The 8th Session

Will you look at the state of that. UEFA Super League, Bundesliga logo, generic UEFA badge for Ajaccio… There’s very little in this screenshot that won’t trigger somebody’s footy game OCD.

The big news today is that PES2011 has PROPERLY arrived. Big-time. I’ve gone from lukewarm appreciation to full-on adoration.

The feeling that prompted me to go back to a Classic PES (albeit one I disliked originally) is finally here.

It doesn’t leap out at you straightaway. It takes some time to catch fire, but when it does. Wow. The last four years of PES haven’t been a waste – nuPES is a decent football game. But imagine what nuPES could have been with a sprinkling of the magic dust that is Classic PES.

I love Shimizu! One of the villains of many a PES – a weak player, with a weak shot – is surprisingly strong in PES2011, and I don’t remember him being that way. His shot, too, is wickedly fierce, although he has only scored one so far.

I have been trying to score a goal, any goal, to record and show here. In the end I scored a ‘scuffer’ that really wasn’t worth recording – and that turned out to be my only goal of the last 2 sessions. I’m having a proper Default debut season. Scoring a goal, any goal, is a major event.

Crossing in PES2011 is very peculiar, and I would say inferior at the moment – there seems to be little control over direction and power, with the responsibility for both being abstracted to the player’s stats, the context, the directionality, and so on. Arguably this is better – i.e. it’s giving me a more PES-ish crossing, which is what I’m meant to be doing here in the first place.

But I have to say that after several years of having a more subtle crossing control scheme, I do prefer the latter.

All of which is probably the only blot on PES2011’s copybook at the moment.

I have arrived, fully and absolutely, in the Land of Classic PES. It took about 8 sessions for things to click. I have had to heroically resist flopping across to one of the recent FIFAs, but it has happened.

My Advanced Start isn’t all that advanced, really. I’m still going through a painful Season 1 with the Defaults and the couple of decent players that I’ve picked up.

I keep getting caught offside, over and over again, sometimes 5 or 6 times per half. I’ll think I’ve spotted my striker in space and I’ll send a through-ball, aerial or ground, and – the whistle goes, and that famous long yellow line is superimposed on the pitch.

I’ve had a couple of matches that ended without any AI fouls committed against me. The average is about 3 or 4, which means that some do finish with 1 or 0. But some have 6 or 7, and it’s no coincidence that these are the better matches.

No-fouls/low-fouls was a thing in Silver Age PES on the PS3, but we never really noticed. Why? Could it be because the game overall was less arcade-oriented, and no-fouls/low-fouls didn’t seem so cheap? nuPES’s ice hockey-style frenzies are so egregious that we can’t help noticing no-fouls.

I’m training Palmieri in a skill card. My long-term vision is for Palmieri to lift the European Cup. He needs to be the complete defender and captain. I’m giving him slide-tackling at the moment. It’ll only take 72 (SEVENTY TWO) weeks.

One of the many sins of nuPES was its introduction of universal slide-tackling. Every player from around PES2014 on could extend a telescopic sliding leg that would not have been out of place as a grabbing arm in a children’s platform game. Oh yes, extreme slide-tackling was and no doubt still is ‘fun’, but it’s not PES and never will be.

But perhaps nuPES’s biggest sin (in a long list) was the way it enabled one-touch football as the default. You didn’t have to be in the zone. Nor did your players. You could always ping-pong your way around the pitch, with very little difficulty.

nuPES muscle memory constantly costs me in PES2011. You can’t one-touch your way anywhere. I’ve lost the ball hundreds of times already in circumstances where my nuPES muscle memory tells me I should be able to one-touch my way out of trouble.

It’s all pretty wonderful. I keep nearly scoring the greatest goals, but just missing out. I think they’re coming.

PES2011 is really here at last. Let my experience be a warning: it takes about 8 sessions to bed down. The last few years of footy gaming might have changed us too much.

Updated: 30th March 2018 — 11:58


  1. not-Greg – What, they actually said “fouls impede gameplay”? Well, given how things eventually turned out, I shouldn’t be surprised. Following that logic, they should build a wall around the pitch: no throw-ins, no corners, that’s unnecessary stoppage of flow. Ridiculous.
    To answer your question, it does interrupt the flow and everyday I thank the gods for it. A foul is a tactic/strategy, and this is something that developers either don’t understand or don’t want to. I’ve been having my counterattacks stopped at the middle of the pitch and I can only applaud when that happens because it’s REALISTIC. Also it has forced me to evolve my counterattacking strategies, now I force every player to spend less time on the ball when on the counter to try and not get fouled. This in turn forces me to take better and faster decisions, so I’m evolving as a player while I’m playing the game.

