Trying to Be a Good Sport

PES 2014

A Sporting Chance

I just watched my first soccer match in, oh, at least 20 years or so. As a child, I used to live and breathe soccer; growing up in Germany, it was more or less ingrained in me. I grew out of it when I moved to the States in the early around 1990 or so. But the World Cup is currently underway, and I ended up watching the last 10-15 minutes of the England-Italy match.

That’s all it took.

Apparently, soccer is just part of my genetic make-up, and I can’t simply shrug it off like a coat I’ve outgrown. I ended up staying for the entirety of the Japan-Ivory Coast match, cheering along spiritedly, balling my fists and gritting my teeth as one team scored or another had some near misses, even though I’ve not followed the sport in over two decades and didn’t know either team from Jack. But I’m back in the saddle now, and we’ve already made plans to watch the upcoming Germany games in earnest.

Now if I could only get this excited about playing soccer on my PS3.

For several years now, I’ve heard of friends who were playing soccer games, and – the German in me, I suppose – I’ve been considering giving one a try myself. Well, for one reason or another, I never went through with the purchase, and so time moved on. But a few weeks ago, Pro-Evolution Soccer 2014 was the free PlayStation Plus download, and who was I to pass up on an opportunity? As it turns out, my much-anticipated reintroduction to soccer (even digitally) didn’t go as well as I had hoped.

PES 2014

Alone the no-pressure training took me quite a while to get the hang of, and even then I never really mastered it.

I’ll freely admit that the following could entirely be due to user error, since I simply never play sports games, instead of poor game design. But I can’t do anything with my team! I can’t dribble the ball through the cones in practice, I can’t pass competently, and I certainly can’t shoot worth a damn. I’ve played several games, and tried the practice mode, and still even the most basic moves elude my grasp. Add to that the fact that I couldn’t make heads nor tails (or didn’t care to) when trying out the manager mode, AND the fact that I don’t know anything about the current teams or players, and you’ll understand why I quickly had a lackluster experience on my hands.

So, after a few days of this, I did something I usually don’t do until I’ve finished a game: I deleted it off my PS3’s hard drive to make room for future downloads. Even that soon after just starting the game, I felt positive I wouldn’t be bothering going back to it anymore.

NBA 2K14

I can now hold my own in blacktop battles.

As luck would have it, Sony picked NBA 2K14 as a downloadable title soon after. And so I ended up with another sports game that I wanted to at least give a try – far be it from me to be close-minded and shut a game out completely. The difference this time was that my brothers have been avidly playing 2K14 for a while now, and know their way around the court a bit. So, after a disappointing start to my season consisting of an early draft pick followed by spending an increasing amount of time on the bench game after game, I consulted with them to get a few pointers. And, lo and behold!, the strategies I picked up from my brothers started actually paying off in the form of stat increases, better coverage and blocking ability, more favorable post-game performance ratings, and even a few close wins in both league and career games! Despite early forecasts to the contrary, I think I may actually stick with this game for a little while, see where it goes.

In closing, let me briefly return to the beginning of my story. Given my newfound insight that games become a lot more manageable with just a bit of training, and with my returning (could it be?) passion for soccer, I’ve even decided to re-download PES 2014, and give it another honest try. Hell, I practically owe it to my German roots!

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