Between the wars

I’ve yet to start playing anything else in my post-PES2014 world. PES2014 was a huge, filling meal of a football game. It’ll take a while to feel hungry again.

The urge will come back — it always has before, and there’s no reason why it won’t again. For now I’ve been amusing myself with other games. Not just other football games, of which more below, but other games.

I think it’s time for Witcher 3 to get a good play. How could I not?

Kaer Morhen

When I was growing up in the 1980s, if I’d seen a screenshot like this one I’d have gone stark staring insane at the prospect of the world I was growing up into.

I played a couple of hours of Witcher 3 some months ago, enough to know that the game itself more than lives up to its promise. I’m also very partial to an in-game cardgame, and Witcher 3 has a doozy.

I’m not going to like the mushrooming quests and sub-quests and sub-sub-quests, but I will see how I do.

And there’s other football games too.

I’ve had a few matches on The Greatest Football Game Ever Made, where I scored these two beauties with a certain J. Mathieu popping up in that famous DMF hole:

That second goal won the ECC against Barcelona. NB: this is all only on 4* difficulty.

Am I tempted by PES5?

I’m always tempted by PES5.

I’ve also been back to PES2016, and played some of FIFA16.

Here’s a vid of four goals. One from PES2016, one from FIFA16, one from PES2016, one from FIFA16.

The first goal shows what happened in the first few seconds of my very first match back with my ML team in PES2016, after 6 months or so away:

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve touched, really. I had a whopping transfer kitty in PES2016. I amused myself by spending much of it on Drogba.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2016_20160617125642

PES2016 could do with being a lot less frantic in the middle of the park. Those damned slide-tackles are the problem. They’re ridiculously effective. When out of possession, there’s no reason not to spam slide tackles pretty much all the time. There are rarely any consequences for getting one wrong. PES2016 is a no-fouls football game.

FIFA16 is also a no-fouls game for me, it turns out. Just as with PES2016, most of my matches in FIFA16 end with pitifully few fouls, or no fouls at all.

FIFA has been a good football game for pretty much the whole of the past decade. But I never seem to play it that much. FIFA15’s 5 Career Mode seasons was something of an anomaly.

If I was a betting man I’d predict I’ll play a bit of FIFA16 and then spend the last few weeks of the footy game year on PES2016, or maybe even PES2015.

It’ll be something on PS4. I can’t face the PS3 and its loading times again.

Although, having said that…

PES2011 is one that sort-of got away. Back in 2011 I flounced off in a strop about the stumble animation. Regular readers will know that I do this quite often, but usually slink back days later, sometimes hours later.

I didn’t slink back in PES2011’s case.

It’s generally reckoned, even by me, that PES2011 was one of the series’ finest editions. So there’s that.

I don’t feel any sense of pressure to make a decision. I’m just enjoying some post-PES2014 relaxation.

When I settle on a football game again, I might even choose to play a non-career mode.

But I will never play online. Online football gaming embodies the opposite of everything that’s worthwhile in football gaming. I include even ‘good’ human opponents in that sweeping judgement. I’d rather not play football games at all than play anything online.


  1. My favourite FA Cup final goal and final in that vid. Of course, had Brighton won the 83 final, that would be my favourite.

    Nice Fifa goals too. I’m planning on having another go on FIFA 16 tonight but the grind in learning a new game and battling old footy game habits has already got me yearning for some nice, comfortable PES.

    First I’ll be playing some “real” footy tonight – my second match in 48 hours. See that Woy?!

  2. Shed — I recently rewatched most of the ’87 Cup Final for the first time since that famous May day all those years ago, and it was as good a game as I remember it being. Ray Clemence didn’t really have a great game for Spurs.

    Re. FIFA16, I think it’s more our familiarity with PES and the PES way of doing things that accounts for the curious emptiness that settles over everything after a certain time. I think you have to play FIFA first in any footy game year, or it’s very difficult to get over that PES hurdle. My most recent serious dalliance with FIFA — FIFA15 — was most likely because PES2015 didn’t come out until mid-November that year, and so I spent a few happy months just with FIFA.

  3. One of my issues with FIFA, more so than pes as I think the rubber banding effort in pes is much stronger and you are nearly always in some sort of battle, is the length of the season. I’m old school, used to 16 team or so leagues and one cup so when you chug round to the thirtieth match and you’re mid table with possibly half as much again to go it just feels tiresome.

  4. Ooh – 2011. The best yet with the exception of course of pes 5 in my view. And the witcher! Gaming excellence. And you’re in luck as all the expansions are now out. Will be revisiting that very soon…curious how you feel it stacks up as a game-game versus the likes of mgs5.

