Objectively Measuring the Greatness of PES5

The greatest football game ever made returned properly to my life back in 2013. That’s when I ‘sourced’ a PC copy of PES5.

Of course I own a physical copy of PES5 for the PC that I bought with money. As well as a copy of the game on the PS2 platform. And also a copy of PES5 for the PSP – notoriously sans Master League, which I remain quite unreasonably bitter about to this day. (I’d say I think about the PSP’s Master League-less version of PES5, with anger, a couple of times every year).

In 2013 I grabbed an Option File and started a Master League on the PC. I have played it almost every week since then, and am still actively playing it to this day. I believe I will play it as long as I live. I only play one or two matches nearly every week, with occasional spurts of longer sessions (as now). I’m in Season 9 of this career.

Why is PES5 so great? Perfection is oddly hard to convey in words – and, also oddly, perfection in art doesn’t have to be perfect. PES5 certainly is showing its age, but it can still effortlessly punt any other football game ever made over the bleachers of history.

PES5’s greatness is something you have to feel, as a football gamer, in your hands. One of the most peculiar aspects of football gaming is that its value-content is a hands-on thing. It’s like driving a car. You have to feel the way the players move, how they respond – or most crucially, FAIL to respond, contextually and in keeping with their abilities and physical types.

Look at the screenhot at the top of the post. Yes, in one match I had 10 (TEN) fouls against me. 10 (TEN) free kicks. That’s more free kicks in one match than I would have in 10 (TEN) entire matches in most recent PES games. (Not an idle exaggeration. My average AI fouls count in all nuPES games is around 0.80 per match.)

PES5 was the last PES game that penalised the mashing of buttons as a substitute for defending.

It would be 14 years before we would see that kind of punishment for random button-mashing again – in the PES2020 demo, and we all know what happened when the snowflakes of all ages got a look at that.

This graph scientifically illustrates the magnitude of PES5’s greatness. There are other great football games, unquestionably. But they’re all jostling for room more or less on a par with each other, and the football games that aren’t as good as them aren’t too far behind them, actually. PES5 is way, way out on its own. There is nothing near it.

I paid a visit to the PES Shop and unlocked a slew of Classic Players. I cannot get enough of Classics in PES. If I wanted so-called ‘realism’ I’d play – or even do – something else.

That’s Stanley Matthews who’s all greyed out by the colour scheme. I’ll be bidding for a 26-year-old Ian Rush and a 32-year-old Georghe Hagi in the next window.

If no other football game was ever produced I’d be quite happy playing PES5 forever.

The AI in PES5 isn’t the most clinical and ruthless, but it has its excellent moments. Check the AI goal in the video below. An AI that can give the human player a good game in almost every match, is by definition a good AI.

These are some highlights from a league match, away to Wigan (excuse the out-of-sync sound at the end, I was experimenting with using the PC recording software to make brief PS4-style clips, instead of recording the whole match):

I’ve also started playing the game the way it was released – in 4:3 format. It takes a few matches to get used to it that way again, after over a decade of widescreen footy gaming, but the pace of the game vastly improves. PES5 is a little fast for our current tastes. One of the few areas that it is showing its age in.

No new post this Friday, remember, as my summer half-holiday continues. Another PES5 post next Tuesday, when I will have been through Season 9’s mid-season transfer window, and I will hopefully have had a squad clearout and picked up a few notable new names.

Finally here is a full PES5 match against mid-Wenger-era Arsenal:


Updated: 20th August 2019 — 00:08


  1. And the keeper Tommy – flapped two yards from the ball like a startled pigeon. No wonder it was known as ‘the easy pes’.

  2. Paul — cheers for the tips. The native Nvidia recorder on my PC is fine in every way except this sound glitch, still working on it. One of the things that gets away from me with every Windows machine I’ve ever had is the amount of bloat on it. You end up after a year or two with a hard drive overloaded with redundant programs. I’d like to avoid anything else if I can.

    Tommy/Uncle Turf – [users were infracted for these posts]

  3. Understandable NG, Your audio sync issue is 99% likely down to the framerate its being recorded at.
    As you know, unlike a movie which is a constant frame rate, video games frame rates can vary during a single session, try looking in the NVidia settings and there should be an option for framerate to record in, if there is an option to record in constant frame rate, select that, rather than variable.
    Or try dropping the recording framerate down a little so any drops frames have a buffer for the audio to remain in sync.

    You can download a tool called handbrake which is light and free, load your video in, choose constant framerate and re-encode it, the video file that is spat out will then be free of any audio sync issues.

    Hope that helps.

  4. Bought another projector, nothing expensive, was £100 and has a native resolution of 1280 x 800 so HD but not full 1080p HD, just use it for family gatherings and TV/sports out in the garden (Shine it at the fence) when its warm. Hooked up the PS2 slim to it via HDMi converter and BOOM!!

