Great Expectations, Reloaded

I really haven’t known what to do with myself for the past few days. How’s it been for you?

If Thursday’s postman delivers at the usual time, around midday, then sometime in the afternoon I should be snapping the now-traditional picture of me holding the new PES game still wrapped in its shiny cellophane.

Tuesday morning saw me play my last football game before PES2013. I am currently in the middle of 48 hours of abstinence. It’s like an athlete abstaining from sex before a big race.

I returned to the greatest ever football game, PES5, to pay my annual respects. Playing a few sessions on PES5 has become the equivalent of an annual pilgrimage to Mecca. But does the game still deserve its holy-site status?

Yes, on the whole, I think it does. But it’s getting less clearcut as the years go by.

We’ve got used to a new paradigm in football gaming where passes tend to go more or less in the direction you aim.

Time and again in PES5, I aimed a pass at one player and the game sent it in another direction completely. These arcade-style passing mechanics of old-school PES now feel very old-fashioned indeed. But still, the game as a whole functions. That is the amazing thing about old PES.

Other than PES5, I have played no other football games, and won’t now until PES2013 arrives.

I’ve continued my Dwarf Fortress obsession, where I’m starting my first ever mega-project (an above-ground castle). I’ve played a bit of Civilization V (the expansion pack has made it a good game at last). I’ve also played an indie ‘strategy roguelike’ called FTL that I’ve been following for months. I’ve watched a few films, read parts of a few books. I’ve even worked some more on my PES book. Yes, I will update that sidebar one day soon…

Yesterday afternoon I watched a slew of PES-related videos on YouTube, of which there are a pleasing multitude. One of the weirdest highlights was seeing the PES2008 intro video, which I always found strangely compulsive (and probably—no, definitely—the best thing about that game).

So. Is PES2013 going to be The One?

By which I don’t mean a perfect game. No PES game, and no football game, has been, or ever will be, a perfect football game.

But could it be anything like The One that we all (most of us anyway) expected to see back in 2007, however naive that might have been?

Just a really great game of Pro Evolution Soccer on the next-gen console(s)?

PES2012 and PES2010 were both very close for me, but neither game was universally loved in the way that the PS2 classics were loved. PES2010 could feel stiff and crude; its passing model was decidedly old-school. PES2012 had the most deflating, uninspiring shooting system of any PES game in history.

So, in this sense, could PES2013 be The One?

I’m pretty much exhausted just thinking about it. There are so many factors here that the best option is just to get on and play the game. That’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow (hopefully).

Updated: 19th September 2012 — 11:22


  1. @ #1: PES 2013 doesn’t release here in the states until next week, so I’ve been editing my PES 2012 game, hoping to get the editing work done early. So I have been wasting my time! C’est la PES.

    It always takes longer for the quality Option Files to get made for the US version of the game, so I re-skin the made up PES League teams with less stupid names (i.e. C.S. Squanoer becomes Corsican SC), and give them non-shitty kit. It is only a few hours’ work, but I’d rather be playing than editing on release day!

    @Adam: Maqualao, ooo, good shout! I’ve been playing the PS2 version lately, and he is always an over -performer on the PS2. He can set them up, and for me whenever he scores they seem to be big goals, the last-gasp match winner type of goals, or the goal that sends you through a 2-legged tie.

    @not-Greg: I’m 100% agreed on the naming convention. Ruskin, Ivarov, Libermann . . . actual names. Go with that, Konami, go with that. I mean, it’s not like there aren’t enough Greek names out there to go around.

    But with the latest iteration they were giving them new names that were kind of like the old names. Minanda (actual name) becomes Maqualao (vaguely Portugese). If Castolis is any indication, they’re just re-skinning the same group of players (again), and trying to keep their names in the same neighborhood. Castello -> Castolo -> Cinalton -> Castolis?

    @ uncle turf: Cinalton! Good call.

    @ Liam: I shot Ruskin twice. Just to make sure.

    No seriously, I loved the little guy in old-school PES. I played an all-default ML on PES 6 and he was a star player for me, but I had to move him to midfield — his lack of height was killing us on set-pieces, and I preferred Jaric at left back anyway. In newer PES games, his sale value was out of proportion to his playing value, so he was first on the chopping block. Duffy was the new Ruskin for me.

    @Abbeyhill: Jaric is an unexpected name! Did you ever try him as a DMF? Also, Heeders is a player that I thought should mature into something special, but generally the pace of squad growth outpaced his growth as a player, and he’d end up the third or fourth choice at either forward position. IIRC, he had a great shot.

    Oooh, I’m gettin’ all nostalgic over here. Maybe I will miss the old Defaults. Sniff.

  2. ck—it’s not that they’ve gone mostly Greek-influenced, more of a random keyboard mash, like the team names in default D2. “Meet your new Default midfielder, Uivbpyrev.” It’s nearly that bad!

  3. Chris—if there’s no one at your workplace on Saturday, won’t they leave a Sorry We Missed You card, and you’ll have to go to the sorting office to pick it up? I seem to remember you getting it at work on the Thursday of release week last year—was that ShopTo?—if so, whoever got you that voucher for did you an evil turn! With good intentions of course.

  4. NG – Good memory, yes I went with ShopTo last year and had to navigate the Utd fan who does the post but the lure of paying a couple of quid and a bit of paper for PES 13 was too much. Don’t mention the sorting office, I don’t even have a car at the mo and it’s miles away. Looks like I’ll have earned it when I finally play my traditional Merseyside derby opener.
    Hope everybody who has the game has a fantastic weekend with it! Enjoy

  5. Chris—with it being a non-signature delivery, if there’s any way for the postie to shove it through anything that looks like a letterbox, he/she will. Fingers crossed it’s there for you Monday morning. Actually, the most secure thing that could happen for you is for it not to actually be delivered until Monday now. Second Class mail is so unpredictable nowadays that that’s a better-than-evens possibility.

  6. ck – yes, Jaric gets a game at DMF whenever I lose patience with Duffy’s wretched passing!

    Not happy with the news that all the defaults have changed – it was the continuity of them from one edition to the next which was part of ML’s appeal, if it’s just a random collection of silly names from now on it will be hard to feel engaged

  7. abbeyhill—I wasn’t happy last week at the news about the Defaults, and totally agree that the continuity of the lore of the Defaults is—was—one of the strongest threads joining all the years together. Total dick move by Konami, on a par with the removal of League Mode, and I’m not joking!

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