  5. Uncle Turf – after two very filling ML campaigns I am quite fatigued of it this year now, which is why I doubt I’ll play a CM if I end up giving FIFA16 a whirl.

    #1 – sadly the PC isn’t a convenient gaming platform for me, otherwise I’d be on PES5 or PES2011 even as we speak.

  6. NG – are you tempted by the Kick Off revival game?

  7. Darryl – I never played Kick Off and Sensible Soccer first time around, and have always struggled to gel with the style of game, but I think I will be tempted when it lands on PS4 this week. I think I’ll need to see a few reviews first though.

  8. out of curiousty not greg, what gaming pc do you have?

  9. Played four more games of 2014 this morning and am 12th after 13 games. There is no doubt the patched version is tons better. The game is so different to any game out there as I saw the CPU attacker attempt an overhead kick this morning from around the penalty spot distance. I will be glad to start building my own team though. No idea how long that will take as unlike 2015 & 2016 I got no offers for my defaults and only was able to bag one player. No criticism there.

  10. I didn’t know about this new Kick Off game until Darryl’s mention of it. Just looked it up and it’s clearly geared to the online crowd. That said, it might be quite fun. I was a huge Sensible World of Soccer fan and played a bit of Kick Off on the Game Gear I think. The gameplay certainly looks dated now.

  11. leroy getz – I don’t have a gaming PC as such. The laptop on which I play games is a mid-spec Toshiba Satellite from 2014. It still plays everything I want it to play at a more than acceptable framerate etc. E.g. I just played 90 hours of XCOM2 on medium settings without a single problem, and there were owners of souped up gaming ‘rigs’ who had terrible trouble with that game. My very first computer of my own was a Toshiba Satellite, way back in the early 2000s. Great machines.

  12. Darryl – if you stick with PES2014 it will reward you, there is no doubt about that. Every session will show you something unique to that game and the peculiar quirks it has.

    Shed – none of the Kick Off trailers have impressed me really. It looks like a generic top-down arcade footy game for the online market. I really don’t have any Kick Off/Sensible Soccer nostalgia that makes me want to get it regardless, so I’m sitting this one out. The first time I ever played Sensible Soccer was on the PS2 in 2004 or so, when that awful remake was released. I played it some on the PC more recently, but I was never there in the 90s, and I think that’s when this series (and its cousin Kick Off) really sank their deep roots into so many ageing gamers. I can’t remember most of the 1990s. Great times…

  13. Sensible soccer on the snes was great, I wasn’t an Amiga owner so missed that sensible world of… era ( I actually downloaded the game that ran on a PC a few years ago and the f’kin thing had a virus so that got deleted sharpish). However, it got very easy to score, like striker, and long term it could only be a two player effort as you could rack up ridiculous wins. I only played kick off as part of the Kevin Keegan player manager game where they used the nuts and bolts for the matches. It was so bad I ended up simming everything. I don’t really see the gap in the market needing such a thing.

  14. NG – as we stand on the eve of the referendum, I think it is only right that you should let the Chronicles people decide what you play next.

  15. that was my first experience of ‘sensi’ too, on the PS2. Ghastly

    PES2014 giving me a severe kicking this season after the temerity to win the league, currently 14 points behind Juve who are winning every game, humiliated in the Champions League group stage. I checked the stats of some of the AS Monaco players who were instrumental in beating my Sassuolo twice, with a view to signing them. An ageing striker called Falcao who was literally unplayable, had speed 75, dribbling 76, ball control and body balance 77

  16. excellent idea Darryl, I vote for FIFA16! That PES2016 goal, where not-Greg managed to regain possession not once but twice by sliding in on the edge of the area, just looked awful. A bit of Witcher 3 and Fire Emblem Fates too

    as soon as that poor Labour MP with the young kids was killed last week I knew there was only one outcome to the referendum

  17. The first half of tonight’s Ireland-Italy match would be Exhibit A in my courtroom case for why professional football is not a credible sporting contest. When referee ‘bravery’ is a factor in a sport, and it certainly is in football, then you simply don’t have a sport. You simply have a sporting-themed dramatic occurrence. QED.

    Darryl – it’s an intriguing offer, but I must decline. First I’m enjoying not playing anything in particular at the moment. Second because there’s a chance (even a likelihood) that the voters would require me to play something I don’t really want to play. One of the blog’s core principles is that I blog about my footy gaming, rather than play footy games for the sake of the blog. I.e., I don’t do anything I don’t really want to do.

  18. abbeyhill – I never played more than one or two matches on PES2014 Superstar for that exact reason.

    And that PS2 Sensible Soccer game has to be one of the worst games of any kind I have ever bought with my own money. It was so ridiculously bad it was almost worth getting just for the experience of it.

