The Snickers Man

Holding steady in the top 6. A reasonable chance of making the Champions League. A few too many draws, but I’ll be disappointed if I don’t at least finish in the Europa League places. PES2018 Season 7 is ticking along very nicely indeed.

A good sign is that I have other games to play (my various Civilizations and XCOMs) and other things to do (plenty of books to read and TV to watch). But I am choosing to play PES2018 instead.

Context is everything. I had a dental appointment yesterday morning. Just a check-up, but beforehand I always worry incessantly that I’ll need a tooth filling or two. I struggle to cope with needles and numbness, and having to lay still while strangers loom over me, one of them with hands at my mouth. Pain is almost the least of it.

But I got the all-clear. When you walk out of a dental surgery as a middle-aged man with nothing to worry about for 6 months – which might as well be a hundred years away – the world looks very different to when you went in. I was buzzing. The sun was bright. Food and drink tasted great. Everything was wonderful – including PES2018.

I went home and played some PES2018. And had a great time. So good, in fact, that I want to praise PES2018 (before I bury it around the end of February).

PES2018 is a good football game. That’s what it does right. Plain and simple. No, it’s not a good PES game, but that isn’t PES2018’s ‘fault’, in a weird way. PES as we knew it was effectively retired after PES2014 hit the skids. It’s taken me four years to accept the truth. PES of the PS2 and PS3 eras is no more.

Let’s imagine that PES never existed in the past, and that PES2018 appeared on its own, out of the blue, without any historical context.

What would we think of it?

We’d be blown away by it!

If we didn’t have past-PES to compare, PES2018’s bare trickle of player individuality would seem like a lot more than it is.

The odd foul here and there would seem like just enough. (We’d have nothing to compare no-fouls to. No PES5 in this Mirror Universe, remember)

The offline career mode might seem a bit basic, but we’d be loving that too. ‘Nice to have a straightforward and simple managerial setup without all that player interaction and training rubbish, eh?’

Essentially, nuPES only seems like a poor effort because I so vividly recall everything that came before it. So I’m constantly wanting nuPES to do things that it’s not designed or intended to do. It’s designed and intended to be a fast-flowing, fun game of the year 2017-18. And it does that very well. PES2018 as a standalone football game – called Super Soccer Pro, or something – would be a secure 8/10 or even 9/10 computer game.

It’s only when I assess PES2018 as a PES game that it’s as weak as dishwater. As a PES game, PES2018 is a 5/10 effort at best. (Sneak preview of my end-of year score, there.)

But what if I stopped assessing it as a PES game and just played it for what it is?

That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few days, and particularly yesterday, post-dentist, it felt pretty good. I was up until 2am playing. I scraped through to the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup after going down to 10 men against Millwall and staging a heroic comeback from 1-0 down.

Yes, all my players still feel almost the same as each other and there’s barely any interruption to the merciless ‘flow’, but I can get past that. When you stop wanting PES2018 to do what Golden Age PES did, the game works.

‘So! Does this mean you’re reconsidering your decision to boycott PES2019…?’

Groan. I’ve got 9 months of this.

Updated: 23rd January 2018 — 10:56


  1. All good in the hood.
    That’s what I’ve been doing, focusing on PES 18 as a good game of footy, rather than being a great PES game, and in that respect, its superb.

    Haven’t managed any more games this week as Im away in Manchester all week on a training course, but am also having fun, enjoying playing and actually looking forward to key matches coming up.

  2. I suspect it could only be an 8 or 9 out of 10 if FIFA 18 also didn’t exist.

  3. My reward for winning a match was 0-17 in the next four games. I’ve concluded that none of the defaults are worth singling out, for giorza, seiffert will do, Jarvis and arcas can be swapped, redmond, castledine, vrany – makes no odds, they are slow, clumsy and hopelessly outclassed no matter that their stats may be on a par with the opposition. Superstar clearly gives a big boost to those opposition players who are flicking, back heeling and generally engaging in footsal like nonsense in what’s meant to be the rough end of the Scottish premiership. They are all up for sale.

    And the chairman is starting to warn me. I’ve already been offered the hearts job so he can do one if it continues.

  4. Turf – whats 0-17 ? goals scored and conceded? in 4 games!!! Shocking!!! 😉

    PES difficulty levels work in crude ways.
    There is a % increase/decrease applied to the stats as you move through the levels.

