Old timey wimey

I’ve had a great idea for how Pro Evolution Soccer might be saved for old-school players. More in a tick.

I’m played 5 matches since last time – 4 draws and a solitary win.

The draws either finished 0-0 or, if I took a 1-0 lead, the AI eventually got its goal and then the match finished 1-1. I’ve no specific gripes about being rubber-banded by the AI. It’s been the same in PES for years and always will be. It’s one of the things we agree to look at through half-closed eyes and pretend not to notice. The price of admission is our willing suspension of disbelief.

Forced draws seem to be part and parcel of Top Player with the team I currently have, at this juncture of my trajectory with PES2018.

The 5 matches were all played in a single session. They were notable for being a run of matches without a single AI foul in them. This is not rare for me.

While playing, I noticed that there were as usual many instances of contacts that instinctively should have been called as fouls – for me and against me – but instead the player went through that animation where they rise to their knees and spread their arms wide in the universal Ref! Ref! gesture.

Like this:

I noticed that these instances – Ref! Ref! – happened roughly 3-5 times per match.


A simple idea for Konami: give us the option of making every single instance of Ref! Ref! an actual foul.

Everywhere on the pitch, at all times, give us a Settings menu option to Enable these moments as actual fouls.

This would also yield a penalty (at both ends) in a decent proportion of matches, and a respectable number of general fouls per match. Too many? No. Better that than few, or none as is practically the case now. And you can turn it off if you don’t like it.

At a stroke, the no-fouls and mesmerising flow (not in a good way) that plagues nuPES would be resolved. Old-timey players like myself would be appeased.

And the online masses don’t even have to know it’s there.

It would take 1 line of code. It’s a simple workaround that would silence almost every gripe there is about nuPES, because as I have pointed out many times, no-fouls is just one surface symptom of the ‘frenzied flowing fun first’ philosophy that has taken over the series.

If Konami were once again to ‘allow’ fouls (I can’t believe it’s got to the point where we’re almost literally pleading for Pro Evolution Soccer – Pro Evolution Soccer – to include a basic feature of the sport, but there you go, that’s what’s happening), the insane end-to-end lurching is resolved. Player individuality is massively resolved. Hardly ever getting to take a free kick in shooting range is resolved. Never getting a bloody penalty – resolved.

Those who don’t like it don’t even have to know the option is there. Let them continue in their blissful button-mashing trance states, online or off, as they please.

It could work. I know it could work because the greatest ever PES game – PES5 – was the greatest ever partly because of its stringent fouling model. The player eventually had to ‘give in’ and play in a certain way. The proper PES way.

I can think of several objections. Such as:

‘Quite a few of those Ref! Ref! moments aren’t meant to be fouls – the point of them is to represent the way real-life players appeal for everything, justified or not.’

Well, they all do look and feel like actual fouls to me, but even if you’re right, I’m saying to ignore that for the sake of the computer game we’re playing. There’s a higher need. Make every Ref! Ref! moment a foul, regardless of whether it’s ‘really’ one or not, and suddenly we have fouls back in PES, and proper rhythms to a typical match, and even player individuality. Not to mention regular shooting-range free kicks and a smattering of penalties. Worth it, surely. It’s a net positive.

The only thing that can salvage PES is to split the online game and the offline game. The only sensible way to do that would be something like my suggestion.

Without something like this, PES will haemorrhage old-school players in massive numbers as the years go by. The online players will doubtless prop the series up, but only the truly deluded will believe that PES remains anything like the series of the first decade of this century. I think I have done well to hang on this long. PES2018 is scheduled to be my last-ever new PES game.

So how about it?

To recap: give players the option in Settings to switch those moments where a player does the whole Ref! Ref! thing to ‘Ref calls a foul instead’ (for and against you). Leave that switch off by default, and the onliners won’t even know it exists. And the old-timey players can get on with playing a PES more like the one they expect. At a single stroke, the majority of our gripes are resolved. With just one line of code. Otherwise, PES hurtles headlong into the multiplayer micro-transactional abyss.

Simple. Easy. Effective. Necessary.

Updated: 19th January 2018 — 11:46


  1. abbeyhill: Well, if you have the time to do so please share it with us. I’d read whole books on old-PES adventures; and you’re right, player individuality is fantastic. I have a 28-men squad right now on my ML and literally every single one of them is distinguishable.
    Regarding the tactics, my main problem with 4-3-3 was the fact that I couldn’t put together effective counterattacks. My two winger/side-midfielders would help protect the wings, the three midfielders would be busy in the middle and so when we got the ball back only the striker was upfront…but since the opposition left at least two players in the back, there were always 2 vs. 1 player of mine and either we’d take a long time to attack, using my striker to hold the ball and wait for the midfielders, or we’d lose it rightaway. In a game which is hard to exploit because of the balance between teams, if you can’t counterattack you’re easier to contain.

