I used to prefer Equinox

My muscles and mind still remember the past 4 years of PES promoting the crash-bang-wallop, arcade-style gameplay. It’s difficult to go back to PES as it used to be – still fast and furious (and ‘fun’) when it wants to be, but massively tempered by the various realistic limitations that made PES PES.

I still automatically keep trying to play PES2011 as if it’s PES2018. Different times, different games. Only 7 years separate them, but PES2011 is like a 1980s episode of Horizon compared to today’s products.

Only one more session since the last time. Playing so seldom isn’t through choice. At the time of PES2011’s original run, I was playing every day, sometimes multiple sessions per day. Life and work have changed for me since then.

The mid-season transfer window is nearing and I have already agreed to sell two of my Defaults: DODO and ESPIMAS. Neither has done much by way of catching the eye. Most of the others will follow them, sooner or later.

The only Default who is likely to remain with me for the duration of this Master League is RUSKIN. The sturdy, dependable Side Back is only 24 years old and ripe for training up in a few skills. I might even do a position re-train and make him an SMF. Lord knows that thanks to one of PES2011’s most infamous quirks, he keeps appearing in the pocket just behind the strikers anyway. As does his counterpart on the other side of defence, El Moubarki/Giersen (they share the RB role).

CASTOLO will go. ORDAZ and GUTIERREZ will go. The two Hs – HAMSUN and HUYLENS – are already gone, which I might not have mentioned yet. I shipped them out before the first window closed in September.

By this time next season, I want to have my squad made up of only 20% Defaults, with the other 80% being my own personnel.

The new players I have already brought in – SHIMIZU, SCHWARZ, IAQUINTA, MOTTA, PALMIERI, SCHMIDT, and DE SANCTIS in goal – are variable in quality at the moment, to say the least.

All are certain starters when they’re fit and un-fatigued. But perhaps only Motta shows any real consistency. Schwarz is so far fairly disappointing, but he remains a fresh-faced Youth. I remember what a sledgehammer that left foot will turn into in a few seasons’ time. Shimizu, also a Youth, is surprisingly useful, which I don’t remember him being at all.

No goals to report, or show off. I’ve scraped one or two over the line, but none in any way worth recording.

I remain mid-table in the UEFA Super League Division 2 (England). Zero chance of promotion this season, I think. Next season, though, I do want to go up. My first go-round with PES2011, back in 2010-11, lasted 11 seasons, and I recall it took me 6 or 7 seasons to be promoted. That’s what Master League – and football gaming – was back then.

Here and now, I confess, I would like to be contesting for the Premier League title and European silverware by Season 3. Maybe that’s nuPES exerting its baleful influence once more.

You can’t always Ettori what you want

13 matches in my PES2011 Bundesliga UEFA Super League Division 2 in the English League!

The current table:The 9th session was not as good as the 8th, but it was still epic.

The highlight was scoring a goal, just one single goal, against the top team, CSKA Moscow.

This goal might be the most ordinary goal I have ever uploaded to this site. It is not worth your click. It is not worth the 20-odd seconds that it takes to watch. It’s just a bog-standard PES goal, but for that very reason, it’s remarkable.

PES – true PES – creates the contexts in which ordinary goals feel extraordinary and meaningful.

I’ll describe it, and you can decide if it sounds like a goal you want to watch.

I’m 0-1 down to the league leaders, CSKA Moscow, midway through the second half.

Iaquinta gets the ball inside his own half and runs at the CSKA Moscow defence, which retreats in that curious PES2010-like fashion that I don’t remember noticing originally in PES2011 all those years ago.

Finally blocked off, I lay the ball off to Shimizu, and try to tee up a shooting opportunity with him. My Shimizu in PES2011 has a waspish shot on him, again, not something I recall from back in the day.

The shooting window won’t open, but what’s this I see behind me – is that… is that Ettori coming like an express train, surging through a gap from midfield??

