Why football games should treat us like children
Anyone who says PES 2011 3D isn’t the best 3DS football game isn’t only an idiot, but a liar. The mixed reviews put me off initially, but since Pilotwings has ramped up the difficult spike and become basically impossible, Street Fighter essentially a quest for virtual figurines and Ghost Recon more of a marathon than a sprint, I’ve been looking for a five-minute diversion and on paper PES 2011 fitted the bill.
As you probably know, I am excellent at football games, what with me being the current Sensible Soccer World Champion and everything (by everything, I mean that specifically). And like most, I’ve been tempted to play away with FIFA rather than PES over recent years, charmed by its officialness and the fact it once used Supermassive Black Hole as one of its loading themes. FIFA’s annual refinements have been enough for me – I enjoyed the TalkSport newscasts during menus, had fun being Dexter Blackstock that year, and admired the idea of EA stealing small amounts of money from bank accounts with the trading card games (a chap in the office freely admits to having spent an extra hundred pounds of Earth money on buying digital players – I won’t name names, but if you were to put one and one together to make two, one would be Gareth and the other one would be Williams). So it has been a while since I played PES on a home console.
The 3DS version is excellent. I can’t understand those that moan about the close-up view. Sure it is basically unplayable, but it’s there as an attract mode for the three dees. Switch to wide mode and it is as good a football game as you’ll find on Xbox 360 (not PlayStation 3, obviously, because you can play against a friend on another console without having to subsequently change all your Internet passwords).
I’m having a great time – with two caveats. I’m having to play as Spurs, because PES 2011 3D doesn’t stoop so low as the Championship, and I’m also having to play on Amateur difficulty level because I’m finding it difficult to score otherwise.
Which is its only failing. I’m not a massive fan of choice in videogames – part of the reason I drifted away from PC gaming is because I could not standing having to balance graphical fidelity and frame rate. Why should you have to pick one over the other? If computers are going to eventually take over the world and wipe out all of humanity, they need to begin to take responsibility at some point – I would much rather prefer they take a look at their individual capabilities and decide. They’re clever enough to get dressed themselves, frankly.
The other thing I don’t think games should ask players to pick is a difficulty level. Basically, I want a game to essentially be my dad, making it look like it is trying to beat me, but ultimately letting me think that I am winning by myself.
I’m playing Master League, very occasionally drawing 0-0 or 1-1, but usually winning by the odd goal or two. Lennon and Bale boss the midfield and Defoe is a hell of a finisher – which is uncharacteristic and unrealistic but immensely satisfying. I’m top of the Master League, and through to the semi finals in the Cup (currently having won 1-0 in the home leg). Every goal I score makes me clench a fist. I’ve been looking like a tit on the train, frankly. I’m really enjoying it. But can’t help feeling a bit of a fraud because I’ve chosen to play in baby mode.
Football games shouldn’t be like this. Football games should take a look at who you opt to play, and fix each game so that your progression each season is slightly better year after year. Football games boast of their realism – but that’s not what actual fans want. West Ham supporters don’t want to get relegated in FIFA. Wolves fans don’t want their players to be shit. They want to climb out of the bottom three, and, over the coming years, progress up the league. A Spurs gamer starting PES or FIFA wants to guarantee fourth. The following year, Premier League runners-up. The year after, the title. Then Champions League victors. Finally, the year after, become an independent country and win the World Cup.
Of course, you shouldn’t know the game was letting you do this – in the same way my idiot son thinks he can beat me in a race to the bathroom, when all I am trying to do is get the little sod in there so he will clean his teeth. When he tells me he has won, he truly believes it, in the same way he believes in Father Christmas or that if an ice cream van plays a jingle it means they have run out of ice creams.
Without you realising or having to pick a level other than “awesome”, out of every five matches a football videogame should roughly let you win three, draw one and lose one. Every season you should do slightly better than before. They should make you feel heroic, better than the team in real-life.
And at night, they should tuck you in, kiss you on the forehead and tell you that they love you.
So, yeah. Despite making me feel like someone who can’t play football games on any level other than stupid, PES 2011 NDS is properly brilliant and you should buy it.