    The thing about PES5 that I didn’t remember before going back to it – and playing it quite regularly for the first time in a decade – is that you never know how many fouls you’ll get. It depends on your style of play, on the opponents formation, on how tired the players on both sides are – which is absolutely realistic – and on chance too, I guess. I’ve had a whole half without a foul only to have 4 fouls in 5 gameplay minutes on the beginning of the second half, and I didn’t make any formation or style of play change. I’ve had 7 total fouls against me only to have 14 the next game. It’s as unpredictable as real-life football. When one talks about PES5 as a work of art they’re not exaggerating at all, this is a simulation with a capital S.

    Part of the reason why I think we didn’t pay that much attention to the low number of fouls in PS3 PES was the fact that our expectations were so low after the PES2008 colossal fiasco. Hell, I was happy to play a PES game without 2008’s horrendous lag!

    I also believe it’s natural for you to go through this process of unplugging from the nu-PES shitshow. Months and months of PES2018 – after years and years of nu-PES in general – really does educate you in a perverse way, so it really takes a while to rewire your footballing brain. Now imagine the kids who are growing up playing nu-PES, how much damage that could do to a younger, more impressionable mind…

  2. I have never been more mad at a picture in my life.

  3. orlando.jabulani – it was a remark attributed to Konami PR on a forum about 4 years ago. I don’t have a primary source so can’t honestly say it was said, but I think it most likely was said on the balance of all evidence.

    I was playing a thought game yesterday. ‘If I wasn’t doing the blog, what would I be doing? Would I be playing PES at all, or something else?’ The answer was ‘PES5’. I think I’d be playing PES5 and not giving one single runny shit about the wider range football game culture wars. I think the multi-sided dialogue that a blog necessarily generates has shaped my football gaming for too long, knowing that thumbshot was expected of me and then playing many seasons of an inferior product. The blog was conceived differently. I think I need to get back to that.

  4. Wqter – you should see the Bundesliga logo swooshing across the screen at every replay. It’s glorious.

  5. For those who read the PES forums (the main one….) you’ll know a member named Vital, he summed up PES for me perfectly recently. It went something like this; years ago the creators of Championship manager left the publisher and created Football manager, for a few years a game called Championship manager was still released but was vastly inferior and an embarrassment to the once great title. This is where PES is post Seabass and Co

  6. nG – Having read your post and all the comments so far, the main question that must be answered is can you ever have just one single runny shit?

  7. Metz – agree with you there but with one exception and that was Championship Manager 2010. In the end the game was given away as a free download but is a really good game and more balanced than FM. I doubt many people here will have played it.

    NG – I bet life seemed so much simpler when you started the blog.

  8. Got back to fighting for the WC on PES5, this time around with Venezuela. On my first and only try I ended up in a “group of death” with Argentina, Germany and Serbia. Any reasonable mind would say it would be impossible to move past the group phase given the circumstances, but after a 2-2 draw against Argentina on the opening fixture, managed to win against Germany and Serbia, moving on to the next round as winner of the group. Met Czech Republic and won, advancing to the quarter-finals. There I lost on penalties against Slovakia, by far the worst opponent I’ve met in my journey…a rather bittersweet one as you can see.
    Got to know a few venezuelans who made a very positive impression on me. Chicheryo is a rock at the back and a short dude in the front whose fake-name I can’t recall was your typical old-school poacher, scoring goals seemingly out of nowhere. One or two others are decent but the rest of the team is quite bad, the team as a whole is likely even worse than Latvia so I’ll definitely try it with Venezuela again.

  9. Six games to go in the Premiership and my Cardiff are in third place, just holding off Spurs. Also just beat Chelsea in the FA Cup semi with a 2-0 extra time win. The final is against West Brom which should on paper be an easier match, but we’ll have to see.