One tidy through-ball layoff later, and Ettori is through on goal.

This is the first time I can remember having this kind of opportunity in the box for a long time in PES2011. (See the league table above. See my Goals Scored column.)

Ettori finishes, to make the score 1-1 at this juncture. There was no fairytale finish. I went on to lose this match 2-1. CSKA Moscow got their winner in the 94th minute with the last meaningful kick of the game.

A sickener, but I was pleased with my goal. Here it is:

The time is coming when goals like this will be replaced by the 35-yard Schwarz howitzers that I’m not too far away from scoring.

But these goals, the bread and butter goals, the constructed goals, are what PES does well.

How is PES2011 going in general after a few weeks now? Work-and-life currently mean that I only get to play a bit, relative to how I used to be able to play. So my football game has to be one I really do want to play, not one I feel I have to play. PES2011 is that game.

It’s not all wine and roses. The PS3 environment continues to annoy me in a number of ways. It’s not just the lack of screenshot and video recording – the lengthy loading times are truly tiresome. ‘Move to PC, then’ is the obvious solution here, but no. I won’t be moving over to PC, having started this ML. The surest way to never playing anything is to be constantly moving and restarting. I am slowly getting used to it, though.

The 8th Session

Will you look at the state of that. UEFA Super League, Bundesliga logo, generic UEFA badge for Ajaccio… There’s very little in this screenshot that won’t trigger somebody’s footy game OCD.

The big news today is that PES2011 has PROPERLY arrived. Big-time. I’ve gone from lukewarm appreciation to full-on adoration.

The feeling that prompted me to go back to a Classic PES (albeit one I disliked originally) is finally here.

It doesn’t leap out at you straightaway. It takes some time to catch fire, but when it does. Wow. The last four years of PES haven’t been a waste – nuPES is a decent football game. But imagine what nuPES could have been with a sprinkling of the magic dust that is Classic PES.

I love Shimizu! One of the villains of many a PES – a weak player, with a weak shot – is surprisingly strong in PES2011, and I don’t remember him being that way. His shot, too, is wickedly fierce, although he has only scored one so far.

I have been trying to score a goal, any goal, to record and show here. In the end I scored a ‘scuffer’ that really wasn’t worth recording – and that turned out to be my only goal of the last 2 sessions. I’m having a proper Default debut season. Scoring a goal, any goal, is a major event.

Crossing in PES2011 is very peculiar, and I would say inferior at the moment – there seems to be little control over direction and power, with the responsibility for both being abstracted to the player’s stats, the context, the directionality, and so on. Arguably this is better – i.e. it’s giving me a more PES-ish crossing, which is what I’m meant to be doing here in the first place.

But I have to say that after several years of having a more subtle crossing control scheme, I do prefer the latter.

All of which is probably the only blot on PES2011’s copybook at the moment.

I have arrived, fully and absolutely, in the Land of Classic PES. It took about 8 sessions for things to click. I have had to heroically resist flopping across to one of the recent FIFAs, but it has happened.

My Advanced Start isn’t all that advanced, really. I’m still going through a painful Season 1 with the Defaults and the couple of decent players that I’ve picked up.

I keep getting caught offside, over and over again, sometimes 5 or 6 times per half. I’ll think I’ve spotted my striker in space and I’ll send a through-ball, aerial or ground, and – the whistle goes, and that famous long yellow line is superimposed on the pitch.

I’ve had a couple of matches that ended without any AI fouls committed against me. The average is about 3 or 4, which means that some do finish with 1 or 0. But some have 6 or 7, and it’s no coincidence that these are the better matches.

No-fouls/low-fouls was a thing in Silver Age PES on the PS3, but we never really noticed. Why? Could it be because the game overall was less arcade-oriented, and no-fouls/low-fouls didn’t seem so cheap? nuPES’s ice hockey-style frenzies are so egregious that we can’t help noticing no-fouls.