    For example:
    Take say, Burton Albion, if one of their players is rated 55 for shooting, 60 for tackling, 58 for passing etc then this will be the base values on Regular, move up to Professional and its a +8% increase across all stats so that player then becomes 59 for shooting, 62 for passing, 65 for tackling etc.
    +12% increase for Top Player and +16% increase for Superstar.

    So now, on superstar that same player is rated 64 / 70 / 67 – this applies across all players, therefore bumping up the overall team strength, as a result.
    End result is players play much better than they should be able to, as Burton have now become Everton, and Everton now play like Bayern etc.

    The AI isnt intelligent enough to work any other way, it just boosts teams, so a lowly Burton defender that shouldn’t have the ability to perform flicks and turn tightly, and be skilful, on SS level, does, which leads to 90% of the teams playing very similar.

    NOT the AI we need.

    *% increases may not be exact, could even be higher, but that is how they work.

  5. Correct gf 0 ga 17. I had a good example of the stat nonsense and how bland the player individuality experience has become when Jarvis (79 explosive power, 73 speed) was caught when one on one and five yards ahead by a lumbering centre half with a 67 mark. They put all their resources into developing the tricks and representations of the top few players and everything else could be labelled grey mass of bodies. Putting up the difficulty does as you say simply make them way better than their numbers would have them. I’m not finding much difference at all in how teams play, it’s simply harder than 2015-17.

  6. Exactly Turf, Konami have been lazy and rather than make teams pass better, press harder, defend better, they have simply given a stats boost across the board as you go up the difficulties, thats why on SS its easy to get a thumping or 4 from anybody, because there is zero difference in feeling when playing Burton or playing Barcelona.

    In a way it works because here I am in Season 8, still having not won anything, and ‘only’ on Top player, but the way Konami have engineered the levels, they have effectively made SS and Legend difficulties null and void, so in effect, TP is the highest ‘playable’ level.

    As a test I played a friendly on legendary, I was Napoli and the COM was Perugia (Italian Div 2 team). I went 2-0 up, then suddenly the com team just went into some weird untouchable, force shield like state and scored 4 goals within 10 in game mins to win 4-2.
    Sod that over 40 matches with the added ML difficulty layer.

  7. Paul – The AI That We Need is giving me some good matches at the moment, on Top Player. My regard for this PES2018 AI is a very general overview-style appreciation of the kinds of challenge it offers. At more fine-grained levels of scrutiny, no, it doesn’t stand up.

    Uncle Turf – ‘catch-up bug is definitely gone this year!’ – the summertime multiplayer previewers, every year without fail.

    And I always think the forums and community at large give Konami a pass on the so-called catch-up ‘bug’ by calling it a bug instead of acknowledging what it is – a deliberate nerfing-balancing technique.

    Chris99 – not played FIFA18 yet, but I have to say that part of PES’s transformation from PES into ‘generic 21st century football game’ has been the way it has come to seem so similar to FIFA. So my 8 or 9/10 would probably apply to both. On-pitch gameplay is 99% of that metric, of course. Factor in off-the-pitch stuff (Career Mode, The Journey, licenses et al) and the calculation changes.

  8. Paul, varying difficulty levels are needed to cater for different levels of ability and whilst I agree Legendary is nonsense…someone, somewhere is finding it a breeze. I would rather it be too difficult than not difficult enough as per PES2017.

    I find SS enjoyable, just the right challenge level but I agree completely the methods used to implement the difficulty aren’t intelligent. Within the system you describe above is another where the player receives a boost against better rated teams. I’m the the stage where a game against Man City is relatively easy but West Brom needs 100% concentration.

  9. nG – Agreed. A game can’t really be 9 out of 10 when you are having to excuse so much of it, even if you are only interested in the offline side of things.

  10. I think one thing we can all agree on this year is commentary. It is the worst I have ever known. Three times in ten minutes of play Beglin said that there was plenty of ebb but maybe some time for flo. It’s embarassingly bad and a mark of how little investment in the game there’s been over the years. I fully expect 2019 to trot out more, and more and more of the same.

    And insanely, with me bottom of the Scots (PEU) league, I’ve been offered the Sampdoria jjob. I’m declining as it would just be silly. House rules for jobs have to apply otherwise I’ll be going from failure to Champions League overnight.

