Category: pes2008

Down the rubbish shoot

At the time of writing—Friday morning—I haven’t played PES2012 for two days. I intend to play after putting this post to bed. I am still committed to playing on in my Master League. So PES2012 continues.

It’s just very hard to continue sometimes. I’ve found that having these short breaks from the game helps me not hate it.

I can put up with just about every one of PES2012’s foibles. I only really hate PES2012 when its shooting misbehaves.

Yes, I know all about the alternate shooting method—“shoot first, aim later”—which I disbelieve in. Sorry to all those who have helpfully suggested I try it.

I believe that it can seem to work, just as the other alternate shooting method—previously known as “over-aiming” on this blog—can also seem to work. PES2012’s shooting is so screwed up that you could abandon all aiming whatsoever, and it would still seem to work enough of the time to be a plausible alternate system.

I know that many people don’t seem to have a problem with PES2012’s shooting at all, and this talk is all a bit bewildering. Lucky them.

So shooting is the primary sin of PES2012. There are others, some of them serious ones, but shooting is the main one.

It’s peculiarly dispiriting to work the ball into prime position and aim to put it low to the keeper’s side, only to see the ball bang tamely into the keeper’s midriff. Or line up a 25-yarder into the top right corner, only to see the ball zip towards the top left corner. (And when those ‘wrong side shots’ actually go in, the disgust is worse than anything I’ve ever known in PES. It’s a truly dangerous disgust.)

Fortunately, with better players in my team, and with experience of playing the game, I can minimise the wonky shooting moments. But never eliminate them fully, and that is a problem for the near future.

Life on Regular difficulty for me in the Premier League is tough.

Here’s the table after 8 games:

I’ve played most of the 8 matches on Regular. The top teams can still really punish me on this level. It’s a measure of PES2012’s boosted AI and my own averageness at the game overall.

(Having said that, if it wasn’t for the shooting issue, most of my matches would end 7-0 or 6-4 or or thereabouts. By crippling the shooting in the way it does, PES2012 artificially hobbles the player and keeps scorelines relatively low. It’s a dirty trick all right.)

The supercharged, super-dribbling players are a little annoying, and of course wholly unrealistic, but it’s a game, I accept that. Adapting myself to defend better against them is one of the attractions of this PES.

I do get annoyed by the super-AI conjuring itself up a goal from nothing, but it’s barely 1% of the annoyance factor caused by the shooting issue.

At this time of year, my thoughts naturally turn to where I was in previous next-gen PES games at the same time.

Last year, I’d already abandoned my Master League in PES2011 and was embarked on a brief spell of Become A Legend. I was bemoaning “the most technically poor PES game since PES2008(PS3)” and drooling over my new big TV, which temporarily gave PES2011 a new lease of life.

The previous year—the best year—I was in season 7 on PES2010, still in Division 2, and in my own words,”shaping up for an epic career” in a game I loved. I would go on to play 20+ seasons in what remains the best year of PES’s next-gen life for me. Say what you like about PES2010, but at least its shooting mechanism worked.

As for the year of PES2009, I was still playing at this time of the year, and it seems enjoying myself, having just signed Orellano.

The year before that, I was still playing PES2008, but only just. I was already onto my second Master League career, and hating the high-scoring matches.

So PES2012 is still in relatively good shape compared to my PES2008 and PES2011 experiences. And as I sit here typing this, I’m really looking forward to putting the game on and trying to wrestle some kind of result.

Happy New Year to all. Here’s hoping that PES2012 lasts until well into its titular year.

The knowledge of good and Pro Evo

Today sees the appearance of news and impressions of the forthcoming PES2012. The NDA that Konami had in place will expire as this post is published. I’ll be absorbing the details over the course of the next few days, like everybody else. And like everybody else, I’ll be fervently hoping that this time, this year, we get a PES with more answers than questions.

Yesterday morning I played PES2008 on the PS3 for the first time since 2008. I wish I could say that it’s a better game than I remember. Sadly, it’s a worse game than I remember.

I didn’t play it because I’m looking for a football game to play right now. I’m definitely not looking for one. I could easily play any or all of WE9LE, PES2011, FIFA11, PES2009(PSP), and PES6(360). Each of them is enjoyable in its own way and will easily carry me through to October.

No, I played PES2008(PS3) because I’m revisiting my PES past for a certain side-project that I’m working on. I wanted to remind myself of what that game was like, not in my memory but in the nuts-and-bolts here-and-now.

