The ghost of Christmas FIFA

This is the state of my Master League club, after 4.5 seasons, heading into Christmas 2017:

Second from bottom. 4 wins from 29 matches, which is shockingly bad, possibly the worst form I’ve shown in any Master League for many a year. I just cannot seem to crack this Superstar AI. Which is no bad thing.

I’ve moved down to Top Player difficulty since the above screenshot was taken, and notched up a win and draw that have already moved me in the right direction. I don’t believe I will be relegated – I just won’t let it happen. I’ll drop down to Regular if I have to. Really. Master League no longer feels worth the effort of another season in D2.

I’ve had most of this week off work, and with it the chance to play PES2018 every day quite intensively.

At least two sessions per day, consisting of at least 4 matches each, and one or two late late night ones extending to 7 or 8 matches.

I’ve blitzed through mid-season of my Season 5 and am already almost at the end of February.

I’m in a peculiar place with PES2018. Too many matches feel exactly the same as each other. I don’t like it very much at the moment – but then I haven’t liked any PES all that much since PES2015.

PES2016 saw the series take an overt step away from its serious, simulation-oriented roots, and embrace the casual, ‘fun’ arcade approach that we still see today.

Right at this moment, I wouldn’t say PES2018 was even as good as PES2017, but it’s clearly better than PES2016 – and it’s clearly a good football game.

It’s not a proper PES game, though, and that is what really counts. We haven’t had a genuine PES since… since when? I’d say PES2014, and that took a few attempts. If I’m being generous, PES2015. Other views are available. It’s arguable that PES2012 was the last ‘pure’ PES game.

We’ve had a series of decent PES-flavoured FIFA-wannabe knockoffs since that time, but we have not had a good PES game.

PES since PES2014/15-ish has been Konami’s idea of what a FIFA game should be like. The laser-guided, ruler-straight backheels. The utterly wretched player individuality. The relentless spin-cycle churn.

I know that a great many lurkers and occasional commenters may be disgruntled by my ‘negativity’. Well, if you can tell any real difference between most of your players, Imma real happy for you.

Yesterday I went into town and picked up a pre-owned copy of FIFA17. (‘You criticise PES for being like FIFA, but then you go and get FIFA! Whyyyyy!’ If I’m going to play FIFA, I’d actually prefer to just play FIFA. That’s my answer.)

A special mid-winter’s day thumbshot, there. The game cost me £4.99, preowned, from GAME. It was the first time I’ve been inside a bricks-and-mortar game shop in a few years. I didn’t even know there was a still a branch of GAME in Coventry until I walked past it by accident a few weeks ago.

I waited in the queue, which was as long as you would expect it to be, a few days before Festivus – and painfully interacted with a nose-ringed young man at the counter. He called me ‘dude’ twice and tried to sell me ‘disc insurance’ for an extra 50p, at which I politely refrained from laughing out loud.

And here we are.

For the next ‘however long it is’, I’ll be playing FIFA17. I played the demo of this game over a year ago and really didn’t rate it. So this might just be one-post wonder. Might be a week, two weeks.

No FIFA that’s ever shown up at this point of my footy game year has ever really lasted long, that’s for sure.

How long will this one last?

Traditionally on PES Chronicles, FIFA has acted like a springboard back to PES. There’s been nothing like a spell on FIFA to restore flickering faith in PES.

Sorry, FIFA lovers, but that’s just how it’s gone, over the years.

  1. I get jaded with PES, for whatever reason.
  2. I play FIFA.
  3. I love FIFA.
  4. I get jaded with FIFA – usually very quickly – for whatever reason.
  5. I return to PES with renewed perspective and appreciation, and stick with it for most of the remainder of the footy game year.
  6. Rinse and repeat.

We shall see!

No post on Tuesday, remember. My first formal FIFA17 post will be next Friday at the usual time. I will remain active in comments on this post and providing updates on how things are going.

At the time of writing I’ve played the first couple of Exhibitions… and was not overly impressed. Fast and frantic, all the players just bundles of pixels that can all do pretty much the same thing… It seems to play just like PES2018 – which is more an indictment of the direction Konami is going than it is on FIFA.

Updated: 22nd December 2017 — 11:59

53 Comments

  1. Should have just traded in a few old games/blurays you dont use and got FIFA 18, its in the sale for 24.99 at the moment.

    I got a solid 4 seasons out of FIFA 17, and they were very enjoyable. The refreshing element of playing a game and actually feeling like it matters and that there’s an anticipation and build up to a big match, and a career mode that actually has stuff to do, and interact with your players.
    Would have been a lot more but for the fact I didn’t start playing until march and FIFA seasons take longer to get through due to there being more to do than just pick a team and play games.

    Interesting that you think the AI is really good in PES, yet say in your post ‘too many matches feel the same’ – that’s because they are, and that’s because of the abysmal AI.

  2. While FIFA 17 is better than most FIFAs I’ve played, it still doesn’t match PES in terms of the satisfaction element to build up play and defending. I’m enjoying it but passing and defending feels a little arduous and barely worth it to enjoy the excellent shooting and CM.

    My prediction is that you will be ticking off every one of that 1-6 you’ve posted n-G.

  3. Seriously Shed???
    PES’s passing model is awful, full manual means loads of error, and 1 bar assist is way too over assisted, except in the final third when the game regularly nerfs even your highest rated players, so they cant even manage a 5 yards sideways pass without it going awry or being intercepted.
    There is zero satisfaction on PES build up play as every single com team plays absolutely the same way, every single match.

    and defending on PES??? haha….. gotta laugh at players who refuse to clear the ball first time and walk the ball into their own nets, or overpowered com players that can shoot and back heel with laser precision from 30 yards, which is undefendable.

