The buggers of Brugge

Yes, my football game of the moment is still Winning Eleven 9: Liveware Evolution. I haven’t lost interest in the shiny bauble of the week. I haven’t jumped off the bandwagon. WE9LE has got depth and staying power. I think it’s here to stay.

I’ve got previous form when it comes to discovering old football games and spending large amounts of time with them.

Amost two years ago I found a copy of PES6(360) in a shop for £2. At that price it wasn’t much of a risk, and I duly discovered one of the best PES games I’ve ever played.

PES6(360) was great despite its limited feature-set and crude Master League. And even by the standards of old-school Master League, PES6(360)’s ML was extremely crude.

None of that mattered, because the gameplay was so good. In addition, I had a lot of next-gen football fatigue. Like now.

In 2011, history is repeating itself. A chance comment and email a few weeks ago pointed me at WE9LE. Here I am, and barring an unlikely FIFA11 miracle comeback, I’m here until at least October.

(It’s best that I don’t even mention PES2011. The stumble animation is… well, I’m not mentioning it.)

Just as I overlooked PES6(360)’s drawbacks, I’m having to overlook WE9LE’s too. The version I’m playing is run with a fan-made patch that updates the squads and kits etc. to season 2010/2011, as well as altering the gameplay via a universal stats adjustment. I think it does so brilliantly.

But sadly the patched game just isn’t optimised in any way for Master League. The screenshot to the left is an example.

The mode is still playable—I’m two-thirds through my maiden season. I worry about what the ML world will look like in a few seasons’ time. But the bird in the hand, and all that…

Last time, I mentioned being beaten 2-0 at Brugge in the first leg of the D2 Cup. I thought that I would have to play the game of my life to turn it around in the second leg at my place.

It so nearly was the game of my life. I started with an aggressive 4-3-3 formation, an even more attacking variant of my favoured PES setup for many years.

WE9LE, as much as any football game I’ve ever played, encourages and favours the Arsenal approach to build-up play and chance-creation. Or the Barcelona approach as I guess we have to call it now.

You know, endless passing and probing, looking for the opening, and usually finished off (if at all) from about 3 yards out.

You still can play direct. You still can pepper the goal with long-range efforts, but it’s hard.

In most matches I have maybe 4 long-range efforts, as opposed to about 8-12 in a typical match in almost any other football game.

In We9LE, I might get one long-ranger on target. When they go in, they’re proportionally more satisfying, of course.

I got the early goal against Brugge that I was praying for. It came from a 20-pass move. I spotted a run my striker was making and fed him the perfect PES through-ball—you know what I mean. It was a through-ball, and it was perfect.

One side-footed finish later, and I was 1-0 up on the day. The score was now 1-2 on aggregate. With 75 minutes of the match left. I was going to do this!

Sadly, some old, old PES problems remain even in WE9LE wonderland.

The AI team reacted as if it had gone 1-0 down in a one-off match. It had no awareness that this was a two-legged match that it was still winning.

The pressure turned up and up as time passed, as the AI became ‘desperate’ for what it thought would be the equaliser.

Eventually, it got its equaliser—and what a goal it was. I rarely post AI goals on the blog, but this was a good ‘un:

I was still pushing desperately myself for what would have been my aggregate equaliser, when the buggers of Brugge hit me on the break.

A floated cross was volleyed first-time from 20 yards past my keeper. A great goal in WE9LE that I would have been orgasmic about myself.

That killed the game off. Now I would have needed to score 3 goals. I crashed out of the D2 Cup.

4 Comments

  1. Looks like Mr Slot’s been having a good time (bu dum tish – sorry that was terrible).
    Are there no patches out there that are better in terms of the player database?
    Unfortunately the patched version of the game won’t work on my laptop, it crashes to windows when I exit the team selection. I’ve lowered everything to minimum display specs, including all the in game options but no dice…
    Luckily I’m still loving my PES 11 ML and had a cracking sesh last night which culminated in a last minute goal from a 6 yard box scramble against Juve in Big Cup. It shifted me from 3rd to 1st in the group and knocked Juve out – needless to say, I fell off my chair!
    P.S. What a goal that is from the AI – poor marking though – you want to have a word with your defence.

  2. Chris—I believe that the original WE9LE game with the first fan patch (the “K Patch”) leaves the ML infrastructure intact, but that version of the game is the superfast PES5-a-like that I don’t think I could go back to now at all. WE9LE is so good with the 2010/2011 patch that it’s spoiled me for other old school games.

    I’ve tried to play PES2011 occasionally in the past week or two. Weirdly, PES2011 at its best appeals to me more after the WE9LE experience. There’s the same kind of pace and fascination involved. Sadly, I am never going to get over the stumble animation. I’m totally serious about it wrecking PES2011 for me. The elephant touch and other oddities I could handle. The stumble animation? Never. It is an abomination. A stumble abomination.

    Re. the AI goal, I was pushing hard for a goal of my own, needed another to make it 2-2. The bleedin’ AI was using every PES dirty trick going to get the ball and score itself, because it thought it was 0-1 down… All my players were upfield. It was a great cross, a fine volley. As I said, I’d have loved to score it myself.

  3. I’m still surprised that you single out the stumble animation in isolation as gratuitously offensive, to my mind it was all part and parcel of the general awkwardness of PES11 gameplay and animations. Watching an AI v AI game (e.g. when you’ve been subbed off in BaL) is simply a horrible mess. Ok, maybe a horrible stumbling mess

    I’ve discovered to my horror that PES 3DS is infected with some similar traits – initially I assumed it was simply classic old school PES, but after a season and a half in ML suddenly the AI pressure has been ramped up to extremes, with a swarm of angry opposition players constantly swooping in, and the passing too slow and ineffective to capitalise on the space. I’ve been forced to drop Luis Garcia, who has amazing touch, technique and passing, from my starting lineup in favour of the more limited but stronger & faster player that modern footy games favour….

    Looking forward to getting more into WE9LE. Presumably, even without a patch (e.g. in order to get a decent ML), it’s considered to be a far less frantic game than PES5?

  4. abbeyhill—I played and enjoyed PES2010, and would even rank it alongside the lesser PS2-era games. PES2010 was also awkward, notoriously so, but it never annoyed me in the way that PES2011 does in general and the stumble abomination does in particular.

    I genuinely feel I could put up with a PES2011 minus the stumble, in the way I put up with PES2010’s oddities.

    But PES2011’s stumble offends me deeply, it really does. It’s not so much the stumble, which is bad enough: it’s the pause at the end of it. That second or so at the end of a stumble where the player is stunned and unresponsive makes me embarrassed to be a gamer. What is it supposed to represent? It’s ridiculous.

    And then there’s the step-around animation, whose presence in PES2011 has never been explained. It’s obviously a stupid bug that they stupidly introduce in pre-release twiddling, and never recitifed. Running onto a through-ball outside the area, shaping for a first-time shot… oh, no, my player has executed that awkward side-step and wrecked my rhythm, and allowed the defenders that split-second to get back and catch me…

    Add in the player selection problems, the elephant touch, the general glitchy awkwardness of so many other animations, and PES2011 is, to me, what PES2010 was to most others. Pretty unattractive, to put it kindly.

    Re. WE9LE unpatched (or with the basic option-file-style patch): it is basically PES5, albeit a version with an extra 6 months of development back in 2005-6. I can’t vouch personally for its speed, having never seen it without the ML-challenged patch I’m using. I hear it is as fast as PES5, though.

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