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: