Month: July 2017

PES5 Alive

A month or so ago, I grasped too early for PES5 on PC. I was still not really able to play on PC with the same convenience and ease as on console. And I had a nagging feeling that my business with PES2017 wasn’t done. Also, my third mistake was to start Master League from scratch, with the grindiest Defaults ever, after a long and exhausting PES2017 campaign.

Today, PES2017 is firmly done. Oh yes. There is not one particle of me that wants to play that game again (in a mostly positive way).

And after a domestic rearrangement (i.e., clearing out a spare room and putting a desk in it) my computing circumstances are such that I can play PES5(PC) as straightforwardly as on a console. Pull out chair, power up computer, play.

And finally, I’ve jumped into a Master League that I’ve been playing, on and off, for years. About 6-7 seasons in.

I’ve been having a couple of matches per day. PES5 is the gold standard for PES — for football games — that will never be toppled. Never.

Disgusting pandering to online multiplayers? No.

Fouls galore? Yep.

Player individuality in bucketloads? Oh yes.

Glorious goals. Wonderful rhythm to defence and attack. Deep, profound, interesting. Oh yes — and PES5 is ‘fun’. I mustn’t forget fun, the thing that ‘whippersnappers nowadays’ wrongly think is what PES always used to be primarily about. (10-15 years ago, FIFA was ‘fun’. PES was so much more than mere ‘fun’.)

I wish I had time today to post an awesome hat-trick from the young Schwarz. One for next week.

Here is the squad of players that I will be playing this classic game with over the coming weeks:


The last day of PES2017

PES2017 has ended for me. I started my usual Monday session yesterday, made it through a tepid 1-1, and thought, actually, this is the end of this now.

My Saint Etienne career will never have a resolution. My steam has well and truly been run out of.

PES2017 collapsed like the car at the end of the car chase in The Blues Brothers.

It’s almost the middle of July 2017. PES2017 was played more or less continuously (save for that week-and-a-half when I toyed with PES5) since September 2016.

13-and-a-half seasons of Master League.

That’s some pretty good going. The game’s stubborn longevity will be reflected in my end-of-year review of the game at the end of next month.

I will spend the time between now and the PES2018 demo flip-flopping around some more. Just relaxing and enjoying myself, and filling up my batteries for the next great campaign.

I might end up on PES5(PC) once again, and this time give it a proper go. Except, if I do, I won’t be starting over, or even resuming my Season 2 Defaults save. Instead I’ll land in media res on my long-established 7-season career. This means bypassing the long, painful seasons of acquiring better players, and skipping straight to the part where PES5 gameplay is the classic gameplay I remember.

I also have a wonderful installation of PES2013(PC), patched to its eyeballs, that I fancy stopping by for a while.

Ditto PES2011(PC). This game is arguably more PES2014-style unfinished business for me. I walked away from PES2011 back on the PS3 without ever winning anything.

And then there’s PES2014 itself, on the PC or PS3. Arguably the game’s last ‘true-PES’ instalment. We’ll look back in 10 years and say that PES2014 was the dividing line, mark my words.

That’s it. There is no more today. I haven’t played anything else yet.

I did watch a video of PES2018. I wondered how ‘responsiveness’ became the watchword for a generation, when all it seems to achieve is to make PES look like a frantic mess. And eerily like FIFA too.

But they can never take the old games from us. I’ll spend the next few weeks wallowing in the rich heritage of PES. And maybe FIFA too, who knows. (FIFA07 on PC? I might just do it, you know…)

End-of-year-review of PES2017 to come near the end of August. The score will be somewhere around 8/10. I’ve got to decide how savage to be about no-fouls. I’m thinking ‘moderately savage’ at the moment.

Sarah Cracknell, can you hear me? Your boys took one hell of a beating

Only a few matches since the last time. Is right now the summertime slump for football gaming, or what? I still want to play a football game, and I do play one, but the real urgency isn’t really there at the moment.

