A guilt-edged chance goes begging

It’s been another week with precious little action on other football games besides PES2008. Every Sunday is supposed to be Other Football Game Sunday on PES Chronicles, but I often have little or nothing to write about.

It’s getting too common for me to spend Sunday listing the other football games I could have played and saying why I didn’t play them all week. Or why I only played them for half a minute before running back to PES. If this keeps up then I might have to abandon OFG Sunday altogether—and all the signs are that it will indeed keep up. I’m still loving my Master League and I’m still loving the PSP/PS2 version of PES2008 (as I loved all of its predecessors; hence the blog). If I have time enough to play a football game then I want it to be PES2008, not one of the pretenders.

The pretenders, in case anyone is wondering, are all the football games that I’ve liked enough to have played and written about over the past 6 months—but not liked them enough to keep me away from PES for any length of time.

I feel an odd sense of guilt about neglecting some of them. Next-gen FIFA08, for one. I have really got to get back to my twin Manager Mode careers in that game, and soon—otherwise, inevitably, I won’t ever go back to it at all. And that would be a real shame. FIFA08 was and is a significant game in the history of console football games, mark my words. Nothing can be the same after next-gen FIFA08, for better or worse.

So I feel a nagging sense of guilt about not playing it. But when it comes to AGG (Abandoned Games Guilt), nothing can touch the monumental guilt that I feel about Football Manager Live.

FMLive—an MMOG spin on the single-player classic—is still in closed Beta and likely to stay that way for the forseeable future. I received an invite about a month ago and I was absolutely delighted. I never usually get asked to do things like that. After several days of intense play, I started to get very busy with a lot of very important stuff in my real, non-gaming life (there really is such a thing, it turns out). Something had to give, either PES time or some (or all) of my Other Football Game time—and I chose to sacrifice OFG time.

Before anyone poses the question, no, the FMLive Beta accounts are not transferable. I’ll be keeping my account. I might even look in and play it from time to time. But I can’t help but feel that I’m missing a great opportunity. It’s a shame, and I feel guilty.

From now on, I’ll only do an OFG Sunday if I’ve actually played another football game enough for it to be worthwhile. I don’t anticipate there being many OFG Sundays between now and September and the release of FIFA09.

But hey, there’s a whole PES-flavoured summer to get through first. Those seasons aren’t going to play themselves…

12 Comments

  1. I’ve heard lots of good things about FIFA08 from people on pesfan.com or evo-web.co.uk, and now here, but I have some sort of misplaced loyalty to PES. How many times have I said ‘PES’ when asked (or decided to contribute it anyway) my opinion between the two? PES was always the more ‘grown-up’ of the two, where gameplay mattered over presentation and FIFA was always the one that 12 year old kids got their mum to buy for them as it had all the teams with proper names and emblems etc. This is BS of course…

    I’m talking about the PS3 version here – I am not interested in gaming on the PS2 anymore. Is it really worth trying to pick-up a 2nd hand copy on eBay?

  2. trojanfoe—if you look back through my mentions of FIFA08 here you’ll see that I share the root anxiety about the idea that any FIFA could be good. We’ve just got so used to the idea that FIFA is an arcade game for kids and PES is the serious sim for grownups that anything else is almost literally unthinkable. But before I found my current PES home on the current-gen version of PES2008, I took a violent dislike to next-gen PES2008’s arcadey nature, and contrasted in unfavourably with FIFA08’s serious, sim-like qualities.

    In short: FIFA08 is well worth a look on PS3/360. As you’ll know from the forums, it’s a slow, difficult game in comparison to its predecessors and even in comparison to PES. If you ever played the original PES (the first one on PS2) that’s the game that FIFA08 most resembles, allegedly.

  3. Well I thought I’d be sensible and downloaded the FIFA08 demo from PSN. My original thoughts were right – what a horrible game! It just doesn’t feel or look at all right – the players are somehow stretched and don’t appear to act realistically at all and the ball movement is still as broken previous FIFAs. No sale here. I will put up with Konami’s crappy effort – it’s still better than the competition.

  4. trojanfoe—at least you tried FIFA08, which is something. I disagree that the gameplay doesn’t look or feel ‘right’ – right in relation to what?! In relation to PES, of course, which is naturally our benchmark for quality and our template of what a football game ought to be like.

    Personally I found the FIFA08 gameplay—slow, stiff, even ‘boring’—to be a refreshing change from the harem-scarem, 100mph gameplay and regular 6-2 scorelines of PES2008 on the PS3. Oddly, though, since I discovered PES2008 on the PSP/PS2, I’ve barely touched FIFA08…

    Overall I understand why people dislike FIFA08 but I still think it was and is a better next-gen football game than next-gen PES2008. At least EA made an effort to do something new—and they released a game that didn’t need two whopping 100MB patches just to make it run respectably offline.

  5. Well I’ve been thinking about what it is I don’t like. I think the key element is the animation. PES’s player animation is so good that you are able to see what the players are doing and control yours appropriately. You can see when an opponent is over-stretched or is unable to stop you going in a particular direction. You can see what your player is. With FIFA I don’t think you can. They seem ‘stiff’ and almost like a static sprites moving across the pitch – they aren’t really of course, but relatively PES is superior. Also the dimensions seem wrong – they all look 7 feet tall.

