PES2014: a very belated end-of-year review

PES2014-largeMy PES2014 adventure has come to an end, and with it one of the most rewarding and personally satisfying spells I’ve enjoyed on any PES game.

For 3 years, PES2014 was always The One That Got Away.

The one that almost nobody played. The one that almost everybody disliked, or even hated.

I didn’t like it either, originally. I can forgive lots of things in PES, but PES2014’s complete absence of long-range shooting was unforgivable. Long-range shooting is the ‘moneyshot’ of football gaming. You can’t have a great footy game without it. It took them far too long to even partially fix this issue with patches.

The late patches in April-May 2014 resolved most of the game’s issues, and even made it possible to score some long-rangers. I picked up the game and played it, off and on, every now and then, and looked forward to a time when I would give it a proper go.

That time came along this year. I’ve played 11 seasons in Master League. It’s been a remarkable experience. The past five months’ blog posts must be seen as constituting my detailed impressions, so I won’t recap everything here. But I will sum things up.

The final table of my final season:

PES2014 season 11 final table

This was the Team of the Season:

PES2014 season 11 TOTS

Bit disappointing to get just two players in there.

PES2014 season 11 final awards

And I lost the Champions League final to Barcelona, who were as good as their billing.

The AI in PES2014 is one of the strongest I’ve ever come across in a football game. Its variation of attacks and goals is pretty outstanding. Yes, there are moments of stupidity, but these came to seem part of the charm of this eccentric edition of PES. If I was scoring PES2014 on its AI alone, it’d get a solid 9/10 from me.

Those readers who have watched Tuesday’s spoken-track video will already know from my sign-off that I regard PES2014 as the last football game of its kind. What does that mean?

It’s my settled view that PES2014 was the last football game designed with the single player uppermost in mind.

After the caning that Konami got for a risky PES – one that tried a few new things, that not enough people liked – multiplayer became the priority. I understand why, even if I deplore it. It’s just the reality of the market. There’s little point bemoaning it, although of course I will continue to do that.

I started playing PES2014 in January this year. That’s five months of solid football gaming.

My main finding is that ‘responsiveness’ – automatically seen as a good thing on the PES forums – is a grotesquely overrated commodity in football gaming.

PES2014’s notorious lack of responsiveness is the game’s best feature.

Lack of responsiveness is what makes a football game a football game, rather than an arcade-em-up with 22 nimble ninjas pinging a ball around a green rectangle. Yes, that is an unfair description of PES2016, but it’s not completely unfair.

Football games of 2016 and beyond could do with more sluggishness, more clumsiness, and more all-round lack of responsiveness. Sadly, the expectations of online multiplayers now dictate the content and style of football games. Online multiplayers expect fast, flowing, responsive, ‘fun’ gameplay.

PES2014 often isn’t fun. But here’s the kicker: Classic PES was never about fun.

It’s a flagrant rewriting of history to claim that ‘fun’ was the defining characteristic of the era of PES that everybody harks back to (PES2 to PES6).

Yes, it was fun – but it was so much more than fun. Fun was just a subset of its greatness. PES2014 harks back to that hallowed tradition. Fun has its place, but it’s not at the forefront of the experience. It’s not dished up to you. You have to work for it.

In that sense alone, PES2014 was perhaps the last game of its kind.

And so we come to my final review-style score for PES2014, which poses me a problem.

9/10 would be too high. 8/10, on the other hand, would be too low. 8.5/10 would feel just right, but I don’t deal with halves…

So I’m going to invent my own unit of measurement, and give PES2014 a final score of

43 RESPONSIVENESSES OUT OF 50

Which is a cunning method of giving it about 8.5/10 anyway.

8.5/10 (or 43 Responsivenesses out of 50) is at least double the score I’d have given it back in 2013/14 itself.

It took a lot of patching and a lot of time for PES2014 to come up to snuff. And I would still say that PES2014’s shooting is the least satisfying shooting we have ever seen in PES.

But overall?

PES2014, it has been a pleasure.