Saint Etienne are heading in the right direction. I said last time that I want to finish in the European qualifying spots. I do my best to win every match with my low-rated team and threadbare squad. It makes every match an interesting battle.

It’s so hard to score goals with a low-OPR team. I suspect the game has a scripted goals-limiting formula in place. I make great chances, but don’t finish them. ‘That’s because you’re playing with poor-statted and low-skilled players, and/or you’re just not good enough,’ would be the standard objection from a scripting-sceptic (of whom there are surprisingly many still around). Perhaps.

I have experienced what might be one of my most humiliating defeats in any PES ever.

Matched up against Paris St Germain, I was gratified to find that they actually played like a top team. Strong, fast, aggressive, skilful, dangerous.

They had a man sent off early in the first half. Naturally I expected to go on to win – maybe not comfortably (nothing is comfortable with a team like my Saint Etienne), but I still expected to win.

I lost 0-3. It’s worth emphasising what happened here: I lost 0-3 against 10 men. They went down to 10 men when it was 0-0. Nothing like it has ever happened to me before in PES. And I wasn’t even unlucky. Just overpowered at the back and neutered at the front.

Truth be told, it doesn’t seem to make a difference how good the matches are. I’m definitely starting to flag with PES2017. I think this season, and maybe one more, and I’ll be ready to take a break before PES2018’s arrival.

Here’s the current table – despite losing a few matches now, and drawing too many, the league table scripting has kept me very much in touch with the European places:

The Armpit and the Pantheon

Sometimes in PES it’s not the spectacular goals that impress us, but the ordinary goals that look so perfectly lifelike.

I’ve been very vocal about decrying the way so-called ‘team goals’ are salivated over. A team goal is where there are 20 or 30 passes that culminate in somebody side-footing the ball into the net from four yards. Then you have to listen to the commentators squeeing over it afterward.

Sometimes you have to watch the whole thing again with a numerical counter in the corner of the screen racking up the passes. Yawn.

I see team goals as being ordinary goals. Yes, buildup is important and satisfying and an integral feature of a good goal and so on. But the real defining moment of any goal is the manner in which the ball is dispatched into the net. And so, for me, any 25-yard howitzer is a better goal than any four-yard-finish team goal by many orders of magnitude. (A team goal that was finished with a 25-yard howitzer would, I admit, be a truly great goal. Has there ever been one?)

But ordinary goals can be deeply satisfying too, in real life and in PES, depending on context.

Here is such an ordinary goal. The scene is thus: 1-1 in a tight Ligue 1 encounter, in my second season with Saint Etienne, using a severely underpowered House Rules squad, having escaped relegation by the skin of my teeth in my first season, and now trying my best to do something in season two – challenge for the top 6, get a cup run going, anything.

A corner on the left. Peter Crouch lurking in the box.

Yes – in PES there is something spookily lifelike about a glancing near-post header that flashes across the goal and creeps inside the post on the other side, isn’t there? Especially when it’s delivered by a beanpole like Crouch (who then wonderfully ‘armpits’ his much-smaller teammate during the celebration).

I don’t often show my ordinary goals on the blog – my bread-and-butter goals – but as you can probably imagine, they do comprise 95% of all my goals scored. And most are satisfying in their own ways.

Crouch’s glancing near-post header secured a 2-1 win. I’ve won and drawn enough to be in mid-table, lurking on the shoulder of the top 6, Seb Coe-style.

Realistically, I’ve probably got two more seasons – this season and one more after it – left in me before PES2017 collapses like the Blues Brothers’ car when they stopped outside the Cook County building. Enough will be enough.

So it’d be nice to take Saint Etienne back into Europe before I finish with them and PES2017. In that light, my number 1 target for this season must be to qualify for Europe in some way, via the League or Cup.

Every match is a battle, as is only right with a squad like this. I am currently still very much loving life in the slow lane with Saint Etienne.