The One, part two

So the trumpeted PES2012 ‘gameplay video’ turned out to be a ‘gameplay features video’. A world of difference, there. Instead of the continuous gameplay that most of us wanted to see, we only got a few morsels instead. Those morsels were satisfying, but compared to the feast that I was expecting, I still felt hungry.

(Credit to SpoOky1611 for this compilation video; see the YouTube original for a HD version.)

One of the most notable aspects of this video is that Konami’s European head honcho, Jon Murphy, is an eerie soundalike of the former London Mayor and left-wing firebrand, Ken Livingstone.

Setting aside all the misgivings (next-gen PES is the era of misgivings), PES2012 continues to look and sound great. Very promising. Highly encouraging. A solid platform to build upon. Etc. (Yawn.)

I struggle to take previews of any kind very seriously at all this year. I’m still bitter about what Konami did, very late in development, to another promising game that looked like being The One.

PES2011 was supposed to be the The One, and it damn well should have been The One. All through summer 2010 the previews were great, and then the demo was great—and then just before release it’s as if Seabass handed over to some internal ‘sabotage squad’. Saying: “Here’s a great game of football called PES2011. Make sure you do something to fuck it up.”

Okay, okay, PES2011 is still a good game, I’d agree the best yet on next-gen. But it could have been better. The stumble animation, and the step-around ‘Pirlo turn’, and the elephant touch, and the wandering side-backs, are all intruders. All turds in the punchbowl. None of them should be there.

It was interesting to see PES2011 so openly criticised throughout the videos. But the one thing I wanted to see—a demonstration of how PES2011’s stumble animation is removed in PES2012—was worryingly not present.

It’s mid-July now and I’m happily playing two PES games. WE9LE and the much-maligned (by me!) PES2011.

Following on from Wednesday’s revelation of a tentative return to PES2011, I’m still just playing Champions Leagues. I’m unwilling to start yet another Master League this late in the football game year, especially while I’m still playing my WE9LE one.

I’ve played to the end of season #2 in WE9LE without incident. By which I mean, without encountering any more noticeable incidents of unpatched super-players. I finished mid-table in Division 2 again.

I’ll very cautiously start season #3 and see what happens. It’s a weird one, playing ML in WE9LE. On the one hand there’s the sumptuous gameplay, as good as old-school PES gets. On the other hand there’s the creaky old-school ML infrastructure, which is more than a little wearying nowadays, to be honest.

I’m also replaying many of the old games so that I can remember the times when I played them. I was supposed to play PES2008 on the PS3 last week, for the first time since the year 2008 itself. I never got around to it for various reasons, but this weekend I do plan to jump in.

PES2008(PS3) is the next-gen’s principal Bad Guy. Will I find anything in the game to redeem it?

And I’m strangely looking forward to hearing that infamous soundtrack once again. All together now:

#We’re gonna play football (soccer!)
Football (soccer!)
Football (soccer!)
All around the world…#

20 Comments

  1. The PES12 videos do look promising but as you have stated yourself many time, the only time we can properly gauge the game will be on release day, as even right up to the last minute before release, konami are bound to be tinkering with it and what we get on release day will not be the same as any demo released weeks before, guaranteed!
    Egged on by your return to games from days gone by, returned to FIFA11 for a few games the last few days.
    The first few games were delightful, taking in the silkyness of the animations, the fluidity, the passing, the shooting engine, all works very nicely…. but once that wears off after a few games its all down to how the game plays….. and that unfortunately is where FIFA falls over for me.
    Apart from the absolutely insane intense AI Pressure that you are put under as soon as you receive the ball, other things seriously pissed me off too.
    The amount of posession turn overs in the game is ludicrous, the pitch is so cramped and tight that there is no room at all for individual play, just a very quick pass and move ping pong game, littered with 100 turnovers a second, its almost like every game plays out like a rugby scrum in midfield and you just have to hope the ball pops lose for long enough so you can run in on goal.
    Also when passing the ball from midfield to forwards the receiving plaer always seems to run ahead of the defending player to the point where he always has his back to the ball and as a result 99/100 times the defender just steps in and intercepts.
    Lastly, it is absolutely IMPOSSIBE to attempt any shot from outside the box in FIFA 11.
    It is so tight cramped and congested that there is just no room to manufacture any long range shot.
    The couple i did manage were all blocked/deflected within 2 yards but a defending player that had homed in on me like a cruise missile.

