Happy New Year’s Pro Resolution FIFA Soccer Sensible Eleven!

Just over a week ago, in the midst of one of my frequent bouts of loathing for the latest FIFA imitator to bear the name of PES, I picked up a second-hand copy of FIFA17.

PES2018 has increasingly come to seem like nothing more/less than a PES-flavoured version of FIFA. My thinking was: well, if I have to play a version of FIFA, why not just play FIFA?

I have since played FIFA17, off and on, over the past week or so. I’m about a quarter of the way through a season in Career Mode.

Much of my reaction to the game has been documented in my comments on the previous post, but here are the highlights – in list form, in keeping with this time of year:

  1. FIFA17 is a professionally-produced package that meets my expectations for the content of a football game in 2017.
  2. Career Mode has many surprising and welcome customisation options. I was able to move Coventry City into the Championship, and play with them from there. What a fillip this was! I knew I wanted to start in the Championship, but wasn’t relishing starting with ‘Birmingham City’ or whatever they’re supposed to be called.
  3. I was profoundly shaken by the gameplay. Not because it’s bad. It’s not – it’s very good. FIFA gameplay has been consistently playable and interesting on various levels ever since FIFA08 on the PS3, which I strongly championed at the time, all those years ago. What shook me was just how similar FIFA17 feels to the current family of PES games. The same lighter-than-air feeling. The same urgent, insistent, back-and-forth rhythms. The same feeling that almost any player on the pitch could be on the ball and it’d make no real difference. This is the major eye-opener for me of the FIFA17 experiment. PES has moved more towards FIFA than FIFA ever moved towards PES. I suppose when you set out to make a football game for online multiplayer, something like FIFA/PES as they both are today is just where everything has to end up.
  4. Career Mode deserves an accolade all on its own. Hell, it deserves a game all of its own. It is exactly what Master League should have evolved into from PES2010-PES2011 onward. Those two PES games contained the seed for what Master League should have become. Why was this seed plucked from the ground and tossed away? You tell me. I couldn’t possibly even hazard a guess… (Imagine here one of those cough-cough aside things, and ONLINE MULTIPLAYER writ large.)
  5. FIFA17 is not a better game on the pitch than PES2018. There. I have said it. PES2018 is better than FIFA17. PES is still better than FIFA to play, for me anyway. The pitch really is PES’s. Still. Even now. But not by much.
  6. Critics of this judgement might point to lots of refinements in FIFA17’s gameplay engine that are roughshod or missing in PES2018. Shooting, for one. And admittedly, the shooting variety is wonderful in FIFA17. The goal replay at the end of this list satisfied me no end.
  7. Football games are more than just the sum of their parts. PES2018 is better than FIFA17 in my judgement – but they are so similar that the gap is not much at all, and that is the most shocking thing. PES2018 is only marginally the better of two almost equally good games.
  8. Neither game is anything special. In the year 2025, if man is still alive, nobody will be getting misty-eyed about either PES2018 or FIFA17 (or any other football game since 2014-ish). The experience just isn’t the same anymore. What am I saying? Am I saying that PES was better in the old days? Yes, I am saying that, because it objectively was so.
  9. I’m not sure how much longer my FIFA17 spell will continue. Traditionally I run back shrieking to PES after a week, and it’s been a week. I think I’ll give it a bit longer yet. I have had the distraction of Christmas, and continuing to play with the new PC I got a few weeks ago. One of my projects is installing all the old PES games onto it – and I mean all of them. This week I started on the PS2 versions, via emulator. The PS2 era of PES games were the best that PES ever was, and the best that PES likely ever will be.
  10. Can I award rough review-style scores for FIFA17 after one week? Not really, but I will anyway – I’ve still played it more than any reviewer probably ever did. Off the pitch: 9/10. On the pitch: 6/10. No, the fast-flowing-fun style of football gaming really isn’t to my taste. I can see good in it, but I am congenitally incapable of appreciating it for long. It will always be a lesser product to me. Always.
  11. For comparison, how about a review-style score for PES2018? This will anticipate my End of Year Review somewhat, but what the hell. It’s Christmas. Off the pitch, PES2018 gets: 1/10. On the pitch: 6.5/10. Master League is an abomination that’s running entirely on fumes and nostalgia. There are about a million AMF/SS/CF hybrid players in PES2018. They are all exactly the same as each other.
  12. The above scores, playful or not, indicate the lie of the land. FIFA17’s Career Mode is worth persevering with for at least half a full CM season, to see if the game overall ‘takes’.
  13. I’ve been installing all the PS2 PES games on a PC, and playing them upscaled to quasi-HD graphics, and the experience is just incredible. Off-the-scale excellence. Unbelievably high quality, proper footballing PES values. And yes, their Master Leagues were something of a cartoony joke, but look at the rock-solid 10/10 environment they existed around, and weep. Weep
  14. I have called nuPES (the current ‘family’ of PES games) a poor FIFA knock-off. Because that’s what it is.