    Three pre-contracts sorted out and I’m still looking for a striker to push Danny Ward to the bench next season. I’ve got a manager rating of 84, the objectives screen looks okay, but because I haven’t reduced my wage bill I’m still getting the stupid “we’re not on track” emails which I’m choosing to ignore. Got my first club job offer last night too, but I can’t abandon Cardiff as we move into Europe next season.

    Oh, also had a penalty last night, but it was saved by the opposition’s keeper.

  10. nG – My god, how do you play matches like this? I would go insane if I had to play an entire season like this.

  11. Chris99 – I think that depends if it’s a noun or a verb.

  12. Chris99 – runny shits tend to come in quantities of several rather than all-in-one. The remark was of course figurative, although the discussion around constructions like ‘I don’t give two shits’ is always interesting to me. E.g. see this breezy whistlestop overview of the American abomination ‘could care less’ with variants, that leads to the even greater abomination of ‘could give a crap’.

    On a somewhat related note, I understand that I’m going to be treated to a bicycle kick goal on MOTD tonight, courtesy of Ashley Barnes. All the descriptions I have read of the goal describe it as a bicycle kick. Therefore a bicycle kick – with Barnes’ back being parallel to the ground for the duration of the bicycle-kicking motion of his legs – is definitely what I will see. Can’t wait for that. Bicycle kicks are so rare!

    EDIT: just cheated and watched it on a dodgy website and…I was of course expecting it to be a standard scissors kick and not a bicycle kick, but Jesus H Christ, it’s not even a goddamn scissors kick! It’s more of a standing/falling hook shot. The criteria for naming a bicycle kick has become even flabbier than I thought.

  13. NG – totally agree and like you said it was more of a stick the leg out hook shot. But… In its own right it is an unusual goal and a little bit different from the norm. I liked the goal but could never be classed as bicycle kick.

  14. I liked the goal too, no question of its value, but never a bicycle kick – and not even a scissors kick! (Which is what I was expecting it to be after following the day’s football on a newspaper website.)

    I have also seen the wonderful LA Galaxy debut goal from the player that some call ‘Ibra’ described as a volley (i.e. ball kicked when it has not bounced since being touched by the previous player), but it was plainly, obviously, undeniably a half-volley, having bounced. Standards have slipped.

  15. In a European game there’s a good chance barnes’s vertical hook would have been ruled out for ‘high feet’ – an arbitrary height that seems as elusive as the ‘common sense’ that must be applied early in the match.

    Pleased about the lack of English refs in the summer – it might give them the kick up the backside they need.

  16. I don’t think I will ever grow up as I was playing PES 2011 this morning and my opponents Norwich had a player called Ptrumpaul. It did amuse me. Still finding it tough and 11 games in I have yet to register a win. I am competing though.

  17. Turf – what’s happening this summer?

  18. nG – Never mind the Barnes goal, I was sure you’d be all over the referee bottling the second yellow for Mane.

    Back in FIFA I came fourth in the league and noticed in the run up how the commentary mentioned both when I’d secured European football and when it was Champions League. Also won the FA Cup beating WBA in the final. Having secured four pre-contracts to bulk out my squad for the new season I now have the problem of what to do with the £150m the end of the season brought.

  19. Darryl – a summer of discontent if they don’t reverse the 8 bit change they’ve made to pokemon go.

  20. Uncleturf – it is meant to be an April Fools joke isn’t it, albeit not a very funny one.

  21. Chris99 – not only the ref bottling the 2nd yellow for Mane, it was the way he failed to yellow-card every single Palace player who urged him to send Mane off. To be fair to the ref, no refs seem to enforce that rule though. Football refs are curiously prone to making a big fanfare about cracking down on something – remember a few seasons ago how every player who showed any dissent was going to be automatically booked? – but then failing to deliver, usually after a token match or two of feeble enforcement, after which it’s all forgotten. Any MOTD is so packed with context-based decisions and cowardly refs that I’d be here forever cataloguing them. Tarkowski’s shirt-pull, etc. A few weeks ago I recall Bournemouth at Leicester getting a penalty in the first half, but then being denied an absolute 100% penalty in the second, because as Eddie Howe himself accurately remarked ‘you’re not allowed to get two penalties away from home’. And this is all accepted as natural and normal by every football fan, player, manager, and pundit.