    There is definitely a predisposition amongst ‘PES Purists’ that FIFA has to be inferior, even when it so clearly isn’t.

    Maybe I’m just out on my own in wanting and expecting a football game to represent the sport, and the passing and AI/movement mechanics to be realistic and varied, as PES isn’t realistic, and doesn’t represent the sport.

  4. I’ve just finished my first madden 17 match – preseason v tampa bay, ten minute halfs (takes about an hour to play the whole match – imagine coming from seven minute pes halfs to that sort of ‘not moving from the screen’ commitment – you need to know you won’t be be interrupted). The first noticeable difference is I’m struggling to defend the pass and catching my own throws is much harder. I don’t really lurk on madden forums unless I have a problem so no idea if that resonates with that there group of folk. The presentation though is just astonishing, I suspect the American audience simply wouldn’t put up with pes’s world of no trophy, Merseyside blue, minimal number of stadiums stuff.

    One thing I have gathered from forum posts is that there is a ‘is ultimate team killing franchise mode’? debate. Similar to our own ‘ml is now the unloved stepchild’ – and it all comes down to post sale revenue and micro transactions.

  5. Paul – ‘PES purist’, I’m pinching that and will use it from now on to describe myself! That’s exactly what I am. The PES we had in PES2-PES6, then PES2008(PS3/PSP) (hey – did you get your PSP and games btw?), then for me PES2010, PES2011, PES2012, PES2014, and much of PES2013/PES2015. That’s the PES that I know and love, and everything we’ve had since PES2016 on is a sham. That’s what I judge all football games on, and FIFA certainly is inferior to that standard, as is PES now. Last night playing FIFA17 it really was shockingly like PES2018, with a big difference: there’s a Career Mode waiting to be played that will hopefully make the difference. I’m not going to make the mistake of starting in L2 with Coventry and give myself that psychological mountain to climb. It’ll be the Championship with one of the lesser teams there. Really looking forward to everything that CM has to offer now. That’s possibly the deciding difference between the franchises now: single-player modes. The PES Purist in me will never agree that any football game has even got close to matching the PES games I listed above. We can enjoy a PES game of here-and-now, but let nobody be under any illusion – it’s been moved so far toward FIFA now.

  6. Shed – as I remark above, I was really shocked last night to feel so much of PES2018 in FIAF17. (Of course, what’s happened there is Konami moving to occupy FIFA’s territory, rather than the other way round, I know.) So with the games being so similar, I think how much CM does or doesn’t get its hooks into me might decide this thing. I also think I’ll end up ticking the list as you say, but I’d like a month or two to experience FIFA. PES2018 and the whole nuPES catastrophe as a whole – have really depressed me. Ich bin ein PES Purist!

  7. Uncle Turf – I don’t know how much you know about the Dark Souls franchise. I’ve played the first two a bit, but not the 3rd. Dark Souls is renowned for the way its combat animations are so lengthy that if you commit to a lunge, you’d better be sure you connect. I.e. the character progression, weapons and battle moves are the PES-style ‘individuals’ of the Dark Souls series. This morning I was reading one of those ‘Best 40 Things We Wrote in September That We Can Publish At This Time Of Year Ever’ lists on a game site and Dark Souls 3 got a mention. The list compiler said it was better than the first two because ‘animations were sped up, the whole thing was much more accessible to the casual player, and it was fun’. That fucking f-word again. Fuck that f-word. Fuck it.

    So to hammer my point home, Dark Souls 1 and 2 (and its predecessor, Demon’s Souls, which I have also played and frowned at the rogue apostrophe of) are the Pure PES. Dark Souls 3 is nuPES/FIFA.

  8. NG, aagree that any PES up to PES 2010 was superior to FIFA game play wise, PES 11 and 12 could also maybe classed as better, due to th then still decent ML mode and good gameplay, but as we were discussing modern day FIFA, FIFA 15 onwards, they have all been far superior to PES in every single aspect.
    FIFA 17 has better presentation, better immersion, better atmosphere, better commentary, better modes, better career mode and game play is better.
    And that’s all coming from me who is a PES fan first and foremost, by PES Purist i was comparing to the types of people that think it has to be Playstation or XBOX, they cant admit when one is better than the other if its not their preferred choice.

    We can sit and pick apart every single facet of FIFA 17 and PES 17 and compare them, FIFA excels in every single area.

  9. Paul – we’ll see, I can say right now that I prefer FIFA’s through-ball, with which I got behind the AI defences a couple of times last night. Very refreshing after PES2018.

    So much of what we value in footy games is subjective that there can never be more than broad-brush agreement. I think it is objectively true though that all the qualities PES was once renowned for have been chucked overboard in the name of selling enough copies to keep the franchise alive – which I’ve always said ‘fair enough’.

    I think PES Purist is a positive label (that I’m going to take and change from your PS/Xb meaning) as it perfectly encapsulates exactly how I feel. I feel a lot pressure to play nuPES through half-closed eyes, with half my brain shut down so I can’t notice or dare to point out that this just ain’t PES anymore.

    Did you get the PSP and games in the end?

  10. As you said in your own words, NuPES isn’t PES anymore, not the purists PES, Just PES by name, the last 3 years Konami have tried to out-FIFA FIFA, and failed miserably.
    So by definition, PES 17 is a NuPES FIFA Style clone, that isn’t as good as the real FIFA.

    Enough said.

