Business is concluded with the PES2017 demo. As ever, many PES followers will play it multiple times per day between now and full release, an overkill practice that always leaves me feeling bemused. I played the standard 15-odd matches on it and now I’m done. I want to play PES2017. Demos are for Christmas, not for life.
My one-paragraph end-of-demo review goes like this:
Encouraging signs of a renaissance of ‘True-PES’ spirit. But I only had one match with more than a token 1 or 2 fouls. The secondary pressure button seems overpowered. As do sliding tackles, still. Individuality may be slightly better. 8/10 for a very good demo.
My appetite for the full game is now considerably whetted. It seems peculiar to think that two weeks tomorrow (ShopTo and Royal Mail willing), I’ll be snapping a picture of my thumb on the PES2017 box. How does time happen? Does time happen…?
In the meantime, I have been playing a few things. Some PES5. Some PES2014. Some PES2016. Some FIFA16.
I’m no longer really enjoying myself, doing all this flibbertigibbet, flippity-flappity, fannying around, hopping from game to game. I don’t know how people who always do it, do it. I’ve always been a deep-sea diver type of gamer. Not a water-skier.
I need a daily continuous grind. I need to inhabit a single football game and explore its mechanics and become familiar with it over time.
I have been playing some of my old Master League save on PES2016 over the past couple of mornings. Time is at a premium for me just lately and I find that a couple of quick matches of PES2016 nicely fills the gap.
And I’ve been playing with MANUAL passing. (Unassisted passing, properly called.) I have dabbled with it before, on and off, ever since it became an option in PES. Never for long, usually. I never can shake the feeling that this whole passing-assistance malarkey is simply un-PES.
Like many PES players, I remember the PS2 days with fondness. Perhaps too much fondness.
Passing back then, in the Nirvana that was PS2 PES, wasn’t something that had to be thought about or deliberated over. Like PES itself, it just was. The individual players’ stats were the only damn passing assistance settings we ever needed.
Times have changed. I’m giving Unassisted passing a decent chance now. I like it. It’s more of a difficulty modifier than an individuality-enhancer, though. As ever in postmodern PES, I don’t perceive any great individuality in the players. I’m just as good or bad at Unassisted passing with a lumbering CB as with a skilful AMF.
Here’s a heroic comeback against Burnley. Playing at home, in a rare daytime match, I’m 1-3 down with less than a quarter of an hour to play.
I don’t like that sliding tackle at 0:12 that wins me the ball back. It’s just so bloody routine in PES2016 — and in PES2017, too, it appears.
Ribery’s run and thumping strike into the far top corner could have come from pretty much any midfielder in the game.
When I scored it, my dominant thought was just: ‘I’ve scored!’ And I was happy. In the context of the match it was a big goal that set up an exciting finish.
But it struck me that I didn’t care about scoring with Ribery.
The goal added nothing to any sense of renown he has with me – he has no renown in my Master League. He’s just another player, one of many such.
Ten years ago, after scoring a goal like that I’d have thought something like: ‘Good old Ribery!’ And I would have celebrated the addition of more renown to a huge player in my Master League team.
Ten years ago, a player like Ribery would have taken an exalted place within my personal PES folklore, forever.
Those days are long gone – and that change, in a nutshell, defines just how much PES has changed.
Yes, I’m saying ‘It’s not me, it’s you’.
My biggest wish for PES2017 isn’t really for more fouls. No, it’s more for that old Master League feeling to return. That feeling when you had to scrimp and save for a whole season to get just one good player, a player who could make all the difference. That feeling when getting a player like Ribery would be akin to the arrival of a saviour. Instead of just another silky-smooth Johnny AMF bundle of pixels.
Casteldine’s lucky free kick made me smile. And despite the severely diluted Master League, I felt something about this match. I spent 8+ seasons on PES2016, remember. That’s not something that just happens out of a sense of obligation or habit. PES2016 does have merits. Its demerits are numerous enough to create an imbalanced game, but perhaps PES2017 will get the balance right.