Month: August 2009

Where are the Cologne Rangers?

A turbulent few days. And I’m still dismayed about the fast speed of PES2010. I just hope that the assurances of it being a diabolical illusion generated by the Internet are true. I’m also very concerned about FIFA10’s apparently fast speed. There are less videos of FIFA10 for some reason, but it looks exactly the same as FIFA09’s speed—perhaps even a little faster. What the hell is going on? Curse you, Internet!

(Re. the speed of PES2010, I have just now—literally a minute before publishing this post—seen this video. It looks pretty good in that, to me—particularly after 35 seconds or so. Despite all the shaky camera and loss of focus the game looks slower and steadier. Do you know what, I think I’d take it like that.)

And just what is up with the complete lack of anything resembling a long-range shot in any of the Gamescom videos of either game? I mean from 25-40 yards. There aren’t even any medium-range shots from just outside the box to look at. It’s all running and dribbling and sprinting with one player, maybe two if they’re feeling adventurous. Is that really how other people play PES and FIFA all the time? Have I been doing it wrong all these years by passing and moving the ball and trying to work the space for shots from outside the box and from distance?

At the time of writing*, I have seen approximately 12 PES2010 videos and 5 FIFA10 videos. In the last FIFA10 video I watched (just now), the human player worked the space for a shot from the edge of the penalty area and it flew just over. That was the furthest out that I’d seen anyone shoot from in all 17 videos. I’ll pay £20 sterling to the first person who spots, in any of the Cologne videos, a shot attempt—just an attempt!—from 25+ yards**.

For some reason, people who play football games at conventions all try to walk the ball into the net. What is that reason? Could somebody ask them and find out? Whatever the reason, they spend 99% of their time sprinting with one player. Which results in them simply bumping into the opposition, time after time after time. I’ve found myself watching all the videos and just feeling totally bewildered. Even if they accidentally create a shooting chance, they ignore it and carry on trying to pass the ball to a player in the 6-yard box.

Is that just how people play PES and/or FIFA? I don’t think it is really. I think most people love to pass it around and frequently have a good wallop from distance as much as I do. Perhaps I even take things to an extreme. I’ve never met a long-distance shooting opportunity that I didn’t like. There’s only one thing for it…

I’m going next year. If I’m still alive and blogging (because there’ll be no point going if I’m dead), I’ll be there and I’ll make damn sure I’m among the first people in that convention hall on the first morning. I’ll have a good-quality video camera, and I’ll record myself attempting a festival of long-range shooting on PES2011. One of the buggers is bound to go in—if the inevitable ‘early code’ for PES2011 will allow it, of course.

Meanwhile my blog stats show that people have started arriving here by Googling ‘PES2011’ over the past three days. And so it begins all over again.

[*That time of writing was Thursday the 20th, around noon. Due to real-life commitments, I had to prepare this post a whole 24 hours in advance. I finished it off thinking I was bound to have to do some quick editing on Friday morning. I thought I might even have to change the title. Because surely I would have to acknowledge the inevitable flurry of long-range shots that would appear in countless videos over the course of A WHOLE DAY…? Er…]

[**not a genuine offer]

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In this topsy-turvy football game world, I have been playing PES6 and FIFA09 recently. I’ve given them more or less equal time. I’ll deal with PES6 today. I was falling out of love with it, and on the verge of abandoning it, but things got a lot better in my most recent few sessions.

I switched my formation back to 4-3-3, after trying out a 4-4-2, then a 4-2-2. Neither had brought me much joy. It was time to head back home to my traditional 4-3-3, and the difference was almost instant. Straightaway I was linking passes together, creating chances, and scoring goals.

It’s a mental block, obviously. There’s no way PES6, or any PES, is only playable with a 4-3-3 formation.

Kim Cyun Hi and Maldini both popped up in the Youth list. I tried for both, got turned down by both. I’l get them eventually. I always do. It was a good season in the end regardless of this disappointment. I clinched promotion to Division 1 with a few matches to spare.