Here’s a goal from FIFA17 that gave me pleasure:

So what’s the conclusion? Other than ‘the old days were great and everything now is rubbish’?

I will play on with FIFA17, but I will inevitably drift back to PES2018 sooner rather than later, I think, there to ‘complete’ my Master League.

Then I will count myself done with all modern football gaming.

I will dive without any apology whatsoever into the glorious past of Pro Evolution Soccer, where I will probably live for the rest of my natural life.

That whole dismal summertime preview/demo/release cycle can proceed without me. PES2019 can swivel. I’m not doing any of this shit again.

Updated: 28th December 2017 — 23:28


  1. Yes, but only got a few seasons of career mode in. It didn’t strike me as a standout year, so I’m hoping for a bit better from 18.

  2. Blimey, I’ve not even started yet and I’m feeling depressed at the game. I really don’t know that I’m going to get over the ‘player removed’ mention. It smacks of disinterest, incompetence and a descent into tragedy.

    Still on the up side we caught enough Santa hat pikachus to evolve a Santa hat raichu!

  3. Hi all watching on the nuPES debate and here to share my own wretched experience the last time I post my comments on the AI were met with disbelieve from some I would call the AI broken and maybe that is not the correct phrase I dont know (or really care) but as a simulation of football this is not a game I can cope with much more! I am now in season 8 have won the Europa League and the super cup/charity shield 2 seasons ago have not won the league but finished a distant second then a fourth which resulted in another Europa League through other results. The game lost any reason for me after this Europa campaign to sum up 1 win in the 6 games with back to back 3-0 defeats to a team with its highest rated player a 68, I tore them to threads but no goals they had 3 shots on target and 3 goals all laser guided all disgusting! To me Paul you have previously and currently summed up best my feeling toward the game I thanks you sir for that your frustration has given me hope!
    NG I love your moves through the Pes era’s however for me not something I can do I have never moved backward I started at the beginning of PES and never sullied the memory of a game I classed as “complete”. I feel to my own determent I cannot change this as my memories of 20 season pes 5 are golden now and over.
    So in conclusion can anyone recommend FIFA 18 enough over 17 to justify the price my last FIFA was 14 I believe. I need a footy game in my life and this one feels more and more like a chore everyday.

  4. With all that being said Gary, PES 18 has given me a few really good sessions lately, of course the lack of fouls is still apparent, and pretty much every team feels the same when playing against them, just a different kit, but in general terms the game has relatively ‘behaved’ and I’ve enjoyed each match.

    in 6th place, 4 games to play, guaranteed a Europa League spot, and a slim outside chance of sneaking 4th, but would require 4 wins from 4 and other results to go my way.
    PES 18 has sneaked itself at lest another season as I want to sample the european football side of the game.

  5. Gary — I can’t understand not ever wanting to play an older PES game — surely a great football game is a great football game forever, or at least until the underlying tech is superseded? I.e., I’d agree that the PS1 ISS/PES games are now past being playable, but most of the PS2, nearly all the PS3, and at least one of the current generation games (PES2015) remain completely playable IMO.

    I agree with Paul that PES2018 is decent despite the problems. Whenever my business is done with it, I won’t regard either the money or the time I spent on PES2018 as wasted. It’s not shit. As we all know though, PES should be so, so much more than just ‘it’s not shit’. The fact that we’ve come to ‘it’s not shit’ is nuPES’s most damning indictment. PES should be an almost transcendent good. That feeling is still available in bucketloads from the old games!