As I opened the PES2008 case and took out the DVD, I looked at Michael Owen and Ronaldo on the cover. I considered how their separate fortunes have risen and fallen, just as PES’s fortunes have risen and fallen. Everything will come to dust.

First of all, the game had to update itself. Updating took a few minutes—the patch was above the 100MB mark. I watched the progress bar, thinking, just how many times has that particular update been downloaded in recent years? Is anybody out there still playing this game? Still buying this game? I like to wonder about such things.

The PS3 edition of PES2008 originally came out with horrific technical issues that required such a hefty patch. It’s a debatable point whether PES2008(PS3) should ever have been released at all, but it definitely should have been delayed.

My first impressions of PES2008 back in 2007 were actually pretty good. It has to be remembered that in 2007 there was none of the gloom that surrounds the series nowadays. PES was the nectar of the gaming gods, and that was all there was to it. There was no doubt. We were only ever going to perceive the best it had to offer. It would take something pretty hideous to unbalance that viewpoint.

PES2008 was our serpent in the Garden of Eden. After its appearance, nothing was ever the same. It introduced the notion that PES could be bad. Not just problematic, not just intermittently annoying, not just occasionally infuriating, but bad.

I know that PES2008(PS3) has its fans. I can appreciate that evaluating games is a matter of opinion, that there is no objective right and wrong.

In the case of PES2008 on the PS3, I humbly beg to differ.

The graphics are terrible, worst that PES6 on the 360, which came out the year before. The gameplay is the stiffest version of Pro Evo ever. Stiff and unintuitive and on rails and glitchy and… I can’t go on. PES2008(PS3) just isn’t worth it.

Yesterday morning, I became frustrated with it quite quickly. I also very quickly recalled the wonder dribble mechanic. This was where any player with above-average stats, no matter what their position, could dribble around entire teams and put the ball in the net, on Top Player. It says much (or nothing) for PES2008(PS3) that I was able to do this quite easily.

I played a few Internationals and then quit, feeling a great sadness.

PES2008 was the game that changed everything in the PES universe for the worst. It shifted our paradigmatc relation to the series the wrong way: down, into a darker, more uncertain place.

And it was even worse on the PS3, pre-patch: a technical calamity like nothing we could ever have dreamed a professional multinational games company would ever put out. It was the Hindenburg and the Titanic rolled into one.

The years since have been a painful inch-by-inch crawl back up from the gutter.

On this day, a day of looking forward and hoping, it’s worth remembering where we’ve come from, the depths to which the series sank in its darkest hour. PES2009 was better than PES2008. PES2010 (my favourite next-gen PES so far) was better than PES2009. PES2011 was better than PES2010. Now for PES2012.

The pattern is clear. There is rational ground for hope that PES2012 may just see the series get back to where it once belonged.

The One, part two

So the trumpeted PES2012 ‘gameplay video’ turned out to be a ‘gameplay features video’. A world of difference, there. Instead of the continuous gameplay that most of us wanted to see, we only got a few morsels instead. Those morsels were satisfying, but compared to the feast that I was expecting, I still felt hungry.

(Credit to SpoOky1611 for this compilation video; see the YouTube original for a HD version.)

One of the most notable aspects of this video is that Konami’s European head honcho, Jon Murphy, is an eerie soundalike of the former London Mayor and left-wing firebrand, Ken Livingstone.

Setting aside all the misgivings (next-gen PES is the era of misgivings), PES2012 continues to look and sound great. Very promising. Highly encouraging. A solid platform to build upon. Etc. (Yawn.)

I struggle to take previews of any kind very seriously at all this year. I’m still bitter about what Konami did, very late in development, to another promising game that looked like being The One.

PES2011 was supposed to be the The One, and it damn well should have been The One. All through summer 2010 the previews were great, and then the demo was great—and then just before release it’s as if Seabass handed over to some internal ‘sabotage squad’. Saying: “Here’s a great game of football called PES2011. Make sure you do something to fuck it up.”

Okay, okay, PES2011 is still a good game, I’d agree the best yet on next-gen. But it could have been better. The stumble animation, and the step-around ‘Pirlo turn’, and the elephant touch, and the wandering side-backs, are all intruders. All turds in the punchbowl. None of them should be there.

It was interesting to see PES2011 so openly criticised throughout the videos. But the one thing I wanted to see—a demonstration of how PES2011’s stumble animation is removed in PES2012—was worryingly not present.

It’s mid-July now and I’m happily playing two PES games. WE9LE and the much-maligned (by me!) PES2011.

