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Editorial – Finding Perfection

With the podcast delayed until next week, we take some time to try and take stock of the current football climate.

First of all apologies for no podcast this week. A mixture of hands being slapped, and timetables not matching meant we had to give this week a miss. Thanks for all your recorded messages, we’ll get them in on the next one.

I just wanted to take a moment and discuss the current football climate, and try and gauge some reaction and opinions from everyone out there. We have a passionate, outspoken community. Some who love to attack us, and at the same time adore us. Some who believe they know what would make PES good again, and some who believe it will never get back to the top. But we’re still here, and so are you.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

It’s a question I ask my mates regularly, and usually provokes some long indepth discussions over a shisha smoking session. Football games as of right now simply aren’t doing enough. As someone who used to purchase a console to play PES, that recommendation cannot be asserted to anything on the market right now. It’s all rather depressing.

As a self confessed PES fanboy (don’t like the term, but hey), I can admit that if the FIFA series did everything for me, then WENB would be a much quieter place on my part. Despite breaking records, and becoming pretty much the only football in the UK, it still doesn’t come close to satisfying me and what I want in a football game.

On the other side we have PES, which at the same time has flattered to deceive on this gen, going through positive stages in development, only to disappoint on a regular basis once the game shipped.

So where does that leave us? Confused as hell, and with a massive gap in my gaming time. Around the likes of the Uncharted series, Assassins Creed (yes I had to put that in there), Batman and Nintendo’s magical Mario games I’m left with my console switched off for long periods of the year. This never used to be the case. I used to think it was me getting older and going off the need for games (I’m 30 in May!), but the reality is football games aren’t very good these days, or as good as they used to be.

As someone who doesn’t play RPG’s or FPS’s, I can still appreciate a well made game. So the likes of Mass Effect and Halo series will get a nod of approval from afar, and in the same sense I can see the love for FIFA. Amazing animations, a wonderful technical base, compelling presentation, an online mode that works and all the licenses under one roof. At the same time I see a game void of emotion, missing that intuitive play by play, and failing to achieve player and team individuality. Its beauty is a sight to behold, but as the shine wears off it doesn’t hook its claws in like PES used to.

Even going back to the older games, however, I’m left wanting more. While the impressive PES 6 PC patches bridge that presentation gap with their version of PES HD, the gameplay (while still impressive in it’s own right) is stuck in the past. Lacking the freedom and tactical nous of it’s successors, not even popping on a game of a timeless classic keeps me playing more than a game at a time.

For many FIFA has filled that gap, and as the years go by it will continue to grab fans who fail to wait for Konami to finally find their feet. Seeing the bigger picture, the hardcore PES fans aren’t only here for brand loyalty. Currently FIFA doesn’t do it for them, but the longer Konami fail and the time they give EA to improve FIFA passes by, they’ll see more people go because the competitor with naturally hit levels we all want in a football game.

It’s not a wake-up call, alarm bells have been ringing for more than a few years now. And with certain key markets remaining a valid competitor to FIFA, Konami may feel they have some time left before shit really hits the fan. The reality is we need a clear direction, and a clear indication things will improve. Like a team who is going through a bad patch of form, a win can spur them on to achieve a great run of results.

PES 2013 is coming this year, and soon we’ll all get to see what Konami have in store. Early signs are promising, but the fans need much more than a positive start. Hell, even I need cheering up! We need Konami to prove they are listening, even if the game might not achieve the presentation or technical prowess of EA’s juggernaut. Key changes to gameplay mechanics, massive restructuring to it’s online features, and some visual improvements would go someway to galvanizing a deeply hurt community. But that would be just the start.

For me, after many years of doing this, the question will remain right up until launch. Will they tinker? Will they destroy a perfectly playable game right up until launch? Perfection isn’t obtainable, but making a fantastic football game we all love is. I hope someone at Konami at least knows this.

The next generation of consoles are almost upon us. Will Konami go out with a bang, or make this a generation to forget? Make sure you stick around, we’ll all know very soon.

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