  11. Chris99 – there’s an interesting psychology as work when it comes to PES fandom. There’s no conscious ‘excusing’ process at work. A typical PES fan doesn’t have to set aside all the game’s faults when performing an assessment of its worth. All that’s required is a mental comparison to the glowing afterimage of how things always were for so long between roughly 2000 and 2014 (or between 2002 and 2006 for the total purists). As we’ve touched on before to your bemusement, the mental attitude is that PES automatically starts at 10/10, and the game is only ever judged by its on-pitch performance. Whatever score the game gets is entirely pitch-based.

    You’ll often hear a certain kind of PES fan (emphatically not my kind) – many of them reading these words – who’ll critique any criticism of any PES game along the lines of ‘PES is my team and you don’t abandon your team because of a few dodgy results!’, an attitude that first cropped up in the benighted Year of PES2008(PS3), and for which the only word is pathetic in every sense. I.e. PES is perceived not as a product but a transcendent force, akin to a religious entity, that demands allegiance and worship no matter what it does.

  12. Uncle Turf – I don’t care about the commentary, plus or minus. As I remark above to Chris99, commentary is one of the off-pitch aspects of PES that never forms part of the consideration when it comes to a PES’s worth.

    The best House Rule for other managerial jobs is not to take any.

  13. How do no fouls manage to pass without a much bigger reduction in your experience? Personally, I’m not that bothered that one foul per game seems the norm – I thought I would be but I’ve got used to it (and what a terrible indictment that is) – but if you are focused so much on the on pitch action it would be a huge clunking jobbie in the pot, far more than a one or two Mark drop. I know you have mentioned them regularly and in vehement terms but are they not a game breaker? Like the ridiculous AI in something like watchdogs which allows you to walk in front of enemies who were shooting at you five mins previously. I’m actually enjoying this early grind but there are so many obvious niggling flaws, sloppy bits of work and omissions that bother me more than what seems so familiar now. 2015 was far worse as it was no fouls and nothing at all, not even sloppy work. I’m going to say it, and it may sound insane but I would take no fouls and manager job changes and all that frippery done well over fouls and one club for life.

  14. And if anyone tells me the advanced tactics work I’ll nod and smile…..gegenpress is laughable, it’s simply do nothing at all. I have yet to see any pes offer real differences between your off the ball movement and opponent approaches. It’s really the same AI setup for every match.

  15. Uncle Turf – PES2018’s no-fouls is horrible, isn’t it? Never in my wildest nightmare did I ever think we’d go from PES2017’s 1.5 fouls per match to this state of affairs with my average currently around 0.2. Which is effectively 0 for all the influence that fouls have on most matches.

    I’ve spent the best part of 4 years doing little else but rant about no-fouls! They very much are a game-breaker. The unique psychology of the PES-conditioned player means that I have had to spend all these nuPES editions raging my way through a lesser PES experience just because it’s my settled habit for me to play PES. I now feel strongly motivated to break this Manchurian-like conditioned spell that I’m under. No PES2019 = freedom from something that I no longer wish to be a slave to.

    And re. Advanced Tactics – other than False 9 and the wing-walking one (which the game easily nullifies), they’re all makework. Ditto the tactical sliders – we’re just monkeys playing with dials and levers that do nothing, and it’s been that way since PES2010. Some people vehemently believe they’re effective, though, so I think you’ve just got to be polite and pretend to agree that people’s delusions are real.

  16. That’s what surprises me, that you’re still wringing some enjoyment – quite a bit it seems – given your pursuit of on field, dare I say, purity? I’m much more shallow and would happily take a more wham bam game if it had great graphics, commentary, beefed up ML, etc etc. i think one reason I see so few fouls is that the ball rarely stays at the feet of any AI player long enough. 150-200 passes by the AI per game is the norm, and they all play like that. I have conceded so few fouls and had no sendings off. In season 1 grind that’s unheard of. I guess the mark of your disgust is ultimately in the absence of the thumb come sept 2018. What remains to be seen is how many other boys are standing on their desks shouting O Captain my Captain.

  17. Because I am a conditioned PESchurian Candidate who has to finish it now, and it is a good football game. It’s a bad PES game, though, and that’s the only metric that really counts. After playing through 4 editions of this nuPES branch of the PES family tree, it looks like they’re staying put with it – this is now just what PES is. I just cannot take another year of it. Not when there is the entire rich history of the series to dive into, some of which I never played at all (all the lost PS2 PESes from PES2009 on) or left only part-played (PES2011).

