Sliding back down

Every so often I find myself with a hankering to get back into a Football Manager game for the first time since 2005. In that venerable franchise, you take complete control of a football club. You pick a formation and design your own tactics in considerable depth. Football Manager players have a paranoid belief that the AI ‘learns’ any new tactic and will crack it after a while, forcing you to tinker anew. (Plenty of other Football Manager players, of course, say that they never change their tactics but still have loads of success, and they don’t know what all this ‘scripting’ nonsense is all about…)

I never can quite manage to get back into Football Manager, no matter how hard I try. I suppose it’s a time thing, first and foremost. And when it comes to gaming, I’m a console gamer at heart.

In PES2010, something similar to Football Manager’s ‘cracked tactics’ syndrome may have arisen. I’m talking about the new innovation, borrowed/stolen from EA: the tactics sliders, and the odd way they seem to stop working after a certain amount of time.

Recently, after fiddling with them for a long time (unforgivably, it was my first really long fiddle since starting to play PES2010 a few months ago), I had an amazing run of form. Well, now that run has come to an end. It is almost as if the AI has indeed cracked my tactical changes, and now I’m back to the status quo.

Having had that success, I was very reluctant to change the sliders again. I persisted with my new slider settings for about 10 matches. Things were not encouraging. Win, draw, draw, win, draw, lose, lose, win, draw, draw… This has been my Master League life for far too long

The AI teams had their usual fun with me. I can usually fend off the lower teams and secure a win. The bigger teams are a real headache. They’re too fast for me—the whole game is too fast for me when they’re in the mood. Porto came back from behind to thump me 4-1. That one hurt. But it didn’t hurt as much as a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Arsenal (for reasons that are made clear in today’s mini-movie, below).

My record has gone back to being mediocre at best. With half the season gone, I’m rooted in mid-table and I think I will stay that way. My dreams of the title this season were ridiculously premature.

At least now I know what I have to do to try and change things. It’s the sliders. (Or: “It’s your tactics”, in the immortal words of the Football Manager forums…) What worked once is not guaranteed to go on working.

This could be the start of a whole new obsessive layer of PES for me. In a way I resent that. If I get an hour and a half to play PES per day, I mainly want to spend that time playing the game. Not fiddling about with menus and sliders etc. But this is a faulty outlook and I need to correct it. There’s little point in suffering through bad matches when I’m not exploiting gameplay-affecting settings to their full potiential. So I need to start slidering, routinely, before every match, or at the very least during every match. Even if only a little.

In brighter news, I have qualified from the group stage of the Europa League. I beat Juventus again in our return match. Parma beat me twice. I scored late to draw with Dinamo Bucuresti, and I beat them the second time. In the end I qualified on goal difference. It was a good campaign, and I’m looking forward to the knockout stage.

Today’s mini-movie shows two ordinary goals (although the looping header felt a bit special, and looks good too). There are also two moments of total horror, PES2010-style. The first horror incident was bad enough, an attempted pass that actually goes NINETY DEGREES in another direction. That cost me a goal against Parma in a big European match. The second horror incident is possibly the very worst thing that has ever happened to me in PES. Ever. It was a double-whammy of glitches, first another magic ball incident and then, in the same passage of play, some next-gen PES goalkeeper eccentricity at its very worst:

Link: Mixed Clips2 - PES2010

Regular readers will know that I never reload a previous savegame in order to get a different outcome. Sometimes, though, something so sickening happens that I consider doing so. This was one of those rare times. How the ghost of Kim U Don’t must be laughing. Jan Kun Mu, my new keeper, has so far been pretty dire. I might move him on at the end of the season. What is going on with Korean goalkeepers in this Japanese-made game?

I didn’t reload in the end. But I was >this< close…


  1. not-Greg,
    I set my player sliders to what they are right at the beginning of all my MLs, and then never touched them. Ever. Though, to be fair, that probably has to do with the fact that my style of play is not really “good” football, it’s more just like schoolboy stuff of hopeful long-range efforts and mazy runs.
    I’ve only ever seen that “magic ball” happen twice I think – and one of those times was when I scored, so I wasn’t complaining too much.
    Were you pressing triangle at all to bring the keeper out? That does seem very odd. I’ve found the best keepers are usually the ones from your youth team, as they’re cheaper and they seem to go up in teamwork a lot quicker.