    I got the ‘proper’ remake on XBLA a few years later and agree it was and is a decent computer game – but having missed out the first time round, I don’t feel the love or reverence.

    And that PES2016 slide-tackle is just… words fail me, really. Probably the single worst mechanic ever to be introduced to the series. You’ll note the slide tackles are in PES2014 as well, more or less the same kind of ‘splash zone’, i.e. you can hook the ball from long distances, Bobby Moore style, if done right. But in PES2014 you’ll give away fouls and recieve yellows/reds if you tried what you can get away with 99% of the time on PES2016. No fouls+slide tackles=a constant, fevered, churning quality to the gameplay that I have always felt is un-PESlike, no matter how much ‘fun’ it is.

  19. not-Greg – I have a horrible suspicion that Eurogamer gave that game 10/10! I do like the site, so I won’t dig into the archives to confirm that suspicion

    agreed about PES2014 Superstar, but after the monumental achievement of winning the league I’m pretty relaxed about what it throws at me from here. Unlikely ever to win the treble but just enjoying the gameplay. regen Anelka signs in the transfer window, making the squad even more top-heavy, will need to find some way of making a 4-2-4 work soon

  20. They gave it a decent review, but I don’t see a score. I do remember the game generally got average reviews, including from the leading magazines at the time (remember those times?!). But I’d got myself so hyped about finally getting to play the legendary Sensible Soccer that I ordered it anyway. I think I played it twice.

  21. if you check the second page of the review it’s 9/10, so thankfully not full marks!

    I suspect I’m the only person on here who still buys and reads gaming magazines in paper format? Edge, GamesTM and GamesMaster every month, not to mention Viz and Gardeners World too

  22. Ah, I skimmed the text to get the sense of the review and missed that Next button. I’d have given it 4/10 if it’d been me. Maybe you had to be a Sensi fan to appreciate that PS2 game. But nobody talks about it (the PS2 game) now, so I think our view of it was more correct than the reviewer’s.

    I don’t buy games magazines anymore. I think I stopped around 2007-8ish. I still have a pile of old OPSM2s and Edges somewhere. With cover discs.

  23. Abbeyhill – could not agree with you more with regards to the referendum. Very convenient wasn’t it. So last Thursday some polls were showing Leave as having a 10 point lead and growing. There was talk of them being the bookies favourite by the weekend. Then the death of one woman changed everything. If that is so called Democracy, then they are welcome to it. I still think Leave will win as postal votes had already been submitted before the event last week. If you do vote tomorrow be sure to take your own pen.

    NG – Understood – For the record I would have gone PES 2011.

  24. Morning. I’m finding season two is being really kind after a mad opening, a win against man Utd after again going down to ten men – 2014 is very harsh on anything resembling dangerous tackling, 2016 players would lose the match by default – then a draw with Spurs. These teams are typically eight to ten points ahead of me in their averages so the future may be a little too easy. I am aware of the bite you on the arse factor though. The problem with going up to superstar is I love the variety of this one, my time on superstar was like the first match of a new ml every single time – scrap and push to get anything. Wanyama is starting to look like a beast but I reckon in January I need three centre halfs, three midfielders and two forwards. I’ve got 500k…

    My vote is for NG to play ‘this is football’, the lib dem of the early FIFA-pes wars.

  25. Darryl – PES2011! The other One That Got Away. And it’s a good example of why I really can’t throw my next footy game open to a public vote. After 5 months on the PS3, I’m keen to get back to the PS4. I’ve fallen in love with the PS4 all over again this past week. I’m a pampered, spoiled man, I know. So my next footy game must be PS4. It’ll probably be FIFA16, but could just as well be PES2016. Depends if I can be bothered trying to unpick the PES conditioning for a month or two.

    Uncle Turf – I quite liked TIF on PS1 – until I played ISS for the first time. It was like going from a packet of crisps to a sumptuous banquet. There was no going back.

  26. I vote IN… I mean Fifa 16. Just because I’m playing it. In fact I played it far too much last night having finally started to get to grips with the very different brand of video game footy to PES 2016.

    I’ve so far just played friendly after friendly after friendly and have just got to the point where I can keep the odd clean sheet and maybe nick a winner as Brighton against middle-ish Premier League teams. I’m using manual passing but semi crossing and shooting on Professional and it provides a fairly balanced game on default sliders.

    I’m considering starting a career mode but not as Brighton. I’ll keep them for PES and go for another team with which to enjoy FIFA’s ridiculously polished game in comparison to PES 2016.

  27. Shed – Just a warning that if you start in the Championship or lower be prepared for some very long seasons, especially if you get the odd cup run. You may find yourself simming dead rubbers to move the season along.

    nG – Played Sensible Soccer on the Amiga and loved it. But that was early 90s and I never had the inclination to revisit.