Season3-promotion

Unbreaking news

PES Chronicles is supposed to be a journalism-free site. The idea is that I play at least one game of something football-related every day, as I have done for many years now, and I blog about it. That was the original vision, the ruling concept.

Simple really. But I have often drifted away from the original idea with misguided attempts at being a ‘proper website’. I try not to do that any more. I still mention news and views and general ‘current affairs’ in passing as things occur to me. I do discuss things in comments. I’m as interested in all the FIFA10 and PES2010 news, screenshots, playtest reports, and videos as the next fan. More of my attention is on the forthcoming games than on the current ones.

But the bulk of the posts have to be all about my daily playing experiences. The days when I would think to myself ‘oh, I really should bash out 500 words on today’s latest developments…‘ are firmly behind me.

I love all the great news I’ve heard about PES2010. I want it to be a great game. I await the first full videos with interest. Ditto FIFA10. It’s looking like a good year to be a football gamer.

I’m very disappointed in one aspect of the PES2010 previews so far. The various articles and podcasts have been great, but what’s the game like against the AI? Nobody seems to want to tell us.

It’s no good hoping for anything more from Gamescom. We’ll get endless videos that will be analysed and argued about endlessly. I doubt any convention-going PES player, playing out there in the hall in front of all those spectators, will remove their forefinger from the sprint button even for a nanosecond. Strictly two players to every match, no playing versus the AI, and no looking to see if camera panning is in. The usual, then.

[EDIT at 11:55 am, 19/08/09, five minutes before posting this entry: I’m leaving the preceding paragraph intact, to show what a paranoid moaner I often am. All hail the now-traditional shaky camera footage from the convention floor! Amusingly, the very first Gamescom video I’ve watched—this one—shows a human playing against the AI. It looks good (the AI, I mean). Hopefully somebody will soon have a look to see if camera panning is in or out. My first impression of looking at PES2010? I’m more than a little unhappy with the speed, particularly as seen in this video. Despite all the assurances, I just knew that Konami would push out PES2010 at a more mass-market-friendly speed. I don’t believe the spin currently being spun that it’s to do with the filming, or the famous ‘early build’, or a plague of locusts, etc., etc. PES2010 is meant to be a markedly slowed-down game. This isn’t it. It’s not crazily fast, so it could be worse. In general gameplay, I think I can see the 360-movement in action, but I’m not sure. Overall, I don’t know what I feel yet. It’s all still sinking in. I’m not totally disappointed, but I don’t know if I’m happy either. Story of my life.]

The big question, though, is: Will Rutter meet Seabass at Gamescom? If so, will they shake hands? Whilst grinning cheesily at the cameras? I hope so.

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In PES6 on the Xbox360, the big news is that my enthusiasm for the game is fast disappearing. It’s the shooting. It’s too annoyingly reminiscent of PES2008 (the one that came from the Devil). It’s floaty and annoying, and the rest of the game (while still pretty good) isn’t quite making up for it. PES6(360)’s shooting feels anti-intuitive in PES terms. I prefer FIFA09’s shooting, and that’s saying something.

I don’t think I’m alone in viewing explosive PES5-style shooting as the ideal for a football game. This limpid next-gen floaty shooting that we’ve had to put up with over the past few years leaves me with a feeling of anti-climax far too often.

In a football game, shooting isn’t everything—but it counts for a hell of a lot. Ask almost any next-gen FIFA player. Build-up play: brilliant! Manual/Semi-manual passing: brilliant! Animations: brilliant! Graphics: brilliant! Shooting: what’s on TV?

Of course I exaggerate for rhetorical purposes. At times FIFA09’s shooting can feel brilliant, as I discovered only recently. Just not often enough.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be going totally summary-style on the ML in PES6. If I continue with it at all. I’ve had some real-life stuff to deal with over the past week or so—work stuff, and possibly-moving-house stuff—that have possibly taken my eye off the figurative ball. Maybe I’ll get back in the groove as real life settles down.

Season2

My current season wound down to its conclusion. I picked up a fine 3-1 win and a 2-0 win to close out the season, but still finished 6000+ points short of my wages budget. Happily for my future, I was immediately able to sell Macco and Iouga, and I won two of my three pre-season friendlies.

