massively impressed with what I saw in the champions league final. I agree, I think Pes is modelled this way, but surely this is unrealistic. Barcelona (and probably the Spain national team) are the exception rather than the rule, surely? I only really watch English football, but surely not many of the teams across the continent are playing the barca way!? I could be wrong. I know it’s not easy, but the game engine should allow for all styles of play.

  3. Grilled Seabass—yes, and how throughly decent it was of Man Utd to kindly stand back and let Barcelona get on with it. Man Utd’s goal came from pressing a Barca throw-in. Other than that I couldn’t believe the game-plan from Fergie, really. I know, I know: “But if you press Barcelona, they’ll crush you when your players are pulled out of position!” (A line that can now be heard on the lips of every man and woman who listened to Tyldesley and Townsend hammering the point home, over and over, in ITV’s commentary.) I don’t agree with that at all. You need to do to Barca what they did so brilliantly to Man U: just don’t let them play. At all. They don’t like it up ’em, is my managerial motto. (My FM2010 Coventry City side: 6th from bottom in the Premier last time I had the courage to start the game up.)

  4. Filbert—In Spain they call it tique taque football (Grilled Seabass calls it TicTac above). Its name is protean, and in moderation I do love it (much in the same way I love the fantasy boxing in the Rocky films), but it takes two to tango and the other team have to allow it to happen.

    PES2011 has all the Barca-friendly traits. Playing PES5 this morning, its animations and passing directions etc. are of course limited compared to PES2011. But at the same time PES5 seems more open to different styles of play. E.g. in one match I played tippy-tappy for a bit, then went direct, then went all-out long ball. (The 40-yard aerial diagonal through-ball was a treasured weapon in old-school PES that I miss so much.)

    God, I bet the hours since Saturday night have been particularly Barca-centric online. And I bet they’re all trying the tippy-tappy stuff too.

  5. Perversely I found PES11 more suited to route one football than any of its predecessors – lots of direct long balls for my two big strong stikers to hassle the COM’s defence into mistakes and feed off the scraps seemed to work much better than trying to pass through the congested, awkwardly animated midfield

    not-greg at least you got Coventry into the premiership on FM! IRL they must be the most consistently mediocre team in the championship, along with Ipswich

  6. abbeyhill—presumably you had success with the circle-pass long ball game. Because as we all know, almost any aerial through-ball in PES2011 is magically guided to a defender’s head. Or, if you clear the defence, it goes through to the keeper. Konami nerfed the aerial through-ball in PES2011, and they didn’t do it by halves.

  7. yes the circle pass’s effectiveness seems to have risen while that of the triangle has fallen. Pretty blunt tool though, I just used it for creating chaos in the COM’s defence by launching it into the right areas and hoping to win the second ball. Not like the beautifully crafted through balls one used to be able to play…

    as an aside (not that anyone here will be that interested!) circle passing is really effective on FIFA now, you can switch play very quickly and elegantly

  8. abbeyhill—oh I think many are still playing and enjoying FIFA. The barrier for me remains (mostly) that infernal sprint-clamp thing. I’m not the sort who can ignore something like that and ease off it as a House Rule. PES2008(PS3)’s ‘wonder dribble’ mechanic is another example of the kind of thing that, once I know it’s in a game, is an intrinsic part of that game, and has to be part of how I play and judge that game.

    I might load up FM2010 to try and move CCFC from the foot of the Premier League (the name ‘Premiership’ was ditched in 2007). I had a great little team that had just won promotion, and I had them playing a short passing game too. Sadly, in computer games you never come across teams who’ll shake in fear and just stand off and watch your guys tippy-tapping it about.

  9. I think the sprint-clamp thing is just part of FIFA’s broader defensive issues – it’s far more effective just to run directly at the ball carrier than to defend ‘properly’. Therefore I find defending too easy and goalscoring too difficult on the game; 3 consecutive 0-0 draws with MK Dons in my career mode last night. Might try playing with better teams, to get more varied attacking play, or try to master the right stick skill moves at long last

  10. abbeyhill—I had a solitary game of my FM2010 career – the outcome:

    Look at Man City’s shots…

    I quit after that. I doubt I’ll go back to that career now. One of FM’s minuses is that it’s so hard to arrest a poor run, and a sacking is almost inevitable—the game never lets your team keep you through a relegation a la Ian Holloway.

    I scored first as well. As you can see, I’ve got a fairly decent team. The RB, Beardsley, is a youngster I found through scouting and I was fending off £5m offers for him. Novo as a right-sided AMF was sublime in the Championship, but has been found out as too old and a fading star in the Premier. What I love about the FM games is this realism. That kind of thing happens all the time.

    Re. FIFA’s defensive mechanic, why even bother aiming your players at the opposition ball carrier when you can just grip two or three buttons and let the game run your player for you? Just like there were last year, there are early murmurs that FIFA12 will see this eliminated, but I can’t see how they ever can get rid of sprint-clamp without yelps of protest from the kids online. That’s the crowd whose desires and perceptions now create our football games.

