We don’t need another Pirlo

I had a long session with the PSP version of PES2008 the other night. What can I say? It was a hot old night, and I didn’t fancy putting my 360 through its paces. The PS3 is a lot happier in the heat, of course, but I can’t face the thought of PES2009 right now. It was nice to just relax with the PSP in my hands, playing a genuinely great game of Pro Evolution Soccer. By the by, I can’t keep saying ‘the PSP version of PES2008’. I’ll be referring to it as PES2008(PSP) from now on.

The year is now 2022 in my Master League career on PES2008(PSP). I have a large squad of 30 players. It’s a squad of uber-galacticos. It’s the most star-studded squad I think I’ve ever had in PES. I’ve got Kaka, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Maldini, Giggs, Lampard, Vieri, Prieto, Bradley, Pirlo, Schwarz, Camacho, Rio Ferdinand, Cech, Buffon, Saviola, Del Piero, Roberto Carlos… These are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head.

I have over 450,000 points in the bank (so I can confirm that you can have more than 99,999 points, oh yes), but no desire to spend any of them. Not with this squad. I was top of the league with four matches left in the 2022 season, and in the final of the Masters Cup.

Valencia were always my strongest challengers in the PES2008(PSP) Master League. They lay in 2nd place, and were my next opponents. Now bear in mind that it’d been about a month since my last game on PES2008(PSP), and I’ve spent most of that month on FIFA09. I thought it was bound to be a bit strange. And it was, at first. I adjusted, and won the match 3-1. And that, I assumed, was that: the title in the bag.

My next match was the final of the Masters Cup against Real Betis. A Regen version of Michael Owen was their lone striker. I won the match easily, 3-0. And then Real Betis were my next opponents in the league. This should have started alarm bells ringing immediately. I lost it 0-1.

My penultimate League opponents were Barcelona, who I’d always found easy prey in PES2008(PSP). Not so now—or was the game up to shenanigans? I had 16 shots on goal and hit the right post, the left post, and the bar, but couldn’t score. Nor could Barca—it ended 0-0. I checked the table heading into my final match against Atletico Madrid and was shocked to find myself in 2nd place with Barcelona top by 2 points. I won the match against Atletico 3-2 (having been down to 10 men), but Barca won their match as well, and took the title.

I wasn’t too downcast. We all know what old-school PES is like. Putting up with bizarre and suspicious turns of events is part of the price of admission. It was an exciting end to the season, and a great way to run my PSP battery all the way down over the space of an hour or so on a hot summer night.

All I can say is, comparing last-gen PES with this-gen PES, where did it all go wrong? And it definitely did go wrong. PES2009 on PS3/360/PC is a decent game, but decent isn’t good enough for PES. If a PES game isn’t great, it’s a failure as a PES game. Good simply isn’t good enough.

What happened to the magic formula? I think they dumbed it down. I think they tried to give PES a bit more of a mass-market appeal. They tried to pinch some of old FIFA’s territory, and things spectacularly backfired. The strategy blew up in their faces—and, sadly, in ours.

Today’s playtest of PES2010 by WENB, PESfan, and selected others is welcome news. It’s unfortunate that the playtest will be wrapped in the swaddling clothes of Non-Disclosure Agreements. We might as well not know that it’s even happening.

Possibly some hints will leak out, though. If PES2010 is a great game, if it’s the major step up that we were all anticipating two years ago, then I don’t think some of the participants will be able to contain their excitement. On the other hand, if PES2010 is, like PES2009, just a good game—just PES2009 with better graphics and a few extra animations—their reactions will be more muted, more controlled, more in the “it was an early build” kind of territory. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out over the weekend.

Of course, they might say nothing at all. Konami will be watching to make sure the NDAs are respected. That’s fair enough. So it may be a few weeks before we know for certain.

For me, PES2010 is the burning question of the summer and of the entire gaming year so far. It’s the franchise’s last chance. It’s now or never. Nothing, and I mean nothing, would give me greater pleasure this year than hearing PES2010 really is a step-change for PES in this generation.

That’s the dream, anyway. And it could happen. Will it happen?

11 Comments

  1. Yeah, let’s stay tuned for possible leaks, and above all the mood and excitement level of our community leaders.

    Interesting to read about your PSP Master League. Do keep us updated through the summer. I don’t get the title of today’s post: Pirlo is the best central midfielder in the world, just shading it over Xavi, IMO. USA v Brazil in the Confed Cup Final! I am hopeful we can make amends for a poor group stage showing. Watch this spot =].

  2. I think it’s looking gr8 for PES2010 – remember WENB gave PES2008 8/10 on the PS3 and PSM gave it 9/10 – so looking like 10/10 for PES2010

  3. Steph Wheeler—The post title relates to the fact that I already have Pirlo—and I also think he’s great. But he’s just one of several top-notch DMFs and midfielders in my crazily star-studded squad. Hence me not needing another one…

  4. alan_brazil—very droll 😉

    I actually think this year is the year the football game press – print and digital – will get it right. They weren’t the only ones fooled by PES2008. Back then, and for about a month afterwards, I thought it was a decent kind of game too. I’d probably have given it 9/10. It’s a good job I’m not a reviewer…. It was literally inconceivable to me that a PES game could be anything other than great. I think a lot of that attitude is still out there.

