I Kane think of a title for this one

The impending end of PES2018 threatens to colour everything I do on it. In a good way. Knowing that it’s my last season on this PES game and all nuPES games, forever, makes PES2018 seem more like what it is: just a good football game.

For all the moaning about PES2018, here and across the wider fandom, it should be borne in mind that it gets criticised for being a poor shadow of historical PES. But it achieves exactly what it sets out to do in the here and now, which is to be a decent FIFA-style football game (with PES flavouring) of the second decade of the 21st century.

There’s just enough of that PES nougaty goodness for me to kid myself that it’s still PES. Having the name ‘PES’ on the box got me through 8 full seasons, and a similar amount last year and the year before, which is a pretty remarkable feat of habit and self-hypnosis.

So PES2018 is ticking through its last matches in good form. My sampler of PES2011 last weekend was a substantial shock to the system. PES2011’s slow player turns, coupled with the immediately apparent sense of player individuality… no way are any kids playing anything like PES2011 online nowadays. It was like grappling with War and Peace in the era of Buzzfeed and ten-second attention spans. No wonder Konami changed everything.

Back to Season 8. I have passed through the mid-season transfer window and picked up 3 new players. AMBROSINI up front. BERGE at DMF. And JAGIELKA at the back

Ambrosini feels exactly like nearly every other striker I’ve had in the game. Lacazette, Stepinski, Raya, Boia, and many more – they’ve all been basically identical to one another. Only Veldwijk stood out in those early seasons, and Harry Kane too for a brief couple of sessions (not seasons, sessions).

Berge and Jagielka are both a bit more interesting, being involved more in build-up play. The way Konami have streamlined the game to shorten the travelling time from goalmouth-to-goalmouth has perhaps accounted for a good chunk of the reduction in PES individuality.

The table isn’t what I wanted it to be at this stage. A few ruinous draws have now made it very unlikely I’ll overhaul the leaders.

I’ll do very, very well to get anywhere near the title from here. I think I’d have to literally win every match between now and the end of the season, and as we all know, that just isn’t allowed.

Still, I will give it a good go.

I’ve had a couple of matches versus Stoke and Everton that felt authentically stodgy and unpleasant.

At this stage of PES history, when I am about to hop into my time machine and never come back (pending a drastic change of philosophy on Konami’s side that simply won’t happen), it’s a moot point for me to be looking for the positives and chewing over, for the umpteenth time, the negatives.

There’s just over a third of the season left – all the league matches, and I’m still in both Cups, domestic and European – so I’m going to be playing PES2018 for a while yet. I think my prediction of March for PES2011 will come true.

And that will bring to an end an unbroken annual PES tradition that stretches back 17 years to PES2. There are football gamers aged 17 who have never heard of PES, unless someone like me tells them about it. ‘There used to be a game that was so unlike FIFA, you wouldn’t believe…’

Updated: 23rd February 2018 — 10:35


  1. My Cardiff career on FIFA has made it past the January transfer window, but not without a few issues. I bolstered my squad before the season began, and had a small amount in the bank to be getting on with. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised the number of players who were in the last year of the contract, so I had to sell a couple of squad players and then accept a pre-contract offer for one of them, Aaron Gunnarsson. All the players I want to keep have now accepted new contracts, but it pains me to have to give them a new signing on bonus; mercenaries. Hopefully I can get a few players in on pre-contracts to bolster my team. Fourth in the league, so I’m currently looking at a play off place.

  2. No matter what happens in the future between you and PES, I’m sure of one thing; I will continue to read the blog regardless of what edition you write about. Your entries are always worth a read!

    You might have mentioned it earlier, but I don’t remember you stating what Option File you use for PES2011 (if any)? I’d be interesting to hear that!

  3. That picture of jagielka – yikes – and Adam goes on about how much effort they put into faces….

  4. Chris99 – there’s also a substantial tilt at FIFA in my looming post-nuPES future. I’ve spent the past 3-4 years playing Konami’s knockoff version with much enjoyment, so I might as well sample the real thing at some point in the next few years.