    Uncle Turf – it’s going to be carnage at the World Cup, off the pitch of course, but also on it in terms of the officiating. I caught some of the Copa America on late night TV the last time it was on and the South American refs pretty much allow anything at corners. It’s a startlingly true fact that if Assoc. Football refs started to observe every rule no matter what, it would be a completely different sport.

  22. Talking of 8 bit, am I the only one who takes offence at the title of Dara O’Briain’s video game programme? The oldest games they play tend to have been launched on 16 bit consoles.

  23. Darryl – blimey, I’m not usually caught by them, the newspapers in particular are too ham fisted but I hadn’t ‘got’ that one at all. It’s too irritating to be funny and almost caused deletions here.

  24. Just clearing out some games and I’m afraid the much loved at the time mgs tpp is going, unfinished. Like the far cry et al games I think it just became too samey to go back to. I always snipe, run away and wait for the fuss to die down. Ultimately I think the AI was more flawed than first impressions. Oddly I quite fancy playing something like old school tomb raider at the moment.

    Chris99 – I take offence at the whole programme. Gamesmaster it is not.

  25. Loving PES 2011 at the moment. On professional I have still not won in my first sixteen games and the majority of my players have sulky faces. But I am getting closer to that elusive win and was gutted to give away a lead I took late on in my last match and lost 2-1. The defaults are garbage and have a couple of signings coming in the transfer market. Stats matter in every aspect of the game and each game feels different than the other with tempo changing throughout. All this does is highlight how bad games have now become.

  26. Darryl – that does sound good. I still rate 2011 as one of my all time favorites.

  27. Uncle Turf – re. MGS:TPP, that is a shame, but it is an absolute cast-iron truth that a ‘game-game’ that isn’t played for more than a week or so (sometimes just a few days) will not be returned to. Ever. Too many buttons to remember. Annoying maps bristling with icons. A story, no matter how vague, that has to be reconnected with. I’ve dropped so many games that way. Anybody over the age of 20 who starts to play a ‘game-game’ had better keep playing it if they want to finish it, I think.

    Darryl – exactly the same here. My rightly derided ‘Advanced Start’ got me a couple of decent players but has not excused me from the hell of the Defaults. On Professional. You’ll appreciate the rarity of scoring any goal. I’m really trying to get a replay for tomorrow’s post together.

  28. Life is strange at times with its little signs. I was watching an old episode of The Chase. There was a question asking where you would find a Pivot. Just before then I was thinking about a dream I had last night whereby I was on a ship. So I said to my misses it was ship, based on my dream. I then remembered someone who was in my dream from the past but could not remember his name. I knew instantly that the answer would be in the next question. One of the options in the next question was Daniel Day-Lewis. The lad was called Lewis.

  29. NG – I was a bit surprised to have a starting budget of 23 Million. This was because the team from D2 I randomly chose has quite a good ranking. But this may bite me back later as I am bottom of the league and will no doubt drop down the rankings. Also I will lose out on my sponsorship clause of winning 5 home games. These are the factors that make a ML so much more interesting.

  30. Darryl – if you carried out any Editing on your team prior to starting – kits or name or home ground – then you got the Advanced Start too. It’s not a big deal really when returning to PES2011 in the current context, to have a few extra quid and a slightly higher ranking. Not when the Defaults are still rubbish and the on-pitch action is like this!

  31. NG – yes I edited all those before starting. I am OK taking any help I can get.

  32. The end of physical gaming is surely nigh….grainger games gone pop up here in the north, blaming digital downloads for their declining sales. Our local game now resembles the old blockbuster shops with half their stock made up of popcorn, American sweets and tshirts.

    That 8 bit Pokemon update is still here…surely the joke is now over?

  33. Uncle Turf – yes, I remember being pooh-poohed when I predicted this coming and it is nearly here. It’s still not all the way here – GAME will be next, leaving only the main High St chains (ASDA et al) stocking physical game boxes that you can pick up and look at, and then buy cheaper on the Internet when you get home. How long CeX will last is trickier to work out. I think they’ll be the last to go. The PlayStation 5/XboxTwo are almost certainly well into their prototype testing stages and they might have a physical media bay, but are just as likely not to have one.

    Darryl – in that case you definitely have the Advanced Start. No ‘biggy’ for me, as I’m not really in the mood for a proper full-on Default slog at this juncture. No doubt I’ll have plenty of Default slogs in my retro PES gaming future.

