After becoming disillusioned with PES2008 over recent weeks, I have returned to PES5.
In my opinion PES5 was and is the best-ever PES game. As with any game (or anything at all) it is not perfect. Other opinions are equally valid. This is a blog, after all – i.e., just a new-fangled version of a scribbled diary. These are not tablets engraved in stone.
The last time I played this game seriously was one night in October 2006. PES6 was released the next day (whenever that was). Naturally, despite still being perfectly satisfied with PES5, I bought PES6 like the obediently robotic consumer that I was, and played it for most of the next year. ‘Twas ever thus, eh?
After starting up the game, first on the agenda was re-familiarising myself with pressing Triangle to cancel in the menus. Next-gen developers have universally ditched the previously familiar Triangle-to-cancel in favour of Circle-to-cancel. Now I’m used to pressing Circle, and keep forgetting that I’m playing a PS2 game.
First up: an Exhibition game, England vs. Scotland.
Why Scotland? Nostalgia, mainly. When I was growing up, the annual England-Scotland fixture was one of the biggest games – and occasions – of the season. For various reasons, we’re unlikely to see the fixture resurrected for anything more than a token showpiece friendly at some point. Thank God for computer games.
I chose to play on the game’s default three-star difficulty. That’s another thing that feels weird about PES5. Difficulty stars. Of course, when I accumulate enough PES points I can purchase the 6-star difficulty in the PES Shop. This is another reason why it makes sense to play a load of games in other modes before starting a new Master League. I also have to unlock the alternate balls. The default one is just too wishy-washy. I want to use the famous PES5 half-black/half-white ball – or its yellow counterpart. I used to like both of them equally.
I rearranged the default England formation into my beloved 4-3-3. I played Gerrard as the DMF and Joe Cole as a right-sided striker. Both players are generally superb in both positions, with Gerrard having lots of opportunities to use his viciously effective Middle Shooting, and Joe Cole is a speedy, skilful, dangerous presence out wide.
First impressions of PES5 this time around?
Wow, I really didn’t remember it as being so fast.
It’s faster than PES2008. If PES2008 is 100mph, PES5 is 150mph. The ball pings around between players racing at ludicrous speeds all over the pitch.
I’m genuinely taken aback by this. Was PES5 really this fast back in 2005? Or is the extra processing power of the PS3 somehow speeding up the gameplay? Or – and I think this is the answer – has next-gen FIFA08 and the (it turns out) slower-paced next-gen PES2008 affected my perceptions?
I was under the impression that PES5 was a stately-paced, ultra-simulation. It’s not. Dare I say it, but it feels… arcadey. There, I’ve said it.
The graphics don’t look too bad, upscaled of course on my PS3.
There is one thing that PES5 has got that none of the next-gen football games has got (and how we feel the lack of it). Camera panning – oh, how I have missed you. The next-gen games’ cameras slide up and down the sideline, making your view of the goalmouth unnaturally narrow. It just doesn’t feel right after so many years of playing and viewing from a point anchored up near the halfway line. FIFA09 and PES2009 had better have full camera panning. If not, I’ll be disgruntled.
Just for the sake of it, I played this game with the full pan – setting 9 in the Camera options menu. (Usually I’m a 6 or 7 man.)
Passing in PES5 is ultra-fast. Tap X and aim for a player who’s fifty or so ‘yards’ away, and the ball positively zooms over the virtual turf. It takes some getting used to. Dare I say it (again) but I prefer the passing in PES2008.
Dribbling: I tried to dribble automatically, effortlessly taking on and beating defenders for fun – just like I have been doing in PES2008. No. It doesn’t work. The ball is lost almost straightaway, even on the default difficulty. I said that I was never a dribbler before PES2008. I wasn’t lying.
Just after halftime, I got my first goal. Rooney broke from the left wing and blasted one in:
A typical PES5 goal. It felt very satisfying.
Scotland scored their goal late in the second half. Extra time passed without much happening. Before the match, I had chosen not to have a penalty shootout. I didn’t need to have one to see what they were like in PES5 (i.e. the same as they have always been in every PES).
1-1 the final score, then, and a fair result.
Frankly, I was shocked by just how fast and – yes, I have to say it again – arcadey PES5 now seems. This (rather negative) impression was enhanced by the way I kept stupidly losing the ball due to forgetting about PES5’s R1 knock-on effect. It’s going to take time to settle back into the ebb and flow of PES5’s unique gameplay.
I’ll be scrupulously honest here (as ever – honest!) and admit that there’s a small voice at the back of my mind whispering about giving up on PES2008 too soon.
You could have dumped Elcherino and played on with severe House Rules, the voice says. And there’s a slightly louder voice asking me why I’m not playing FIFA08. You seem to be one of those PES fans with the right genetic makeup to think next-gen FIFA08 is a pretty damn good game, it says. So why are you messing around here on an upscaled PS2 game that feels as if it’s running at ten times the speed?
I’m ignoring the voices for now. I’m determined to give PES5 a really good go.