Month: July 2017

Any Schwarz in a storm

Truly these are the lowest points of the footy gaming year. After a mammoth Master League campaign, there’s just no appetite for anything similar until September kickstarts it all again.

Still playing PES5 on PC, and still playing with rapt enthusiasm. I’m not looking at league tables, and I’m not buying any players. Just playing.

I can’t score. I’ve gone five matches now without a goal and I love it. Remember when it used to be said of PES that it was hard to score? In PES5, it is hard to score.

Many another player will pop up at this point to claim it’s easy to score hatfuls of goals in PES5, in every match, using middling players, on 6*. It’s a curiosity of football gaming that good players regard their exploits as being literally par for the course. You never see Headshot Hank, topping the leaderboard in a Call of Duty round, sounding puzzled as to why everyone isn’t just like him. But the good PES players believe their experiences with the game must be generally true for everyone. I don’t know of any other game series or genre with this curious phenomenon

Anyway, anyway. I’ve seen a few trees starting to turn yellow. Has anyone else been tempted to turn on the central heating yet? I’ve thought about it, but not done it – pulled on a pullover instead. The end of summer is nigh.

I’ve stopped keeping an eye on the PES forums to see how things are going with the PES2018 multiplayer beta (not a PES2018 beta, it should be noted, but a PES2018 multiplayer beta. We can only hope that there is still a difference).

I have been thinking that I’ll want to do my PES2017 End of Year review before the PES2018 demo comes out. If, as expected, PES2018 is a fouls-free zone, it’ll make me disgruntled.

My disgruntlement will then have a huge influence on my PES2017 review, but I don’t want it to have an influence.

So I’ll get the PES2017 End of Year review done next week, at the start of August, instead of its end.

What this means is me playing PES2017 for the first time in a month or so. I find myself quite looking forward to it.

Schwarz and crosses

I’m still playing the game that has 3 major claims to fame:

  • it is the greatest-ever PES game;
  • it is the greatest-ever football computer game;
  • and it is the greatest-ever computer game.

A holy trinity of greatness that manifests in the Godhead we know on earth as PES5.

I’m going through a phase with PES5 at the moment where I can’t score many goals. Matches stutter along, punctuated by an average of 8 fouls per side. ‘Shocking state of affairs!’ says the 2017-era gamer. ‘Football games should be end-to-end with a nice flow…’

I’m not playing the PES2018 multiplayer beta, but I’m following its reception keenly via the main PES forums.

It seems to be going down well, on the whole. When you’re an older football gamer, as I am, with different wishes and expectations, you learn to ‘read between the posts’, filter out all the lols and txt spk, and see what’s waiting for us in September.

A slow, measured game for one, with appreciable player weight – this alone might make PES2018 worth anticipating. But will the slowness and heaviness survive the first patch? Will it even make it to release day? EA notoriously caved in when they attempted a similar thing with FIFA16. As we have seen time and time again in recent years, Konami are not immune to ‘doing an EA’. In fact, Konami can easily out-Herod Herod when they feel like it.

AI fouls will be non-existent once more in PES2018. The best we can hope for is PES2017-levels of AI fouls, i.e. that there’ll be a match every so often with a good amount of fouls in it.

As has happened every year for the past 4 years, the PES forums have yet again awarded Konami a free pass on the fouls issue. 10 years ago the appearance of a PES game with effectively zero fouls in single-player would have clogged up the forums forever, basically.

However you paint it, however it’s protested about, Konami have got away with it again and will continue to do so. Pro Evolution Soccer is now, and has been for some years, a franchise in which fouls and free kicks and penalty kicks are a mostly insignificant part of the game, with little or no impact upon gameplay.

Konami have pursued the younger market, which has firm expectations of ‘continuous play’ and ‘fun’ [retch] shaped by FIFA and other online gaming experiences.

I am constantly surprised that the main PES forums keep giving Konami a free pass on the fouls issue. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Online is huge on the forums – many posters assume it as an automatic given.

When I started reading the PES forums – PESfan, PES Gaming, EvoWeb, even the WENB forum – they were absolute bastions of PES righteousness. FIFA was regularly crucified for being a fouls-free blur of arcadey goals.

Ever since roughly 2014, there’s been a moment in the PES release cycle when you know that the supposedly hardcore PES forums have accepted no-fouls with barely a shrug. It’s usually in the first day or two after the demo comes out. This year, that time is right now.

My lovely Schwarz, running through the field

What’s odd about this screenshot? No, it’s not that there’s a penalty taking place in a PES game – that’s only become a total rarity in recent years. This is PES5(PC), which I’m still playing.

It’s the keeper standing a foot or two off his line, of course. Even in these days of cowardly real-life referees (and they all are), you wouldn’t see any of them allowing that to happen.

The PES2018 online beta that started yesterday might as well be taking place in another reality, and be about another game completely – because it is. PES in its online guise has never borne more than a passing resemblance to the game I know and love. The day PES turned its face to the online demographic was the day it grew sick. Everything bad that has happened in PES in recent years is because of online. ‘But without online, there wouldn’t even be a PES nowadays…’ I know.

Back at a real football game, PES5, I haven’t paid any attention to the league table since I resumed play a week or so ago. I couldn’t tell you what stage of the season it is. Until I played in the Cup, the D1 Cup no less, against ADO Den Haag, which always sounds more like a walled citadel in a fantasy novel than a football club.

I was 2-1 down from the first leg, and went 1-0 down here – at their place. Right. I rolled up my sleeves and started a good old-fashioned comeback against all the odds. I worked hard for two goals – Schwarz on target again, becoming my MVP for PES5, now – and got it back to 2-1 to me on the day, 3-3 on aggregate, with away goals being equal.

Alas, an old, old problem surfaced. The AI treats the score on the day as the score overall, and thought it was losing 2-1. It went into overdrive, and nabbed itself another when I could hardly keep the ball.

A couple of good wins in the league,. Good goals. Good gameplay. Here’s to the carefree, lazy, hazy days of summer.

The Schwarz will always be with you

There’s my keeper about to take a corner in PES5 on PC. I’m 0-1 down to Spurs and it’s stoppage time. Why not load the box and hoist one over and see what happens?

I think it was way back in PES4 when I started sending my keeper up to take late, late corners (and sometimes late, late throw-ins), when it was obviously the last action of the game and the final whistle would surely blow the next time the AI cleared the ball towards halfway.

Nothing happened here. The AI cleared the ball and the final whistle blew even as my keeper was performing the mad scurry back to his goal-line that we all find so entertaining, in game and in reality.

I’m still playing PES5 on PC. At the moment I’m not thinking about touching base with the other games I was going to touch base with. I mean the likes of PES2011 and PES2013, both beautifully patched on PC.

No, the little game from 2005 is going great guns here in the middle of 2017.

It is too fast by recent standards, and the Master League environment is missing many features we have come to expect.

But, the gameplay. The fouls. The player individuality. The latter two are pretty much 90% of what makes the first. I’ll say it now. You cannot have a ‘true’ PES game without fouls and player individuality. You can have ‘cover version’ versions, which is pretty much what we’ve had for several years now. But PES5 represents the original awesome sauce. Accept no imitations.

My Schwarz is only 18 years old, a Youth yet to reach his peak. He has a clumsy first touch that concedes possession all match long, but he still has the familiar howitzer of a shot on both feet.

Here’s a short highlights reel featuring all 4 of my goals in a recent 4-1 win. A Schwarz hat-trick is the highlight. The one where speedy Kalou races away on the wing to put in the cross shows how stats mattered in the old games.