Month: August 2011

What elephant?

“May you live in interesting PES times.” I  don’t suppose anybody heard a mysterious old man mutter those words sometime in 2007, before he melted back into the shadows with a smirk on his face?

No? Never mind then.

FIFA11 didn’t last. I was going to play it for a week in total, but I only managed 4 days. I’ll have my say on FIFA11 in a few weeks’ time.

I played PES2011 instead. Partly as ‘calibration’. With the PES2012 demo just days away, I wanted to have as immediate a sense as possible of what PES2011 was like.

I played a complete Champions League tournament with the first team that happened to appear under my thumb: Manchester United. I played on Top Player difficulty, and chose 15-minute matches.

First of all: Berbatov is pretty good in PES2011. It’s probably a reflection of the real-life buzz surrounding him in late 2009/early 2010 when the architecture of PES2011 was being assembled.

The rest of Man Utd in PES2011 are fairly so-so in my view. Of course, this is primarily related to my own skills, or lack of, as a PES player. I found Giggs a shadow of the regenned youth Giggs that I have usually played with over the past 5-6 years. Fletcher might as well be an identikit FIFA-style midfielder. I suppose Ferdinand and Vidic in defence are effective.

Rooney was his usual blustering PES self. The series has favoured Wayne Rooney—some might say it has flattered him—since PES6. Certainly he’s strong and powerful, but goals are hard to come by with him.

PES2011’s physical contact model is very unforgiving. Infuriating, in fact. I don’t like it.

Have I mentioned something called the stumble animation? The merest brush can initiate the dreaded stumble animation. Rooney spent a lot of his time under my control staggering 5 yards and then pausing as if he’d seen something shiny on the ground. This stumble animation is about 95% of the reason why I do not love PES2011.

Two goals of note to report wth Berbatov. First of all, the kind of placed long-range, near-ground-level shot that I call a rasper. Not quite a daisy-cutter, and not quite a rocket. Somewhere in-between.

A rasper. Here it is:

I don’t know where that space came from either. But I made the most of it. Great goals in PES give you the feeling that you’ve just done exactly what you wanted to do. What I wanted to do was fire in a low shot to the far side of the goal, avoiding the defender and keeper, and that’s what happened.

The next memorable Berbatov goal was a pretty cheesy ‘computer gamey’ kind of one, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

I’ve scored three or four goals in PES2011 straight from kick-off. The game’s divisive, floaty shooting mechanic has been kinder to me than to many. Shooting is one of the few things I’m not anxious about for PES2012 (yet).

Here’s my Berbatov goal straight from a kick-off:

I didn’t win the Champions League tournament. I went out in the semi-final to Real Madrid. They beat me 1-0 on aggregate over two legs.

I was not despondent. I am just treading water until the PES2012 demo. It won’t be out in time for Wednesday’s post, but I’ll definitely cover it on Friday.

I just hope all goes well. It’s been a long four years. We don’t need any nasty surprises.

The Running Men

Where would we be without a pre-release wobble or two? A period of wailing and gnashing of teeth? That period is now!

Anybody following the PES forums yesterday, as I was, will have seen discussion of an alleged new ‘issue’ spotted in the PES2012 gameplay videos coming out of Gamescom.

You’ve got to see it to believe it. Without further ado, take a gander at this illustrative video, helpfully annotated by its creator (YouTube user mintysandwish):

The alarming thing is that you can watch literally any video from Gamescom and see the exact same problem in all of them. Go and have a look now. It’s real.

I know that not everybody can watch streaming videos from work and other places (I’m in that deprived club too).

So, briefly, this is the alleged issue: in the Gamescom build of PES2012, whenever a successful ground pass is made to a team-mate, the passing player automatically sets off on a scurrying forward run.

That’s every outfield player in every position on the pitch. Even the CBs. Again, watch any Gamescom video and see it in action.

To save you some time: the forward runs are definitely NOT player-initiated. They’re not due to over-use of either the one-two mechanic or the new ‘trigger run’ feature. They’re not even caused by the currently old-school R2 trigger-run. One of the teams in the above clip is a CPU team.

The forward runs happen every single time following a completed pass, for both teams. Watch a few Gamescom vids at random and observe. I spent nearly an hour doing so yesterday. That shit’s universal.

When the news sank in, I went a bit Arthur Fowler. Then I calmed down a bit and began to see the picture rationally.

This is either a trivial bug and therefore nothing to worry about, or it’s a new feature—and even so may still be nothing to worry about.

The argument raged on EvoWeb and WENB forums until the wee small hours. (If you want to catch up on the row, as turbulent and bad-tempered as you’d expect it to be, I recommend starting on EvoWeb here, and on WENB here.)

Many were convinced that every player who played PES2012 at Gamescom was spamming the L1+pass button, or had painstakingly edited the tactics to make the AI more aggressive, or had all done something to make the forward runs happen . Patently, none of those theories are true. This forward runs thing is potentially a problem, we have to admit.

Or potentially not. It’s all very well being a worrier, but I haven’t actually played the game yet.

Encouragingly, those who have played the game are bemused about the ‘forward runs bug’. It’s not an issue to them. They don’t remember noticing it, and most encouragingly of all, it’s not visible in most of Konami’s publicity reels using other builds of the game—as is also shown in the embedded video above.

This time next week, we’ll have played as many games as we like on the demo. If the forward runs bug is a real thing and we find it to be a real problem, I would hope there’s time for Konami to fix it (without wrecking the game) before release, or at least within a week or two of release.

But there’s that small, insistent voice inside me that says: Remember the stumble animation. Remember the step-around. Remember what they did to PES2011 when no one was looking…

FIFA11 hacked down in the box!

