Take the PES pill

Well, will you look at this. Promotion as champions might be about to happen.

Season 2, played 30 matches, 4 matches remaining – and I am top of the league.

I never thought I would get to the top this season. I believed promotion was on, but never the title. Now I’m up here I want to stay here. I have very rarely won the Division 2 title in any PES.

If I know my ML table scripting – and boy, do I know it – the team(s) immediately below me will not slip up. So it’s up to me. 6 points from my last 4 matches will guarantee at least promotion.

I will of course be going all-out for 4 wins out of 4, all 12 points, and the title.

In practice, with my superior goal difference, 10 points will seal the title. 3 wins and a draw.

It might seem from all this that PES2011 on Professional has clicked for me, and a move up to Top Player is imminent. But no – it hasn’t quite clicked in the way it might seem. I’ve huffed and puffed to 1-0 and 2-1 wins, most of the time. My only real gameplay gripe with PES2011 is the way the AI only springs into life after going behind. I rarely feel any sense of threat at 0-0. But when I go ahead, it’s as if a switch has been flicked (which of course it has), and things go mental. 8 defeats speaks for itself.

What I have done is really made hay in a few matches where I have streaked ahead to big wins.

And I have another noteworthy goal to report.

It’s Pinilla again – my mid-season signing has bagged 11 goals in total for me since January. (It’s May in my Season 2 now, as it is in our so-called ‘real life’.) Iaquinta has scored 19 all season, mostly tap-ins. The real howitzer-style goals that I remember from my first tilt on PES2011, 7 years ago, have yet to come.

Here is PInilla’s goal. I’m already 1-0 up and resisting a wave of AI attacks. Suddenly there’s a break on. My team surges forward, there’s some nice one-touch play (comparatively rare in PES2011), and a nice lofted side-foot finish:

One of the genius touches of PES has always been the way it reserves certain player actions to itself. Here I mean the stats-and-context-based appearance of player traits. I did not press any button combo to achieve Pinilla’s lofted side-foot finish – I was actually going for an instant rifle past the keeper. The game itself rolled some random numbers and produced this outcome.

It must be acknowledged that this is perhaps not ideal – but what has all the supposed ‘freedom’ of recent PES titles ever got us? ‘Freedom’ in nuPES translates to online-centric ‘balancing’ by another name, i.e. every player being more or less the same. An exaggeration of course, but not much of one. ‘Freedom’ as a football game buzzword has been of dubious value at best. It actually overturns one of the foundational elements of what made PES great – as a single-player game. And there’s the rub. There are two pills on offer, and we’ve been force-fed the wrong one for a few years now.

Football games are best when they abstract certain things away from the human player. When I’m immersed in a collection of pixels on a screen, all disbelief suspended, going with the flow of the illusion that I have consented to be a part of, I am not going to quibble.

Last time I put the gamepad down to record a goal, it broke my concentration and I quickly conceded an equaliser. This time, I focused and kept my discipline, and cruised to a 3-0 win in the end.

At this stage of play I am going to call it, and say that promotion to the Premier League is a certainty. I am surely experienced enough in PES, and in PES2011 by now, not to blow it from here. Famous last words…

Updated: 15th May 2018 — 11:33


  1. That was a very nice goal NG, the whole context of it.
    One of the things that Tru-PES always did so well, which was a key feature in the appeal of PES, was contextual actions.

    Stats based outcomes which meant that player ID really stood out, and passages of play were barely ever the same, variation.

    R2 used to be the king of older Tru-PES games, a ‘special skill’ button, you could use it to control the ball, and the way the player cushioned the ball, how close the control it was etc was all driven by stats and context.
    You could use R2 to stab it as you was dribbling for quick turns, or flicks past the oncoming tackle, again, all stats based.
    And shooting, R2 was used as a ‘precise’ shot, and was either a flick, curler, placed shot or a driven shot depending on player abilities and context of the situation.

    Now, what we have is R2 is used for some weird crab like side/backwards shimmy that you never ever see in a real football match, whilst all that context/stats driven action stuff has been diluted down so much that nearly every player can do the same things.

  2. n-G: A very nice goal indeed and a good example of the kind of ‘keeper animation the forums used to fume about – not that it ever really bother me.

    Contextual shooting is desperately needed in nuPES but, like so many other features of truPES, it is bound to never return.

    Playing PS2 PES 2011 and coming from PES 2018, contextual shooting has taken some getting used to. I don’t mean a lobbed finish instead of a driven shot, truPES will often serve up a complete blooter over the bar when your nuPES brain is already jogging back for the kick off celebrating what we are used to being a certain goal.