    Classic PES games on a 80″+ screen from 6 feet away.

  5. A few manual goals I’ve gone and done. You’ve already seen the middle one before.

  6. Paul – I’m already a Handbrake fan as I used it to make my PC recordings smaller in size in my standard broadband days. That answers some of the mystery – since getting fibre a month or so ago, I haven’t put my recordings through Handbrake at all, I’ve just gone with the native file size (I didn’t know how much I needed to just be able to upload a 2GB file in a few minutes, until I was able to do it). Using Handbrake to optimise the sound while preserving the quality will be straightforward.

    The Slim looks pretty good on the big screen, pretty much PS3 quality at that range is a good result. How did the game itself play?

  7. Tommy – very nice, and manual really does influence how long you choose to dribble for as well, particularly for me who rarely tries to take players on. On manual I’m about 30% more likely to.

    I’m still about 70/30 undecided on manual for the looming PES2020 (the 70 is in favour of PA1/Basic). With PES2020 already having some very nice passing and shooting error on default settings (for now). I do love the idea of manual, particularly the halfway house of Lloyd Settings.

  8. If I was buying a console for mini turf to have in his bedroom would anyone recommend the Xbox one S over the PS4? Just thinking of any exclusive games if they still do that?

  9. NG – It played fine, the projector was a cheapo job, a better one and it would have looked perfect.

    Turf – There are far more PS4 exclusives than there are XBOX, but in general most AAA titles are available on both, dont own an XBOX One S so cant vouch for it, in terms of sharing footage etc,graphic interface etc but both are superb consoles and would more than do for mini Turf, although he may find the PS4 controller more comfortable.

  10. I can vouch for the discomfort of the Xbox controller, but I think the XB1 controller went through a redesign? And I think the XB1 is compatible with some or most 360 (and original Xbox?) games, opening the door to continuing his PES education with all the old games, which you wouldn’t get with a PS4 (shamefully). Having said that, I don’t see any PES games on this list.

  11. The Xbox 1 controller is much more comfortable than the 360 controller. The analogue stick and buttons are much smoother. Don’t think any PES or FIFA 360 games are compatible with the Xbox 1.

  12. Turf – We got an XBox One S for the little one at Christmas and I have the PS4. The big problem with the XBox is the download and installation times. Even games on a disc take an age to install. As NG says I do like the feel of the controller, which seems to fit more naturally in the hand.

  13. Turf – and the XBox One is still dependent on batteries to charge the controller. As it literally eats batteries then rechargeable ones are a must as it will go through a set of batteries in 2 days.

    Enjoying the cricket?

  14. Cheers all. It’s a bit of a quandary given we have the wiiu, PS4 and ps2 for the retro stuff but increasingly I’m going to be elbowed off my machine with later bedtimes, etc. I think it will be the PS4, particularly if it’s what his mates have but I was just uncertain if I was missing a latest Xbox capability trick.

    Darryl – it’s fascinating as a cricket watcher but in terms of England and goodwill they are pissing away everything they built up with the World Cup. Any NG out there (Paul’s a lost cause) would see this and say we were shite, and Australia not much better. You can even argue for the ‘snooker tactical battle’ as most of the wickets have been thrown away – stokes shot today was embarrassing for pub cricket.

  15. Well you can drop the Wii U out of a window. That’d be a good start.

  16. And lose the ability to play the greatest golf game ever made (TM)?

    Tiger Woods on Wii….50/10

  17. Cricket showing a bit of good old scripting there. Unreal

  18. Apart from Paul who will have been at a stately home garden party….seriously, that surely has to do something to you….cricket at its finest, after it had been near its lowest two days ago.

  19. The two best sporting moments of the year both thanks to Ben Stokes. Truly wonderful. I’m on my way in Cricket 19 career to emulate him, just called up to England’s tour of New Zealand in 2024.

  20. Turf – Yes never seen anything like it.

    Cook – You are going well there. I got as far as playing International Cricket but lost interest in the Career Mode at that point. Still play it though and am currently playing the Ashes again on Veteran level, with hard batting and bowling. How is your batting fairing up now. Good game isn’t it?

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  22. Darryl, I’m playing on hard bowling and batting which is just right for my skill levels at the moment. My batting average is 36 but bowling average is 22, strike rate of 30ish. I much prefer bowling and regret choosing to be an all rounder because I’ve maxed my bowling stats. I get bored batting so get out taking silly risks, perfect for English middle order at least.

    I’ve just finished my first Sheffield Shield season with Queensland and the Pakistani t20, back to the County championship with Gloucestershire. It’s a great cricket game, still some room for improvement especially fielding but overall it captures the intricacies of the game. I can see myself going back often in the future.

    Thanks to you for the good reviews here otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

  23. All my snark aside, I do regret not understanding cricket and appreciating it. My cricket loving old school mate used to say I was in every aspect the ideal cricket fan, except for the fact of disliking it.

