Articles tagged 'football'

It's Coming Home Jul 14 2018

I've been watching England a long time now - I don't remember Italia '90 first hand, I do remember USA '94 as my first World Cup, even though England hadn't qualified. Euro '96 was special, and I vividly remember the semi-final against Germany, the elation, the agony, the heartbreak. Gazza sliding in at the back post. The first time I cried after an England result (not the last). Beckham red card and losing to Argentina in '98, being 1-0 up against Brazil in '02 and losing 2-1, penalties to Portugal in '06. After that, England seemed to be in the footballing wilderness, the so-called Golden Generation had come and gone, nothing to show for it. Overpaid and not really caring, the last decade has been tough to watch. Superstars picked based on reputation not form, and not delivering for country like they did for club. And so it comes full circle, watching this World Cup with my kids, the first World Cup where they were old enough to understand it, to be excited by it. Living vicariously through them, nervous for them, as they learn the highs and lows of being an England fan. Ultimately, perhaps inexperience delivered the final blow, but in doing so, has given these young, energetic and hungry players experience they can use in the future. In two years for the Euros, in four years for the next World Cup. Many of these players will play in 2 or maybe even 3 more World Cups if they stay fit and consistent, and this experience, this team unity, the exuberance they've shown together will count for so much. They've set themselves a high bar for future years, and in doing so have inspired my kids, and kids up and down the country. Keep the faith, because eventually, It's Coming Home.


Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 vs Fifa 2008 (Xbox 360) Feb 24 2008

So once again this year a decision was required as to which of the annual football (soccer for some of you) video games I’d get for the 360. I didn’t particularly fancy getting both, and I’ve traditionally always sided with Pro Evolution Soccer titles - despite the lack of licenses meaning many of the teams haven’t got the right names, kits and players etc, the actual dynamic within the game means it’s a better, more fluid football game. This year was different though, and after playing both demos, I went with Fifa. I was very impressed with the full game, and besides the presentation and polish that I’ve come to expect from EA sports games, I was happy that in fact EA had finally nailed a decent football dynamic within the game. The excellent commentary, the full league and team licenses, and the superb online leagues only add to what is essentially a great football game. Each game played is a delight to play, and the football often looks like I’m watching a game on TV. The graphics are exceptional, but the flow is like the real deal, and it means that sometimes you’ll struggle to break down a defence, and other times you’ll find a way to smash in a 30 yard screamer. Momentum is a big factor, and you’ll often find yourself under frequent attack, finding it hard to get the ball, and having to play on the counter-attack. A few decent interceptions later though, and the momentum might have shifted, leaving you able to mount a barrage of attacks yourself. It’s a joy to play.

Which brings me to Pro Evolution Soccer 2008. I decided to rent PES 2008 a week or two ago, to give the game a quick go, see if I had made the right decision in choosing Fifa, and also to grab those all important achievements. While I thought Fifa had the edge this year, I didn’t realise until I played the full version of PES 2008 just how big the gap was - and how badly Konami had mangled the latest version of the game. Playing the game is frustrating, as it no longer feels like fluid football as in previous versions. The passing is awkward, and the overall play disjointed. Your team-mates often make silly mistakes with their runs, making it hard to break open a defence with a decent through ball without being caught offside. The AI for the referees and linesmen is also bad, making frequent mistakes, which while not completely unrealistic, is frustrating because of just how often these errors occur. These errors include deflections off of defending players being missed, with goal kicks being given instead of corners. Fouls will often be given for little or no reason, while opposition players can sometimes mercilessly bring down one of your guys without intervention. And even despite the dodgy team-mate AI, sometimes you will put through a perfect through ball, only to find that it is called as offside anyway. This is all before going online, whereby the problems get worse. I’m not quite sure how the netcode for this game got so bad in just a year (PES 6 wasn’t perfect, but it was playable). Most games online that I played were almost unplayable, meaning that each game ultimately resulted in luck. That’s fine when it goes your way - but to be dribbling towards the opponents box, suddenly for the game to jitter, and find that the opposition player has just rounded your keeper and stuck it in the back of the net, is verging on the ridiculous. It seems as though the network code is so bad, that the game will literally drop five to six seconds of play before syncing back up, meaning one player is generally left completely vulnerable. I played through a number of games to get some of the basic online achievements, but I’d find it hard to stick with it for any length of time without destroying my Xbox 360 controller with rage.

So to sum up, it seems as though this last year’s Pro Evo was definitely a step back. The creator of the series I believe came out and said that it wasn’t ready, but Konami pushed for it to be released, and that the next edition in the series will be a complete rewrite, which sounds like a good idea. However there’s no way that a rewrite could be finished by October/November when the next annual version generally surfaces, and so unless they choose to skip a year with Pro Evo, I think the series will struggle to get back on track. Meanwhile, Fifa have got it all right, with a brilliant, fluid football game, combined with superb presentation, all of the licenses you could want for a football game, and some really fun online features. I think it’s inevitable that the games have to look more to online play as they evolve, but Fifa is in pole position, while Pro Evo needs to go back to the drawing board to attempt to win back players like me.


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