The Sides of March

PES2011 on the PS3 in the year 2018 is not without its challenges, but it is a marvellous football game, which more than makes up for everything the game – and the platform – lacks.

And Master League, of course, was better in the old days.

Tootling around in the Master League menus, what do I find but the individual training menus, which I had almost completely forgotten existed.

This is where you allocate Focus Points on a per-player basis, and have the option of adding skills through skill cards. Similar to PES2018’s system, but better in all sorts of ways. First because there will be an undoubted effect upon the players that translates to on-pitch action. And second because of the sheer time it takes to complete the training, and the financial commitment required.

For example, here I am training up Schwarz in the Passing skill (I want him to be the complete player, moving forward).

PES2011’s menus’ trademark lighting effects spoil this screenshot, and most screenshots of the game, but it can’t be helped.

Note the length of time it will take: 72 weeks. SEVENTY-TWO WEEKS! Instant gratification, I don’t think so. Those 72 weeks would have been 144 weeks if I hadn’t allocated a precious Focus Point to the Skill Training. Decisions, decisions. After every week there’s an appreciable cost deducted form my budget for this training. Granted, I’ve got the cheaty Advanced Start, which means a bigger budget, which means this training isn’t squeezing my finances as much as it otherwise might.

This Training menu demonstrates just one aspect of many in which Master League has been dumbed down in more recent years.

PES2011 and its immediate predecessor were the best Master Leagues that the series has ever seen. Why they were dismantled in the way that they were is one of the great enduring mysteries of gaming, and of life itself. The obvious answer why is that Konami wished to facilitate online gaming, which entailed reducing the amount of time that users were spending in a non-profit mode. This seems to be the only rational answer, regrettably.

I’ve played 6 League matches and 1 in the FA Cup. I won the latter 2-1 with a stylish diving header at the end from El Moubarki, arriving late to a deep cross. I thought about getting the phone out to make a recording of the goal, but in truth, it wasn’t remarkable enough to make it worth the effort. Had that been a PS4 goal, you would be watching the replay even now. This is one of the factors about going back to the PS3. The threshold for what is and isn’t a recordable goal is raised by some margin.

The table – look at that lovely Bundesliga logo, and that lovely Division 2 name, and just look at the hodgepodge of teams and their lovely badges:

Now that’s a proper old-school Master League screenshot, right there.

So what’s the state of PES2011 after a week?

Well, my life right now is such that I get very little time to play, relatively speaking. I tend to play just two or three good sessions per week, rather than an almost-daily session as of old. I’ll be honest and confess that my thoughts have often turned back to the PS4, or even to the PC platform. I think often about the joys and conveniences of what I could find there. But the quality of PES2011 on the PS3 transcends every issue at the moment.

Updated: 23rd March 2018 — 10:36


  1. NG – eh? There’s 24 hours in the day, that’s how long it takes for us to complete one complete turn of the earth – this has come from nature so it’s a fact! Twice a year, the day just gone and another in October, the earth turns slightly faster (clock forward to catch up with where we should be) and slightly slower (clock back to keep the right time). If we didn’t do it over the course of many years we’d lose whole days. I have no idea what you and your flat earth society are on about.

    (i do love these biannual moments).

  2. Turf – Don’t forget that weird time in September 1752 when the earth briefly sped up and whizzed through 11 super quick rotations.

  3. I’m half way through season 3, top of League One and into the League Cup semi-final, I’m contemplating making it a little more difficult but I’m only just winning most games so not quite yet. I have a couple of lightning quick wingers and counter attack goals late in the game are a joy.

    4 academy players have been promoted to the first team, they’re all decent and on YTS wages so money isn’t a problem, I may even meet the financial objective this season. I have Brighton in the two legged semi-final in January, the first Premier League team in the cup run and looking forward to the test. I’ve even scored a few from corners, one of the youth team players has good set piece ability and it made a huge difference. If I get promoted this year I’ll go up to Legendary or change passing to semi-assisted.

  4. Sounds like you’re progressing well Cook, are you currently on World Class?
    a little more info on how you’re tracking against financial objectives would be welcome in FIFA.
    last season approaching the last few games, I was constantly informed that my main financial objective that season was to steer the club to an 88mil profit, having spent 40mil on transfers, I didn’t see how that was possible, but churning away in the background is calculations based on shirt sales, gate receipts and other factors, plus finishing 6th in the prem earnt me just under 100mil, so I ended up meeting the target, but didn’t know until the final day.

    I was only given £35mil of the 100 mil to spend on transfers too, when I abandoned my PES 18 ML after 10 seasons, I had just under 750 million in the transfer kitty.

