Yesterday morning I woke up, thought about my football gaming to come (mornings are my footy game time), and felt a gust of dejection.
After experiencing too many downs to go with the ups, I’ve fallen out—again—with PES2011 on the PS3.
PES6 on the Xbox360 plays a beautiful game of football, but it lacks modes and features. I struggle to get into its old-school Master League after the delights of PES2010’s and—yes—PES2011’s ML setups.
I haven’t been seriously into FIFA since FIFA09. I don’t think FIFA11 is going to change that. FIFA is on its way back to being a joke. Perhaps the biggest story of next-gen football gaming isn’t the decline of Pro Evolution Soccer since PES6, but that of FIFA since FIFA08.
For the past week and a bit, I’ve been flitting about from game to game, looking for a place to stay.
Over the past few weeks there have been a few suggestions from commenters on the blog that I might try the Xbox360 version of PES2011. Suggestions that I have pooh-poohed, as gently as possible of course, on the grounds of: WHY?!
A peculiarly stubborn aspect of next-gen PES gaming is this widespread—and often vehemently held—belief that the game plays differently according to any number of factors.
It’s the editing. It’s Konami’s boots-and-balls DLC. It’s the controllers. It’s the console.
At some level, we all know that such beliefs are, to put it bluntly, wrong.
But suggestion is a powerful thing. And the wish for a great PES experience is powerful as well.
So at times during this PES year, suggestion has had me uninstalling this, reinstalling that, messing about with different edit files and configurations, and generally turning in circles that always bring me back to the point where I started. The point where I’m watching my PES2011 players stumble about, and do step-arounds, and take elephant touches—all kinds of unmentionable things.
I must admit: the suggestion of trying the 360 version has wormed its way into my mind. Despite knowing that there is no way that PES2011(360) could be any different from PES2011(PS3)—because they’re the same game—I was considering it.
Because I wanted it to be true.
In a storybook world, I would get the 360 version and never see a stumble, or so rarely as to make no difference. And I would live happily ever after with PES2011 and Master League until September/October time.
Such is the lunacy that we call being a PES fan.
So here’s what happened yesterday. I woke up and knew within a few seconds that I would be getting the Xbox360 version of PES2011 today.
I also knew that I didn’t want to pay even a single penny for it. There were a ton of games on my shelf, gathering dust, that I could trade in.
I gathered them together. Batman: Arkham Asylum. Borderlands. PES2010(360). After a think, I added FIFA09 and FIFA10. (FIFA11 nearly joined them, but it’s a current football game and I want to keep it around.)
And into town I went. On the bus, using my travelcard. Not a penny would be spent on PES2011(360).
Incredibly, there were no copies of the game, used or new, in GAME. I did see copies of PES6(360) there, priced at 75p. Wow. The best pure PES action on a next-gen console, going for that price. We live in strange times indeed.
I ended up at Gamestation, where they had one preowned copy of PES2011(360), as pictured up top.
My trade-in games easily covered the £19.99 cost, and I received a nice few quid in cash on top. Not only was I not paying anything for PES2011(360), I was effectively being paid to test it out.
Cut to the chase? I will indeed. Imagine the scene going all wavy and out of focus, and now I’m back home, and the game has finished installing on the 360, and I’m playing it.
I usually play England vs Scotland as my first fixture on a new football game. A little tradition I’ve had for about 12 years now.
But I specifically wanted to see if certain things were absent from the 360 version of PES2011 that I disliked in the PS3 version.
(NB: I still knew perfectly well, at all times, that the games are the same game. I knew that they had identical coding, and programmed values, and that their handling would be identical. Nevertheless, here I was, a grown man, a rational man if you please, trying to see if 2+2 could produce a different result, just this once.)
My most recent PES2011 action on the PS3 was with Anderlecht in Master League. I knew their players and roughly what they were like, how they would handle in certain situations, etc.
I set up an Exhibition game with Anderlecht, playing against Internacional.
After a few game minutes, I saw this:
Yes, a stumble—one of several throughout the match. On the 360 the stumbles came at just the same frequency as in the PS3 version—pardon me, I mean as in my other copy of the same game.
I knew it before I began, but I did it anwyay.
The Xbox360 version of PES2011 is… PES2011. It’s PES2011! That is all.
Why have I written nearly a thousand words reporting that A is A?
They say that a definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
And do you know what’s truly crazy? In my mind, I’m thinking: “That was only a few Exhibition matches. What I should do is start an ML career and see what happens…”
And so here I go again.
Coming this Friday the 13th on PES Chronicles: a new ML career, on the Xbox360.
God help me. No, seriously, God, if you’re there. Help me.