Following on from Wednesday’s revelation of a tentative return to PES2011, I’m still just playing Champions Leagues. I’m unwilling to start yet another Master League this late in the football game year, especially while I’m still playing my WE9LE one.

I’ve played to the end of season #2 in WE9LE without incident. By which I mean, without encountering any more noticeable incidents of unpatched super-players. I finished mid-table in Division 2 again.

I’ll very cautiously start season #3 and see what happens. It’s a weird one, playing ML in WE9LE. On the one hand there’s the sumptuous gameplay, as good as old-school PES gets. On the other hand there’s the creaky old-school ML infrastructure, which is more than a little wearying nowadays, to be honest.

I’m also replaying many of the old games so that I can remember the times when I played them. I was supposed to play PES2008 on the PS3 last week, for the first time since the year 2008 itself. I never got around to it for various reasons, but this weekend I do plan to jump in.

PES2008(PS3) is the next-gen’s principal Bad Guy. Will I find anything in the game to redeem it?

And I’m strangely looking forward to hearing that infamous soundtrack once again. All together now:

#We’re gonna play football (soccer!)
Football (soccer!)
Football (soccer!)
All around the world…#

Master League on hold

Near the middle of season 7 of my Master League career in PES2011. Below is the current table—probably my last such table from this Master League for a while. Because I won’t be playing on for now.

See this post from a few weeks ago for context. This has been brewing for a long time. It has not come out of the blue.


This time last year, I was working hard on a video that told the epic tale of my promotion campaign in PES2010’s Master League. As a record of my abiding affection for what was a great PES year, that video is still well worth a look today.

What a difference between this year and last. There’s no full-length PES2011 video. The chances are pretty slim that there ever will be a PES2011 video. (It’s not impossible. I won’t rule out a resumption of this ML career at some point. And Master League isn’t necessarily the only show in town, as will be seen…)

I just don’t like PES2011 very much. That’s what it all boils down to. Oh, I did like it to begin with. I even thought PES2011 was The One foretold in Legend. The Anointed One we’ve all been waiting for. A football game robed in white linen, riding a pale horse…

But the final PES2011 that emerged in October was dismayingly unlike its brilliant demo. The full game seems like somebody made a ham-fisted effort to polish it before release, and then ran out of time before fixing all the new problems they’d caused.

Side-back wandering. Eccentric player switching. Frequently catastrophic heavy touches and ‘run-ons’ with the ball. Lack of player responsiveness. Forced first touches when you just want to clear the ball from danger. That infamous stumble animation (groan). And many more.

The way it plays—its handling—just feels wrong to me. It doesn’t feel like a real PES game. It feels like a single-player version of high-pressure, high-speed, online football. Which I thoroughly detest, as I have always said.

It is worth noting that the major PES forums are full of PES fans who seem to adore PES2011. I’m not saying they’re wrong. But I think it is significant that many of them are enthusiastic online players.

I don’t recall many predominantly offline, single-player players of PES2011 who are entirely satisfied with the game—although they do surely exist and are also not wrong. It’s mostly a question of personal taste, in the final analysis, and PES2011 isn’t to mine.

I’ve given it a good go since I reached breaking point. I carried on playing for 20 hours—something I would not do for any other game.

PES has a powerful presence in my life. It’s not something I can casually walk away from. And I’m not. I could be back at some point.


One of the suggestions made to try to counter the game’s rushed, hurry-scurrying style, was to play 15-minute halves.

I gave it a try. I played two separate sessions of 15-minute matches, about 8 matches in total.

I did see what everybody was driving at. You get time. The most important difference it makes is in one’s own attitude to the game.

15-minute PES matches do promote a more thoughtful game. But the core contents of those matches remain the same. There’s still the wandering side-back issue. There’s still the stumble animation. There’s still the way players are often locked into runs with the ball at their feet. I felt I had time to do things in 15-minute matches—but I didn’t particularly want to do anything much.


At exactly 10:29 on Christmas Day morning, I took the PES2011 disc out of my PS3 and put it back in its box. I felt a great sadness. This was unprecedented. Even the fateful year of PES2008 saw me muddle through to February.

Then an hour later I took the disc back out again, and put it back in the PS3, and started her up.

No, this was not some Hollywood-style dash to the airport to declare my actual love for PES2011.

I’d simply remembered that there was a time when I looked forward to doing more in PES2011 than just playing Master League.

To what do I refer? This picture provides a clue:

Yep—it’s one of the setup screens from PES2011’s Become A Legend mode. More on Wednesday.