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Looking To The Past Has Penalties…Literally!


Picking up on various discussions and my own downright frustration regards PES’ current penalty system I thought it would be good to look back at previous footy games take on spot kicks for some inspiration.

To my utter amazement Konami had this aced long ago.

So where are you going to place your click? May I suggest the read more link below.

Yip. That’s right. Konami’s KCEO studio had penalties pretty much nailed 12yrs ago and for my money the system they used has not been bettered by any football title since. Sure, the Wii version of the game comes close but still fails to relay any real sense of drama to the player in the way the ISS series of games on the Nintendo 64 did all those years ago.

So let us take a look at the ISS games spot kicks in action first…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6ou9yDfEQ0[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtPEVdbFL_s&feature=related[/youtube]

What made this system so effective was the battle of wits between players as the kicker could hide his placement marker and play blind. It sounds easy but when you consider that each player had a different level of accuracy(denoted by the size of the target on screen) it made taking a blind kick risky business. At the same time however, you could select your placement with the marker on screen, toggle it off and your opponent would be unsure if you had changed target.

Important : What isn’t shown in the video is how the cursor resets to the centre of goal if you release the Stick/D-pad. I think this is worth noting on account that it demands a steady hand from the player which increased the tension a tad more.

Notice in the second video that in changing the foot the player strikes the ball with affects accuracy, and also worthy of note in particular is that in the first video England actually win a penalty shoot out!

I think this is the way penalties should be implemented into the franchise. I can remember many tense, cat and mouse like encounters in the shoot outs with my mates on the ISS games on N64. These microcosms that contribute to the overall real, palpable drama of the game are sorely missed and instead I find myself now dreading a shoot out – or even a penalty during a match – for all the wrong reasons.

But why just stop at porting over an old, yet effective system and leaving it be I ask? Times have changed, technology has evolved and the level of interaction a player has in a game has along with it. As effective as the ISS penalty system was and still is, it need only be the solid foundation on which to innovate further and draw the player in even more.

First, let’s look at the obvious. Chipped kicks should allow for full control over placement. Now I know you don’t see many players place chipped kicks in the sport and tend to go down the middle but why shouldn’t we have the option to do so if we feel so inclined/brave. Maybe we could have a polar opposite to this mapped elsewhere that allows you to strike the ball along the ground with the stick/d-pad being used for placement.

Another mechanic I would welcome is the ability to switch between putting your foot through the ball and side footing it. This could be made possible by making every direction pressed towards goal having the player strike with the laces as it were, and every direction pressed away from goal have him open the foot up to side foot. Now imagine being able to switch on the fly as he goes to kick. That would be your ability to wrong foot the keeper before striking right there.

The rumble function on todays controller is screaming out for it to be used and yes, it has been implemented already to some degree, but what if the amount of feedback was dictated by a players ‘penalty composure’ stat and not just technique accuracy and power. An example here being a Kaka’ shaping up to take a kick having less feedback on the controller than say a less composed player in the same situation(John Terry anyone? sorry Chelsea fans!) It needn’t end there though as over the course of a shoot out the feedback increases more and more, varying between each player so the Kaka’ taking the first kick would be a little more composed than the Kaka’ taking one of the later kicks. In a match situation time on the clock could also impact on this(90th minute kicks would be daunting prospects) as could the matter of it being a kick taken at home or away or even the importance of what is at stake in the match itself(final/semi-final, league decider, CL qualification) and who is to say weather couldn’t also have it’s affects.

Moving on(yes I have more!) I remember playing a first person shooter recently. You know how in some first person shooters when you take aim with a sniper rifle you only get a steady aim for a short period of time, well why can’t the penalty system in a football game have similar, so going along with the feedback of the controller the aiming cursor itself is not exactly stable and only pressing say L2/Lt steadies it but only for a few seconds and the length of time in which it remains stable is again dictated by a players ‘penalty composure’ rating. I should add that the instability of the cursor wouldn’t be impossible to manage so you wouldn’t need to fine tune every kick using the L2 button.

What these additions/enhancements to spot kicks would add is another layer of strategy over proceedings. I can imagine players suddenly taking a close look at there team before entering a shoot-out and getting the order right, maybe even making substitutes in a games dying moments in order to get the best penalty takers on the field before the dreaded whistle goes. As for Master League impact suddenly penalties could be something you actually train with your squad at in order to get the right mix and even improve players abilities from the spot. Keepers could benefit from the training too.

As is often said in football, penalty shoot-outs are a different game entirely to what happens in the 90-120mins of open play that go before them. A time for composure or lack there of to surface in even the most talented of individuals as they suddenly feel like the loneliest man on the planet, so I think it is about time Konami really looked to capture that high stakes drama once and for all.

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