    I want and hope that everybody here will go through with their usual release week schedules. I’m actually looking forward to seeing and hearing their views on PES2019. The first few days it’s all ecstasy and the Joy of PES, of course, but it’s the echo of something that doesn’t apply anymore.

  18. Fair dues. I’m enjoying it myself and I think it’s because I came late to it, I haven’t had that early excitement butterfly being crushed upon the wheel of meh. And the fact that Paul gave me it free. Realistic expectations from the game nowadays count for a lot.

    I’m currently in the transfer window and can barely scrape together enough to sign a single player. The numbers are just all wrong – release fees are ridiculous, wages are insane when set against budgets, I can’t even renew some default contracts. I reckon I’ll start the second half with 16 players then jump ship at the end of the year, if I’m not pushed. I’m not on challenge but I keep getting warnings.

  19. About an hour of wheeler dealing last night to try and get something out of my tiny wage budget. At one point I had 16m in the bank and a wage allowance of 44k. Arcas, castledine, hettich, coutinho all gone. My new keeper and cf gone after half a season. Half a dozen youth teamers brought in, basically anyone on less than 100k. In most cases the stupid release fees meant I had little choice and couldn’t renegotiate. Looking at the frees there was one player who stood out, no wonder we’ve all lobatoed, it would be frackers to ignore him. I’m not a fan but he will end up making me money. If I stay, the chairman has already indicated he’s not a fan.

  20. Commentary is undoubtedly the worst its ever been.
    So many repetitive, nonsensical and out-of-context phrases, delivered in totally the wrong way, really detracts from the experience.

    As I’m away in Manchester all week, in an attempt to while away the hours in may hotel room, I installed FM2018 – 4hrs zoomed by last night without me having to even play a match.
    So much to do, so much detail.

  21. Uncle Turf – that transfer/salary budget gap only gets wider and wider, exponentially, as the seasons pass. Last time I looked I had about £180m transfer and £16m wages.

    Paul – it’s the Commentary That We Need!

    Ahem… That level of faffing around in FM games before you get to the matches is what stops me playing a modern FM game. I’m aware of Classic mode, but at that point I’d rather go back to CM0102 et al.

  22. What I want to know is why autocorrect thought ‘frackers’ was preferrable to my chosen word of ‘crackers’…

    The number of times I’ve started a neu-FM game and given up before a season is out is incredible. Partly it’s due to my old slow laptop but mainly it’s because of the extreme tinkering. I’m tempted to play it on modern style but simply leave most of the settings out of the box. I know you can assign coaches etc but most of them have rotten stats when you first start. It’s a shame as having a game to play while watching tv would be handy.

    Nice try at planting a cover story Paul – I think we all know that a week away ‘on a training course’ is just an excuse for you to attend one of those ‘charitable men only parties’ we’ve been hearing about in the news

  23. you got me Turf.
    If I wanted a management career mode where theres not much to do, I’d just play PES ML with coach mode, so I like the level of detail in FM18, you can delegate a lot of menial tasks, and I started with Liverpool so have a decent starting squad of staff.

    Trying to sign Butland, offered 10mil plus Lovren, they accepted, but Lovren rejected Stoke, as did Moreno when I tried with him, so the deal has fallen through both times, even got the director of football to offer Lovren around clubs for a cut price fee, no one was interested,
    So realistic.

  24. The demise of PES correlates directly with Shingo Takatsuka (Seabass) being moved on to other projects by Konami (circa 2015). He was the original founder and instilled all the values of the old PES classics. I doubt PES will ever be the same again.

  25. Andy why do you think he was moved on Pablosaur?
    It was because Seabass wanted to keep on making innovative football simulations, focused around offline experience, where as Konami’s business model/vision was to push online and generate revenue from Microtxns, so as he no longer fitted their vision, he was moved on.

    So PES faltering since Seabass’s departure was actually due to the underlying factor of Konami changing their direction with the series,

  26. My new look st Johnstone keep on getting whacked. I doubt my contract will be renewed – 1 win, 3 draws, 13 defeats. Whole months go by without me scoring.

    Abbeyhill – this is your kind of experience.

  27. Turf – it does indeed sound my kind of experience. The problem is that so is PES2011 3DS, which comes bundled with fouls AND player individuality for free!

  28. The question is, how do you know that you are in the right difficulty? You win a lot? You win everything? You win 50%? You win 25%?