I’m training Palmieri in a skill card. My long-term vision is for Palmieri to lift the European Cup. He needs to be the complete defender and captain. I’m giving him slide-tackling at the moment. It’ll only take 72 (SEVENTY TWO) weeks.

One of the many sins of nuPES was its introduction of universal slide-tackling. Every player from around PES2014 on could extend a telescopic sliding leg that would not have been out of place as a grabbing arm in a children’s platform game. Oh yes, extreme slide-tackling was and no doubt still is ‘fun’, but it’s not PES and never will be.

But perhaps nuPES’s biggest sin (in a long list) was the way it enabled one-touch football as the default. You didn’t have to be in the zone. Nor did your players. You could always ping-pong your way around the pitch, with very little difficulty.

nuPES muscle memory constantly costs me in PES2011. You can’t one-touch your way anywhere. I’ve lost the ball hundreds of times already in circumstances where my nuPES muscle memory tells me I should be able to one-touch my way out of trouble.

It’s all pretty wonderful. I keep nearly scoring the greatest goals, but just missing out. I think they’re coming.

PES2011 is really here at last. Let my experience be a warning: it takes about 8 sessions to bed down. The last few years of footy gaming might have changed us too much.

Seven Eleven

Another great couple of PES2011 sessions, covering about 7 matches, making a total of about 14 matches played overall. If I was doing my all-new End of Year Review for PES2011 right now, I’d give the game an easy 9/10. Great Master League, deep football game mechanics: a true PES game.

So why am I looking enviously over the fence at FIFA?

PES2011 looks great, even on the PS3. Graphics are not a problem at all. The graininess is initially startling, no denying that. How fast we get used to a new generation of consoles! But PS3 graphics are still more than acceptable.

Loading times remain a pain, as do the lack of home comforts like easy screenshotting and video clip record/export. I feel guilty, but I constantly allow moments and events to pass by that I would have recorded on PS4.

I play football games, or indeed any game, in order to play the game, not do something else that requires a lot of surrounding fuss and bother. When playing I’m typically in a groove (a literal groove, on the bed), playing with the controller in my hand, a podcast or audiobook playing on my phone next to me. Picture the scene when something happens in PES2011 that I actually go ahead and capture. I have to put down the controller, sit up, pause the podcast/audiobook, open the camera app, and then take the necessary picture or video footage. If it’s the latter, I must awkwardly hold the controller with one hand whilst manipulating the left stick to get the desired replay speed.

I know. Talk about a First World Problem. The peoples of Syria and Sudan must be shaking their heads in wonder at how I’m coping with the horror. I should be followed around by a documentary team or something.

Back at my Master League, I am deep into the first half of Season 1. A long way from the January window.

My semi-cheating Advanced Start means I’ll have money to spend when I get there, and spend it I will.

Iaquinta and Schwarz up front are an eye-catching combo on paper, but in practice they are average. In 10 League matches they’ve scored one each. Shimizu behind them is being Shimizu – small and weak, but skilful with it. He did put away a tidy finish in the Cup from the edge of the box that fair rocketed into the top corner of the net. I almost bestirred myself to record it, but then thought, nah.

I’ve got Palmieri and Schmidt in defence, but remember that these are promoted Youths too. I tend to start matches well with them, only to get overrun late on when fatigue sets in across the board. PES2011 seems to be faithful to its stamina system.

No goals worth showing. I’ve scored one or two that would have made it if I had access to PS4-style recording-and-uploading facilities. This is just how things will be.

I’ve noticed the stirrings of spring recently (despite the persistence of near-Narnian cold). In football game terms, this usually prompts thoughts of the next couple of football games. PES2019, it would be usually. It feels peculiar to have given all that up, but I remain absolutely 100% steadfast on that front. I’ll only be interested in new PES games again when PES actually makes a return. Which won’t happen, for all the reasons discussed at length here over the past few years.

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