29 Comments

  1. Got the day off work and had a mini session this morning. Scored a long ranger with Dendoncker you’d have loved; 35 yards out, a dipping shot that smashed the crossbar making a delicious thud as it rocketed down behind the line. Had me jumping off the sofa.

  2. excellent final review of PES2014 not-Greg, does the game full justice. 9/10 for me, perhaps because I’m not so bothered about long range shooting. Right up there with PES2012 and PES03 in the all time classics

    And what are you doing next?

  3. Chris99 – I really do value long-range goals a lot more highly and struggle to understand the attraction of these these godawful ‘team goals’ that everybody seems to orgasm over when they happen. Spain’s ‘team goal’ in their Euro2016 match tonight was just nothing. It always fascinates me the way commentators and pundits go crazy for team goals. I’ve never seen one that was worth a damn. They all end with a side-foot into the net from 2 yards. Give me a Payet or a Hamsik thumper anyday – they’re worth a hundred team goals.

    abbeyhill – it had to be 8.5. Long-range shooting (which I love, as per my reply above) doesn’t even really happen in the fully patched PES2014 until you start getting players rated over 85 or so. I don’t take my end-of-year review-style scoring all that seriously, though. The quality of the experience was more a 9/10.

  4. NG – that’s the thing as long rangers do happen at all levels of the game but the games feel that your players have to reach a certain level before you can score them. PES 2014 wasn’t the only game guilty of that.

    Reminds me of my favourite North End goal of all time. The year was 1983 and North End were on the evening highlights. They somehow started the season well and found themselves in 3rd behind Hull, who they played on that day away. Me and our kid could not contain our excitement that day and looked forward to the game all day.

    The score was 1-1 in the second half and North End scored the winner from the most unlikely of sources, our fullback Mark Jones. Now if he was in PES game he would have shooting stats of no more than 10. He wasn’t even a good defender and got loads of abuse. The goal went onto being voted 3rd in the TV programmes goal of the season competition.

    Here is the video of that game. For those that want to skip the full match the goal is scored on 13:33. But you will miss out on
    the half time entertainment:-

    https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=udcROSRypNk

    Later on he came to a Junior Whites supporters meeting when I was a kid and was taken a back, when I said he was my favourite player. So much so he sent me his boots at the end of the season.

    He would have no chance of scoring in a video game.

  5. nG – I see what you mean. BBC are calling it a sublime 22 pass move. I just watched it, but it wasn’t one touch or intricate or fast or anything special. All it really had was a nice through ball and an unselfish pass at the end.

  6. NG – only two team goals stand out. One is Brazil’s goal in 1970 and a goal scored by Arsenal last year with all 11 players involved.

  7. Now then, where was I….ah yes, I’m back on the pes horse. Far cry has descended into some well executed but ultimately identical missions with some ludicrously simple solutions – ah here’s a large base, there’s an elephant, those guards are all walking about in close proximity to that elephant, a bow and arrow you say? Yes, werd, I do fancy primal as it sounds very different and much more challenging but I’m now two years into the zero income life with another two ahead, I’m simply not able to take a punt on games still at near full price.

    I’ve won one league game and one cup game in season two, lost the other two, and so far they’ve been goalfests. My squad still includes the likes of Richard Harty, bajszoros, voleimann, et al – 11 defaults in my 18 – so survival is my aim. As its top player though I’m anticipating it won’t be the awful grind of my previous career. End of season one brought no serious job offers but unlike everyone else on here I would consider one if I do well enough this year. We shall see.

  8. not-Greg – oh I would certainly agree that real life long distance howitzers are more enjoyable than tippy-tappy stuff. Sometimes on PES (5,2010,2013) though it feels like these shots are automated to hit the top corner rather than requiring much skill. PES2011 had the balance exactly right, you could hit some screamers but it wasn’t easy

    Turf – hurrah, you’re back to keep me company on PES2014! Have you still got default RB Paccini? Gets better and better every year, now up to 82 OVR in season 7.