    Honestly in the PSP version the AI’s shorter but more agile players are the hardest to defend against, not necessarily the fastest or the strongest. When I’m the one using them, players who are as fast as they are tall are usually useful, but not always. There’s this guy who’s a 1,98cm, 94-top speed, 80+ dribbler who should typically be a cheat player, but his very low mentality and teamwork makes him kind of an unstable loner up front who can’t contribute much – he’s seldom valuable when my team can’t build-up play and I need a guy who’s basically an american football’s Running-Back to burst through the defence with speed and power.

    not-Greg: To me it sounds like a nightmare, but your description is probably accurate. PES former success is a living proof that if you put a great, ahead-of-its-time product out there, there’s a chance (a big one) most people will recognize its greatness. To see Konami move from that to “let’s cater to the audience”, having in consideration that there’s a much more established product doing the exact same thing, it’s just appalling to me. I don’t want them to cater to my needs because I’m not a programmer, I know nothing about what it takes to make a great videogame. I give them money because I trust on them to show me what a great videogame is, but if suddenly their expertise counts for nothing, their product loses all its value.

    Anyways, they’re having the condemnation they deserve: back when they bet on innovation they were the best-selling franchise, now they cater to whatever they think the public wants (or rather whatever they know the public THINK they want) and so the sales numbers show they’re practically dead – like a headless chicken they’ll run around a bit, technically still alive, but everyone knows soon it’s all going to be over.

    About PES2011 (not my beloved PSP version, the next-gen one), it’s possibly the greatest PES if the greatest PES is a combination of Gameplay + Graphics + Realism. All recent PES lack in Gameplay and Realism, whilst PES5 would be the opposite. I reinstalled the game in my PC a week ago and tried it for the first time in years and not only the gameplay has that joy + realism that’s typical of old-PES, but the players’ tactical behaviour (my cup of tea, as you’ve noticed) is fantastic. I spent half of a match just focusing on my back-4 controlling the depth of the defensive line – all AI controlled – and honestly, you could show it to any real-life football manager and he’d approve it. It’s THAT good.

  2. Turf – Hadoop is definitely not a typo.

    Apache Hadoop is an open-source software framework used for distributed storage and processing of dataset of big data using the MapReduce programming model. It consists of computer clusters built from commodity hardware.

    Chris – Not that expensive for a decent BI implenetation, are they looking to do on the cheap then? if so you may be better off looking at the Web version of Power BI from MS, or a product called SiSense. Nowhere near as scalable though.

    Orlando – PES 18’s sales are actually better than they have been for quite some years.
    And the PC version outsold the last 5 years in just this one year, so as far as sales go, Konami have an indicator that what they’re doing is great, and working.
    Ironically the PES Mobile game sold in the millions.

    Microtransactions are here to stay.

  3. Paul – Doesn’t every consumer want more features for less money? Shtum.

  4. “Hadoop” – a shout used by geordies to tell their friends to wait for them. Synonymous with “hadon” and “hadyerhosses”.

    Frank Muir

    (You’ve got to be of an age to know what the hell thats all about).

  5. Ha-doop. An exclamation made when one steps in something suspicious

  6. Of course Chris – just in the case of other cheaper BI options, they’re not scalable across an organisation, hence why a lot cheaper.
    If you want to be able to give the product to a few end users to run pre built reports or do some self-service analysis then cheaper options are great (bare in mind many are cloud hosted so there’s the issue of data security if you are uploading your companies data into a cloud environment) whereas Tableau etc have server installations which sit within your own business and you can push and publish reports to webspaces all over the business with different levels of access and security on.

  7. Apache! Hadoop… the last words of General Custer at Little Bighorn.

  8. Very good Cook. Hadoop was named after one of the original programmers, Tony Cutting’s sons toy Elephant, which he named Hadoop.
    They used the name because it was easy to say, spell and to google.
    History lesson 101.

  9. Most amusing Cook, although sadly inaccurate given the absence of the Apache from that battle, so I’m saying Bluff.

    And I don’t buy Paul’s for a second. I’m going for Lloyd’s dog mess idea.

  10. Anyone can compose a fake web page and populate it with fake news about fake names. You’re the Hillary Clinton of call my bluff…

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