    If you’re determined to try the other side — and why not, they’re so close in temperament these days — FIFA17 for £4-ish Preowned at your local game store is a no-brainer. A solid game, lightweight in my judgement (the cardinal sin of nuPES, poor individuality, is copied wholesale from nuFIFA), but solid off the pitch in a way that PES hasn’t been for 7+ years. Career Mode will make you sob for Master League (in the sobbing-at sense, not sobbing-for).

    Uncle Turf — it’s not shit. It’s not the PES we knew. I’ve given up expecting any nuPES game to be PES. Online gaming has poisoned the well. It’s a modern FIFA-like football game with strands of the PES DNA on show just enough to keep things ticking over.

  6. Paul’s mention of the PS4’s remote play function had me tinkering last night. I few minutes later I was having a little PES session via my MacBook. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to set this up because I knew it was a thing. What a great feature.

    I’ll be interested to see if n-G has ticked off that usual FIFA-back-to-PES list he posted up a while back. I know I have and am back enjoying PES 2018. My first game back saw me scoring the kind of satisfying goalI never could in FIFA 17. I’ll post it up later – via remote play probably.

    Paul – Are you still playing PES 2018 because you feel the need to “finish” it or because, despite your obvious issues with the game, it still provides a better overall footy gaming experience than FIFA? I keep expecting you to have binned PES 2018 for a FIFA or an old PES but here you are still playing on.

    Also is anyone playing ML on Superstar or has that level been ruled unplayable in the long term?

  7. Shed – I’d love to be able to stream in the opposite direction, i.e. from PC to PS4.

    I’m almost completely back on PES2018. So much so that the remnant of FIFA is pretty much just me exploring CM to see everything it has to offer and why Konami are massively failing us on PES.

    PES2018 gives me so much more than it really should. There is still just enough PES flavouring in the increasingly thin soup to satisfy my hunger. Last night I scored a goal that was like Gary Lineker’s second against Poland at the 1986 World Cup. There’ll still be no PES2019 in my life later this year (time just flies eh). When PES2018 is done I’ll be putting soup away for good and moving back onto the main courses of previous PES games.

    I don’t play on Superstar, finding the level just bewilderingly hard at the moment. Maybe when my team improves.

    On a PC-related note, what a stroke of luck to have bought an AMD-powered PC at this time! (For those out of the loop, there’s a kernel problem with Intel chips that may or may not slow them down. This could be huge, or it could be minor, depending where you hear it. Mainstream media seem to be playing it down, with their usual amused smirk at what the geeks are chattering about now, while the tech websites are bordering on frantic over it.)

  8. I’ll state on record that I think PES 18 is a very good game, but with caveats that it’s not the traditional type of PES game we know and love, as NG said, its a ‘Nu-PES’ offering, and in that respect, can play a very very good game, if that’s your bag.
    The ‘utter shite’ parts of it that often rear their heads is what lets it down, including a very hollow, shallow and stale ML mode.

    Shed – I’m still playing because currently I enjoy it, and want to some sort of conclusion with the game before moving on, the way things are going that will be with one more season in an attempt to win the league and/or Europa League.
    Then I shall move on and play FIFA 18’s Career Mode.

    I played a few games of PES18 the other night whilst sat in bed, the missus was reading her book and I had a few games on the PS Vita via Remote play, it works very well, I also setup remote play on the mac last night which is great, and good that its a native app and doesn’t require any Pseudo-Mac-to-PC fiddling to work.
    You can actually remote play from PS4 to Macbook, then airplay/screen share from macbook to Apple tv, so in essence, play PS4 on any other TV in the house via remote play. Useful.

    Been reading about the processor worries, apparently the issue makes the actual chips hackable and could give hackers access to your data, but no exploits have been identified so far.

  9. Paul – your enjoyment of PES2018 seems to correlate very closely with whether you’re winning games or not, is that a fair summary?

    Issue with these Intel chips (including mine!) seems to be that even if there aren’t any exploits at present the operating system kernel-level bypass required to fix the flaw will slow them right down. Hopefully Turf can provide more details

    Actually I understand where Gary is coming from re old PESs. If you played the classic games to death when they came out then going back will give you a slightly less good version of gaming you have already experienced, at best. It is the ‘undiscovered’ PS2 games that really excite me

  10. Not at all Abbeyhill, some of the best games I’ve had on any football game have been defeats.
    My enjoyment of the game directly correlates to how much ‘fuckery’ is forced upon me at the time.