  2. The keeper running away from the goal thing has not happened to me (yet), but if it did, I’d reload immediately, no second thoughts about it.

  3. Adriano

    That really was one of my worst games this season, I wonder if you could feel the anger all the way through? I specifically set up my recording to show a game, and that had to be one they were ripping me to shreds. Some great advice that I should listen too, I have a set way I play PES and it’s mostly wrong these days. The only PES I was ever very good at (1 player only of course, crap against people) was 4, regular 8-s on the old six stars.

    I do try marking possible receivers but the whole game is so quick, it happens before I can do it. Notice all Br- Rangers goals were headers? That happens a lot in my matches, we cannot defend them. As for Castolo he was sold last transfer window, I probably went a bit crazy with the selling. So used to that being the norm in ps2 MLs. I do try to use super cancel but it doesn’t work all the time, I can feel the CPU dragging the run even when pressing it.

    Strangely I always loved Macco in my careers and never got on with Iouga, Gierson or Dodo. I tend to play Minanda to retirement just to honour his legendary status..

    Not Greg

    It seems we both suffer when playing PES, while everybody else is off getting promotion and silverware straight away. I have a bad feeling i’m never escaping this division. I do over use R1, and the defaults just can’t handle it. That was the worst game this season though, I couldn’t do anything right. Did you feel the anger? I stopped a few times just seething as they passed about like Brazil, and yes the kick out at the end was pure anger. The CPU is too good at walking past my defenders and crossing in for a header- and my defenders are rooted to the spot despite the bashing of square. Looking forward to watching your match.

    I may broadcast a few more, but it’s almost off putting playing PES in standard on a big tv, it’s hard to see. Switching back to HD I have just noticed that the graphics are indeed better than FIFA, when did this happen?

    FInally, my biggest moan with this game so far, might not even be the games fault. Every 12 or so games the ps3 freezes when I try to save. Then I hit quit game on the menu and it fully freezes. It has to be reset and then I have to sim the match until I get the same result and same goal difference. Last match it happened I lost 1-0, I ended up simming about 5 times until I lose 2-1. Close enough but it still changes the course of the game, I scored a goal I never did, and results around the league change. Very annoying.

  4. Darshan—I was not pressing Triangle at all, promise. Look at the passage of play where he starts to run to the side—it’s still general play around the box, with no call for me to press triangle, and I never did. What I think happened was that some one-in-a-thousand (say) combination of circumstances triggered that goalkeeper run.

    I had almost the same thing happen to me two years ago on PES2008(next-gen). That post is linked to in the final paragraph of this post. (Apologies for the terrible mobile phone picture quality in the clip on that old post. Two years is a long time in technology.)

    I do regret selling Jacobs now, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. At the end of this long old season, Jan Kun Mu has got to go. I might bring Fatecha, my second keeper, off the bench in the meantime

  5. Hi, why the long face? A few posts ago you were looking at relegation after a few bad results, now you’re mid table and through the group phase of the Europa League.
    I’ve been stung by the dodgy pass thing a few times myself. Haven’t had my goalie run away like that but have seen them turn their back on play on occasion, both for and against me.
    It may well be better to bring in your reserve keeper for a bit if his teamwork rating is better, good luck.

  6. Adriano—I had my finger poised over the ‘return to main menu?’ option, but I just couldn’t do it. It was only a league match in a season when I’ll probably finish mid-table again. And it’s been my habit for so long never to reload no matter what happens, that my habit overruled my very real grievance with the game.

    I look at it this way. At the end of a good PES Master League year (as this one is shaping up to be), I get to look back and remember all the highs and lows, and this year, that moment will be among them.

    But if I’d been in a title race/relegation battle/cup run, I probably would have reloaded.

  7. madrab—the long face is really only due to my new slider settings not working so well any more. In Wednesday’s post I genuinely thought I might have a shot at the top 6/the title if my amazing run of form kept up. It’s only in relation to that that I’m ‘sliding back down’.

    My reserve keeper is a Youth team import called Fatecha who’s never let me down whenever he’s had to play. He was the keeper in my promotion-clinching match 2 seasons ago (Jacobs was injured for that one) and he kept a clean sheet. His time has, I think, now arrived.

