I’m currently preoccupied with work and life, so I’ve yet to see if my FIFA16 Career Mode can be Lazarused.
Today’s post is therefore short, but hopefully sweet.
In this strange period before the next batch of games come out, and while I’m fiddling around trying to see if I can maybe play some FIFA16, I have had a few sessions back on PES2016.
I’m not back on PES2016, and I doubt I ever will be. I’ve learned never to say never, though.
The game’s simply too fast and frantic.
After a lengthy spell on PES2014 and then a tantalising glimpse of what FIFA16 has to offer, I cannot settle with PES2016’s insanely fast and frantic and flowing and ‘fun’ gameplay. It is, without question, far and away the most arcadey edition of Pro Evolution Soccer ever made. Moreso even than PES2008. And that’s saying something.
I have sort of enjoyed my brief sessions with ’16, for all that. And I’ve had a few interesting moments.
Those with long memories will recall that I acquired a young regen Steven Gerrard in my latter few seasons.
Those with longer memories might remember this, from the tail-end of PES2015:
That was my favourite goal of many great goals I scored on PES2015.
Well, look at this from the tail-end of PES2016 this year:
An almost carbon-copy. When I got Stevie G into firing position, I recalled the goal from PES2015 and thought ‘shall I?’
I do prefer the first one, from PES2015. Something about the slightly wider position and the flight of the ball appeals to me more, aesthetically speaking.
But the second one made me shout out loud just as much, if not more, because of how unexpected it was.
Hopefully by Friday I’ll have revived my FIFA16 Career Mode career from its state of limbo.
PES2015 isn’t the greatest football game that’s ever been made, but it’s the reason this blog is back up and running.
I followed an up-and-down trajectory with the game. At first I sort-of liked it. Then I loved it. Then I went back to ‘just’ liking it. Then I loved it again…
And now? Approaching the end of this 2014-15 football game year, what’s the final verdict, the final feeling?
PES2015 was difficult to like at first, never mind love. The graphics were chalky and drab, nothing like what the PS4 is capable of. In a depressingly familiar story, on release the game was hideously flawed in many aspects. It took a few patches for things to start feeling proper.
It also took the adjustment of certain expectations. Expectations always get out of hand in recent years, as we peek over the aisle and see what’s happening in FIFA, particularly in Career Mode.
PES2015’s gameplay was refreshingly basic – somewhat in the cheerful spirit of PES2010, I found – and this is what saved the game for me. One thing we’ve learned from 20 years of PES, or whatever it’s been, is that a winning formula doesn’t get changed. If it does get changed, it’s at great risk. (PES2014. Enough said.)
PES2015 is a close cousin to PES6 on the Xbox360. That latter game was a stopgap in the history of PES. PES2015 will prove to be much the same. We await PES2016 and its successors to see just where ’15 eventually ends up in the pantheon.
By Christmas, my stop-start Master League was a growing seedling. By February I was neck-deep in that old familiar Master League feeling – and starting to miss the days when I blogged about how special this feeling truly was.
That special Master League feeling is the feeling you’re involved in something. Playing Master League bring into life a whole other world, with its own life and its own narrative, running parallel to your real life. A world you can go and hang out/hide out in whenever you want.
PES is Master League. And Master League is pipe and slippers and hot cocoa and a comfort blanket all rolled into one.
Peter Crouch! Arjen Robben! Georghe Hagi (homebrew, but he counted)!
Okay, so the players weren’t individual enough. This was a huge demerit for the game.
The game seemed to have a mechanic whereby a great individual performance was followed by several matches of bewildering anonymity. I’ve been playing football games long enough to recognise a nerf-attack when I see one, and this was a nerf-attack. Not a great decision by the Master League designers, as consistency of individuality is one of PES’s great hallmarks. Nothing should be allowed to dilute that. I’m tempted to mark the game down for this alone.
But the game: overall. Great passing, satisfying shooting. Adequate goalkeepers – better than adequate, in most respects.
After worrying initially about long-range goals (notoriously missing from PES2014 on that game’s launch) I ended up scoring enough PES2015 piledrivers from 40 yards to keep me happy.
High points? So many that I could go on about them for a long time. There was that goal by Peter Crouch, which made me literally shout out loud one midnight:
I’ll remember that goal 20 years from now. That’s what only PES can do.
Below is a goals compilation I made back in April.
I still feel excited and inspired watching this now. These goals were never intended to showcase a technically flawless football game. They were only intended to show what I’d decided to record to my PS4’s HD. That was the only selection bias at work.