  9. I have to hark back to my snooker thoughts when it comes to team goals. Team goals are like century breaks: technically remarkable, yes, duly acknowledged, but the degree of commentator exultation is out of all proportion to the excitement generated in me, which is pretty much zero. A great goal in football is spectacular at the moment of execution. A great frame in snooker features both players visiting the table often and competing all the way to the final colours, ideally to the final ball. I’d rather watch an hour-long snooker frame between Griffiths and Thorburn circa 1983 than any lightning century break from any modern snooker player. I’d rather watch Doncaster Rovers in the Zenith Data Systems Cup on a wet night in February than Spain in any competition at any time.

  10. Darryl – your link doesn’t work!

  11. Abbeyhill – yes, though like feisserzeln (or similar) he doesn’t play much as an RB doesn’t fit my system. That said with two red cards in the first six matches he may be deployed in whatever position I need. Cracking game back against Southampton, a gellacza shot off the bar and down over the line a la Lampards disallowed Germany goal put me one up and I was then battered for 60 minutes, not getting another shot, finally conceding an equaliser but feeling happy with a point. Second game I beat palace 2-1 with some retain ball tactics. I’m going to be ok, I have started well enough to avoid relegation but it will need a very patient approach against this AI with my current squad. Desperate for cash and the January window.

  12. NG – I have just clicked on it and it did work.

  13. Played first four games of a PES 2014 ML career yesterday. All enjoyable games and won one and drew two league games on professional with 1 bar passing. Also lost 2-1 in the cup to Arsenal. It was the patched version and still no idea how I have got it. The best thing for me is that the issue of player stamina has been resolved now.

  14. Internet silence for the next 4 days!!
    Fishing and beer commences at 2pm.

  15. Mini Shed got me FIFA 16 for Father’s Day and now I find myself studying endless lists of slider/difficulty settings.

    Someone stop me!

  16. Shed – since halting PES2014 I’ve had a dabble with FIFA16, of which more on Tuesday. You won’t be disappointed I think. And I think this’ll be your first non-PES footy next-gen game? I think PES2016’s graphics are great, but FIFA’s are indeed better. The eternal FIFA question is always: Can that initial ‘wow’ factor last?

    And you don’t need to touch the sliders at all IMO. As for difficulty settings, I went with Legacy defending and semi-assisted everything else.

  17. Darryl – the link still not working for me on Chrome or Safari on Mac. I think I know the problem – it’s a mobile link – and will fix it if I can.

    I’ve no idea how you have the fully patched PES2014 either. Maybe your PS3’s previous owner left the patch files on the HDD. If so that’s a staggering slice of luck. If not, it can only be magic. Either way, the universe seems to want you to play PES2014, so it’d be rude not to.

    Uncle Turf – Top Player is rather high-scoring on PES2014.

    Lloyd – just when I’m thinking about playing some PES2016 again…

  18. It’s an unpredictable fish that’s for sure. Just beat Liverpool 1-0 in the cup after having my only decent defender sent off after 12 mins. Liverpool simply never got going, no high pressure press, no keep ball, nothing – don’t recall making a save. Next game could be a battering at the hands of Norwich. If it were 2015 I’d not be able to field a team as the fatigue would rule out as many players as I have suspended.

  19. n-G – Fifa 16 is indeed my first non PES PS4 footy game. Rather impressive I must say. Bloody hard too. I’m mindful that I’m still slipping into the old trap of playing it like PES but, playing friendlies, I’ve really struggled even on professional level and the same kind of set up as you.

  20. Is this blog a microcosm of the increasingly tiresome debate dominating the news? – NG opts to leave just as Turf and Darryl remain with Abbeyhill, Shed fancies his chances outside of the current format and Lloyd’s gone fishing…

    Head down and power on with season 2 for me now. It’s not time critical as I won’t be a 2017 early adopter – I know I’ve said that every year since 2013 but it’s really not worth the money at the moment. In my non-footy game pile I’ve got Arkham Knight which I might look at sometime as I assume Fallout 3 will distract me hugely.

  21. Turf – Is it Vanilla Fallout or GOTY?. Just before you leave the vault create a new save as if you want to restart you can load that one and save going through the prologue.

    Darryl – my Wii U’s previous owner left me a fully updated Mario Kart and a tasty Windwaker save on the HD!. Sounds as though you have been lucky.

  22. Plain old vanilla, had it for ages Werd. Sounds like Oblivion, cheers.

  23. I enjoyed your story with PES2014 ML NG which panned out similar to mine in the end although I did manage to win the CL final which was close for you by the looks.

    Spring time in Season 5 PES2016 for me now. I won the CL last season and have since won the Uefa super cup,, world club championship and manager of the year for the second time (the first courtesy of winning the world cup with England). I still can’t get near Barca in the league (9 points adrift but they only lose to me) but comfortably second. Just lost to Arsenal in the CL quarter final first leg but that was largely thanks to the international break literally breaking my first team. Lesson learnt and next year will see a squad of 30 players. Pogba on his way to compete with regen Pirlo in the CMF/DMF slot in the summer and Streling to add to the midfield/wing options. Pogba’s wage dwarf anyone else in the first team at £7m per year on a 4 year contract but the way PES2016 is I can offload if times get tough. I’m relying on CL knock out stages each season to keep the budget on track. One thing I like is, despite the ease of transfers, keeping with players does pay off through their team role development. I now nearly have the full house and the development and performance bonus of other players have been affected. The patches haven’t rectified the fouling/slide tackles or anything else game play wise I can note.

    Th potential improvements for PES2017 sound promising but the proof of the pudding will be after a few weeks of play. I hope the ML difficulty is more PES2014 than PES2016.

    Fallout 4 is still not getting played. I think I only really enjoy playing PES and CIV4 these days. Speaking of CIV Not Greg, have you been following the Civ VI news?

  24. Uncle Turf — you already know that PES2014 is the queerest fish in the aquarium, and now as the seasons roll by you’ll see just how strange. West Brom will give you the hardest game you’ve ever had in your footy gaming life, and then Juventus will roll over. That sort of thing. I have to say that the usual PES2014 way is for top teams to play like top teams, so your Liverpool must have been randomly dice-rolled to be weak on that day. Assuming Liverpool are one of your ML’s top teams of course. They were decidedly upper-mid-table in mine, as in recent reality.

  25. Cook — Civilization is second only to PES in my personal excitement list, and of course it’s only every 5 years or so that we get to celebrate the arrival of a new edition of Civ. Like many I share the misgivings about the art style — none of the playtest vids that have surfaced have filled me with confidence on this front. I didn’t like Civ Revolutions (PS3) or its cousins (tablet/phone) for their graphics and comedy-cartoon approaches. I’m praying the final Civ VI game doesn’t feature any comedy voices, cartoony humour, or garish graphics. We need a nice sober serious grown-up Civ game. I ended up thinking Civ V was superb. 1UPT worked wonders for me. The AI could have been better. All in all, I am, as they say, ‘stoked’ for October.

  26. It being 2014 Liverpool lined up with Suarez, Gerard, sterling, coutinho, etc and I thought I was in for a tonking. Not a peep. I’m loving top player though, hard enough to be a challenge and yet offering variety in both my play and the goals I concede. Superstar was too much the same relentless grind and would not have improved such are the transfer restrictions.

  27. Congrats on the league and completing the missing chapter of your PES Bible.

    Starting to feel the annual PES twitch again with the E3 news of 2017 in the works. I’ll be getting it on PC this year after 2016 turned out to be every bit as good as the PS4 version (a console I don’t own anymore). I was impressed with the option file/patch for the PC version, makes me regret all those hours I spent editing the console version. No more!

  28. Tommy – I was messing about with a few of the PC PESes yesterday and thought how much richer the overall experience is than on console. The latter will always be more convenient for me though.

  29. Last night of fishing and I have an Internet signal, I am also very drunk. That is all!

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