    Yeah I did, haven’t really had chance or the inclination to do anything with it yet though, with xmas etc its been a busy few weeks so haven’t been playing at lunchtimes at work, like it was intended for.

  11. Paul – nuPES in general is a poor man’s FIFA, and a flickering-in-and-out version of PES. You’ve been saying PES2017 in your last few comments, but I’m sure you meant PES2018. PES2017 was actually stronger than PES2018 in a number of ways. More fouls for one (i.e. more potential for stoppages in play, which enforced a modicum of PurePES respect for footballing values). A touch more individuality as well. PES2018 took those wisps of PurePES and blew them away. God knows what PES2019 is going to be like at this rate of regression.

    For the record, I don’t hate PES2018. I will doubtless be back on it at some point, and maybe soon. I’ve got the PC option now remember. It’s no PES2008 or PES2016. I don’t even hate them, or any football game. I hate the undoing of something that was so much better than PES2018 even at its best.

  12. nG – Maybe the demon had collected many souls?

  13. NG – I think fifa 17 will grow on you. I was quite impressed with it but my football gaming season was over by that point – just did not have interest in it anymore and wanted to start the new football year fresh.

    Anyway, there is a lot to like as soon as you warm up to it. It’s quite jarring at first coming from pes but I imagine the other way around holds true as well. Lots of shooting variation even though the passing and shooting has less “oomph” to it. Commentary that doesnt actually make you want to strangle the commentators. Big difference.

  14. One thing that has always annoyed me in every game of FIFA ever released is the fact that I can’t apply pressure defensively like teams do in real life. I don’t know if it’s the sluggishness of the players (PES suffers from this nowadays too), or something coded in the game itself that I can’t grasp, but zonal pressure is impossible to apply whether by the human or by the AI.

    Take a look: https://imgur.com/a/6Ezpw

    Atletico vs Barcelona. Barça is attacking through the left flank. A very sluggish Messi is about to lose the ball to Gimenez in the 2nd picture. As soon as Atletico gets the ball back, Barça has to reduce the space around Gimenez:
    1. Right-winger needs to come closer to the ball, putting himself in the front of the LB – closing the passing lane – and by doing this he gets closer to the left-centre-back, so if this guy gets the ball he’s got an opponent breathing down on his neck in a flash;
    2. CM on the right side has to reduce the space between himself and the other CM who’s close to Saúl from Atletico. He needs to get in front of the player he’s marking because if Gimenez passes the ball to Saul (likely to happen), Saul can’t find the guy our CM is in front of. Also, by doing this he’s closer to our Right Winger too, and you’ll see how important this is later on.
    3. Deulofeu on the left has to move towards the middle to help our two CM. He’s gonna cover the space behind the guy who’s marking Saul.

    Move to the 3rd pic. None of what I described happened. The players just…stood there. As a result, Saul gets a pass from Gimenez and has a whole lot of space to do whatever he wants to do with the ball.
    4th pic. This is what happens when you don’t apply zonal pressure. Saul has all the space in the world and now has a spectacular passing lane to their winger on the left. There are 6 Barcelona guys who did absolutely nothing besides standing and veery slowly getting back. Look how far every guy is from each other…if you want to stop a counter-attack from arising, your zonal pressure effort has to be carried out by players who are very close from each other, closer to their opponents.

    2nd pic again. If Barcelona had applied zonal pressure and Saul gets the ball from Gimenez, he has to get rid of it immediately because he has only one passing lane – the LCB. The LCB gets the ball…and has no passing lanes. Also, remember our winger? He’s now breathing down on his neck, so the LCB has to clear it. Counter-attack stopped. All of this happens in two seconds.

    https://imgur.com/a/2Nuki

    Now look at a certain game from 2005. This situation is much more complex than the FIFA one because the play is on the middle of the pitch where there’s more space, it’s always easier to stop a team who just got the ball close to their own box – less space. In FIFA18’s situation, the objective of the team who applies zonal pressure is to force the defence to either clear the ball, make a bad pass or just lose the ball to the opponent; in PES5’s, there’s far too much space so the pressure you apply is not so much focused on getting the ball back immediately, but forcing the opponent to stop the flow of their counter-attack, neutralizing it.
    You’re about to witness an AI who’s going to suppress the human controlled attack without running like headless chickens spawning the sprint button or without standing there wondering about the purpose of life.

    1st pic. It’s a counterattack and Joe Cole has the ball, Paulo Ferreira makes a run towards the “heart” of our 4-men midfield. Gilberto Silva tightens up the marking on Joe Cole so the other Arsenal’s CM would be too far away from Paulo Ferreira if the portuguese gets the ball later on. Could be a sticky situation if Chelsea penetrates our midfield.
    2nd pic. Cole to Ferreira. Pires immediately recognized Ferreira’s run and tightens the marking from the “blind” side, in order to make Ferreira play the ball to the left-side of Chelsea’s attack. The other Arsenal players followed his cue and quickly shrink the space around Ferreira (even the two strikers join in), but not every one of them: the other CM who was sitting deeper than Gilberto Silva quickly positions himself a bit deeper and a bit closer to our LB because as you see in the radar, Chelsea’s right winger is trying to get past our LB and Ferreira could play a through pass for him.
    Essentially, Arsenal’s midfield is forcing Chelsea to play the ball to Lampard, who gets the ball on the 3rd pic. When he gets it, Ljungberg recognizes that Drogba is offering Lampard a passing lane so the swedish makes a diagonal run for two reasons:
    1 – getting closer to the remaining members of the midfield (just look how close they are to each other on the radar!)
    2 – at the same time, closes the passing lane to Drogba by sitting in front of him.