I’ll be honest. Master League is the only thing keeping me interested in PES6 right now. Possibly the same could be said for PES as a whole, who knows. I won’t be playing PES2010 online even if they get it right this year. PES2010 will effectively be Master League 2010 for me. Online might as well not exist—although if it works and it’s easy to access, I’ll at least try it.

I just want you back for good

Almost two weeks ago, my beloved 60GB PlayStation3 broke down. I was grief-stricken. For a few hours I literally didn’t know what to do. How could this have happened to me?

The console was almost two years old. It was out of warranty. There was a time, not too long ago, when Sony would offer you a freebie out-of-warranty. But that was then and this is now, and they’re no longer that generous. Nowadays they want £145 to collect your console and replace it with a refurbished model that’s guaranteed for 3 months.

I shopped around. I found a company called Console Doctor. They offered a repair of my own console, with a 6-month guarantee, for just £70. I decided to risk it.

I parcelled up the console—reading all the instructions for doing so, and remembering to remove my hard drive as per those instructions. The next day I was notified (by email and text) that they had received my PS3. A few days later I was notified (again by email and text) that the repair was complete. You only have to pay once the repair is complete. I was more happy to stump up my £70.

What they don’t say on their site (but should do) is that they hang onto PS3s for a few days after a YLOD repair. They have to test them and make sure they don’t just break down again. My PS3 arrived back at the end of last week (packaged exquisitely in several layers of foam and bubblewrap; much better than my balled-up newspapers).

When I plugged in the console and switched it on, I was tense. Part of me suspected (and still suspects) that a broken-down games console is like a bad back: once it’s gone, it’ll inevitably go again at some point. My PS3 booted up, and it sounded as quiet as the day I bought it. A few matches of PES5, then FIFA08, followed by an AVI movie or two, followed by a few episodes of Fringe, followed by a good hour of internet browsing, and I’m ready to declare the whole repair experience a success. My PS3 is back, and it really seems as good as new.

What I want now is to get at least another 6 months out of it without any trouble. I really can’t be arsed with wrapping things up, and booking collections, and waiting for deliveries. Console Doctor have been great and I’m delighted with the job they’ve done on my PS3 (touch wood), but I don’t want to have to call on their services again. Here’s hoping.

[EDIT: If the repair does fail at some point within the 6 months, I’ll update this post with the bad news. So no news is good news. If you’re reading this (whatever the date is), the repair is still holding.]

[ANOTHER EDIT, added 12th April 2010: The PS3 finally broke down this morning, 8 months after the repair. I have rescued the disc that was inside, and bought a new PS3, a Slim. That money I spent on the repair was incredible value. I’ve had all this time. I have played the PS3 nearly every day since, particularly since PES2010 and its hyper-addictive Master League came out in October 2009. The only reason I’m not sending the console off to be repaired again is that enough is enough. Law of diminishing returns and all that. RIP, 60GB PS3. You were great.]

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When you’ve spent the long pre-season negotiation period equipping your Master League team with new talent, you want to get the new season off to a good start. I didn’t get that good start. I went down 0-2 to NAC Breda. The game was an anti-climax. I played well but didn’t create much. I conceded two unlikely ‘momentum’ goals. I managed to hit the post with Bojinov, who had really shone for me in my pre-season matches.

And things went downhill from there. If anything, my form was just as wretched as last season, with a full squad of Defaults. This season I have no such excuse. My entire First XI is composed of non-Default players.

I’ve committed the usual mistake of filling my squad with talented-looking but still untalented young players, then wondering why my results aren’t much better—or are actually worse—than with the Default players. Bojinov is a decent 21-year-old. Park Jyun Hi is pretty good, but he’s 18 and still a callow youth. I’ve got a midfielder called Wilhelmsson who’s a veteran in his mid-20s, and handles very well on the ball. I’ve also got Ono, that midfield Master League stalwart of recent years. I’m pretty weak everywhere else.