  11. ouch! Coincidentally that’s the same as FIFA’s career mode – it’s impossible to get relegated as you’re always sacked first!

    Which FM game would you recommend to a newcomer to the series? I’ve resisted the temptation in the past (given how much of my life is already devoted to playing, watching and reading about football, plus PES/FIFA) but picking up a copy for my laptop surely wouldn’t do any harm….

    Yes, some of the initial indications for FIFA12 sound encouraging, in terms of penalising over-sprinting and forcing disciplined defending. But, as you say, EA is unlikely to alienate its core fanbase

  12. abbeyhill—it depends if you want to wade through the complexity of the recent games, or ease yourself in with the older games?

    If you want to jump into the recent editions, I’d say get one with a 3D match engine as it’s a very immersive way to watch your team play. FM2010 or FM2011 would fit the bill. Beware though as the FM games are not even remotely beginner-friendly, even though they’ve included tutorials of sorts in recent years. You’ll be baffled for hours, with realisation only gradually dawning. When I played Dwarf Fortress for a few weeks last year, its crazily obscure interface reminded me of Football Manager’s labyrinthine setup more than anything.

    You might want to start with one of the older games where there aren;t so many features to get lost in—FM2007 is always touted as the best edition of the 2D match engine era.

    Or if you just want to stick one of the genre on your laptop to mess around with, you can’t go wrong with Championship Manager 01/02, which is still free. That’s the real hardcore management sim there, as the matches are all in text.

    Re. FIFA12, the summertime preview season now follows a broadly similar pattern to PES’s. I.e. there’s lots of promising talk about slowed-down gameplay and a more sim-like ethos and a nerfing of arcadey exploits—and then the full game comes out and it’s all just the same. I understand why they pretend they’re going to fix the sprint-clamp and then don’t. Next-gen FIFA is dead to me because of the sprint-clamp, but I accept I’m probably in a minority of people who find that one thing so decisive.

  13. I miss my back-compatible 60GB PS3 desperately, needless to say.

    Time to buy a used PS2! 45 pounds or thereabouts for a slim nowadays? About 100 USD here in Kansas, and it gets more than enough run-out to have earned its keep.

    PES 5 is always handy, and for my money, PES 10 is the best of the series on the PS2.

  14. Playing PES5 this morning, its animations and passing directions etc. are of course limited compared to PES2011. But at the same time PES5 seems more open to different styles of play.

    Absolutely correct. Old-gen PES still has more actual “freedom” than next-gen.

    Barca are brilliant, but there’s a reason that only a handful of sides worldwde can win playing that kind of football. For me, the goal of Master League is to get there!

  15. Barca are just on a whole different level to anyone right now, they toyed with Man Utd in the champions league final, they could have had 6, whereas utd were lucky to touch the ball 6 times.
    and as Liverpool supporter, it was a joy to behold !!! 🙂

    Im still playing and enjoying PES2011. In my 11th season now and defending last seasons premier league title win, am now in the champions league and building a real solid team, with not one single ‘recognised’ player in there, no big names just every player a good player in their own respective positions, and forming a good cohesive team unit.
    The game does lend itself to pas and move or tika-taka style football but im also now at the point where i feel comfortable holding the ball up with a winger, and actually beating the defender to whip crosses in etc, its not all pass and L1 to 1-2-and receive.

    Looking forward to see some gamplay videos of PES2012 from E3 soon …

  16. ck—I’ve got a PS2. It hasn’t been powered up since 2007 but I bet it would still work. I don’t know where its leads are but I’m sure I could find them if I had a good look. I’m adjusting to the PC routine now so the need is decreasing, but it’s an option.

    I’ve been playing PES5 intensely over the past few days, more so than at any time since the original year of its first lifespan, 2005/6. You can really see the origins of much of what went wrong with next-gen PES, amusingly. PES5 has its own brand of stumbling and swarm-pressuring that PES2011 has equipped me to see. But it’s all in proportion. The game works as a harmonious whole in which the clunky moments can be ignored (or not noticed at all, 5 years ago). In PES2011 IMO the bad things are disproportionately in-your-face, or in my face at least.

  17. Paul—when all the dust has settled after Saturday and the media has got up off its knees and removed its tongue from the crack of Barcelona’s arse, I think it will be said that Man Utd turned in the weakest performance ever of any team in a CL Final. The harrying and pressing that Barca were doing to them should have been done to Barca. At least that’d have made them work for their openings.

    My favourite type of cross on PES2011 is the one where you pull the analogue stick back, resulting in a dinked, delicate ball to the near post that your strikers head in more often than not. A little bit of an exploit, but they all count!

    I think the PES2012 gameplay vids will be very PES2011-like. As ever with a football game it’ll all be in the handling. If the stumble is gone (not toned down: fucking gone), I’ll be happy. Well, I’ll be happy until I start seething over the inevitable parade of playtest reports where nothing except multiplayer is played. As ever, us single-player players will have to wait until October to find out for ourselves how the game plays against the AI—a totally different ballgame, as we all know.