    4th pic. Lampard couldn’t pass the ball towards the right side of his attack – because our midfield is there covering every player – and couldn’t pass to Drogba, so he goes left. Arsenal’s RB is tight marking their left winger, so there’s just one passing lane open: their LB. He knows that if he passes to him, the counter-attack is neutralized. Conflicted, Lampard decides to run with the ball ignoring the passing lane and Ljungberg steals the ball.

    This is how zonal pressure works. Essentially, Arsenal defined a zone where they’d cancel out the most dangerous of Chelsea’s passing lanes, while also forcing them to play towards the sides (where any defence’s chances to neutralize the attack are higher).

    Tactically, modern sports games have regressed 20 years.

  15. I said this a few years back and have seen nothing to change my mind. Fifa and PES used to be at opposite ends of the spectrum and both did what they did well. Both games then tried to move towards the other ground. The result being that by the time we got to 17 or 2017 we had two games that were remarkably similar. So gameplay wise Fifa has made a lot of advancement, but is not at the level of PES games of old. There is more of a feel that no goal is the same. I certainly found this to be the case in my Fifa 17 adventure. Now with PES I agree that with Paul that the AI is garbage and as a result all the games start to feel exactly the same. So maybe they have passed each other slightly, heading in the opposite directions. What I think will happen from now on is that any advancement will be halted or slowed down significantly as the developers are happier to be where they are at. So what are we left with? One bland game that lacks any of the presentation of the other and a game that has improved in gameplay (but still not there) and continually offers a more realistic presentation and a developing career mode. If I was still interested in footy games then there would be only one choice.

    As a whole though games in general are like the society we live in as no games stand out as being innovative. It is strange as we move to a more inclusive and tolerant society that embraces difference that we have become more generic in every aspect of life.

  16. Darryl – totally agree, and having skipped the FIFA routine last year, there was a gap in my understanding of what’s happening to PES and football games. After a couple of days now with FIFA17, I feel that gap has now been filled. PES2018 and FIFA17, at least, are both cast from the same mould. Both of them foreground the same kind of ‘accessible, fun’ gameplay as the first priority, and both are undoubtedly GOOD games. But PES used to be so, so much more. FIFA used to be so much less. They have converged not too far from one another somewhere in the middle. FIFA moved towards PES in the first part of the PS3 era, and has carved out its own identity since. PES has massively shifted FIFA’s way since PES2014. Like I said, having skipped FIFA last year I didn’t fully appreciate just what was going on. I knew it was happening, but not how overt it was. Konami aren’t even pretending anymore are they? A shame. They’re desperate for some of that Ultimate Team loot. Like I remarked somewhere yesterday, at this rate of movement, God knows what PES2019 is going to be like. The amusing kicker here is that all the teens and twentysomethings I know either automatically despise PES, or have barely heard of it.

    Side-note: on FIFA17 yesterday I spent a while trying to beat your score in one of the pre-match minigames, but gave up after two goes. Think it was the penalties one. I rarely bother with them.

    orlando.jabulani – love the analysis as ever, but I doubt we’ll ever see a football game coded to embody the values you discuss. A few posts ago I posted a goal (in PES2018) that depended on an AI defender obligingly running out of the way for me to score it. An extreme example yes, but the AI players (vs AI or human) have to be jerked around in unfootballing ways for a football computer game to happen. It’s the style of gameplay that EA – and now, God help us, Konami – are selling nowadays.

    #1 – it is growing on me, along with a sense of wonder at just how similar the two franchises now are on the pitch. There are still enough differences to tell them apart, but I’d love to McFly back to 2004 or so, kidnap one of these ‘hardcore’ PES fans, bring him back to now, and show him the two games, and see his face. It would be a bit like a US Civil War Confederate seeing Obama in the White House.

    Chris99 – that is what I chose to believe, that the game was about a single Demon. I never played it all the way through – it lived up to its billing as a rock-hard War and Peace of gaming – so I still choose to believe that.

  17. NG – you are spot on with that observation and Darryl what you say is something that has occupied my mind quite often the past year. Not just in regards to football gaming if course but life in general. Almost all forms of art / entertainment / fashion / whatever has become somewhat of a generic blur. If you ever have time to spare and feel like putting your tinfoil hat on, read up on the “Strasbourg treaty” if don’t know what it is already. Interesting read and basically what it comes down to is that the “powers that be” want Europe to become a “united States of Europe” with a generic population throughout all of Europe. No differentiation, no individuality.. Nothing.

    Anyway in other news : fifa 18 is now 50 percent off in the PS store now so I will be getting that either way. Means I’ve got both pes and fifa for less than the full retail price for either of those games. Good deal as far as I’m concerned and fifa has intrigued me enough last year to give it a serious go this time. Pes, PC mods and bells & whistles and all is getting tired alarmingly quickly already.

  18. NG – No Konami aren’t even pretending anymore that is true. Purely from a marketing point of view they have been successful. But I am not interested in market forces or how popular PES is. As for the penalties it did take me a while to get to that score. I am not a fan of the Fifa penalty system in all honesty.

    #1 – yes indeed and it even goes as far as the work we do and the food we eat. I have a knowledge of the Strasbourg treaty but over the Christmas period I may do a lot more reading up on it. I fancy a book in the making. It would be a diary of a year in my life but the overall theme would be of the sort of society we have become as a backdrop to it.

