The world is coming to an end: I have played a football game online, and it didn’t suck. On Friday I played three 20-minute matches of Winning Eleven 9: Liveware Edition against its leading spokesman, Lukasz of weplaywe.pl—a website and forum that is the locus for all things WE9LE.
Regular readers will know that I never play online. Never, ever. Once in a blue moon, yes, maybe. But mostly? Never. Never. Never.
My attitude to online football gaming is hard to convey. For many football gamers, the offline, single-player game no longer holds much attraction. Liking single-player is a bit strange. Preferring it to anything else at all is almost inconceivable.
I dislike online play for a couple of main reasons. First I dislike the time it takes up, time that I would rather spend playing single-player. Gaming time is limited for me.
I mostly dislike the incessantly fast and furious nature of online football. WE9LE’s patched slow-and-steady gameplay does mitigate that to some extent, but not entirely. I still ended the session with fingers stiff from the death-grip I’d had on the controller. My single-player sessions never end like that.
At least the online games were very good, probably the best I’ve ever played. I was very pleased to find no evidence that Lukasz was holding back. He played as you would expect a veteran player of a single football game to play: instinctively, imaginatively, and ruthlessly when needed.
I lost the first two matches 3-1 and 2-1. In the third match I went into an amazing—and terrifying—2-0 lead. Both my goals were headed efforts from speculative crosses. Lukasz changed up a gear and got the score back to 2-2 with a brace of headers of his own. That’s how the match ended. I was fortunate to get away with a draw, really.
I hugely enjoyed the online games. I do tend to enjoy myself, on the whole, whenever I play online.
So why not play online more? Here’s why:
Because it’s not so much that I actually dislike playing online. It’s that I like playing offline more. A lot more.
I have very tentatively begun a Master League career in WE9LE. I don’t want to see the Defaults again until October, so I started as Standard Liege with their original squad. I’m playing on 4* difficulty for now.
After a few seasons there may be problems with superkids appearing as Youths and Regens. WE9LE’s fan-made patch only affects the starting players in the database. I think the game’s good enough to start playing, and see what happens.
But there are problems right now. Some of the squads are very badly jumbled up. Standard Liege begin with just 18 players. A centre-forward is in goal and there are strikers playing in defence. I have to wonder if the other AI-controlled squads are similarly afflicted. I will check the database and decide what to do.
I could always install a different patch, but I really love the gameplay with this one. The genius of this version of WE9LE is that it transforms the previously ordinary elements of PES gameplay into something much more significant. The two matches I’ve played so far in my ML have been like studies in methodical, engrossing football action. I lost one 0-1 and won the other 1-0.
Below is the goal I scored in that 1-0 win. Nothing very special in footy game terms. We’ve probably all scored many hundreds like it. In WE9LE, scoring this kind of clipped goal from outside the area in this way is a bit of an achievement. Or at least it feels like one. Which is all that matters.