    Usually for me there is a difficulty where I win 95% of the matches and in the next notch I lose 95% of them…

  29. Am I in the right difficulty…I’ve scored 10 goals in 19 games. My chairman is now describing my season as a ‘train wreck’.

    I’m not sure if I can be sacked outside of challenge, I know they can simply not renew my contract as it happened regularly in 2015-17. If I don’t complete a season then I’ll restart. And if I restart I’m not signing anyone as it’s utterly pointless in season one.

  30. the right difficulty is always the highest difficulty JS Hutt – just stick to that by default and keep playing regardless of defeats, as Turf is doing above

  31. Uncle Turf – you can’t be sacked on Classic. The warnings you’re seeing are from Challenge, popping up in Classic as per typical Konami sloppiness.

    abbeyhill – I believe Uncle Turf is playing on Superstar, not Legend. He hasn’t even got the consolation of Purity.

    Pablosaur – it really is as simple as that, yes, along with the conscious change in direction to focus on the dreadful online side of football gaming. ‘Online PES’ is a phrase with about as much credibility as ‘Shit-filled cake’.

  32. So – looks like I’ll get promoted to the premier league in season 1. I’ve moved up to first place in the championship after 9 wins in a row with about 10 games to go. Solanke was no flash in the pan either – 6 goals and 1 assists in 7 appearances. Strange because my first “try” on my now-corrupted save had me struggling quite hard…

  33. Yes I have to admit, I’m on superstar. It doesn’t feel any different in terms of tactics this year, just harder, as if every opposing player has been given a 10% boost. legend would be utterly pointless. Literally. Keepers are not amazing, I’m simply not getting anywhere near the goal most of the time and when I do the defaults are so bad that I can’t convert. Lobato is little better, he’s simply there to be sold for a profit.

    A restart is definitely feeling appropriate but I’ll stick it out now to season end, only seven games in my fortunately shortened league. I’m not sure I could handle a 38 game run of this.

  34. Turf, Championship is 46 games though. A couple of seasons of that is a grind.

    #1, are you using the evowebs pitchside adverts mod? Each premier league team has custom boards. The guys have done a fantastic job. Do you have any recommendations for mods?

    I’ve been aiming to buy players with high 80s stats in a couple of attributes and found some individuality as a result. My CM has a rocket shot although conversion rates are low it’s a good tactic against the camping defense. I have a little dribbling master at CF who can’t hit a barn door from 5 yards. The other CF is a lumbering giant there for headers but it takes him an age to control it. It makes it a little bit like old PES.

  35. Cook – I am. I’m using “kilays save folder” which is a collection of mods, containing aboards for all leagues (championship, eredivisie, you name it) . I highly recommend it – look for it on evoweb. I’ll provide the direct link later in any event as soon as I’m able to. It contains a host of other stuff as well one of which is that not all names are in all caps anymore. Just a little touch but it looks nicer. Also contains extensive tactics / formation tweaks for all teams, one effect is that I haven’t seen the outrageous CPU transfers that others have reported. Two transfer periods in and most top teams are still intact. Added bonus if you ask me.

    Second recommendation – all gameplay mods (without exception – I’ve tried them all, as I have last year) so far do nothing so don’t get tempted (like I have) to test them out – utter waste of time!

  36. #1 – Thank you, I’ll take a look this evening. I’m looking forward to modded FIFA 18 at some point before the new football game year, do you have much experience? I’ve avoided the gameplay mods for now, I’m hopeful something turns up but unless someone with the necessary skills comes along late in the day it’s not looking promising.

  37. Cook/#1 – one of the most perplexing mysteries of the current era of football gaming is the strange lack of these ‘realism’ mods (I’m aware of Operation Sports’ realism sliders for FIFA, but it’s mods I mean). You would think there’d be a glut of mods for things like ball weight, player inertia, fouls of course, and all manner of things that would make the game(s) more respectable from a single-player perspective. But they’re completely missing! Is that about the difficulty of modding, or is it about the values having shifted at a fundamental level, and the fast-flowing-fun philosophy being triumphant?

  38. NG – I assumed with the community being that much larger for FIFA there would be some realism mods. Maybe because the mods aren’t for online use they’re not a priority for the realism fundamentalists. Fouls are mentioned by both PES and FIFA communities as a problem though not by many.

    Or the tide has turned as you mentioned above, flippin’ millennials.

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