    Just a word to everyone (this is not aimed at you, alan) – I’ve had a few hair-raising WENB-related comments over the past few weeks. I won’t publish them and won’t respond to them in any way. They’ve been very well-written rants, but I don’t do swearing on the blog. I swear like the proverbial trooper in real life, but I just decided to go with non-swearing from the start of the blog and I have stuck with it.

    I think I’ll be talking a lot about WENB’s coverage of PES2010 over the next few months. Like a lot of PES fans I’ve felt disgruntled towards the PES press over the past few years, and have been critical of WENB and others. But I’m not that critical of them, and actually still like the site and them. (Me saying that will probably put me into the next group-sex scene involving WENB and Konami that people keep trying to describe for me…)

  5. Yep I found out about the +99999 points soon after I asked the question. It’s good to read about the PSP/PS2 version again. Ive moved back to them full time, I dont play any current gen football games anymore- not when theres better ones sitting there for the PS2. How do you swap the data onto the PS2 from the PSP? My PS3 just reads no save data even though the PSP is almost full?

  6. Not Given—PSP and PS2 save data is transferred from within the game(s) themselves. Both copies of the game have to be running on both consoles. Connect them with the USB cable and go into the appropriate menu option on both. It’s a while since I’ve done it but I remember it being quick and painless.

    It’s hard for me to predict what I’ll spend the next few months playing. As you’ve seen, I can chop and change in a moment. It’s not really like me, historically. Until a certain PES game came along, I played PES solidly all year round, day after day.

    For the next week or so I anticipate playing FIFA09. Or maybe BaL in PES2009 (unfinished business). PES2008(PSP) will also get played and I’ll be sure to mention what I’m up to. Potentially I could keep that career going in parallel to all the games, PES2010, FIFA10, infinitely…

  7. Not-Greg – OK fair enough if you want a child friendly blog. As far a WENB, I simply do not trust their reviews/previews – it’s obvious that Adam is a total fanboy and/or determined to ingratiate with Konami. The “positive comments only” policy on WENB is pathetic. They are nothing more than corporate shills.

    A shill is an associate of a person selling goods or services or a political group, who pretends no association to the seller/group and assumes the air of an enthusiastic customer. The intention of the shill is, using crowd psychology, to encourage others unaware of the set-up to purchase said goods or services or support the political group’s ideological claims

    “Shill” can also be used pejoratively to describe a critic who appears either all-too-eager to heap glowing praise upon mediocre offerings, or who acts as an apologist for glaring flaws. In this sense, they would be an implicit “shill” for the industry at large, possibly because their income is tied to its prosperity.

    Think that sums up WENB and the main guys running it!

    Or perhaps this better describes them: Claque (French for “clapping”) is, in its origin, a term which refers to an organized body of professional applauders in French theatres and opera houses. Members of a claque are called claqueurs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claque

  8. alan_brazil—like I said, that comment about other people’s WENB rants wasn’t aimed at you. Your stance on WENB is a reasoned critique.

    I’ve found it quite challenging and satsifying to write a regular blog without effing and blinding. It was never specifically thought of as child-friendly. I don’t think any child on the Internet is ever going to avoid ‘bad words’ for long. I had another blog before this one where I swore to my heart’s content (it was just a general, what-I-ate-for-dinner type of blog). I just fancied trying something different with this one

  9. not-greg – cool

  10. “On the other hand, if PES2010 is, like PES2009, just a good game—just PES2009 with better graphics and a few extra animations—their reactions will be more muted, more controlled, more in the “it was an early build” kind of territory. ”

    Well written. Exactly my thoughts. It’s NOT early when we’re in July, less than 50 days before the game gets burned on DVDs and shipped. However, good news on the WENB forums, Adam says that Suff (known for his preference of FIFA09 over PES last year) is even happier than Adam with PES2010 even after playing FIFA10 extensively)

    So… that’s something.

  11. TareX—I agree that is a promising sign from WENB. PES2010 is the first next-gen instalment where I’ll make a conscious decision not to buy it unless there’s a change of direction. Ultimately I’ll base my decision on a lot of sources, and the demo as well of course, but WENB will be one of those sources. They’ve never cost me a penny. I’d have bought PES2008 and PES2009 no matter what they said about them.

    The past few years has really seen a lot of deprogramming going on among the PES community, as if we were all cult members (and we were). It was formerly inconceivable that PES could be, well, bad; now, I’m thinking the unthinkable and planning to ignore PES2010 if it’s just PES2009.2.

    Somehow, I can still get excited at the thought of PES really delivering in this generation, and I will hope for that to be the case until there is definite evidence to the contrary. Anyway, here’s to the next few exciting weeks.

Comments are closed.