    Phoenix – thank you, and I think the blog at least will be all the better for shaking off the tyranny of habit and setting off in search of the Lost Fountain of PES.

    I can’t remember where I got my PES2011 OF now after all these years. Whatever it is, it’s just names and kits and divisions.

  5. Snuck in another couple of games this morning. Beat a poor Bristol but lost away to promotion contenders Ipswich.

  6. Ugh, I find top player playing a really unbalanced game. The cheating by the cpu and nerfing of the players abilities are something unlike I’ve ever seen in any pes. The gulf between professional (way too easy after one season already) and top player is quite extraordinary. I shudder to think what superstar is like, let alone legendary. And that keep ball routine when you go behind early… Ghastly. I’m hoping it’s still somewhat of a bedding in period but I don’t think I can stomach this for any extended period of time.. No going back to professional as I was winning games on auto pilot there. Still winning a good amount of games and I like that I find myself losing and drawing games again, it’s just that the way the game goes about it is just plain “wrong”. I know I’m late to the party and most of you have figured this out a long time ago but still… To experience it first-hand is another thing altogether.

    Had a good laugh with the commentary as a quick side note. The commentary team noted that Ajax hired me without having any previous experience at “this level”. (in other words the commentary line the game blurts out at the start of every ML campaign) The game completely ignored the fact that I won the championship with Liverpool and then took second place – by a single point mind you – in the premier league in the second season. No fucks are given whatsoever by Konami on any level when it comes to the single player game. None!

  7. Scratch “unbalanced” for “unreasonable”. Balancing as it is perceived in gaming nowadays can go and do one.

  8. #1 – just playing through my last few sessions of PES2018 – it’s Feb in the last season now, but I am in all Cups still, so maybe quite a few sessions left yet – and I’m firmly on Top Player and staying there. Once you’re used to it, it’s a very good level to play at, I find, neither too shitty on the ‘balancing’ front nor too easy. I just had a very satisfying 4-1 win against one of the top teams. When the game as a whole winds down I’ll leave it with some good memories, just as I did PES2017.

  9. So because of my classic option file project I have been forced to fire up every PES from 2 to 6 and some interesting things I found whilst revisiting not just each version’s database but the gameplay itself – after I finish a set of players from any version of the game, I play a friendly match just before moving on to the next version and return to my “recruitment” of players.

    Data-wise findings:
    – It has been really cool to see how PES mimicked the evolution of football itself throughout the years. In PES2 a Centre-Midfielder is an absolute rarity, you only find either DMFs, SMFs or OMF in the vast majority of teams. Makes sense, considering it was common in real-life to have two defensive midfielders protecting the defense and a classic nº10 dictating play. As I moved from PES2 to PES6 in my search for centre-midfielders, the number of them slowly increased until PES6, in which every team has many CMFs. Suddenly players like Xavi or Iniesta – less defensive-minded and physical – became the new-norm, as classic nº10 vanished. Again it makes sense because Iniesta or Xavi are fluid mixes of DMFs, CMFs, OMFs and even SMFs all built into one versatile player.

    – As I predicted, a whole lot of very good players were missing from the original classic option file I’m using. A few of them had a short-lived spike of quality production in their careers, whilst some where promising youngsters that never lived up to the expectations in the years that followed, or just very solid players that for some reason couldn’t ascend to legend status – often because the teams they played in were never that good.

    – PES2 and PES3 databases were miles behind PES4, 5 and 6 when it comes to player stats. The most famous footballers are well-represented, but anything else is just poorly made, which means if you’re keen on playing with more obscure teams you’ll get lots of unrealistic stats, at times even seemingly random. From PES4 on, the team Konami appointed to be in charge of the stats must’ve changed certainly, as the database evolved drastically. Because of this, I’m incluing few youngsters from the PES2/3 games as most of young players’ stats aren’t accurate.