    I was considering playing FIFA 11 for the remainder of this football gaming year after notching up close to 16 seasons on PES’ Master League, but I cannot play that type of football for more than 2 matches.

  2. Well done for notching up 16 seasons Paul – I’m only on my 7th… it seems to take me an age to get through a season on 15 min matches nowadays but it does give crucial games a real sense of gravitas given how long it can take in realtime to reach them.

    not-Greg, that was my point yesterday – I really wanted to see a flowing game in action from start to finish. I guess it’s early days but such demonstrations of specific improvements are barely gameplay at all – they could easily be cherry picked or just, how can I put it… ‘improved upon’.
    I’m not saying that’s the case and it goes against my previous ‘non-cynical’ preaching, but lets face it, those 1.5 min clips WERE ‘feature’ trailers in all but name.

  3. Paul, that’s a pretty fair, and eloquent, summary of the vicissitudes of FIFA11. I still maintain that it’s less of a scrum on Legendary, but unfortunately I’m still finding it too difficult on that setting to get a meaningful career mode going. To my horror my Ipswich team shipped 4 first half goals to Norwich last night….

    Will have one final effort to get to grips with the game this weekend, including learning the right stick moves in order to create a bit of space, but failing that I’ll just play WE9LEK for the next few months

  4. Chris – would have been more if it hadnt have been for holidays, LA Noire, and other commitments.
    I too play on 15 min games and couldn’t envisage playing any other way nowadays, its the perfect balance in game/realism for me, games flow much more eloquently on 15mins.
    FIFA promises so much aesthetically yet falls so short on pure enjoyment, same as the strange Konami thinking introduced the stumble and walk around into PES, the Canadian dev team have introduced a chaotic mess off 22 players on what feels like a 7 a side pitch into FIFA.

  5. Paul—FIFA08 and FIFA09 promised so much that has not been delivered on in ’10 and ’11 editions—in my opinion. (There are many many seriosu footy game fans who think the opposite is true.)

    I haven’t continued my brief play of FIFA11 from last week. I had a session that was pretty bad. Granted, a lot of it could be said to be down to trying to ‘PES is up’ on FIFA, but I don’t think that’s entirely the case.

    There’s a lot riding on PES2012. If it’s PES2011 withotu the stumbling and bumbling, we’ll be laughing.

    But could it now be too late for the PESverse to even recognise The One, if/when it arrives? Is the kind of cynical attitude I often show, for example, now part and parcel of PES life?

  6. Chris—I don’t think a video full-on gameplay would tell us anything about how PES2012 will handle cometh the hour of truth, but it would be nice. We’ll see it soon enough I suppose—thsi time next month I bet we’ll have seen too many. I mainly want assurance that the stumble and step-around at the very least are missing from the current build. That’d still be no guarantee that the sabotage squad won’t evilly insert something on the eve of release, though…

  7. abbeyhill—if ML in WE9LEK was properly up to snuff, or if I was greatly into online multiplayer, I could play that game for a very long time to come.

    It’s a shame about FIFA’s frantic nature, and how much the series has declined (IMO) since FIFA08 & 09. I’m still enough of an idealist to wish for a great game from FIFA12.

  8. not-greg, it certainly is a shame – FIFA10 & 11 managed to improve on their predecessors in many important areas like shooting, crossing and crisper long passing, but unfortunately the game shape and general enjoyment has diminished. I still prefer it to PES11, but now that two ‘new’ examples of classic PES gameplay have appeared in the form of WE9LEK and PES 3DS then sadly it’s no contest!

  9. Personally, I felt that the videos did enough to assure me that one of my personal bugaboos with PES’ AI has been addressed. I suppose it’s a two-headed bugbear:

    1) Players have seemed to be unaware of what is happening until the ball is in your possession. While a winger is running down a loose ball, his teammates think they are on defense. The instant he touches it they realize they are on offense.

    and

    2) Teams want to keep their shape while attacking — midfielders don’t want to overlap strikers, etc.

    From what I saw both of those issues had been addressed, and the addition of diagonal runs, etc. will make the game more fun to play . . . provided they don’t add some bullshit that makes the game not very fun to play. And I guess that’s the reticence we all feel right now — fool me once . . .

