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Why do I Play On Manual (Part 1)

Written by tjodd

Why do I play on manual?
I have spent a lot of thoughts, and doubts, into this over the years and still can't find a simple answer. I have involved some of my fellow manual players on PEN to help find out and provide a wider perspective. The result can be read in this two-part article. In this first one I’m babbling through mine, and a few others history and motives.
In the second part we are going to point out both good and bad portions, with tips and hopefully lots of examples.

Before I start with the ramble, an easy question to answer; Why do I write this article?
I want more people to give manual an honest try.


Been trying to track it down when and why I started with this brilliant bullcrap. Because it can be so frustrating sometimes. Really frustrating.

I believe I got pushed over because of the poo sandwich PES 2008. Well, it started about two years earlier when I helped starting up and running a buzzing PES league for Swedes. Two years of hard work and lots of fun was about to pay off in a glorious new game engine. So, I purchased myself a Playstation 3. The first console I ever owned (had computers instead). PES finally got a new game engine and PS3 was to be the leading platform. Easy decision.

The anticipation and hype blinded us at first. Sure, you noticed the bugs and hiccups at once, and playing online was just terrible. But we clawed on to our hopes for fixes. Surely it must get better!
It was doomed. The party ended even before the host got smashed.

So, I had a new(ish) console for a game I just had to forget. What to do? Went and bought Fifa 09 but as a PES-fan I struggled to enjoy it. One day I fooled around in the settings and discovered I could change the control settings to manual on passing, shooting etc. And just like that the game felt new and interesting!
No more snapping balls to players you clearly didn't aim for.
Every game and situation felt different.
Tempo and situations felt more lifelike.
Goals scored (lol) never felt the same again.
It was me who actually did those passes, shots, crosses etc. No computer holding my hand.

Once again, I went out and got involved in another community.

Manual on Fifa 09 and Fifa 10 where raw and pure. In the beginning I got a similar feeling as I got when I started to play PES3 (the first PES game I owned). You had to be focused, precise and always accept the punishment, but when you finally succeeded it felt amazing.
You had complete control of your passes and shots, but a lot of attributes felt like they didn’t matter. So, when EA added different types of “gameplay systems”, based on attributes and player roles, to create a more lifelike football the pure manual controls changed to a sort of hybrid with random effects and too much aiding added. The manual community slowly died because of this but I could never go back to assisted again.

Ouldeboi had a similar route and experience as me, a bit more hardcore though:



“I discovered "Manual" on Fifa 09 and played it since then. …
Then I joined a few manual Fifa leagues and started to become a part of the manual community on Xbox 360. Played in a lot of leagues and ended up becoming a part of the best Manual "Club" where we'd regularly win Div 1 etc etc. After a few years Fifa got worse and worse on Manual with gamebreaking bugs and randomness. I joined FLM and played my first 2 seasons there on fuma but a new Fifa broke it even more and I gave up in 1v1s.”

Fancied a change so I moved to PEN. Discovered it was totally fluid on manual and haven't looked back. Proud to say I've never played a PES game on anything but manual.


Back to the question; why?
Simply put, I can’t “go back” even if I wanted. Every time I try to play with assistance it just feels weird and unnatural. I lose interest and it feels like I’m cheating.

Honestly, I am not a particularly good PES player. Can’t remember all the fancy dribbling moves. My fingers, and head are often too slow to even execute them in time and I’m way too sensitive about lag or delay. I like to pass the ball, want to play with variation and always try to score beautiful goals, thus wasting lots of opportunities. I don’t have the time and patience to really learn and dissect a game’s every nuts and bolts, but manual controls are different. It is basically nothing more than adding the right amount of power and aim to your passes, shots and crosses. So simple, yet close to impossible sometimes.


One of the best, and worst parts of the first manual community I joined was these “gentleman rules” we created and used to follow.
I don’t remember everything, but I wrote this down a couple of years ago (remember this was intended for Fifa a bunch of years ago):