    Same really, going back and playing an old PES game is never the same, we become accustomed to more freedom in control and better technology, revisiting those old games is a lesser experience, but still can be very enjoyable.

  11. Yes indeed, it is a kernel bypass that’s potentially the issue, a major flaw, affecting mainly private users, who are seeing their general memory capped (in)….

    Well it was either that or nut puns.

    I won’t be getting rid of 2018 owing to it being gifted so I’ve simply to decide which to start – FIFA 17 or pes. Hopefully this coming year is going to give me a bit more time to play as I’m at least finished the first draft of my magnificent octopus.

  12. The issue, named Meltdown, is a problem with shared kernel memory which is used for things such as writing to disk. For speed this memory remains but is kept invisible to individual processes, rather than being dumped and reloaded when required. The issue is with the software used to hide the kernel memory.

    In other exciting news there is a second issue, called Spectre, relating to speculative execution of likely instructions which affects all chip manufacturers.

    Now where did I put that anorak?

  13. quick update on the modding front – I’ve finally found a patch that does a number of observable, actual things. It’s a modification of the previously mentioned Parham patch by forum user Incas. After some testing, here’s what it does:

    – slows the game down, limits responsiveness so not every player can turn on a dime
    – players do feel a bit more stiff due to this (Keep in mind i’m playing with an all-default squad)
    – not every CPU shot is a goal , CPU goes for more variety and tries from range far more often, evidenced by 4 shots on goal conceded by me to Cardiff, zero goals.
    – ball bounces around more, no more 100% perfect first touch
    – more stray passes from both CPU as well as you, the user
    – less fuckery / scripting > on Professional at least

    It plays a different and better game for it. Like I said the first patch I’ve found accross PES 17 and 18 that actually does something tangible. if anyone fancies a go I’ll share the link.

  14. And so it begins…some modest editing (so I’m on pes then) and start of an ml in the bastardised 14 team Scottish premier league, just to get a quick season one done. The mighty st Johnstone will fight bravely on superstar. Early observations are pretty much same old stuff, different orientation – I’ve had to release rather than sell as the defaults are nigh on dross apart from the usual suspects. Some odd free agents knocking about, i havent installed any option files but if I had the budget I could have assembled a decent side from the list. As it is I took a chance, cmf and left back – yes, indeed I’m playing a four.

    The most irritating thing is the ambient hum from the interface, as if your office adjoins a motorway flyover.

  15. #1 — I’m going to remain sceptical until you’ve got many more sessions under your belt. Those findings sound very ‘subject-to-variance’ to me.

    Uncle Turf — the old ‘grab a Youth and sell him for £5m’ routine will work, but won’t get you as far, given the wonky finances in ML (huge budget/wage disparity). Superstar or Legend?

    Chris99 — my AMD smugness lasted about 12 hours.

  16. Superstar. And classic mode. It might be purity-lite but it sounds as if legend is pointless and challenge is broken. I just wan to get some sort of experience out of it before the inevitable.

  17. NG – rightfully so. I will report back accross two saves on the regular. glimmer of hope for me: stats screens posted over on evoweb support my initial observations and the difference in gameplay was instantly noticeable. keep in mind i’ve tried dozens of patches spread out over PES 17 and PES 18…so this is at least warrants continued play for me.

  18. Finished season 7 last night, in 5th place, qualified for next seasons Europa League, was given a heft transfer and wage budget increase, so going into season 8’s pre-season transfer window I will have £240 million to spend and £42 million wage budget.
    ‘Elite’ players such as your Messi’s, Ronaldo’s, Aubameyang’s, Salah’s, etc are all in their 30’s now or wont sign for me, so my huge budget can either be spent on bit part players at 20-40 mil a pop, who aren’t any better than what I’ve currently got, or just saved, and keep on amassing, season to season,such is the unbalanced environment of transfers in PES 18.

    Will play next season, keen to experience European football and teams outside of the English leagues.

    That PC Patch sounds promising #1 – shame I wont get to experience it.
    Have my PSP memory car though and a link to download a patch for kits and stuff, so plan to get a classic PES 12 PSP ML underway at lunchtime.

  19. Paul — your salary budget situation is a bit better than mine. I’ve got £152m to spend and £4m wages. Even so, the big hitters in my ML world, Messi et al, are not worth pursuing in nuPES with the ‘balancing’ having pretty much ensured there’s too little difference between a generic AMF/SS type and the big names. There’s arguably some difference, but so marginal that it’s not enough to make them worthwhile IMO.