    – Was a shocker to find how PES2, 3 and 4 are still able to provide an interesting, challenging and enjoyable simulation of football. We all get lost in PES5 and PES6 as golden-era football fixes for those who find nuPES tasteless, so I was very much impressed whilst revisiting these games.

    – PES2 deserves more play time. Unlike 3, 4, 5 and 6 which I sometimes fire up and play a session or two, I played like 2 matches on PES2 over the last 10 years and as I was playing it now I couldn’t help thinking how dumb I was to have this gem gathering dust, unused. Solid simulation indeed, will certainly be back for some sessions.
    – PES3 is hard to beat. If you do something stupid while you’re building up play, the game punishes you mercilessly. Talk about pavlov-conditioning, as by the second-half I was taking my time building up at the back, getting everyone involved in the play, and most of all running less with the ball and pass more, unlike my first-half shitshow of loss possessions.
    – PES4 sure plays fast when compared to PES5, but surprsingly it doesn’t make the game exploitable. Dribbling with Cristiano Ronaldo had a certain “oompf” that PES2, 3, and 5 don’t – though in the end all of that dribbling was useless since Sol Campbell outsmarted me every single time and got the ball.
    In another Man. Utd vs. Arsenal battle, PES4 delivered one of the most realistic end-of-match team stats you’ll ever get in a football game, considering total shots/shots on goal + fouls + corners.
    – I fired up FIFA 2003 and 07 a few months back and having now played all these PES again, I can surely say PES was in another dimension comparing it to FIFA. It’s not even a contest, light-years away. Considering FIFA was pretty decent as a football game, it shows how ahead of its time PES was.

    Had another idea for the classic option file: creating a team comprised of the all-time-worst players to feature PS2 PES games. How cool would it be to take that team in a Master League and face Cruyff’s Ajax, Guardiola’s Barcelona, Beckenbauer’s Bayern, Ferguson’s Manchester United? That would be the ultimate ML challenge. Had this idea while recruiting in Udinese’s PES5 team, which has one of the greatest “easter eggs” ever to be featured on PES: the son of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gheddafi, one of the worst players I’ve ever seen in PES. I’m definitely recruiting him.

  10. orlando.jabulani: I really like your option file idea for friendlies, cups, and leagues. But I see a major flaw for master league. All the players in that game will be good players, so no matter who you sign, you will have a good team.

    NG: I am eager to see where you move after PES2018. I haven’t fired up any PES/FIFA in the last couple weeks, kind of tired of them. Hopefully reading your new adventures I will play them again.

  11. orlando.jabulani — very interesting analysis there, and your feelings about the gameplay of the classic PS2 PESes chimes with my own. At some point over the past several years I’ve touched base with all of them, and it’s certainly the case that PES increasingly fails to penalise sprint-abuse (and sprint-pressure-tackle-slide abuse) as it did in years gone by, to the point of absurdity where we’re at now. One of the reasons I’m shutting shop on nuPES and heading into the DeLorean is that I don’t ever want the currently prevailing sprint-’em-up vision of PES, however decent it might be, to become the norm for me. I don’t ever want to forget just what PES represented at its very best. That period was a surprisingly long one, and isn’t just limited to the PS2 era, so there is a whole lifetime of PES gaming remaining yet. From PES2 to PES2014 (arguably PES2015 too) there was only one real turkey of a PES game IMO — PES2008(PS3) — and even that is more of a classic PES game than PES2016, say, ever could be.

    I really think we’ve now had the pseudo-FIFA PES gameplay, aka nuPES, for so many fun-packed editions that ‘the community’ has forgotten how things used to be, and just how much these coin-op-oriented current games of 2016-18 are a substantial degradation of the PES ideal. Ich bin ein PES fundamentalist!

  12. JS Hutt — it seems that PES2011 will claim me first of all — a lot of unfinished business there, and it does have a foot in both camps. I.e. enough of classic PES feel and enough modern-day amenities on the PS3 to make the transition from PS4 less jarring.

