Dear Pro Evo, it's not you, it's me.

Posted on 6th October 2009

I'm sorry, but I can't do it anymore. I can't pretend that I'm in love with you anymore, I'm just not. I've fallen for your younger cousin, who, when we first started our relationship was an ugly, akward thing, full of odd habits and stupid decisions - but now she's grown into a beautiful thing. I'm sorry, Pro Evo, but I've fallen in love with FIFA.

Dear Pro Evo, it's not you, it's me.

When I first knew you on the SNES, as Fighting Eleven, you were different than all the other football games - you were better looking than FIFA, had more tricks than my old flame Sensi, and had a certain arrogance about the way Roberto Baggio's ponytail swished inbetween frames. Flicking the ball over your head and crossing the ball in from the wing, only to see an isometric, pixelated Klinsmann scissor kick the ball into the top corner was a thing of beauty.

We've been through a lot you and I - the ISS phase, the split personality, where during the day you'd be all sensible and controlled, slipped into your PS1 guise, and by night wear an N64 on your head and run around like a crazy, shouting weird Japanese phrases that became part of my dictionary. The penalties at night were one of your finest moments, and the role playing we did, when I was 2-0 down and had to recover with only 5 minutes left - some of the best times of my life. We were intertwined for years between WE5, when you got that upgrade to PS2 (the home-made patches we put together still make me itch), until our experimentation with the Xbox began. PES5, and our initiation in the online world was thrilling - the first league we played in that went down to the final game, where we had to avoid defeat to be crowned champions - it still makes my heart flutter a bit.

I don't quite know when it started going wrong, but I noticed it last year - you became very jittery, and started making odd decisions, cheating in extra time when you felt like it (which was often), and refusing to let the ball out of your immediate area - I swear there was a string between you and it. That, and our once thrilling online experiences became akward and mis-timed - often you'd just sit there for a minute, not doing anything while I was trying to score, to do something beautiful for you. I can't be faulted for not saying anything, I shouted it loud (I'm sorry about that, it was probably spiteful), and lots of other people noticed too. To your credit you seemed to take it on board, and promised this year would be better.

But it's too late I'm afraid, I started seeing FIFA last year - something about the way the ball moves around the pitch, and the players around the ball seems magical to me - I paid full price, and don't regret one penny of it - we had a lot of fun for six months. We both had other things going on, so we took a break, and I was hoping that this year you'd pull it together, we could forget my tryst with the dark side, and get on with our lives. You've yet to show me exactly how you're going to improve this year, and it's getting very late in the day - I saw FIFA last week, we just had a 5 minute thing, but she's grown up a lot in the last 6 months.

Then today FIFA came round for a drink, wrapped up in cellopane and still with the sticker on, and just looked too good to resist. We had a proper session, and I'm still buzzing from some of the things I saw and that we did together. I lost a lot, but it felt like I'd won. I'd won something back that reminded me of that hacked SNES pad with 4 red buttons and the WildCard - I'd won back the thrill of playing 90 minutes and nearly scoring 5 times, but conceeding a last-gasp breakaway goal. I'd won back the scissor kick that shaves the outside of the post, the one-handed desperate dive from the goalie to prevent the ball trickling over the line. I'd won again, and it felt good.

So I'm sorry PES, but I don't have time for the two of you in my life, and I just can't take the risk of being dissapointed for another year, while this new thing sits within my grasp. I hope you find someone else, but you're just not right for me anymore, you're too much of a game, and not real enough anymore. You're dumped, and you should have seen it coming.

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