  20. NG – It’s almost at PES 13 levels where its pointless signing anyone for xx millions because your current players are just as capable.

    Whilst a lot of players do feel very samey, and not individual enough, there is a level of difference between better players in specific situations, such as dribbling, using the LS to jink and weave, the better rated players with take more smaller touches on the ball to maintain close control of it, or when dribbling at speed, holding sprint, they keep the ball closer and are able to evade tackles better, I don’t see as much of a stats difference in other areas such as passing, or positioning or anything like that though.

    If you don’t dribble much then you probably haven’t noticed it as much.

  21. Paul – I do dribble more in PES2018 than probably any other. The last-second jink to evade a defender that creates a bit of space around the box is necessary in this game more than any other. I’m rarely one for slaloming between players though. I think the differences between players in both footy games is marginal at best. It’s a trait that is certainly the side-effect of PES and FIFA both being set up to meet online players’ expectations. I also believe that the way you can get a new player in PES and have him perform out of his skin on his debut, then essentially disappear for several games after, is also a deliberately programmed-in balancing tool with online in mind. There is very little that we find wrong with football games nowadays that isn’t ultimately traceable to the makers making the games palatable for multiplayer first.

  22. Agree that the difference between players is now minimal, wasn’t suggesting otherwise, just also adding that at a very granular level, you can also notice some subtle distinctions such as the improved close dribbling etc.

    I remember back to last year with FIFA 17, I signed Kasper Schmeichel for Liverpool, on his debut he had an absolute worldy, keeping everything out and literally making seemingly impossible saves from close range, then every other game after that, he was just another keeper, so that kind of balancing isn’t limited to just PES I don’t think.

  23. Where did you get that pes 2012 psp patch ? Can’t find any link working for it. Best psp pes imo.

  24. Well I’ve got PES2012 PSP on the Vita. I might have got the last ever download of it before it mysteriously vanished from the PS Store’s PSP-for-Vita section, many years ago now (think it was just after the Vita came out). It is certainly a rock-hard version of the game.

  25. well, either the patch I am now using is for real or the game is throwing me a bone accross multiple sessions suddenly.

    I’ve had more than two dozen chances where the CPU – or myself – would have scored a scripty bullshit goal without the patch and have now gone wide or more importantly, saved by the keeper. IF there is a goal the keeper gets a touch to it or some other “random” thing happens, there is far less the sense of “oh here we go, CPU has the ball, cue 16 barcelona-style passes with a finish in the top corner by 60-rated striker Tits McMuffin”. Insta-goals by CPU after I have scored have dminished greatly as well.

    it’s making a BIG difference in how I experience the game, the overall feeling is way more “fair” for lack of a better word. Also, more passes going astray is definitely a thing. With the exception of league leaders Hull, most teams now have a pass success % in the low eightes as opposed to 90-95% which seems to be the norm.

    As for CPU fouls, make of this what you will. the count in my last five ML games, using Liverpool in the CHampionship on Professional to be clear: 2-2-6-0-1. Average: 2.2 CPU fouls per game.

    I think what has happened is that a number of values regarding ball physics and shot succes% have been changed, and the CPU is aware of that. as a result games are more varied. mind you I know jack shit about game programming but this is what I’m experiencing, SO FAR. (big disclaimer here) At least it has me playing the game with enthusiasm. Playing five games in a row was unthinkable just a week ago.

    More to follow as I go along.

  26. #1 – keep the updates coming, very interesting developments. PES singleplayer’s only chance in the online era is if the fans DIY it so.

  27. Is the vita worth it? I always went the nintendo handheld route but now I have the snes and the little fella didn’t want his 3ds ive been wondering. It felt like it was out and disowned within a very short space of time. Not sure if I’d use it but nice to have the option.

  28. Uncle Turf – for you I don’t think it is worth it, no. For me I don’t regret getting it and I still have it, but it goes an average of 6 months between charges. It’s worth getting if you want a handheld PS3 (I have the Metal Gear HD collection on mine) that can also play selected PSP/PS1 games. I’ve just remembered I have Front Mission 3 on the Vita. The classic mech turn-based strategy. That’s the game I was playing on September 11th 2001.

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