  8. Not Given—why not try just one match where you consciously lay off R1 completely, except where it’s absolutely required and makes sense to use it (e.g. when in possession on the wing with clear space ahead, etc.). I think all your FIFA10 play may have conditioned you even more to favour R1+tackle/pressure, where it’s absurdly effective. Certainly I’ve found that after even a short FIFA10 session (I have the odd one every few weeks), when going back to PES2010 I do the clamp even more than I do usually (which is already too much).

    I don’t know what to say about your PS3 freezing problem. I’ve never heard of it anywhere else, so I agree it’s probably your PS3. I do get the same freezing, more rarely nowadays, when the teams are lining up in the tunnel before a match, but that’s a known widespread problem. Have you tried using autosave instead? Does it still freeze?

  9. This whole difficulty thing is perplexing to me. I won the treble the first year, La Liga only the second, and am still alive for all 3 trophies this current season. Does that mean the game is easy? On the surface, yes, if my only goal is to win trophies and think that it should be next to impossible on Top Player. But here’s the perplexing bit: I’m using Barcelona, so, to me, I expect to win. I should have a great chance of winning trophies every season, and for me, the challenge is to remain at the top. Look, I get mad and angry when Barca lose in real life, and doubly so when I lose using them in the game. So for me, the goal is perfection, and I have come no where close to achieving that. So for me, the game is still very challenging, because I cannot win every match 5-0 (I can’t win every match, period), and I do have to adjust my tactics to keep things going smoothly.

    It all goes back to what you think a simulation should be, in my opinion. This game does a fantastic job of simulating, “what would happen if team X played team Y?”, sometimes TOO good of a job, in the “scripted” sense. But that’s just it. If I use Barca, then shouldn’t the challenge be to keep winning? Shouldn’t the game be easier to get results with a great team? I’m curious to see what will happen when I start a ML with a lesser side, or, my oh my, with the defaults! Check that, I’m scared, because I know how horribly those guys play. Would be like running in mud, no?

  10. You shouldn’t complain about your keeper running to the sideline anyway, because that looping header of yours is physically impossible, and it shouldn’t have happened either.;)

    I keep hearing people talking about their PS3’s freezing with PES 2010. I’ve never had anything like that happen on my XBOX.

  11. Yes it freezes with auto save too. It’s a massive problem if it’s the game.

    I’m into season 2 now and for some reason my young players are either not increasing or in decline?? Whats going on there then?

  12. Not Given,

    I had a similar problem with some of my signings. I signed Agbonlahor (great striker, by the way), and although he scores literally every game he’s in there, he did not gain any experience points in the beginning. He’s only 24, but it took half a season for him to start gradually increasing. I assume he will start growing next year???

  13. Oh dear these signings are not good. They are in decline and already not that much better than the defaults- if at all. All the young players rejected me so i’m left with old ones. I also have less money and looking to another season of conceding headed goals over and over again. They are undefendable.

  14. Ken

    Guitterez is declining for me right now! He was my big hope along with Oscar. I also couldnt find any great players I could sign (stands to reason I am the worst team in the world). This ML is almost too realistic, am I doomed to the life of a forever League 2 side?

  15. Ken—I’m wondering if the extra difficulty syndrome might be platform-related? I’m on PS3.

    I think you’d relish the challenge of the Defaults, as far as the challenge went for you. Who knows though, you might be one of those for whom the conditions prove tough and it becomes a difficult ML career.

  16. Adriano—Yes there’s a definite sliding scale of unlikely and impossible events that happen in PES. That’s also one of the reasons I didn’t reload. Where to draw the line?

  17. Not Given—I’d say it’s your PS3, but it could be the game as there is a freezing problem with the PS3 version. But didn;t you say you had the same trouble with FIFA? There’s no freezing problem there as far as I know, so it’s likely that it’s your PS3. What model do you have?

    Re. the player growth, have you adjusted their training focus points? I notice some of my players won’t grow no matter what I do. I assume it’s due to a combination of their age and my staff levels, but you should see your youngsters growing no matter what. Oscar in particular should have an early spurt of growth.