  18. Indeed, will certainly NOT be taking anything for gospel this year, as we found out much to our detriment with last years previews.
    We cant even be sure that the demo that Konami release will be anything like the actual final released game.
    Im more interested in videos and further news to see if Konami have taken all the feedback on board and rectified all the bugs and just downright stupid things that were evident in this years title.
    I think the removal of the stumble bug and fixed player selection on its own would be enough to win you back over?!

  19. Paul—is it a stumble bug, though? My belief is it’s a feature that’s been over-enthusiastically applied. Whatever it is, it’s got to go. PES2011 is such a great game when there’s no ridiculous stumbling all over the place.

    And after two PES instalments in a row that were substantially altered from the demo versions, I won’t believe a damn thing until release day. PES2010’s demo was a superb, steady game of football, and the full game was about 20% faster, which spoiled it a lot. Seabass had the audacity to claim they slowed PES2010 down from the demo, when the exact opposite was actually the truth. As for the difference from the PES2011 demo and the full game, it’s all I can do not to burst into tears when I think about that.

  20. The game works as a harmonious whole in which the clunky moments can be ignored (or not noticed at all, 5 years ago). In PES2011 IMO the bad things are disproportionately in-your-face, or in my face at least.

    Which is a ray of hope for PES 2012. If you look at the elephant touch and stumble bug as useful elements that are simply out-of-proportion with the rest of the game, then perhaps there’s a chance to dial them back and put the game in better balance.

  21. i saw a smll clip of fifa 12 and the graphics look the same. also the player movement as well. the may move smoothly, better than pes however its unrealistic. when watching the players come out of the tunnel and stand infront of the crowed, they just dnt look normal. there arms are spread fropm there body and there. these littl fings annoy me nt sure about any1 else. i dnt fink i will be buying any football gme this year. its so sad how the next gen has ruined football games for me. looks like ti will just be MW3 for me and maybe a bit of pes 6 🙁

  22. We seem to use the term ‘bug’ too loosely these days, to describe things that we aren’t happy with or shouldn’t be there. I agree that the stumble in PES11 is not a BUG as such, its an intended piece of animation, i mean, somebody had to draw and animate those models of the player actually stumbling then write the code around how and when that animation should be triggered,. so its totally 100% intended, just a very very poor implementation of it, hence how it stands out so badly and therefore gets labelled as a bug.
    I’ve seen comments from people that have played the PES12 dev code and their comments were that its very stable in all areas, no stumbles, offside rule and advantage implemented much better, collision detection alot better, quick free kicks and set pieces integrated seamlessly, player selection totally fixed … so there are encouraging signs, but as we know, the game as it is at this point in time will be massively different from the code come July, which will be totally different from any Online Beta they release, which will again be different from the Demo thats released, which will be different from the actual final release day game.
    Until someone with some credibility, ie a proper ‘punter’ not just a paid to play Video Game magazine reporter, sits down a week before release and plays the game and says look guys, this really is the shit and all those things are in and have been fixed, then I will reserve judgment.

  23. Ali, sadly I suspect that the pre-match positioning of the players’ arms will be the least of FIFA12’s problems!

    Although I am still looking forward to it more than PES12, based on this year’s efforts

  24. Paul—as you say, we can’t set much store by pre-pre-preview code reports. I found playtest reports from last year stating that PES2011’s stumble animation had been completely ‘fixed’. Whatever the state of preview code or demo code, Konami will be twiddling knobs and trying to create a more perfect mix until teh night before they start producing the DVDs. At some point we’re going to get lucky and the knob-twiddling will produce a better full game than anything that has gone before.

  25. ali—I’ve had good times on next-gen: PES2010 was a great year for me, PES2009 wasn’t so bad either. I haven’t noticed these FIFA12 arms of which you speak!

  26. abbeyhill—looking deep into my soul, I can’t honestly say I’m looking forward to either game this year. This is the first year since I started playing ISS/PES that I’m not inwardly quivering to think of October and the next game coming out. Is this a side-effect of unhappy experiences in next-gen, or is it just simple repetition and habit taking the edge off things? I suspect it’s mostly the latter, actually, but the next-gen footy games haven’t helped me keep that edge sharp.

  27. not-greg yes I also suspect it’s mostly the latter. I guess it’s unrealistic to expect a game series to keep us hardcore fans entertained for a decade without losing some of the excitement of the early years. For me PES2 & 3 were the first time I’d been compulsively addicted to a computer game since being a teenager in the 80s!

    Even with PES 3DS and its classic old school PES gameplay I find myself getting really irritated by the ML scripting, far more so than I used to be

    Thanks for the FM advice by the way. How good a PC do you need to run FM2010/2011 properly?

  28. abbeyhill—a current lower-middle to mid-spec PC should be fine. I run FM2010 on my 2009 iMac, which is roughly lower-mid-spec by today’s PC standards. The key thing is possibly the processor more than the graphics, as there’s a lot of database crunching going on. You can customise the size of your game world if you have a slower processor. There are full demos available for all the FM games. Try one of them out. FM2010 and 2011 are both on Steam with demos available, I just checked.

Comments are closed.