  • Excessive pressure. In manual this is an even more effective way to destruct the opponents build up and offense. When doing so the game normally ends up with extreme tempo and a lot of errors. Frustrating and usually not a very entertaining game of football. This goes both ways.
  • Pressuring the goalie (kick offs, throw ins etc.). Goalies usually have poor ball handling and passing stats, which makes them very vulnerable to pressure. Especially when using manual controls, because lower stats also affects time and quality of everything, not just accuracy. A cheap goal is still a goal, but is it fun in the long run?
  • Unrealistic formations - unrealistic playstyle This is a tough one. Playing with five defenders and two defensive midfielders can of course be a valid formation, but maybe not if you top it off with long balls to three attackers all game long.
  • Taking advantage of game exploits Historically some of “OP”-stuff in this game series could be avoided by simply using manual controls, but some of them could almost be enhanced by that. Whatever it is that would be extra effective at this moment, please don’t build your game plan on it.
  • Don’t be a sour loser Sadly I sometimes fail at this, mostly when I’m encountering players who don’t share my silly rules. It’s a curse I’m trying to get away from.
  • Don’t be a bad winner Just as bad as the childish looser.
  • Don’t be that elitist douchebag Spread your revelation of manual controls with intelligent and respectful comments instead. Try to include everyone and attract interest.


I realize these can be questionable and most definitely dancing around in a large grey zone. It might be easier to accept it if summed up with mutual enjoyment and respect.
Anyone who has played online games may have discovered that random online gamers can give the impression of lacking respect and care for other human beings. Most manual players I've met in the past seem to step away from that behaviour and have a somewhat similar fundamental value of the game. It’s no real problem here on PEN though.

The war

One of the bigger problems with the whole concept of manual controls is the divider amongst players. Both EA Sports and Konami are aware of this and I’m pretty sure they don’t want this at all. So, their solution is to basically provide the setting and using a filter for searching games. That’s it.
So much more could be done to make it a valid or only choice eventually, like equal it to a hardcore mode or a difficulty level. Or as Gav1nG0ldstein puts it:


The game should be all assists off as default, or to be, say reaching a high rank or playing in the esports pes league. More should be done by Konami to promote it. In Gran Turismo sport for example, higher up u go, the assists start coming off. Same should be for PES. How can someone be seriously considered as a good player who uses basic shooting?

Shots fired!

Simply put, if you want to compete on a higher level you can't choose manual controls yet in other games it can be the other way around. Weird huh?
There's also some gameplay quirks with manual passing not noticeable while on assisted. Gameplay changes and tweaks are focused on assisted controls while manual mostly just follow along. More of this in the second part.

Some people tend to defend using manual controls as it’s the only way of living. Most of you have probably read elitist, degrading comments about passing assistance, but the silliness comes the other way around as well.
This “war” is just nonsense and ruins the pleasure for everyone involved, and probably hurts the “manual movement” more.

We could all learn (me included) from Tezombie:


I wouldn't worry at all, just have fun. I have played only a few games on full manual, and my shooting is laughable. Think too much about it and you won't enjoy it.


I asked my fellow manual players here on PEN; what do you consider the best part of manual?



Vegasvoss; The unpredictably of it all. I also feel you only get those truly wow moments of Pes of old on Fuma now.

OldeuboiNot getting frustrated when a pass goes wrong. Not getting frustrated when you shoot wide. Being able to pick passes that other people can't.

Stoilkys: The best part of playing manual is that it gives you the opportunity to test your abilities, you can't hide behind assisted play and it shows your true abilities, it's authentic, unpredictable and difficult.

RiQ1987Everything basically. First thing I liked was the through ball, I loved it when I split open a defence by a lovely through ball (with X obviously). And scoring with some wonderstrikes.

Gav1g0ldsteinThe freedom it gives u, the challenge, how realistic it is to real football.

D rock96: Everything, I feel it's more realistic with manual you can decide which direction and speed you can pass and whom you can pass to, unlike PA where they already fixed to whom you’ll pass to, no fun in that trust me.


Spotting a pattern? Not convinced yet?

Big Boss arranges manual team play games against other manual community's. A league starts in January with 13 teams.
There are two manual leagues ongoing on PEN. 21 teams.
Stoilkys just started an unofficial manual knockout tournament. 32 participants.

Now is the time to try it out. Hook one of us up and just play, ask questions, watch gameplay videos. Stay tuned for tips, examples etc in the next part.


I've come to a point where I don't see it as a choice anymore. I still miss open goals. I still give away possession too easily and serving my opponents for easy tap ins. But I don't hate it or myself for playing with manual controls anymore.
I'm always in for a challenge and I like to explore and discover things others might never even consider. I like to be part of a group joined for a mutual cause, exploring and sharing the findings.
I like football and playing with manual controls gives me a closer feeling to real football.

Yeah. That's it.

As CMYKHazi puts it: no turning back sir!

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