By mid-season I had only won one match. One. In the negotiations period I made sure to pick up some experienced players. I got a 24-year-old striker named Lita and a versatile CB/SB/WB called Loni. This was a risk. I’m going to struggle to pay everybody’s wages at the end of the season unless I manage to sell a player or two.

In some ways PES6 on the 360 feels a lot like FIFA09. There’s the floaty shooting for one thing. And the way the game forces me (at the moment) into extensive passages of build-up play for another thing. I remain very impressed with the overall PES gameplay offered by PES6 on the Xbox 360.

My one disappointment right now would be that floaty shooting. The ball does rise like a helium balloon, FIFA09-style. I’ve had a few half-volley screamer attempts that should have at least troubled the goalkeeper. But they launched at 45 degrees and just kept going, troubling the proverbial row Z instead. Perhaps I just need more practice and time.

Camera panning’s people

So, I’m in the pre-season negotiations period before my second season. Master League through the years has always treated this phase as the end of the previous season. Meaning that if you’ve just won promotion from Division 2 (still a way off for me right now) some players won’t come to your club, as they’ll ‘think’ you’re still a Division 2 club.

That amusingly stupid feature of Master League is a close cousin to the one where you’ll lose the first leg of a Cup match 0-2, say—but then score first in the second leg. Making it 1-0 to you on the day, and 1-2 to the CPU on aggregate. But the CPU doesn’t know it’s still winning and reacts just as if it is, in fact, losing 1-0, most often going into full-on God Mode. When it shouldn’t do. Because it’s still winning. And then there’s the way you can’t have a player on the transfer list and offer him in a trade-in deal at the same time…

Oh, I could go on. We could probably all go on. Will those and all the other niggles be fixed in PES2010?

PES2010 is currently doing the dance of the seven veils, with rumours about rumours about Big News. After all of this it had just better be worth it. It had just better be.

Home Stadium Nets Problem

In PES6 on the Xbox360, there’s quite a lot missing. You can’t edit your home stadium, for one thing, which is unfortunate because of an annoying visual problem with the goal at the left side of my pitch. The running track is partly painted white, which makes the roof and far side of the net look wonky. Whenever a goal is scored in this net, I often can’t tell if the ball has gone in for a second or two.

I could turn off the full camera panning that gives me that viewing angle, but I won’t. I revel in camera panning. After a couple of years of putting up with next-gen PES’s totally alien up-and-down-the-touchline camera, camera panning really is like going home again. Why has it been missing from the next-gen so far? Come on, PES2010. I know you can do it…

Onto the transfer action, and for once I was in no danger at all of a GAME OVER. Not even close. Back in mid-season I sold Lothar, one of the Default GKs, for 4200 points. In the first weeks of this pre-season negotiation period I sold another couple of Defaulters for a combined total of 10,000 points. I’ve never known anything like it in ML, ever. Putting players on the transfer market and actually getting offers from CPU teams—crazy stuff.

The highlight of the craziness was getting a trade-in offer for Stremer from North London White. They offered me Huddlestone plus 1000 points on top. I don’t know what the hell that was all about either. But I took it. I’m on a schedule here. 7 weeks to FIFA10, 9 weeks to PES2010. Assuming that at least one of the games will be worth getting, this ML career has got to be done and dusted by then.

And thus it came to pass that I was able to repopulate my entire First XI with non-Default players. That’s a first for me at the end of season 1. I’m very hopeful for the season ahead now. In the last several PESes I’ve had to grind through a few seasons before getting close to this point.

And yes, I even got Mathieu too.

(First XI on the top; reserves on the bottom.)

ML squad 1ML squad 2

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My YLOD-afflicted PS3 arrived back yesterday afternoon from its short trip to Console Doctor. I’ve only had time for a brief test, but it seems remarkably good as new. There’s barely a murmur from its fans. I had a quick game of PES5, then a quick game of FIFA08. All OK. I am really happy to have my 60GB PS3 back in working order, but I remain tense whenever the fans do kick in, as they inevitably must from time to time. Over the weekend I should have time for a more extensive reacquaintance. I’ll post a thumbnail review of this whole repair experience on Monday.

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