So it’s March 2011 in my Career Mode career in FIFA11. Will I complete even one full season in it this year? I think I will play FIFA11 until at least this weekend, so it’s possible. But I’m playing 6-minute halves, and only getting through 4 matches per day on average, so it’ll be tight. Currently I doubt I’ll play FIFA11 ever again after this week is up.

I love the idea of next-gen FIFA. I really liked FIFA08 and FIFA09. But last year, after an amazing first few days, I struggled to find anything to like in FIFA10. And this year, FIFA11 has been my most neglected FIFA since the bad old days of the PS2-era games.

It could be lots of things. The most likely reason is that PES2010 and PES2011 finally mustered up enough next-gen substance to keep me away from FIFA10 and FIFA11 long enough for the latter two games both to seem alien and rather hollow to me.

Or it could be that next-gen FIFA really did peak with FIFA09, and the irresistible force of gravity has been bringing the series back down to earth ever since.

Whatever the reason is, with the FIFA12 demo less than a month away, FIFA11 is not going to make a miracle comeback. (Or a late appearance off the substitute’s bench, to indulge in the kind of scattergun footballing metaphor-making that we’ll be seeing a lot more of over the next few months. I can’t wait to see the first review that’s framed as an imaginary football match between PES and FIFA!)

Career Mode in FIFA11 is much more polished and substantial than it used to be. The main problem I have is with the football gaming itself.

It’s hard to say what is so wrong about FIFA’s gameplay. It’s easy to blame the frantic pace of the game. Indeed, at times there are whole periods when it’s just a constant turnover of possession in the middle third. And don’t get me started about the passing. I’ve gone from being a huge fan of next-gen FIFA’s semi-assisted passing to a frowning doubter. Of course, this is all no doubt due to lack of familiarity, or indeed over-familiarity with the mechanics of PES.

Whatever it is, another few sessions should see me start to improve and enjoy a better quality of game. We’ll see.


Gamescom week, and for the first time in all the years it’s been on, I don’t really care. Last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, I was agog with excitement, checking all the major sites as the day progressed. This year, for whatever reason, I’m considerably less agog.

I’m not totally indifferent. I’ll make do with dropping in on the key sites and forums later tonight and over the next few days, to see how things are going. It’s always interesting to follow the ups and downs of the PESverse’s annual vigil at this time of year, as the game moves towards completion and release

It’s a harmless pastime, even if it is accompanied by a certain dread. The game we hear about now is unlikely to be the one we end up playing. What might Konami be doing to the game behind closed doors? I will never forget or forgive PES2011’s last-minute addition of the stumble animation. Never.


At the FIFA11th hour

Day 1 of a planned week of FIFA11 has come and gone. This planned week depends on me liking FIFA11 and wanting to go on playing it, of course. I won’t artificially keep a football game in my life for the sake of pseudo-journalistic ‘fairness’. If this football game year should end with me never having given FIFA11 a fair go, so be it.

But I’d like to like FIFA11. If only because I have always liked the idea of next-gen FIFA. Going way back to FIFA08, I was an enthusiast. FIFA08 was a great football game. So was FIFA09. I really liked the idea of PES’s sworn enemy suddenly taking a place at the top table, to the disgust and confusion of so many PES fans. It’s still amusing to see that disbelief manifesting itself in different ways to this day.

Alas, FIFA08 and FIFA09 remain the twin high points of next-gen FIFA. FIFA10 and FIFA11 just haven’t worked for me. Something is wrong with FIFA again. Or perhaps I just haven’t ever given them a proper chance. That’s what this week is all about. Hopefully.

I resumed my long-abandoned Career Mode career with Atletico Madrid. This has been a year of abandoned careers.

I had bought Joe Hart to put in goal. Otherwise, I’ve just got Atletico’s rather good 2010/11 squad, including Reyes and Forlan and Aguero. That latter-day PES stalwart, Camacho, is also present, albeit as a pale shadow of his counterpart across the divide.

My game settings: 6-minute halves, Legendary difficulty, semi-assisted passing and shooting, manual crosses, assisted through-balls. I’ve played FIFA with that same mixture of assisted, semi-assisted and manual settings since 2009. If anybody urges me to play with manual settings, I’ll just cut and paste my justification for not doing so. Which means I’d have to hunt for it, which would take ages. (Abridged version: manual shooting isn’t satisfying for me.)

I managed 3 matches before having to go to work. I enjoyed them well enough. They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad either. For me there’s been a persistent emptiness about FIFA last year and this. There’s the appalling, stupid, anti-football, anti-gaming device that I call sprint-clamping.

What do you do in a football game when you lose the ball? Jockey for position, cover passing lanes, circumspectly contain and harry the opposition, just waiting for an opportunity to stick a leg in and win the ball back?

Nah, forget that. In next-gen FIFA, all you have to do is instantly grip three buttons, or even just two buttons, and you win the ball back 90% of the time. It’s a truly cretinous innovation in the world of football gaming that has disfigured FIFA for a couple of years now, arguably longer. I’ll be very interested to see if it really has been nerfed for FIFA12. Will EA really confound its online player base by removing their favourite tactic? Really? We shall see.

The AI played very well against me in one of the matches, taking a deserved 3-1 result at home. Atletico are mid-table somewhere. It’s still somewhere in the first season. I should have noted the exact date, or at least the month. I didn’t. Career Mode has come along in leaps and bounds since the ill-fated Manager Mode of early-period next-gen FIFA. But I still don’t care about it. Mayhap I will, though, mayhap I will.

I’ll be playing FIFA11 for at least another few days, and ideally for a solid week. Pics and goal replays to come, hopefully.

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