    At some point in the future I would like to give my copy of FIFA17 a proper outing too.

  13. NG – finding some more joy on top player after a number of awfully scripted games. One I replayed by accident and had the cpu score a goal in the exact same minute as in the original game. *puke* anyway things are looking better now especially after switching to 433. Works better for me as the nerfing and more cramped spacing compared to professional was rendering my previous 442 ineffective. I was continously (only just) getting barged off the ball, just a touch too slow in passing and shooting.
    That, and I must be getting used to it as you say. Games do feel much more rewarding on top player, but will be steering well clear of superstar and legendary.

  14. JS Hutt – I understand your opinion but look at it from a different perspective:
    1 – unlike a traditional OF, you’ll face no weak teams and the level of your opponents is always waay higher. Increased competitiveness.

    2 – Because there are lots of highly-rated players, particular elements in player stats gain an importance it wouldn’t have because in a traditional OF highly-rated players are scarce. For example, imagine you’re comparing two legendary wingers with lots of 90+ stats, seemingly similar in potential. You notice Winger A has a 3 out of 8 condition level, whilst the other is a 7/8. Moreover, the Winger A has a lower mentality rating. You’ll get the Winger B for your team because he’ll be more match ready and consistent than Winger A. Tiny details make a huge difference here, unlike in a traditional OF where you might get Winger A anyways because the rest of his statsheet is world-class level, so his poor condition/mentality is less important.

    3 – Longevity-wise, a classic option file is the ideal experience for PES. Regens have been an issue in PES as unlike FM the simulation can’t reinvent itself over the years through actual newgens, so it’s always the same players respawning. In a classic option file it’s actually a good thing: I’m much more interested in following the career of a 17-year old respawned Zidane or Beckenbauer or Cruyff than – insert any Leganés/Chievo/Paderborn/SPAL player here. Multiply that occurrence for thousands of players and you have the recipe for a much more immersive experience.

    There is a problem regarding edited player’s stats, at least on the PSP, as the initial market value of the player doesn’t vary according to the changes one does to the OF. You might be able to get really good players for cheaper than they’d realistically be, but when you’re watching a 70s Ajax side winning a match against 90s Barcelona (Cruyff would be simultaneously playing for Ajax and coaching for Barcelona!) unrealistic transfers is not a big issue because the experience itself is purposely unrealistic.

    Not-Greg: “Sprint-’em-up” sums it up perfectly! The thing is nuPES doesn’t “force” you to play realistic football, it encourages otherwise. That’s one of the bigger issues for me: I know I could emulate real-life football in PES2018 if I decided to – well-thought-out buildup, few runs with the ball, etc. – but there’s no incentive for that.

    One thing I don’t understand about the current trend of making football games more “fun” is that anyone can fire up a PS1 game and have “fun” with it. I don’t know about you guys but I forget my whole physical existence after half an hour of a Pong session. The point of having better, improved hardware to work with is for producers to create better simulations, right?
    Common-sense thrown away because the easy myClub money is so much better.

  15. NG – With your new found knowledge of why pitches are no longer muddy perhaps you might want to throw your hat into the ring…?


    (salary is way under what should be expected for that role)

  16. Uncle Turf – wow, there is no incentive at all there for me to deal with the headache of a pitch used for rugby and football and summertime ‘music’ concerts. I’d have guessed a head groundsman would be on £30k at least, probably more. What’s the Real Madrid guy on? Six figures at least I would think.

  17. NG – that’s likely Coventry’s woeful backstory for you. That salary is more in line with an average for a deputy, probably a bit low even for that. Barnet are currently recruiting and they are offering up to 35. There are industry recommendations as it is one of those low paid, potentially exploited (with long hours, young entrants, etc) careers. 22-29 for a skilled groundsperson, 24-31 for deputy, head up to about 40 and grounds manager (which is training pitches as well) could be up to 50ish. Someone like Paul Burgess is in a different league – they headhunted him. I used to recommend my students didn’t look at careers in pro sport, where the hours are long and the abuse regular – a nice public school position would be my angle – cricket loving bursar, rugby enthusiast headmaster, manicured lawns, loads of holidays, like Brideshead Revisited on lawnmowers.