    In the dozen-or-so matches I’ve played back on PS2 PES, I’ve seen toe-pokes, daisy-cutters, dinks, miscues and rockets all come from pressing the shoot button with a certain player using his wrong or right foot in a given situation.

  3. What a beautiful looking finish.

    Over and out.

  4. Exactly what I was eluding too Shed, variance in gameplay using player stats as the driver and applying it intelligently in context to various situations.

    Wasn’t PES 11 the last game Seabass worked on?

  5. n-G – I believe PES 2011 was indeed the last PES that Seabass was involved with. I’m assuming the PS2 version was merely an update of previous games in that format though.

  6. Paul – a PES with player stats at the centre and everything else – everything else – at the periphery. This was the simple formula of PES. Some would argue it’s never changed – that it’s me who’s changed – all the old-school players who’ve changed – but I will not be told that black is white. When was it the stats were consolidated into more generic headings? Whenever that was (PES2014?) was the beginning of the end of one type of PES, and the start of another.

    Shed/Keith – I gave a big grin and shook my fist when the ball looped over the keeper with that grace. Not saying I never had joy in nuPES, but it was a watered-down sort of joy.

    Re. your point (Shed) about stats/context-driven shooting in old PES, the online era was always going to lead to a dumbed-down version of it. It was an inevitable and natural outcome of the kinds of market pressures that come to bear on ‘properties’ in the mass-multiplayer marketplace. Look at all those Clash of Kingdom-type games you can get for your phone, and all the mass shooters. For them to compete with each other, they all have to offer the same basic type of experience. No one class in a Team Fortress/Fortnite-type game, for example, is allowed to be conspicuously better than any other. They can have their quirks and their special attributes, but over a long playing session, the kill-death stats for each will be about the same. Ditto with the players on the park in PES and FIFA in the online era. We’ve gone from ‘there’s only one Ronaldo’ (or whoever) to ‘there’s still only one Ronaldo, but there are easily a hundred players who can pretty much do everything just as well’. Look at all the identikit AMFs who step in and out of the revolving door in a typical nuPES ML. I would weep, but they will never take PES away from us, so there’s no point in weeping. Not when there are more than 10 (TEN) playable truPES games in existence and just begging to be played.

  7. A PES 2019 ML Hub screen mock-up.
    This is what happens when you are bored in meetings.


  8. Paul – your concept design looks very FIFA-ish and Career Modey, and why shouldn’t it, Konami have tried to rip off everything else. Where they put the ML menus will be the big decision for the UI designers in 2019. I think they will go right or bottom. I predict bottom!

  9. NG – does it? FIFA used tiles, this doesn’t.
    Sly Smirk at your sarcasm there, it’s a big thing, the placement of the menus, once they put the UI through their randomiser and it assigns an alignment position, font and colour scheme, they can then Hype it up as a ‘Complete Modern UI Overhaul’ in their PR.

    I’d take my FIFA-ish style ML layout over Konami’s dated efforts any day.

  10. You should quietly leak that and see what happens to forum rumour mills

  11. Turf – that would be popcorn time!!

  12. Leaking the screenshot to a forum and then sitting back would be quite funny.

  13. I would do but I cant access evo-web from work, and I’m banned from WENB !

    Hooked up the PS2 slim last night via a HDMI adapter and had a few matches of PES 2011 in full widescreen on the 50″ TV.

    First Impressions:

    It’s Hard. Lost 2 games on Regular difficulty and then won 3-1 on Amateur
    PES 2011 on the PS2 is absolutely nothing like the PES 2011 I remember on PS3. Nothing.
    PES 2011 is pretty much a more modernised PES 5, it looks and feels and plays just like it, but with slightly better graphics and 201/11 team rosters.

  14. Paul – You’ve done a good job capturing those clips there. Did you also try connecting the PS2 with standard cables – just t see the difference the converter makes?

    As you say PES 2011 on the PS2 is absolutely nothing like its PS3 counterpart. It’s very much a tinker-ed with PES 6 with slightly better graphics, the Champions League licence and real money rather than the old points currency in ML.

    I’m only playing PES 2011 as I just so happened to find a copy in my local retro game shop. Had it been PES 2010, 2012 up to 2014 I would still have rescued it and would be playing it now. Having researched the “lost” PS2 PESes, it does seem they were pretty similar from PES 6 onwards – certainly PES 2009 -2014 are virtually the same game. Some claim PES 2008 plays a better game but I noticed from looking a thread on EvoWeb that those currently playing it have edited certain player attributes to slow it down!