  24. Cook – That is where I got up to on my career mode. I picked to be an all-rounder so that I could be involved in all aspects of the game. However, it is a big flaw that you can’t go any further with a bowler and end up with a bucket load of points that you can’t use. As you get further unlocking any sort of batting abilities gets harder. Like you I enjoy the bowling and sticking to bowling plans for each type of batsmen. The batting gets a bit samish.

  25. Unbelievable scenes at the cricket, but Stokes was incredibly lucky. As Prsgame said, scripting at its most blatant. Still, probably the most unbelievable England game since Headingley 1981.

  26. Chris – He was lucky of course, but these things happen when it is your day. That was a crazy five minutes when England only needed 2 to win.

  27. The lbw was poor, but the use of the review for a clear pitch outside was just as bad. Inexcusable were the drop and fumble on the run out. They had lots of chances.

    What bothers me is it papers over the huge cracks – stokes and archer aside (and leach’s 1) there were some average performances and some downright shocking ones. Half a dozen players could rightly fear for their places but I don’t see much coming up from county level to challenge them – the obsession with white ball cricket is beginning to hit home. If we lose at old Trafford it’s all for nowt.

  28. Agreed Turf. Roy’s inability to adapt to a five day game should cost him his place, or at the very least move him to 5. Trouble is there doesn’t seem to be anyone better to open. The problem has been apparent for at least two years.

  29. NG, harking back to the JL Winning Eleven 9 Asia Championship that I recommended on the last post, the game you played was indeed the “right” one. I downloaded the PCSX2 emulator and played it this morning. The emulator runs pretty darned well on my modest desktop, which only has an integrated graphics card, which makes me think they must have optimised it a lot in the last three years or so because it never ran well for me before. The ISO I have is identical, apart from the fact that it has the menus patched into English. I do think it is much more PES5 than PES6, but it was released just before PES6 so they were probably looking for something of a PES5.5. Now that the PCSX2 is running well, I’m going to try JL Winning Eleven 8 (EIGHT) Asia Championship, which is from the PES4 year and maybe the slowest of all the PS2 PES/Winning Eleven iterations.

  30. Turf – totally agree with you as there are only a couple of players in the team with bottle. I also think Root is a poor captain. You only have to look at how many times we have been dismissed for less than a hundred in recent tests to realise there is a problem. It is still going to be a huge ask to win this series as they are such a good bowling attack, who bowl with such consistency. Yes they had a mad half hour yesterday but bowled so well the rest of the match.

  31. There appears to be some noise going on above.
    I honestly and literally did not even know there was some sort of cricket match on this weekend, it has no importance, relevance or place in my life, it means less to me than nothing.

    I was in London, theatre tickets, and overnight stay in a hotel, drinks and dinner in the evening, never saw a single cricket fan out or about anywhere, it just doesn’t have the pull other sports does.

    Had a few more games of the PES20 demo yesterday, whilst killing a few minutes, they definitely need to tweak the fouls, it is infuriating being pulled up for a foul that was never ever a foul, just because there was physical contact of some sort, especially when its totally one sided and the CPU still gets away with assault.

  32. Off side story….


    The phantom of the Bopara….

  33. …Batsman…

  34. Very good Turf 😉 On form and its not even 10 am after a bank holiday!!

  35. Bats?

    rhymes450 – PCSX2 certainly is a marvel, and I can vouch for its viability as a method of actually playing a PS2 game long-term rather than as a tech demo. I’ve been using the app to play Final Fantasy 12 for the past few years. About 20 hours in all told. One of those occasional boot-ups.

    Of course I now have to get and try Winning Eleven 8 (EIGHT).

    Paul – it’s been a bit of misnomer so far that there even are fouls in PES2020, IMO. Lots of human fouls of course, but the same precious few AI fouls. I don’t think there’s any danger whatsoever of there being any fouls, for either side, in the retail version. On a slight other note, I see on the forums – particularly EvoWeb – that the regulars have started referring to ‘the game’ instead of ‘the demo’, I.e. it’s the annual process whereby by the time the actual game comes out they all feel it’s been out for months already, they’ve played so much of the demo.

  36. NG – I deleted the demo last week, it was still on the PS4 in the cinema room, so had a couple of games whilst waiting for the Missus to get ready as footy games are perfect for that casual pick up and play, kill a few mins approach.

    But the games I played were so infuriating, having the game stop every 2 seconds for a foul, and you know my mindset on fouls mirrors yours, id rather have too many than none, but these games were really bad as the fouls are so imbalanced.

    Any breathing near a COm player results in a foul against you, multiple times I took the ball cleanly but as shoulders touched, a foul was called, yet I was fouled all over the pitch and nothing, Id rather have no fouls for either side, than them just bump up the fouls against you.

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