    I’m happy to have tried it again and I’m happy if people think it’s better than PES and I am very happy if its sales hurt Konami – I am just hoping it’s a big enough kick up the bum so they get PES2009 right.

  6. I’m with Trojanfoe — FIFA’s feel wasn’t right for me (probably because PES is my ‘gold standard’), and I didn’t like the lack of differentiation between players in play. I’m also dissapointed in the amount of creative options you have in FIFA. One of PES’ strong suits (IMO) is the amount of changes you can make to nearly any aspect of your team.

  7. trojanfoe & ck—I’m with and not-with you both.

    All the criticisms of FIFA08 that every PES fan has made are true, I won’t deny them. But there’s a depth and an enjoyment beyond the clunkiness.

    I think that TIMING has a lot to do with my relatively high regard for FIFA08. When it came out in late August 2007, I’d just got my PS3 and there were no next-gen football games. I got hold of FIFA08 and was entranced. The absence of anything else to play meant I played it to death.

    It has got a lot of quality, I feel, and a lot of playability. Although, again, it’s probably significant that I’ve barely touched it since taking up last-gen PES2008.

    I’ve been very impressed by the UEFA2008 demo (that’s probably a better bet for you to try out the whole ‘FIFA thing’ on, Trojanfoe), which takes all the good of FIFA08 and improves on it, and tries to eliminate the bad. It’s partly successful on both fronts. But I’m not going to get UEFA2008. I’m going to wait for the big faceoff this September/October between FIFA and PES—the biggest showdown yet. I’m really excited about it and this whole topic has inspired me now to try to put together a special post for Sunday on the whole topic. Like others I just hope the praise and attention that many PES fans have lavished upon FIFA08 has been a wake-up call for Seabass & co.

  8. And I don’t mean to dismiss FIFA08 out of hand– I played it and enjoyed it, but ultimately, the magic wasn’t there for me.

    That said, I do have more hope for the FIFA franchise than I do for PES going forward. I think FIFA have demonstrated that they’re going to put resources toward building the first legendary next-gen football game. I tend to believe that the team at FIFA look closely at the PES play experience, and will try to cull the best parts from it. For me, I hope that includes a robust editor. In fact, there’s no reason they can’t outdo PES in this regard, save that with their licenses they may feel there’s no need. Hopefully, their game-theorist PhDs will explain the psychology of the creative fan to them. 🙂

    PES, on the other hand, hasn’t shown me that they are in touch with their market — this would be somewhat typical, as the Japanese gaming industry tends toward the insular. I wouldn’t expect criticism from the fan-base to mean much, until such a point when we stop buying PES, and their numbers plummet. By that point, it may be too late to stop the rot.

    Of course, none of that detracts from the fact that last-gen PES was a fabulous franchise, and PES 2008 for the PS2 really is a work of beauty. Seabass and Co. (curse them) understood the platform and made a great game on it.

    But alas! My copy from Europe just died (as in, won’t play at all), and there are no Option Files for the American version — and no software for editing them that works, either. To be honest, an un-patched PES 2008 with the dumb names and all-caps text (which genius thought that up?) is unplayable for me. I’m spoiled by my Euro copy with a round dozen good OFs.

  9. ck—the UEFA2008 demo is probably an early taste of where FIFA09 is roughly going to land. There are still loads of problems with it—I will never like the shooting, I think—but the speed issue that alienated so many has been addressed.

    That’s terrible news about your Euro PES2008 – why won’t the OF files etc. work on a US edition? And have you tried playing the disc with your PS2 standing on its side/laid flat yet?!

  10. I don’t know why it won’t work. I was playing it (using a tool that lets me basically hack around the region coding), pulled it out to watch a movie, put it back in and now my PS2 tells me it’s not a PS2 game disc! I think it may be scratched and some critical signifier is lost? I don’t know, really.

    Option files don’t transfer between the two games. They’re essentially the same, so again, I’m not sure why it works this way, but US PES won’t recognize European Option Files. Further, there is no desktop software editor for the US version the way there is for the Euro version, so creating one is a loooong, laborious process.

    I have this PS2:

    So it’s flat the whole time.

    I’m sure you remember the saga with this game that I went through this Christmas — I could always just bite the bullet and order another Euro verison, but with the dollar so weak against the Euro and shipping costs so high, it’d be like paying $70.00 or $80.00 for a $29.95 game.

    In the interim, I’m back to PES 2007, and I have to say it’s still really good. It’s funny how the little things you can get away with change. Wingers in 2008 are king, but in 2007, it’s all about the strong CF.

  11. Ahhh, the beautiful slim new PS2. What an incredible piece of kit the PS2 was/is. I just wanted to say that. I got my PS2–an old-fashioned ‘fatty’ that can be stood on its end—in 2002 and it was still working fine when I ‘retired’ it in the middle of last year. And no—I will never part with it! Not only is it useful insurance should my PS3 ever go on the fritz, but it’s got incredible sentimental value for me. God knows how many 1000s of hours I’ve spent on that machine.

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