  28. Abbeyhill – I still buy Edge most months and the odd copy of retro gamer if the articles catch my eye.

    Call of Duty:Ghosts nearly finished and I’ve been quite impressed with it actually. Varied gameplay including underwater combat, space combat and controlling a war dog as well. Definelty the best of all the ones I’ve tried. Timesplitters 2 on PS2 is still the best ever though.

  29. Chris – Thanks for the warning. Fifa 15 on the PS3 was the most I have got out of a CM and, like nG, that was only because of a late release for PES 2015.

    I know I’m in for a slow grind and I’m quite prepared not to reach a conclusion with FIFA 16. I’ll certainly not be splashing out on FIFA 17 straight away, even if this game proves to be something more than a footy game to have ticking over.

    I have to admit that I find myself wishing FIFA would really stick with me. As much as I love PES, reading the previews I couldn’t help but feel fatigued by the mention of Master League. New interface and transfer system just sounds like the same old format we’ve been stuck with for years now.

  30. The big lead ‘sell’ on pes 2017 of the importance of first touch would seem to be undermined if they continue with no fouls, in the same way that 2016s collision physics (or whatever it was called) was. Why will it matter that your left back can’t trap a bag of cement if he can hook slide the opponent from behind to get it back.

    The story mode in FIFA sounds like the WWE wrestling mode, meeting your rival in the locker room, if that’s not an Americanisation I don’t know what is. I reckon I’ll be on FIFA 15 after this pes, I will be relying on you all to tell me how far it’s gone from the single player experience.

  31. Shed — the thought of once again building, painstakingly, brick-by-brick, another long career in either ML or CM doesn’t appeal to me at the moment. Done it twice already this year, not currently interested. I might be in the mood again next week, who knows. I’m preparing something different for tomorrow’s post, and Tuesday too.

    Uncle Turf — the reviewers gushed over 2016’s collision physics, but it was a mostly cosmetic feature with barely any gameplay attached at all. First Touch will need to be backed up with consequences or it’ll be the same cosmetic stuff again.

    Chris99 — I think the appeal of Sensi is rooted in the time of its origins. Few if any gamers are getting into it nowadays. I know I tried, and didn’t succeed.

    Lloyd — I remember Timesplitters2 getting a huge 10/10 from OPSM2 magazine. I bought it on that basis and didn’t like it. FPS and me have a very chequered history. Loved Halo and Half Life 2, not played much else.

  32. Something different? Hurrah, Loss Time is back!!

  33. Fire up PES 2013! Join me in worshipping at the sexiest altar konami have ever bestowed upon us!

    End of my 4th season in my current ML with Sevilla, it’s taken ages to be able to sign any players I had shortlisted (my team ranking jumped to 40 though so have just splurged on Bojan, Salomon Rondon, and Albin Ekdal, sold NIELLENDNER for 11m to Roma, still have GELLAZCA and NOUHEI, will let them go when the price is right)

    But this season brought one of my most emotional moments EVER on any PES, I’d valiantly battled through to the Coppa Del Rey final against my bogey team Atletico Madrid and after an awesome 2-2 draw went to penalties. I’m usually very good in shootouts but I lost 4-2, I was numb! It was as if I’d just watched my beloved Man United lose a final in real life.

    God damn PES 2013 is good.

    I recently bought Resident Evil 4 off the PS store as it went down to a bargainous 4.99 but not played it yet. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop playing PES 2013 completely.

  34. nG – Spot on, and that was a long time ago when expectations were vastly different.

  35. Rather strangely with sensible soccer I played a version on the sega, a machine I never owned, and it included different foul consequences – I can’t remember if it was yellow cards to the Agnes’s straight reds or whether you might not be shown a card when the snes always showed one – but I distinctly remember where I was and when I realised different ports of games had different aspects.

  36. Mike – I still believe that a Spanish ML on 2013 is one of the finest things PES has ever offered us

    Great call on Resi 4 too. I’m planning a nostalgia few weeks later in the year where I’ll download the remasters of all my old favourites such RE4 and Rez. The climax of course will be Ico

  37. Turf – Should Agnes have read Amiga? Although the Amiga’s graphics controller chip was called Agnus.

  38. Resident Evil 4 is one of the best games I’ve ever played, and I say that as someone who never loved the RE series at all and still don’t. RE4 is simply a classic console game up there with Halo, Bioshock, MGS3, etc. Absolutely superb.

    Mike – I’m not gong back to the PS3, sorry. And I can’t quite shake off the memory of a poor ML with inflated scorelines in the original year of PES2013.

  39. Oops, good spot chris99, it was “snes”.

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