  5. Yes I’m on World Class Paul. I agree about the financial objectives being a little cryptic but I’m trying to keep track on the transaction tab. I was fortunate at Swindon who had £4 million in the bank at the beginning in League Two so I had budget to spend on the Youth Academy which is paying dividends now. I also had 3 or 4 good young players to start with, Keshi Anderson in particular is brilliant. I’ve just played QPR at a wonderfully recreated Loftus Road, I won 3-2. After going 2-0 up early on I sat back and conceded two before scoring a winner on the break in the 87th minute, such a lovely experience at a proper stadium, highlight reel below.

  6. Cook – a wonderful variety of goals on show there, I have to say, the temptation just keeps coming. It’s a sign of the quality in PES2011 that I am yet resisting temptation.

    Uncle Turf/Chris99 – the origin of April Fools Day is disputed, but the most likely one IMO is when the calendar was changed by one of the Popes (not-Gregory?), leading to April Fools marking April 1st on the old, now wrong day, and believing that the authorities were trying to steal days of their lives. It’s easy to see how foolish they were, but oddly hard to see how foolish we are with the SAME folly re. Daylight Savings adjustments (I say we for politeness’ sake).

  7. Nice goals Cook, good to see you playing on broadcast cam 😉
    Are there any decent mods for FIFA on PC ?? as I see you are playing on PC rather than PS4.

  8. NG – The variety in FIFA is excellent although I haven’t been able to score a long ranger yet, I’ve been searching for a CM with long shot skills to make amends.

    Paul – I’ve not looked at mods yet, when I had a quick search a few weeks ago I found out that mods are broken each time EA patch the game which is fairly frequently. Once EA stop supporting the game then the modders really go to work, FIFA 16 is apparently rife with decent gameplay mods now.

  9. Cook – I’m saving up goal replys currently to make a new goal highlights vid, have a few nice goals of all varieties in there.

    Signed Ruben Loftus-Cheek from Chelsea, very impressive so far, several MOTM awards and pops up with great runs and has bagged 3 goals already this season.

  10. Cook – VERY nice lofted goal from the cpu there. When coming from pes those are genuinely surprising moments as you just don’t consider passages of play like that. Marvelous stuff.

    Paul – as for finances I’ve also finished season one on world class ultimately. Got… 140 million I think for fourth place. About 20 million of it was allocated to the transfer budget making it possible for me to bring in Havard Nordtveit. Had to sacrifice Angus Macdonald for him, the former started complaining after about 2 games on the bench. Great minor details like this bring the game to life.

    NG – keep resisting! It’s there for you to sample whenever you want. Pes2011 first or you’ll be flopping about as I myself have done..

  11. I think it’s widely acknowledged that the events of 1752 were man made to align calendars that had become out of sync to the actual (ie nature determined) time. I’m not sure if it was the problem of the earth slowing every four years to give us the leap year (why does it do this? I think it’s something to do with magnetic forces) but it made sense to catch up the days in one big go. Imagine the issues we’d have if we lost track of what time it actually was by not having our own clocks etc set to the same time as nature!

    NG baiting aside I do have an issue when I hear people (usually bbc four popular science programmes) talking about the beauty of numbers and people ‘discovering’ numbers. Surely they are a similarly invented concept? Some populations only have none, one and some so how are these extra numbers supposedly found? I don’t get it at all.

  12. Just beat bayern in the championship cup after having beaten Roma with relative ease earlier. Didn’t like that to be honest, Cardiff for example was a much sterner test BUT at least the commentary team acknowledged the fact by saying something to the effect of: “bayern usually don’t play like this and should be winning”. Sort of realistic transfers too. Found Sergio ramos at bayern.

  13. Uncle Turf – now that’s a rabbithole and a half. Essentially, much like free will and baseball, everything that is an abstract idea seems to exist, and we treat them all as if they exist, and our entire lives depend upon them, so it’s probably best not to look too closely. Remember the character in The Matrix who chooses the illusion and betrays Neo and his gang? Munches on a steak? We’re all him.

    #1 – but what if my time is now? I’m well aware of the flip-flop danger, though. And PES2011 is extraordinary. Was PES ever more PESlike than this. I might move the scene of the action to the PC.

  14. NG well the positive flip side of flopping – see what I did there – is that you get to play whatever you want when you feel like it. The downside is never bedding in with any game of course. But if the time for fifa is now – go for it! Pes 2011 will be there waiting if it goes bust, on pc or otherwise… Limitless options.

  15. I feel like the uniformed officials have put out the tape and barriers and are gently asking me to move along, nothing to see here. And thinking briefly about it I’m happy to comply. I’ll give the matter no more thought and retain my happy ignorance.