  34. Turf/NG – In Preston the GAME store has moved to a different part of the shopping centre. They have now a separate area where you can hire out gaming computers with giant screens for an hour. The rest of the store is how Turf describes and has very few games other than the chart ones. It no longer sells secondhand games or anything from the PS3 or 360 range. Sad times.

  35. Yes, I saw that at the metro centre Darryl, they seem to have gone in for these over the top party events (honestly, we have been unusual in that we just took a few of his close friends for a KFC and a film – some parents must spend hundreds on their wee shits).

    I do worry that cex game prices have been creeping up while their trades have been falling, I don’t want to be left with vouchers in hand so think I might get the wii u soon. Or buy one on eBay and spend the credit on games. I’m not sure I’ll play it much but I would quite like to stick it in a different room to the ps4. A shed perhaps? Front room more likely.

  36. Game have been in trouble for a couple of years now, and rely on Christmas and a few major game launches to make a profit. Down south they are also moving premises into second string locations. The supermarkets muscle in on top ten titles, and pre-owned last gen is increasingly risky as the number of customers decreases but you still have money tied up in stocking physical media. Not surprising they are trying to diversify as the alternative is a gamble on whether they will still be around to see the next generation of consoles.

  37. There used to be 3 branches of GAME in Coventry city centre. There’s been 1 for the past few years. I’ve been inside it twice. Once just before Christmas last when I got my Preowned FIFA17 for a fiver from there. The store was PACKED. Properly bursting at the seams with parents and children and groups of teens and weirdo loners like myself. The queue at the till stretched through the shop to the entrance. I only joined it because it was fast-moving, with 5 or 6 staff serving behind the counter. The shop felt like it was still 2002, and all that horrible Internet shopping was a fad that would soon blow over, and Internet download speeds were still only just fit for grabbing the occasional mp3 file.

    The other time was just last week when I idly popped in to see what the Preowned FIFA18s were going for (£32). What a change. The only customers were me and I think a family group in the Nintendo section.

    GAME will follow Toys R Us and Grainger Games soon enough. The exact same market pressures will lead to the exact same outcome.

  38. I think that’s definite. All it takes is a withholding of credit or stock and they’re doomed. Other places like Waterstones have only been kept afloat as they’re the personal project of a billionaire. We’re going to see some huge Woolworths sized holes on high streets in the next few years. Plenty of restaurants for a start.

    My one worry about buying another console is I’ve already developed a horribly flighty attitude to games. I can’t remember the last one I finished or even getting 4+ seasons out of a sports title. I bought disgaea numerous months ago and have never even tried it yet. This was never me and I trace the beginning of this to pes 2014s first incarnation.

  39. Haven’t been online for the past 5 days, days off work, easter weekend and all that jazz.
    Been playing Far Cry 5, and squeezed in some FIFA 18 too, those that was saying FIFA 18 is fouls free, it isn’t.
    I regularly see anything from 3-10 fouls per match. One match last night had 2 bookings which resulted in a red, a penalty 6 fouls against me and 5 for me.

    I haven’t even thought about fouls once whilst playing my now almost 2 season long FIFA 18 career, so they aren’t an issue.

    5 points clear at the top of the Prem ahead of Man City with 6 games to play and in the semi’s of the Europa League.

  40. Uncle Turf – I have Disgaea on my phone – running perfectly on a DS emulator – but have never touched it beyond making sure it works.

    Paul – whatever you do, don’t ‘park’ Far Cry 5 even for a few days. You won’t ever go back to it. I was looking at the video reviews over the weekend and felt the familiar temptation but I know it won’t fit into my life until I get a few weeks off work later in the summer.

    The greatness of football games is possibly how easily they fit into an adult working/family life.

    I finally scored a goal in PES2011 worth recording, but not for obvious reasons. Post at 12.

  41. NG, I loaded up the PS4 last night, and chose FIFA 18 over Far Cry 5, purely as you say, for its easy accessibility and ‘disposability’.
    I have only been able to play FC5 once for about 2 hours since I got it, and am stuck on a certain part, so know it will require focus and concentration and several hours of play.
    FIFA was all too easy to just pick up and carry on, even if I did have to really concentrate during a tense Europa League quarter final 2nd leg, but its a different type of focus needed, an easier one.

    Look forward to the PES 11 goal.

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