    I’m about to start my ML on PES 2011 and I’m hoping it’ll be a long and lasting one. After that, I quite fancy going back to PES 5 as that does indeed play differently to these later PS2 PESes. Also there’s another reason I feel the need to revisit PES 5, one that will make n-G’s head spin…

  15. Last night I played the last four matches of my PES2011(PS3) Season 2. A traditional ML session in many interesting ways… more tomorrow.

    Paul – you could stick a bogus Japanese website exclusive watermark on your mockup, and tweet the picture to somebody at random and see what happens. Most would call it out as fake immediately but a few would believe it. I would have believed it! I’m not a sophisticated design UI person.

    Were you really expecting PS2 PES2011 to be like PS3/PC?! Bet that was a shock if so. The platforms diverged at PES2008. Every game from there on on the PS2 was an iteration on the PES2-PES6 model, as you’ve discovered. I’ve sampled all the ‘lost’ PS2 games now, thanks to the magic of PCSX2, and they’re all just waiting to be played, begging to be played.

    That vid looks pretty good, looks a bit faster than I found it on emulated PC.

    Shed – what’s the PES5 reason, come on…

  16. n-G – Okay, brace yourself. I never did and never have played PES5’s ML starting with the defaults. Back then I used to edit in Brighton’s current squad and start with that. My old PES5 ML save still has the world class Guy Butters and Gary Hart among a squad of superstar signings. There, I said it. While we’re here, I did the same on PES6 too!

  17. Shed – that’s not a top-level sin against The One True PES. It’s the game that’s the thing, not the Defaults as such, although starting with them and then progressing to one or two good players, slowly building a team, is the classic ML trajectory IMO.

  18. Shed – I didn’t try the original composite cables no, was eager just to get up and running, but the HDMI converter does a great job, I set the PS2 settings to 16:9 then changed the picture settings on my TV to ’16:9 Fill mode’ which then took the PS2’s 567i 16:9 display and upscaled it into 1080i full screen.

    And can see why NG doesn’t capture many goals from the PS3, I had the PS2 dualshock resting on my thigh whilst knelt down in front of the tv, and manipulating the RS to play the replay, whilst holding the phone sort of steady and recording the vid. Hassle.

    NG – NO I didn’t expect PES 2011 to be just like the PS3 version, but was still surprised by just how PES 5/6 it was. There is none of the new passing system introduced in PS3 2011, just standard 8 directional passing, which is very limiting, so many times passes weren’t reaching the intended player despite powering up fully, or went to the wrong player as my intended target wasn’t along one of the 8 rigid directional paths.

    Say what you like about retro PES and not needing this 360 degree movement, but once you’ve experienced it, the old way is very debilitating.

    And Yes, I found the game very fast too.

    Shed – what size is your option file with the edited teams?

  19. Paul – PES 2011 PS2 is slow compared to PES 5. I think it’s a good pace myself.

    I’ll have to check on that file size when I get a chance later. I’ve finished editing now but what I’ve done is fairly ragged in terms of kits.

    I found some editable Spanish teams so my Div 2 had just one vacant slot with those, edited PES United and the other one and Celtic and Rangers. I ended up slotting in Lorient (Leyton Orient!) from the French League to make up the numbers.

    I might still edit some of the classic players in case I sign any of them – I can’t recall if the AI can too – but I don’t have any points left to unlock the yet anyway.

  20. Shed – a major crime against a pure ml in my book, but time off for good behaviour as pes5 is not such a special edition of the game.

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  22. PES 5 – Purelyoverrated Edition Soccer ?

    The guy I bought the PS2 from on Ebay left an 8MB memory card and a copy of silent hill in the console bonus, think an 8mb card would be enough for the option file Shed?

  23. n-G – That’s alright then. Phew! That’s a weight off my shoulders. The good thing is that I have all these PS2 PESes, including the much maligned PES5, to return to for a proper, pure ML campaign.

    Paul – A standard PS2 memory card will definitely be enough. I don’t think the files are very big at all as you’re not importing images like on PS3/4.

  24. May well take you up on that offer and send you my memory card then Shed.

  25. Paul – No problem. I think I have your email. I’ll send my address over. Just don’t judge me by my dodgy kits – especially the “Crown Paints” Liverpool effort!