  19. not-Greg – I thought the point of Orlando Jabulani’s (most recent) brilliant comment was that we already have a football game coded to embody the values he discusses of intelligent defensive pressure? And in fact a game that you have occasionally mentioned on here as being decent

    my own gaming PC, and indeed Switch and PS4, abandoned as I get more and more immersed in PES2011 3DS. It was a horribly rushed launch release with a ML in pitiable state but has enough PES Purist DNA to be utterly compelling. Still rock bottom of D2 despite a restart and all sorts of formation alterations, I’m sure it was never this difficult back in 2011…

  20. abbeyhill – what game that I mention often on here? PES2008?!

    Your mention of PES2011 on 3DS has my fingers twitching, but I must resist. Very early doors on FIFA17, but it will get a decent chance. So far I’m feeling a lot of that Paul-baiting ’emptiness’ that I’ve often spoken of. But what a professional product FIFA is! CM is everything it needs to be. I did go with CCFC in my CM in the end, because I was allowed to move them into the Championship! (Was going to go the whole hog and drop them in the Premier League, but backed away from it.)

    An interesting opening season in prospect in the Championship, with my League 1 squad and budget. A welcome added layer of difficulty to a rather lightweight-feeling Professional difficulty at the moment.

    Not feeling many PES pangs right now, as the two games are now so similar in general handling and philosophy. Players feel as equally interchangeable in FIFA17 as in nuPES. Literally my whole team’s players all feel the same as each other to me right now.

  21. that closing comment is so striking for PES18 as well. filtaozinho feels identical to sahnoune who feels identical to castledine ….you get the picture. i’ve been giving PES18 a more dedicated go as of late but it never manages to draw me in. I’ve had some “okay” moments, often immediately followed by hugely deflating events. i’m not one to usually notice these kind of things but the defensive positioning truly is shocking this year and the scripted moments are rampant…and this is on professional difficulty. even WITH (or regardless of) all the tactical changes the option file I’m using contains. I shudder to think what Top Player and Superstar must be like. Nevermind Legendary. “Why should I play this game?” is what i’m thinking 75% of the time it’s on.

    If PES and FIFA are interchangeable these days – and I think we all pretty much agree they are – I’d rather have the full career mode with all the bells and whistles. At least then the games are actually played with a goal in mind. NG – the emptiness you describe, I find is far more applicable to PES these days. I do know what you mean and have said as much at the beginning of my FIFA17 run last year – the game feels empty – but I believe now it’s more the case of getting used to the FIFA controls and pace. I got over the “threshold” last year so to speak and after that the empty feeling was gone. A good indication that FIFA is no longer FIFA of old are the Metacritic scores…they are shockingly low which I take to be a good thing actually.

    As far as I’m concerned, at this point the only thing PES has over FIFA is the controls and “oomph” when passing / shooting. And even then the difference is minimal. Will be trying FIFA18 at 50% off VERY soon, is the point I’m making…

  22. Seasons greetings. Merry Christmas to you all. Working tonight, so I thought I’d get it in early.

  23. #1 — I think the two games overlap in so many areas that there’s no longer the clear blue water between them that there was until as late as PES2015 for me (although plenty of voices were calling that game out as a FIFA wannabe at the time as well). PES2014 for sure (fully patched) was a true PES game, eventually, but its poor release and reception pretty much decided PES’s fate from that moment on. You can imagine the panicked meetings, and the conclusion that there can only be a PES from now on if it’s enough like FIFA to please that ‘market’. As I’ve said many times, as much as I deplore this decision, I’d make the same one in their shoes.

    Like I say, I liked PES2015 and see it as a worthy PES game, but the three games we’ve had since, while they’re good in many aspects, and PES-ish enough to pass muster through half-closed eyes, are not PES as we knew it. The more I play FIFA17 the more obvious it is. PES2016, PES2017, and now PES2018 are quite unashamedly FIFA knockoffs with a PES skin. I miss PES’s heaviness, and I do prefer its much-maligned shooting, and I can see myself going back to them eventually (cue a rant from Paul…), but the bulk of the football game I experience in FIFA is a close cousin to nuPES. With that being the case, I might as well play a good Career Mode in FIFA as a poor shadow of Master League in a FIFA knockoff.

    Lloyd — it’s my first Christmas off work in 5 years and I’m going to enjoy it, even though I strangely miss not being there. Merry Christmas all!

  24. Interesting to see your FIFA 17 impressions are similar to mine n-G. I too felt CM on Pro was fairly tame before the game got all nasty a dozen games in.

    I have a feeling Santa will be bringing me Star Wars Battlefront 2 in the morning. I’m looking forward to mixing it into my footy gaming.

    Merry Christmas to you all.

  25. Season 3 of my PSP ML and we missed Europa League by…one point. Was tied 1-1 in the second half of the last fixture (if I drew or lost the game that meant no EL next season), put my tallest centre-back in front for the last 5 min. of the match (alongside my other 3 strikers), and in the last seconds of the match the guy slides in for the ball, takes it away from the defender, goes 1-1 with the keeper and scores, 2-1! Sadly, Boca Juniors won their match so my victory was insignificant because they got one more point than us, grabbing the last qualifying spot for the EL – I renamed it the International League because at some point, south-american teams could enter it.

    Despite not getting top-tier international football next season (my league is already international, so…) we didn’t need to get rid of any players – which was a surprise for me. I was able to renew 10 contracts, 8 of them were starting-eleven players, only one player didn’t agree with the (crappy) deal I offered so he left.
    So far, only lost my 3rd goalkeeper and this other guy, who I thought was going to be great for us as a classic n.10 but in three seasons he played 15 matches or so, never standing out. Still got 28 players in the roster and our core hasn’t peaked yet, so I’m hoping these guys will conquer silverware before we start seeing players retiring (hey, Shevchenko is still kicking ass at the age of 37, Ortega was League’s MVP at 38).