The game had big problems. Fouls, for one. This one is almost unforgivable. For a football game to be almost devoid of free kicks is a like a driving game in which there is little or no possibility of crashing. To play over 600 matches in Master league and have approximately 4 free kicks in shooting range just cannot be forgiven or forgotten. (I’ll be assessing PES2016’s performance in this regard. If the demo is any guide, the no-fouls problem has been made worse.)
It also has to be acknowledged that Master League itself might be in trouble. Okay, it definitely is in trouble.
We’ve seen the Master League patient ailing for a number of years. PES2010-PES2011 was the mode’s peak. It’s been steadily downhill from there, with features removed and not replaced.
Global player development isn’t right. After 8 seasons in my main Master League world, there were only about 10 players rated over 90 OVR. Half of them were mine.
Career Mode in FIFA has mysteriously acquired almost everything ‘extra’ that Master League used to have. The training. The transfer tension. The sheer enjoyable grind.
Master League is suffering from neglect, and I know what’s responsible. The demands of the online multiplayer market are becoming truly obnoxious.
But it is still hanging on. Just.
And so is Pro Evolution Soccer, a franchise whose last rites are chanted every single year, but which keeps on coming back like a not-really-dead-yet supervillain at the end of a movie.
And that’s what’s great about PES. Despite all the frankly ludicrous faults, it still works. There’s still greatness in the dark, forbidding depths.
I played 14 seasons in Master League, FOURTEEN long, long seasons. There aren’t many editions of PES that have ever hit double figures in Master League seasons. For the record, the ones that got to double-digits are: PES3, PES5, PES2010, PES2011, PES2012, and now PES2015. All the others have been single-figure ML campaigns.
And so my year-end score for PES2015 is a mighty and fully deserved
Yes, the same score I gave FIFA15 – a game I played for less than half the total time compared to PES2015.
I’m not a journalist or a reviewer. I’m barely even a blogger. My use of review-style scores is symbolic.
9/10 is justified for the time spent on it: 14 seasons of Master League. If that’s not a 9/10 football game, what is?
For release week my posting schedule will undergo a temporary change.
There will be no new post on Tuesday 15th September. I’ll post on Thursday 17th instead, hopefully early in the afternoon to say ‘I’ve got the game!’
Then I’ll post again later that evening, around 7pm, with brief First Impressions. The following day’s regular post, Friday 18th, will be delayed until the early evening.
Regular 12 noon Tues/Friday posting will resume the following week.
The above plan depends on me getting the game Thursday, which is likely but by no means guaranteed.
Should delivery be delayed until release day proper, the 18th, I’ll do all of the above on the Friday, and then follow up with a special post over the weekend.
Well. A certain stealth-em-up blockbuster of a game has come along and completely swept me away. I’ve played one single solitary game of football in the past 5 days. With the result that today’s blog is something of a clips show.
With one difference. In a TV clips show, all the clips are rehashes of old episodes that’ve been seen before.
All the clips in today’s post are new to the blog. None have been posted to date for various reasons.
Here’s the best goal I scored in that single solitary football game, played yesterday afternoon (Thursday 3/9), after a long and exhausting session on Metal Gear Solid V. After a couple of hours of tension, playing a football game seemed the most relaxing pastime in the world…
That’s from PES2014, and the nature of the above goal – defenders backing off and backing off – will give this game’s massive army of detractors fuel for their always-burning bonfire.
This is still only Professional difficulty, though, and PES2014 is a bizarre and eccentric game of football anyway, and you rarely see defending like the above. The defenders simply decided to go all PES2010 at this moment in time.
I loved the goal for the outswinging flight of the ball, as seen in the second angle.
(Advance warning: at some point over the next 12 months, I’m going to play PES2014 for a good while on the blog. It’s an itch I’ve decided has to be scratched. Whenever PES2016 grinds to a halt, be that by Christmas or spring or early summer next year, PES2014 is top of the to-play list. I appreciate this will greatly irritate those who have dismissed PES2014, but I need to do this.)
Here’s a left-back thumper from PES2015, scored about two months ago, Notable here is how I don’t turn to face the goal, but thump it in while facing the touchline:
Now another one from Stevie G, again in PES2015. This time I didn’t post it a few months ago because the one-minute-long clip encompasses half-time, and it seemed scruffy:
Here’s one from FIFA15, showing the events in single minute in a pre-season Career Mode match against Bari.