  16. If numbers don’t really exist, then what about my maths degree? Did I get my job under false pretenses?

    If the calendars had to be realigned in 1752 due to man made problems then did the earth spin faster or slower in Turkey for the next 200-plus years?

  17. If you do go for FIFA 18 NG, give it one season, if after that one season you move on then that would be concise proof that FIFA is not and will never be for you.
    Everything you’d want in a career mode is there in FIFA 18, without it bogging you down too deep in Football Manager type choices, but with enough off the field substance to make it a rewarding experience.

    Couple that with the superb game play (I will admit that PES’ animations and player models are marginally better/smoother) and it really is a game that is well worth playing many seasons on.

    I dropped from League leaders down to third last night as after starting the season without a defeat in 10 matches, I then lost 2-1 against Spurs, who are proving to be my nemesis team, and then a dismal 2-0 away defeat at Wolves.
    Man City and Chelsea leapfrogged me by 2 points.

    I did seal my place in the KO stages of the Europa League though with a solid 2-0 away win against Shakthar Donetsk at the Donbass Arena, with a makeshift side as I fielded several fringe players and gave some youths a run out to meet the objective of fielding 2 youths in the first team. Dwight Gayle with 2 great finishes.

    Man City are next up, always a ridiculously tough match.

  18. Paul – when I do make the transition across the aisle to FIFA (and it is a question of when, not if), it’ll be to FIFA17, which I have sitting on the shelf looking at me here. But today my feeling is that I have all the time in the world to play literally everything. The annual dynamic of PES is over, as PES is over. I was thinking last night that nuPES is like the modern JJ Abrams Star Trek movies, which are rightly despised by the true Star Trek fans. The films are good, entertaining action movies with a Star Trek skin, but they’re just not Star Trek. Slot the PES terminology in there as appropriate. Anyway, with the nuPES heel removed from my neck, I can do what I like now. I’m still adjusting to this newfound sense of freedom.

  19. NG, Just a shame that you will miss out on all the new features of FIFA 18 which make it a cut above FIFA 17.
    The interactive Transfer negotiations, L1 precise dribbling, enhanced career mode, plus all the patches EA have released (10 in total) for FIFA 18.
    It would be like playing PES 16 over PES 18.

    I guess as you say though, you have all the time you need.

  20. Paul – ?? I thought FIFA17 was a decent game? Whacking it with the PES2016 stick seems a reversal of what you’ve said of it. My limited experience of FIFA17 was of a solid effort. Is FIFA18 really a leap forward rather than an iterative step? But yes, I will get to everything eventually.

  21. You seem to have mistook what I said NG.
    FIFA 17 is a very good game, I enjoyed it thoroughly last year and the guys here playing it will tell you its a good game.
    But that base has carried over to FIFA 18 with a ton of improvements, and refinements, so in that respect it would be like Playing PES 16 vs PES 18, not because FIFA 17 being compared to PES 16 means its a poor game (I know you disliked PES16), just that the extra features and enhancements from version to version are such that to get the proper ‘FIFA experience’ I would suggest going in with FIFA 18.
    24.99 in the easter PSN sale.

  22. NG – it’s been like taking the prizes I won in the sections 1, 3, 5 and 8 of the dartboard then Jim telling me I could have won a speedboat if I’d gambled. I am happy with FIFA 17, it’s on field action and it’s general management options. A little disappointed it doesn’t feel much changed from 14/15 in transfers, scouting and youth. Then along comes bully and tells us 18 has go faster stripes and I think I’d like mine to have them. But I’m not for changing – as you’ve said before once you start hopping you never settle to play one title. When I jumped from madden 15 to 17 I failed to get past the opening games.

    Chris99 – you didn’t do a maths degree. You believe you did but it wasn’t there, you simply sat in a room for three years and at the last minute a group of people came in to plant the memory. Like Darryl and his woman on the train. Never existed, none of this does.

  23. even though it’s all a collective delusion etc etc not-Greg I still believe you need to put the peschronicles clock forward so we get Tuesday’s post on time!

  24. I’m making a point of playing FIFA 17 just so I can enjoy the improvements in FIFA 18 when scores of copies are hitting CEX on or near FIFA 19’s release.

    £25 for FIFA 18 is still about £15 more than I’m willing to pay for my footy game of choice from now on.

  25. Turf – If I didn’t do a maths degree, why would I need to have sat in a room for three years? Couldn’t I have sat in there for a much shorter time and then had an implanted time elapsed memory as well?

  26. abbeyhill – quite right, I weirdly always forget, and it’s weirdly always you who has to remind me.

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