    Here’s my starting 11 and their ages: Hartock (26), Chara (23), Da Costa (27), Ottl (28), Manu Torres (24); Plessis (25), V. Sánchez (26), Filkor (25), Barazite (23); Alibec (22), Volpato (27).

    I’m so motivated I already started Season 4 (usually I take a long break between seasons to keep the passion alive) and currently we’re the best defence in the league after a season where we were bottom-3 in that category. Boca Juniors conceded 22 goals less and we conceded two more than the team who got the last place in the league, so if I wanted EL or CL I had to improve my defensive identity and…we surely did.

    Did I change my tactics? Nope. Different players? Nope, house rules says I can’t buy or sell, and my starting-eleven is the same from the previous year. Do I know much more about football today than I did a week ago when I was still playing Season 3? Nope. And the teams in my league are pretty much the same, if not even better ’cause they’re buying players and I can’t do that.

    I changed one thing: defined a different zone in the pitch for pressuring defensively. That’s how important a defensive mentality/identity is for any team. I’m entering December in the game and same time last season I had around 25 goals conceded, in S4 I have conceded…6. Out of those six, at least 3 of them came from set pieces. Never in my various PSP ML journeys I was able to be so efficient defensively, and it shows me that 8 years after the game I’m playing was launched, I’m still figuring it out as I play it.

    No wonder why you guys struggle to accumulate more than 5 or 6 seasons in your nu-PES ML adventures…if you’re smarter than the game you’re playing…you’re playing the wrong game.

    Merry Christmas and if I don’t see you all, happy new year. I have a feeling 2018 will be a great year for us when it comes to sports gaming, not necessarily nu-sports gaming though.

  26. Nadolig Llawen i chi.

    Enjoy yourselves today.

  27. NG – to get away from that Fifa lightweight feeling you must try the Dynamic Camera with Height 20 and Zoom 0. Really transforms the game and the close up nature gives the players more of a feeling of individuality. This is similar to the camera I played PES 2018 on. I know you don’t like sliders so much but the following set will be give Professional difficulty more bite:-

    Match lenght: 10 minutes
    Difficulty: PRO
    Controles: Default(shot and pass semi)
    Game speed:Slow

    Sprint speed: 20/20
    Acceleration: 45/45
    Shot error: 55/52
    Pass error: 50/52
    Shot speed: 55/55
    Pass speed: 40/40
    Inj freq:50/50
    Inj severity:8/8
    Goalkeeper ab:50/50
    Pos Marking: 50/54
    Run freq: 85/85
    Line height:63/63
    ” Length:48/49
    ” Width: 54/54
    Fullback pos: 80/80
    First touch err: 0/10
    Power bar: 50

  28. On second thought, scratch that fifa 18 idea. Apparently plays exactly the same as 17 and have that already.

    In the pes 18 pc front I can report back that the non-exe gameplay patches again do fuck-all on the gameplay front. Same as last year. What people on the forums observe is nothing more than session to session variance. Baffled as to how these people can claim such wild improvements over the base game.

    In potentially better news I’ve found the first modified exe that flat out claims “more fouls”. Maybe I’ll give that a go when I have some time. Otherwise looks to be again a non footy gaming year.

  29. #1 – think I’m close to PC PES2018 – there’s a Steam code on one of the sites for around €15 (£14 or so). Have you got a link for this more fouls .exe?

    FIFA17 is so far underwhelming on the pitch, and giving me a true eye-opener as to just where and what football gaming is in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century. I am still trying my best to get over the threshold there, though.

    I unapologetically like my football gaming slow, heavy, and frequently interrupted whenever I or the AI get out of hand with the sprinting and sliding and barging. Un-Christmassy wishes to the online fun merchants, who can just collectively go and do one as far as I’m concerned. I hope they all got socks.

    The only solution to this situation is separate games, or user customisation options that actually change core gameplay. Speaking of which…

    Darryl – your sliders nudge arrived just in time, as I was on the verge of quitting FIFA17, which would have made it one of the briefest FIFA excursions of them all, and this game deserves a longer chance. I’ve implemented your sliders. Only had time for one quick match this morning, but it felt so much better straightaway. I should get back on tonight sometime. They’re not Operations Sports sliders, where did you find them? What’s the thinking with reducing First Touch Error to 0/10?! That seems like the opposite of what’s needed, if anything. I’ve left that as-is, but used all the others.

    Of course, sliders is always the beginning of the end for me and FIFA, but vanilla game was just featherlight, each player was like a wisp of air. I will be giving this set a good go.

  30. NG, certainly – this is the one. http://www.moddingway.com/file/226276.html

    The one I tried and the forums are raving about is “Parham V2” which quite literally does nothing.

  31. NG – when I played Fifa 17 I was looking for PES like sliders and came across these:-

    https://forums.operationsports.com/forums/ea-sports-fifa-sliders/894350-fifa-17-klinsis-choice-sliders-default.html

    They do make the game feel slow and heavy like PES of old, which is why I put them up for you. I am unsure as well as to the first touch logic. My camera angle is important though.

  32. #1 – I looked up a bit about that Parham patch, and the chatter is much the same after one of the boots-and-balls DLC releases, i.e. the ball now feels more ‘free’ and everything’s tighter and everybody’s had to change game speed setting and so on. Meanwhile the game is exactly the same. I’ve also looked at a bit about that alleged more-fouls.exe thing and the same kind of vague ‘it just feels different’ chatter seems to surround that, so I’m sceptical there too. I didn’t spring for the Steam code in the end as I’ve no time today, but tomorrow, maybe.