  18. I’m done with PES 18.
    Before the weekend I was in with a shout on 5 trophy fronts, now I’m out of the FA Cup, Out of the Champions League and 6 points behind City in second with 6 games to play.
    All down to one thing …..

    I don’t care if this sounds like a sore loser post, It’s not, its an absolute disgrace and shambles the kind of nonsense this game pulls off to ensure you don’t get a result, it’s there, its palpable, you can tell as soon as you start a match if its going to a scripted cheating match or not, its a real thing.

    The level of ‘I’m going to f*ck you over-ness’ this game employs when you get to the latter stages of a trophy is disgusting.
    I lost 2-0 away from home in the first leg of the champions league last 16 to Villareal, where I absolutely dominated play, peppered their goal, and had their keeper constantly pull off miracle save after miracle save.
    Every single deflection, bobble, melleé fell directly to a COM player, they were all able to outpace, and out power me, and scored with their only 2 attempts on goal, I finished with 19 attempts, 13 on target, and wasn’t allowed to score.
    Rinse and repeat in the second leg.

    FA Cup semi final vs Man utd: Have beat them twice in the league already and the community shield, scoring over 10 goals, yet the semi final…. see above, a completely unrealistic, scripted, cheating match where They had 1 shot on target all game, a 30 yard netbuster, yet my 11 on target attempts were not allowed to go in, including a goal line scramble, 3 point blank headers from 6 yards out that no keeper would ever save, several posts hit …. Fouls and penalties that were so blatant it was unreal but not a single one given…

    And to top it all off, Man City were 2pts behind me in the league, I won, they drew, the gap should have now been 4pts, but No!! all of a sudden, they are 2pts ahead of me!?!? WTF!?!!?
    How can that even happen??? The game has cheated the league table to put them ahead of me, and now they haven’t lost in 14 matches.

    Its quite a ridiculous statement I know, but very true, the game ‘gave’ man city points, to make them leapfrog me into first place and no matter how many games I win, City never lose.

    Fed up of being played by this game instead of me playing it, all that hard work, commitment, and hours and hours put into the game to get to the later stages of trophies just to be blatantly cheated out of any result.
    Piss Poor, and quite a disgrace.
    Such a shame too as I had thoroughly enjoyed the last 2 seasons on PES 18, but will now finish it with a dirty horrible taste in my mouth.

    Not even going to finish the last 6 games, will sim to the end of the season and get that disc out of the PS4 ASAP.

  19. Paul – that’s quite the ordeal. I’ve seen signs of the same in my own current final season, but not to that extent. What’s next for you now?

  20. I am going to have a few non-gaming days NG, let the dust settle, and then shall start a FIFA 18 career, won’t have time to take a lower league team through the ranks, but would also like the challenge of taking a weaker team to glory, so am going to take over a Premier League team, one of the weaker ones, maybe Brighton? Bournemouth, and go from there.

  21. Well I think I’m ready to return to West Brom. Been nearly a fortnight I’ve been away and I’m now curious how many trophies have been won? Lloyd used to chip in with half a dozen titles and European cups but aside from your own missing pot NG I’m not sure if much of anything has been put in the cabinet. It would be a huge incentive for me to carry on.

  22. I can add A premier league trophy and community shield to the cabinet Turf

  23. Paul – that sounds infuriating and no allowances should be made for it. a good time to walk away from PES 2018 as any. Curious as to how you will fare with FIFA. I think I won’t be too far behind you as far as switching goes. I’ve had a rough time getting into it with PES this year and perhaps an even rougher time with it holding my interest for very long. Then again the last time any PES was able to do that before PES 17 was PES 13 so…guess I never got on with nuPES to begin with.

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