  26. Got it, cheers Shed. Any effort will be better than the default kits that aren’t even the right colour.

  27. Shed – 2008 (ps2) was one of my time fave PES’s.

    Dortmund in their yellow and white striped kits. Tarchowski, Pienaar. Kringe, Wedenfeller, Dede, Valdez, 90’s alien oriental Werd on the wing and of course Alexander Frei.

  28. I’m struggling to make headway in 2016. France ligue two is top two up, that’s it, no third, no play offs. The top two are flying ahead while the rest of us trade points. Still it is only season one, and as is the way in the new universe (or not greg’s outrageous loophole exploitation) I will have a decent squad by season two. I’m desperately trying to avoid the usual suspects – I have iheanacho and Kennedy up front but lobato is a must have simply because he’s free, stat heavy and will join. I don’t like him so first good offer will get him. I’m ignoring the likes of remy who busted my first campaign way back when with his stupid scoring feats. Defenders are much harder to come by and keepers are almost non existent on the trading floor so it looks like continuing to be Keegan esque 5-4 football.

  29. Uncle Turf – you’re struggling to make headway in PES2016, the Greatest PES Ever???

    Paul – Phenomenal unsurpassed magnificent unrivalled outstanding sublime sumptuous Exalted Soccer 5 (FIVE), I call it.

    But having said that, I was on it just last night (playing my regular match or two per week), and it was the 8th minute before the AI fouled me, and there were only 5 or 6 fouls in the whole match. I can only assume there has been a stealth patch from Konami over the past 13 years to bring the fouls count down to this scandalously low level of 6. Okay, there were 12 (TWELVE) in the next match, but I am on alert!

  30. Interesting observation on the question of “freedom” in football games NG and I know you’ve touched on it quite a few times in the past. Maybe the best example for me is the first PES on the PS2, where even the likes of Zidane has the turning circle of a double-decker bus. Maybe the constraints were a bit overcooked in that game but it really forced you to think in terms of two-touch football. I think it’s still a great game once you get over the initial “shock” but the lack of “freedom” might be too much for even diehard fans of classic PES.

  31. rhymes450 – was Zidane particularly noted for his lithe, nimble turns? I recall him being a slow sort of player, rather than a Messi-like terrier who could turn and accelerate away from a defender. Zidane is not the best example but I take your point. A properly developed football game would strike a happy balance between old-school constraints and the kind of universal freedom that lends itself to a flowing, fun online game. They’ve turned the dial all the way the other way, though. Freedom in PS4-era football gaming sadly means ‘nearly every player can do nearly everything, because it’s really just a bunch of pixels in a multiplayer online game themed around football’. What made PES the series it was – and gave it the renown it still has to this day – were the very constraints locked around the players on the screen and thus the player with the controller in his hand. Stopping us doing things made us want to do things, and keep on doing things.

  32. Haha Only 6 and 12 fouls??? see …. PES 5 – Presumed Excellent (but) Shit !!! Five times over.

    Can you imagine even 5 fouls in todays games? We’d think there has been a super patch and everything was rosy again!

    Turf – Lobato for me is what Castolo was for NG, annoying and completely overrated, a player with amazing stats, who consistently fails to perform at any kind of decent level.

    I had him twice in my PES 18 ML, both times he was ushered on pretty quickish.

  33. Touché. Well, relative headway. Since the dawn of the new era obviously no one languishes in bottom spot all season one, with barely an ordaz goal to their name, but I’m not getting promoted is what I mean. I’ve had some odd experiences with post 2013, none of them lasting beyond 4 seasons, but if I want to have a simple pick up and play while listening to some podcast or other then Euro 2016 is as good as any.

    Better than some…Failed Innovation Very Execrable…..

    What are we all doing to celebrate on Saturday then??

  34. Uncle Turf – What I’m Listening To While I Play PES: I chop and change between short podcasts and full-length audiobooks. The latter is always a huge commitment, coming in at anything from 10-25 hours. It’s currently an audiobook, Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0, about our coming A.I. Doom, when the boffins will make a thinking machine that can improve itself, and iterate on those improvements exponentially, quickly becoming something we cannot understand, and then take over the world, or at least the Internet. I only hope the AI Apocalypse happens while I’m still young enough to enjoy it. (I don’t think it’ll ever happen.) Podcast-wise, I favour most things Radio 4. I collected my middle-aged badge years ago.

