I am continuing with my Master League in WE9LE, despite worries about the existing state of the player database and concerns about future Super-Regens and Mega-Youths unbalancing the ML ‘world’. I’m still a big admirer of the We9LE gameplay as it stands. It’s fascinating and rewarding on a number of levels. It plays like a cross between PES5 and PES2011 at their very best, with the instinctive old-school quality of the former and the methodical, break-me-down-if-you-can granularity of the latter. (Without any stumble animations or other glitches, needless to say.)
I want to explore WE9LE as far as possible before I start to fiddle around with other patches. The ‘steering committee’ behind WE9LE’s revival is rumoured to be preparing a much tidier patch for release in a few months. I’ll try to make it to then.
I am playing as Standard Liege, continuing my new tradition of conducting ML campaigns with Belgian sides for no particular reason. After several matches I’m mid-table in Division 2. I have almost been knocked out of the D2 Cup by Bruges. I lost 0-2 at home. I’ll need to play the game of my life to turn it around in the second leg.
Progress in this ML has been slowed by a side-project related to the forthcoming book I’m working on. As part of my preparation and research, I am currently working my way through every single one of the ISS and PES games from 1995 through to 2011. I need to refresh my memory of them, particularly the ISS games.
I already have all the PES games and one of the ISS games (the original). Last week, I placed orders for the remainder with various eBay and Amazon sellers. This week, the games all started to arrive.
Here’s the full list of games I will be playing over the next week or two as the writing process for the book gets serious:
International Superstar Soccer, ISS Deluxe, ISS 98, ISS 2000, ISS Pro Evolution, ISS Pro Evolution 2, and of course all the games from PES1 to PES2011 (including PES6 for the Xbox360 and the PS2/PSP versions of PES2008, PES2009, and PES2010).
(NB: I won’t be blogging about the old games. It is just for the book.)
I ordered ISS 2000 by mistake, thinking it was ISS Pro Evolution 1. It’s not—ISS 2000 is from an alternate branch of the ISS family that I never actually played at the time.
When I saw the CD label for ISS Pro Evolution 2, I nearly had to sit down.
For most of 2001 that green disk on the left was a familiar daily sight in my old grey tobacco-stained PlayStation.
Seeing it again today is like seeing a picture of myself ten years ago, when I still had hair.
ISS98—the Ince-Ravanelli face-off edition—is, in my memory, the greatest of the ISS-era football games. But it is pretty shocking now.
I’ll save the close-up look at the ISS games for the book. For now, I’ll just say that the graphics are so bad that you can almost see the individual pixels that make up each player.
The commentary is laughable. Tony Gubba is the least worst of the bunch. Terry Butcher and Chris James seemed good ten years ago, but time and standards have changed. Terry Butcher’s flat reading-aloud of his scripted lines makes even Mark Lawrenson sound naturalistic.
There is good in the old games. After the shock wore off, I settled down. There is some good football to be played.
Perhaps the greatest shock was seeing Master League as an option in ISS Pro Evolution 2’s main menu. I would have sworn Master League didn’t start until PES1 at the earliest.
But there it is, bold as brass, with the old-school ML Default squad to boot.
There’s no choice about starting with the Defaults or not. You have to start with them. And there’s no PES United, no Editing, nothing. I started as Leeds United (this really is a game from ten years ago). There’s a full transfer system.
And of course that starting squad includes a certain classic player in his pre-Myth days…
So there’s a lot to like about the older games. But oh, how limited the gameplay!
There’s not even an aerial through-ball in some of the older ones. One-twos are completed automatically, with no choice about when—or if—to make the return pass. The delayed one-two and the declined one-two are key components of our modern football games. Missing these options is like missing a limb.
I got these old games to remind myself of what things were like back then, for me and for the game series that we all follow and love. Accordingly, I’ll be writing about them in the book mostly from a perspective of ‘back then’. I won’t be pulling them apart and judging them by today’s standards.
But speaking now from today’s point of view, it’s a timely reminder of just how fortunate we are. Even the most dubious football game from the current period is in a different class altogether. Even PES2008(PS3).
The 1990s, and ISS, are long dead. Long live Pro Evo.