A few months back I wrote about the modding options available for perhaps the most playable game in the whole Pro Evolution Soccer series, PES 6. For all the countless shirts, stadia and options that modding PES 6 provides, and as much as it still plays a cracking game of football, there may be those who crave customised PC football with the most up to date PES engine possible. Well rest assured, all is not lost. While the most recent iteration of Konami’s football series may not be quite as endlessly tweakable as its older brother, there are plenty of options for the tinkerer to experiment with.
Perhaps the best option of all is to use one of the excellent superpatches that exist for the game. I’ve tried a few, and to my eyes the best by far is the Fire Patch, which is now up and beyond version 1.5. This works by installing all the necessary back end gubbins, then presenting you with a pre-game menu system that allows you to configure your PES experience (by swapping over the relevant files) before you fire up the game. The options are extensive and include the ability to overhaul the score and time graphics (I went for an ESPN HD look to match the ESPN commentary). You can replace the in-game stadia, though unlike PES 6 you won’t be able to add new stadia to existing ones, meaning you can’t match the older games ability to have hundreds of stadia, all associated with different club and national sides.
The new HD kits and faces look great, and there are the usual tweaks to menu screen and background music. Of course, for many fans the biggest joy of adding a superpatch like this is the total, FIFA-like accuracy it brings to leagues, competitions and club line ups. No more English league, now there are Premier League logos and accurate team badges, kits and rosters everywhere. In fact the game ends up looking like it would if Konami could afford to compete with EA and stump up for a full set of licenses.
For others though, superpatches like this are all about tweaking the gameplay experience. Here too, Fire Patch allows you to tinker, you can keep the default AI settings, or opt for a newer, more realistic and challenging configuration. The tweaked AI certainly plays a different game of football, with matches often breaking down into battles of midfield attrition. It’s very realistic, but long-standing fans of the PES series may want to do without as it does dampen some of the tradional fun, attacking options that are the Konami trademark.
In all, and given the layers upon layers of options that allow gamers to tweak PES 2011 to the max, the Fire Patch is an essential download. It’s also regularly updated, so you can keep up with all the latest kit designs and new transfers in time for the new series.