    On Saturday I’ll be celebrating collecting my winnings on the FA Cup Final being a 0-0 after 90 minutes. I’ve had a sneaky fiver on it. Got 7/1 at Ladbrokes, which is very generous considering they’re the two dullest teams in a division that included Huddersfield. I’ve covered my bet with one on Notts County to win tomorrow night, which is a cert.

  35. Hey not-Greg,

    (Not so) new reader here (I remember coming across the site years back in one of my hardcore PES phases) as I refound the site after scouring the net for a decent PS3 PES 2018 option file which never came to fruition (seems like I’m one of very few tight gits who hasn’t invested in a PS4 yet – these patches seem redundant). I found myself reading your latest posts about going back to PES 2011 and being interested as to why. Upon mass ingesting all of your PES 2018-related posts addictively, and playing the game myself (the first since 2015 and then the 2016 demo briefly) I can completely understand why. I’m a half-assed gamer (I only really religiously play PES and GTA each instalment) but I have always been infatuated with PES and embraced all of its idiosyncrasies, complexity and downright weirdness over fifa even when friends were telling me ‘no one plays PES any more’. I’m actually enjoying playing 2018 after a 2 year break from the series, but have been annoyed by lack of fouls (even 2015 forced you to be very restrained against the AI even if you didn’t receive many free kicks yourself), the quicker pace to the game and lack of player individuality. Your comments about PES slowly becoming FIFA – and why that is likely to worsen not improve – makes all the sense in the world and is very disheartening.

    I too might have to end up going backwards to some of the PES’ of my fondest memories once I’m done with this game. Even though I have no interest in online gaming, I actually had some amazing years of playing double co-op player master leagues with friends back in my uni days. I find that single player play is so much more rewarding and memorable than button bashing against anonymous people.

    Just wanted to show my appreciation for the site and let you know how much I’ve enjoyed following. As a side note, I reckon the reason your transfer funds/salary ratio was so out of whack was because you started on ‘challenge’ mode, then when you switched I’m guessing this particular feature of the ML stayed the same. The same things happened to me – and like you, I’m enjoying the restraints it imposes. Looking forward to see how your 2011 reunion tour pans out.

  36. NG, Zidane was actually renowned for the “roulette” turn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E48JHLckajo&t=88s
    Something you most definitely could not do in PES 1:)

  37. rhymes450 – ah, that move, he didn’t have pace though, and he was far more of a Pirlo than a Ronaldo. Everything’s pace, pace, pace since PES1. Dammit, it’s been downhill since ISS1!

    Marley – thank you for your comment and please feel free to contribute whenever you wish. Good point about my shift off Challenge Mode – it would be typical of Konami’s programming of ML to overlook something like that.

    PES2018 wasn’t bad at all, but I remember all through the year of PES2017 telling myself (and blog readers) that that was the worst AI fouling environment PES had ever seen. An average of 2 per match, with occasional matches lacking any! Never in my worst nightmare did I envisage fouls going from an average of 2 per match in PES2017 to around 0.6 per match in PES2018 in my case, and frequent spells of 4-5 matches with literally zero AI fouls. As I’ve ranted many a time, it’s not the fouls, but the nature of the gaming that foul-lessness produces. Fast, frantic, flowing, (false) fun. Not what PES used to be.

  38. NG – me too as I would love to witness an AI Apocolypse but like you I can’t see it happening in our life time. We have had our moment and it is surely our time to step aside for the robots.

  39. I studied neural networks back in the 80’s, and 30 years later AI is still too stupid to overthrow us. Makes me want to do a halftime Delia.

    Hmm, unless of course AI is training us to be more useful to our robotic overlords.

  40. Chris99 – I’ve noticed ‘AI’ creeping into everyday speech, advertising, etc, as if it’s already here. Amazon’s algorithms can be described as AI, but they’re not the new robot overlords foretold in prophecy. A self-aware entity – AGI – capable of autonomous action is still ridiculously far away. Tegmark’s book has a great deal of fun poking fun at popular ideas of AI. There’ll never be killer robots. All it needs to do is get itself onto the Internet and work in secret. One of the signs that this has happened/is happening is a sudden leap (or leaps) forward in technology, in various ways. Keep an eye on quantum computing, apparently – if that suddenly starts getting mainstream, especially if it seems to happen strangely quickly, then It Is Here and It Is Working.

  41. Agreed, we are a long way from Asimov (and perhaps further from a decent Will Smith film; disclaimer – haven’t seen Ali).

    Should we be looking out for tiny computers being embedded into everything? http://itechfuture.com/concept-of-computer-with-the-size-of-a-salt-crystal/

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