    Darryl – the First Touch Error setting in that list has to be an error of some kind, and I’ve left mine well alone. All the other settings though, thumbs up at the moment. I was close to ditching FIFA17. I don’t care how much Paul rants and raves on here in a few days when he sees this (we could almost write it for him, eh?), FIFA17 is lightweight and samey out of the box. Everything that post-2014 era football games do that is a sin against football gaming, is done in FIFA17. Player individuality is poor in PES2018, but it’s appallingly bad in FIFA17. Sweet baby Jesus, we really have passed into a dark time for football gaming, have we not? CM is the only reason to persist, and that was waning too with the on-pitch action feeling so shitty. But these sliders maybe, just maybe, might save the day.

  33. NG – give fifa just a little bit more time, it’ll reward you for it. Was in the exact same place as you but you have to “de-PES” yourself. I guarantee you there’s individuality and good solid gameplay to be found. I personally did not touch the sliders at all.

    As far as the patches go, the forums keep raving on. Terminology is as you describe : “free”, “heavy” and so on. All in their kinds if you ask me. The inMortal one is a little more promising to me as the actual exe is modified. But we’ll see.

    On a related note : is there anything that can be done about the lethality of the cpu when shooting? I’m not exaggerating when I say that EVERY shot goes in. And this is on professional difficulty. Got a 73 rated keeper which is not great but not absolute shit either. Anyone?

  34. NG – I was the same and didn’t like Fifa 17 out of the box. So why did the game come to a halt then? I got to a point where I was comfortable and moved up difficulty and altered the sliders. So the key is if you do find good sliders then stick with them through the difficulties or not use them at all. Personally I would go with the former as I don’t like Fifa out of the box and at least the game has customisation. As for first touch error I agree this must be an error. I have found this is one element of the sliders that doesn’t have as much of an effect as others. Take shot speed for example and one nudge from 50 to 51 makes an obvious difference.

  35. #1 – there’s a problem there with de-PESing myself – I’m in the midst of my mega-project of installing every PES and ISS game – in playable forms – onto my new PC. (I will end up doing FIFA, as well as every other footy game, but it’s just PES/ISS for now.)

    The day before yesterday was the turn of PES2008(PS2), which I installed and test-played using PCSX2, upscaling the graphics to x2 (achieving a wonderful quasi-HD effect). Absolutely blown away by the sheer quality of the footy gaming experience. Like a concentrated pellet of PES excellence. PES2008(PS2) was PES7 in everything but name, one of the great lost PESes that was overlooked in the transition from one console generation to the next, PS2 to PS3. It’s also tainted by the massive disappointment of the PS3 version. Very few people ever played PES2008 for PS2, and it was and is simply superb – better than its predecessor PES6. I would even commit blasphemy and suggest probably as good as PES5, maybe even b-b-b-b-better…

    So FIFA17 is suffering by comparison. Over the next few days I will be pausing my project to transfer all PES and ISS on the PC. My only footy gaming will be FIFA17.

  36. NG – I have played PES 2008 on the PS2 a few years back when I bought the PS2. Werd kindly sent me the game and I was very surprised considering the games reputation on the PS3. It reminded me of PES 5 on the X Box 360, which was one of the first games I bought on that console.

  37. Happy Xmas one and all, hope you all had a lovely time with your families, and of course some nice gifts 😉

    Its all down to personal preference NG, I enjoyed FIFA 17 a lot, if you don’t then thats your perogative.
    For me, FIFA 17 was so enjoyable because of the career mode and presentation more than the game play, which was still, IMO, very good.

    That being said,I’ve had a good run of games on PES 18 lately, and slowly clawing my way up to the European spots.

  38. Darryl – I played about 10 seasons of PES2008(PS2/PSP) back when I had a PS3 that was back-compatible, so playing it again a few days ago was like picking up a favourite old book or movie. PES7, as I might start calling it. What a great game and like I said, arguably the best PES ever made, notable for many reasons including the fact that it was almost completely ignored in the PS3/360 frenzy at the time. I captured some footage of it running in an emulator on my PC that I’ll post later if I get time, the upscaled graphics make it look like a native PC game.

    Paul – as I remark above, I haven’t been entirely eye-on-the-ball with FIFA17 this week, as I’ve been amusing myself installing a few PESes onto the new PC. I’ve suspended that for now while I focus on FIFA17 and CM.

  39. Darryl/NG ps2 2008 was one of my faves ever. Kit editing was at its best, on field it felt just right. Santa got me a Nintendo switch…but no game. Mario odyssey arriving Friday. My bottle of Laphroaig is watching me though.

  40. NG – You motivated me to install all the necessary stuff on the PC to get PES 2008 (ps2) and I’m having a ball. How did you get the graphics upscaled? I started a ML and just had a great 2-2 draw, 11 fouls against me. I’d forgotten just how great PES used to be.

  41. werd – In any Battles of Classic PESes, PES5 and PES2008(PS2/PSP) would be my finalists. PES3 and PES2 would be knocked out in the semis. PES6 would be the much-fancied outfit that wouldn’t make it past the group stage.

    Cook – at the PCSX2 menu: Config>Video>Plugin Settings, and then you’ve got a box of Hardware Settings to play with. I couldn’t find a clear guide anywhere, so through trial and error I switched Native Resolution to 4x, and Anisotropic Filtering to 2x (Leave ‘Allow 8-bit textures’ unticked). Leave everything else well alone, and it gives this running smoothly:

    I didn’t get a screenshot of what it looked like before I applied the upscaling, but it was pretty bad – PS2-level graphics are really starting to age now. The above is more or less what PC versions of PES of the era look like.