  10. abbeyhill—FIFA10’s and 11’s improvements seemed to come at the expense of the series’ previous ‘footballiness’, and of course FIFA10 saw the sprint clamp rise to prominence in all its horrible glory. FIFA09 certainly had the problem (as I see it) but FIFA10’s improved animations and fluidity made it a simple matter to squeeze a few buttons and get the ball back. Fingers crossed for FIFA12. I hope EA deliver on the promise to remove sprint-clamp at least. That alone would make a huge difference for me in taking FIFA more seriously again.

  11. ck—I was satisfied with the glimpses of PES2012’s movement and general rhythms that the clips gave us.

    But after two years in a row when we were bait-and-switched at the last moment, I fear Team Seabass’s last-minute fiddle. They’ll be trying to tweak the game with the best intentions, to quench a bit of ‘wonder dribbling’ or too many instances of long-range shots or whatever. In that relatively small window between now and release, all our hopes for PES2012 will live or die.

    As I say above, I accept some degree of CPU shenanigans in a football game played against an AI. Here in 2011, the state of AI isn’t much more advanced than 40 years ago. But certain things that they put in PES2011 to assist the AI and dampen the human player’s presence in the game (stumble, elephant touch, etc.) are a step too far.

  12. LINK TO PES2012 VIDEO
    38 minutes of actual gameplay footage…..this was posted on wenb earlier today but was removed at the request of konami, Enjoy!

  13. Jamie—thanks for the link, very interesting viewing indeed! The game looks a bit fast but I’d take it as it is, if it really is PES2011 without the stumble, steparound, elephant touch etc.

  14. Not-Greg – I’ve ready that the 5 speeds are still in place (including the PC version this year) so shouldn’t be an issue.

  15. I’m PS3-less this week so I’ve started a ML on PES 2010 on PS2. I expected to be revelling in classic PES goodness, but in actual fact I’m just as irritated, if not more so, as when I play next-gen PES 2011. I suppose much of this is to do with the default players, but I’ve just revamped the squad and things aren’t getting better. AI pressure is ridiculous (3-4 com players surround your player as soon as you get the ball) and scripting seems more blatant than PES 2011! I don’t remember being this annoyed when I used to play this game before I got my PS3. I guess next gen PES has changed us all so we no longer tolerate PES annoyances as much as we used to.
    PES 2012 looks promising. One of my biggest annoyances with PES 2011 was the number of times I’d get caught offside because 3-4 of my attacking players would stand dumbly in an offside position while I was trying to build an attack. The improved AI should fix that. But yes, we all fear the last minute fiddle. Perhaps we should all place bets on what obsurd/irritating/unbelivable ‘bug’ or ‘glitch’ will get inserted at the last minute. Perhaps a new animation where your player will fall over and roll around in agony, pretending he’s been hit in the face when he gets tackled, in an attempt to get the opponent sent off. That’d be sort of realistic at least.

  16. Chris—thanks for the info. Especially after what I’ve seen on the bootleg video, my anticipation for PES2012 just shot up another notch

  17. Filbert—it’s still relatively early doors for WE9LE, so I count my last all-in old-school PES as PES2008(PS2/PSP), which some have said should rightly have been called PES7. I played the arse off that game in the aftermath of its next-gen namesake’s collapse. I thought it was a fantastic game of football and still do. But the dirty tricks dept. was still there and I heard that it got ramped up for PES2009 & PES2010 on PS2. Despite that I know many think PES2010 was superb on PS2.

    I think you’re right though that there’s been a sea change in the PESverse and we’re now not so tolerant of the ‘old ways’. I think we all share to some degree an expectation that the technology and know-how must exist to make a challenging, engrossing football game without resorting to cheap tricks like elephant touch and enforced ‘momentum’ to allow the AI to compete.

    PES2012. Come on, Konami. You did it before, effortlessly, for years at a time. Now do it again!

  18. Filbert, yes I noticed that on PES 3DS – despite having ‘old school’ PES gameplay, the pressure was ramped up from what we used to see. I reckon Konami has increased this characteristic in all the formats, not just the next-gen ones

  19. abbeyhill—my poor old 3DS may soon be farmed out to a very keen nephew or niece. I’m going to play it again without any 3D at all (I really can’t handle the 3D) and see how it goes. I might like having a technically more powerful DS, which is what it’ll be to me.

  20. not-greg, there was a decent article in Edge recently about how current 3D tech (both for the 3DS and other displays) ‘tricks’ your eyes into focusing and converging at different distances, with unclear long-term effects, so I can see why some people have problems with it. My more immediate concern with the device is the lack of games, I’ve still only got PES, although am tempted to pick up Ocarina of Time.

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