  18. Not Given—it’s just a matter of time before you get a plague of locusts and/or be swallowed by a whale…

    You should be able to find some players in the Free Agents list better than your current crop of players who’ll be willing to join your club. Even a mid-60s player would help, and you should find some low-70s players who are willing. Get in that list now and get your offers in, line them up for the mid-season window. You can worry about the cost at the end of the season (just don’t go overboard).

    What I’ve found as my ML has gone on is that I expected certain things ‘should’ happen in a certain way at certain times, in keeping with old-school ML, but the reality (for me) just isn’t working out like that.

  19. Ken—that’s really odd about your Agbonlahor. I assume your backrrom staff were at a decent level and everything when you got him? If so, that blows my theory out of the water.

  20. An original PS3 and I do fear for it.

    Just went into the training mode. Ive been ignoring this from the start, just changed the training points but Guitterez is still gaining nothing. Still losing over and over again, did you find it was 1-0 losses? This is so demoralising losing to this score repeatedly.

    Have to say though, i’m loving PES. It’s frustrating, but ive always found it so…

  21. Considering the early cross is so effective, does anyone have any effective sliders for that type of play. I’d like a 4-4-2 with LMF and RMF, and good settings for a lot of early crosses onto Gutierrez head.

  22. Not Greg thats a shocking video!! looks like the trusty PES managed three bits of what I refer to now as a Thierry (i.e. blatant cheating without punishment), a horrific pingpong incident followed by a dodgy Barthez style headless chicken goalie and then that amazing on the volley finish!!!! Unbelievable I would be fuming, (actually I fume regularly) Im amazed you didnt restart but then I agree with you that its just not cricket!! I find that actually revenge is best served by destroying the next team and thats why I think thats why PES has such allure!!

    I think Ken makes a good point about Barca, but Ken come on, make the magical leap to Defaults its not like running through mud, its more painful than that, yet massively more satisfying, we all know how good Messi and co are, but scoring an amazing last minute winner with Gutierrez has got to be up there with Liverpool winning the champions league!!!! So Ken give it a go, you’ll love it!

    Thanks for the tip on the PSP my train journeys are now filled with a blissful hour of pro evo heaven!! I’ve also sorted that problem i had with my AMF gap, by following your idea of a grow your own player, although ive gone down the average player line, ive nurtured him well and hes regularly scoring which is great. Do you have any tips for a big target man, in the Ibrahimovic role, I was toying with the idea of Toni but hes too old and expensive ? and I need to sort it for next season as my wingers (Kakuta/Godee) are doing brilliant things only for sloppy finishing!! Good luck for the end of season and in the cup!! I really hope your gonna get some silverware this year, I am on the verge in the Europa too, have to ride out the semi final 2nd leg after a 4-0 home win, so lets see.

  23. Not Given,

    You’re probably doing this already, but in the early days I found it best to focus on stopping the opposition from having any possession apart from in their own half, I did this by (when losing possession) retreating to my half and then covering their possible forward outlets for a pass. After a while they will give you the ball and you can head up field! but because everyones slow you really need to work it around. I also found it useful to go all out at the beginning (not sure if this is just me) because it seems that if you can get the very first shot/shots in before the COM you get a bit of momentum and then you can control the match better, like i said maybe this is just something that seems to happen to me, but I thought it might help abit, I hated losing 1-0 every week, happens alot still, doesnt matter if you are in division 2 or div One!!! it can be demoralising losing and not even having a shot thats happened to me as well, (maybe im the worst player ever) anyway hope it helps good luck.

  24. Oh by the way if everyones on PS3 maybe we could arrange a mini cup or something? I know I we all love Master League but is anyone else up for that for a laugh?

  25. I’d love an online game or two, but I’m on a 360, and I hear South American players being called lag cheaters and stuff, so I’m afraid I might have lag problems too.

  26. Not Given—it could be a warning sign that your PS3 may be on its way out. (I trust you’re already backing up all your savegame files, regularly, to a USB stick that you keep semi-permanently plugged into the console?) If your PS3 does give up the ghost (it might not, but if it does), I heartily recommend Console Doctor. My 60GB PS3 had the YLOD 5 months ago and I sent it away to them for repair, got it back within a week, and it’s been fine ever since (*touch wood*), with a combined total of about 170 hours’ gaming (PES2010+a few other games). Even if it goes again tonight, I’ve had my full money’s worth from that repair. Better £70 to keep my 60GB model than £300 for a new PS3 with no backwards compatibility.