    I tried Anisotropic Filtering on 4x at first but it stuttered a little bit, not much but just enough to annoy. 2x is the sweet spot for me there. It’s possible to upscale Native Resolution all the way to 8x, but I’m satisfied with 4x.

    Bonus: the PCSX2 upscaling of course works for every other PS2 game as well, PES and otherwise. I’m due a tearful reunion with PES2 soon.

  42. And here is a minute of PES2008(PS2) running in an emulator (PCSX2) on my PC. This is with upscaled graphics, and of course with screen recorder software running. (A slight hiccup at 50 seconds is the only sign of that.)

    I remember what console emulation on PC used to be like. Difficult to set up, and results were never great — it was more of a technical exercise in which the main interest was in seeing if you could do it. You could never really play and enjoy the games. That is completely different now. It really is just like having a souped-up PS2 in the year 2017. I could very easily play PES2008(PS2) indefinitely.

    I am still on FIFA17 though, and Friday’s post will be a FIFA17 post.

  43. Merry Christmas gentlemen!! I hope you are having a good time with your family and friends.

    NG: thanks for the video. Now I will have to get that game too haha. I got my hands on PES11 and PES12 for PC. Installed PES11 and started ML on 4/5 difficulty. I love the game. Now I just need a patch that updates kits and badges for non licensed teams (I don’t want to update lineups or anything to current season).

    I have Fifa 17 for xbox one and presentation is awesome, but gameplay is only 6 or 7 out of 10 for me.

  44. Thanks NG, works perfectly.

  45. Werd – got Super Mario Odyssey and Arms for Christmas, absolutely superb games. Like the way with Odyssey you can happily play on your own or a passing child can join in and play as Cappy, Mario’s cap, to help out

    not-Greg – loving the footage above, not least the camera angle. Agree with the general acclaim for ‘PES7’ on here, not sure why I didn’t play more at the time. I guess the PS2 had been replaced under the TV by the PS3 and associated delights of the first Uncharted. Although I did play the PSP version for many seasons. Don’t know much about this PCSX2 emulator, could it be the key for unlocking the ‘lost’ PS2 PESs 2009-2014?

  46. JS Hutt – you should be able to run the emulator on any PC hardware with good results. The further we advance in time, the more straightforward it gets to emulate past generations of tech.

    Cook – don’t neglect the Save State/Load State options in-game too. E.g. instead of having to start over each time, at any point with the game running, go to Save State and then the next time you boot up the ISO, choose Load State and you’re instantly back where you left off.

    abbeyhill – ah, those truly lost PESes… all up for grabs now. At least a few of us played PES7 at the time, but I don’t recall anyone even mentioning the PESes that came after that, here or on any of the forums. (I’ve a vague memory that Paul has PES2010 for PS2?)

    I’m looking forward to sampling those 6(SIX) missing PES games in due course, particularly the final one, PES2014. Intrigued to see if any of the PS3/360 changed vision thing made it to the PS2 version.

  47. Been playing PES 2015 over the last few days. Still regard it as one of my favourite PES games. As soon as I put it on it felt a huge improvement on 2018 as the games feel more balanced and not end to end.

  48. quick update on the PC patch testing front. The “InMortal” patch did nothing either, modified .exe and all. It’s all fairy dust really and the exact same situation as last year. Unless a Jenkey PES2013-style patch comes along nothing will change. And it just so happens that I find vanilla PES2018 to get repetitive very quickly. EVERY single team plays exactly the same and it’s just a blur of samey, drone-like matches. NOT for me. So unless things improve on the patch side of things, either from Konami or community-made, this is it for PES2018 and me for now.

    Maybe some FIFA17 or 18 is next. Perhaps an older PES from the silver era fully patched on PC. or no footy gaming this year at all, which is getting more and more likely as time passes.

  49. Darryl – I’ve consistently said PES2015 is the best of the ‘nuPES 4’. I think that was still when they hadn’t fully decided which way to jump, so PES2015 had all the shiteClub shite baked into it, but they had yet to do all the ‘streamlining’ of stats and skills that pretty much wrecked all the old-school PES DNA. In PES2015 I still had a good sense of the players as individuals.

    #1 – the giveaway word for me is ‘free’, in relation to the ball and how it feels. If one of the principal things they say about a patch is that the ball feels more ‘free’, there is no patch. I see that word on the forums after a Konami DLC phantom patch that of course does nothing, and I see it all the time in the discussions of these PC patches. The talk is always of the ball feeling more ‘free’. It’s not the kind of value that can be objectively verified, and even if it was true… is that all there is? Is that all there is to a PC gameplay patch, a vague feeling that the ball is running a bit more ‘free’? Is that all there is…

    I’ve gone cold on PES2018 PC after discovering that I can basically just load up the PC with all the old games and just play them for the rest of my life. Unless it’s definitely confirmed (as in, with screenshots of stats) that’s there’s a proper fan patch out for the PC version, PES2018 on PS4 will be my last current-year PES.

  50. NG – sounds like a plan and one that I’m contemplating as well. Pes 2013 with the Jenkey patch sounds particularly interesting.

    Re. The patches and forum talk – baffling is what it is. Literally nothing changes from the various patches and the forum goers are convinced that the game is more “free” and “heavy” as you say. Meanwhile post – match stats are identical to vanilla PES. Insanity.

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