I concede a good goal to the AI, which features some deft AI play and a neat cross, and then I go up the other end and win a penalty – both good examples of things FIFA15 does miles better than PES2015.
I did score the penalty, which isn’t shown.
I’ve got plenty of other random odds and ends tucked away here and there. Haven’t we all? In the life of a football gamer there’s at least one moment every session, and usually more than one moment, to remember and reminisce about.
Two weeks today PES2016 will be out. Two weeks today, ShopTo and Royal Mail willing, I’ll have been playing it for at least one day.
I’m really looking forward to it, especially as I’ll spend 95% of my gaming time between now and then on MGSV. It’ll be good to get back in the footy game habit in a few weeks.
NEXT WEEK: The 2015 football game retrospective posts. I’ll begin with FIFA15 on Tuesday, and get to PES2015 on Friday.
And then it’ll be PES2016 release week – always one of my favourite times of this time of the year. Many people in various parts of the world always get the game early, and start posting impressions that worry and please us in equal measure.
And so we come to the final post for the month of August, with September and PES2016 just over the top of the next hill. It’s not going to be long now. Two weeks plus change.
I enjoyed a daring interlude earlier this week when I gave a whole day to PES2014. I had great fun installing, updating, and Option File-ing it on PC, and then the gameplay was, frankly, a revelation. The game handles and plays well, featuring many agreeable elements that we may never see again in PES. We probably need to look back through PES2015-tinted spectacles to really appreciate what they were trying to do with PES2014 and how close they came to succeeding.
It’s not just PES/FIFA that can’t be played at the same time. Different editions of PES too.
Nobody has ever played two different football games concurrently to any great depth. I’d be very interested to hear of somebody who, for example, played PES one day and FIFA the next day, and cycled back and forth like that for any length of time, and managed to play both games seriously. It simply can’t happen.
Ditto two PES games. So my experiments with other PES games this year haven’t been very extensive. A bit of PES2013, a bit of PES5 (as ever), a bit of PES2014, and I’m done.
At this time of year I’m always possessed by curiosity as to how past PES games will feel after they’ve spent another year in football game Valhalla. Time catches up with them all – all the past football games – in an advancing wave of obsolescence from the past to the present. This time last year, for example, I would have said PES2 was still playable. I wouldn’t say that today. PES3 is barely hanging onto playable status. Will this pressure front ever reach PES5? I shudder to think of that day dawning.
Season 15 is not going to be a thing on PES2015. I had thought there was a chance of making it to mid-season. I doubt I’ll even make it to Fixture 10 in the league campaign, never mind mid-season. A certain other blockbuster of a game is due to arrive soon. I will be giving every minute of my gaming time, bar the odd hour or two of football gaming, to that.
For now, PES2015 Reloaded continues.
Another couple of matches, and here are a couple of goals from Lionel Messi, a player I’ve had in this career for only for the second time in my entire lifetime of Master League.
The first time I had Messi was in PES6(360), where he was a wonderful player in a very good intermediary PES that bridged the gap between two generations. The second time is here on PES2015, where he is a wonderful player in a very good intermediary PES that bridged the gap between two generations…
Here are the two goals – neither of them really special, but the manner of the second goal’s arrival was interesting for two reasons that I’ll get to:
The first one is a bog-standard goal of the sort that you barely even notice yourself scoring after a while. The second, though, came from a first-time cross, and was a header from Messi.
Goals from crosses like that are rare in PES2015. The cross itself, delivered by my RMF, the Youth Bellarabi, was lovely: he wraps his foot around the ball and delivers a perfect in-swinger right on Messi’s bonce. Messi (rather unrealistically, but what the hell) outjumps the defender to nod the ball down and up into the net.
A remarkable goal that I enjoyed scoring, and then watching again at my leisure before continuing with the match. If I’d scored that goal online, I’d have been lucky to see half a second of the replay.
And the goal also reminded me of a previous, very similar moment on PES2015. Remember this from a month ago?
That Messi miss, in an almost identical scenario, cost me my last shot at the Treble in my last proper, real season of Master League on PES2015.
I’m not the sort of computer game player who throws controllers. Is that even a real thing? Does anybody actually throw controllers? Or is it like hiding behind the sofa from Doctor Who?
I’m not the sort of Master League player who blames players and holds an irrational grudge against them thereafter.
But you know what – all things considered, I don’t think I’ll be looking for Messi when the time comes in PES2016.