    IF yours goes (again, hopefully it won’t), and you’re not sure whether it’s worth getting it repaired or not, give them a call first. If they think you’d be better off just getting a new PS3, they’ll tell you. They guarantee their repairs for 6 months, so it’s not in their interest to repair a console only for it to go again.

    Re. the slider settings, I always found that putting the one controlling width up to near-maximum made my wide midfielders literally stick to the sideline. Many long, in-swinging crosses resulted.

  27. Lord Stanley—did you get the 2008 PSP version? If you got the 2009 or 2010 version, what are they like? I have PES2009(PSP) but haven’t really touched it. With so many seasons played on PES2008(PSP), I’ve been eyeing PES2009(PSP) and starting to wonder if, maybe… you know…

    I don’t play online, unfortunately, otherwise I’d be happy to give you and everyone a game in a special tournament. It’s been mooted before, but I just don’t play online! I don’t like the online game at all, I’m afraid. It’s a clamp-fest. No matter how good the intentions are, by degrees it turns into a clamp-fest. And I don’t have any time at the moment anyway.

    If I ever do get into the online way of life, I’ll be sure to mention it here. Whenever the regular blog posts start to feel stale (as is inevitabe at times), I often think that a dose of online play would shake things up, but I really don’t want to play online.

  28. Adriano—that’s another reason I don’t like playing online—the sheer aggro of it all. But my main dislike for online revolves around the quality of the game itself. It doesn’t compare, for me, to the qaulity of the gameplay experience against the AI—even against the dodgy PES AI. I think this is a minority opinion nowadays, but for better or worse, it’s how I feel.

    Now, if there was such a thing as an online Master League…

  29. Not Greg + Adriano,
    After your comments I realised that you guys really hit the nail on the head with the online play, when I got PES 2010 i initially played it quite abit it really helped me switch from playing an all out attacking style to more defensive build up, but its so frustrating i.e. the clamping and blatant coding that other players can do (not sure how?) but you are both right about the general quality being so low, its such a shame, as I feel that a really good fluid competition or even better a Master League would make PES go that little bit further!! and set it apart from Fifa but its not, so i can see why you dont play it.

    As Im on the topic of the future what do you guys think should be the next step for PES?, i just feel that theres all this amazing hardware to play with and PES/Fifa are just not utilising it to its full capacity? I loved the PS2 versions of the game, and i dont think we’ve moved on that far. Online is obviously a place where an improvement must come, it just needs to be soo much better and smoother, i play Battlefield 1943 online (as a break from PES) and its a brilliant online game, i just wish someone (i.e. Seabass) would get this sorted. Anyway good luck for next week and the end of season silverware.

  30. I wish I had a USB to do so. No freezes during that session thankfully.

    We have no proper SMFs as yet, just AMF out wide. Only one free agent came to the club of about 8 that I kept trying throughout the first half of the season- Kalkuta I think his name is. One goal already, a lucky tap in, but his pace might create more. We have crept into 13th place with an unbeaten run of 7 (6 draws and 1 win) and some of those draws should have been 1-0 wins. I feel like they are over performing though, if it lasts to the end of the season i’ll be surprised.

    Some of PES shenanigans have crept into the game, nothing to rival your video though! The CPU seems desperate to screw you out of any chance, even if they are 3-0 up- its crazy.

  31. Lord Stanley—I played a bit online way back at the start as well, but those 5 or 6 matches were enough for me. I know there are subtleties and addictiveness and strategy involved in PvP, but the ‘who can squeeze their controller the hardest for the longest time’ strategy is the one that trumps them all, from what I’ve seen.

    As for the future, it’s the eternal question of next-gen. PES2010 is what PES2008 should have been at the very least—it’s become a cliche to say that now, but it’s true. PES2008 was such a bad start, and the franchise is struggling to recover, mainly I think because nobody at Konami has the guts or the vision to rip up Plan A for this generation and go directly to Plan Z. It’d be a massive risk, not least because they’d probably have to skip a year, and no business model nowadays will tolerate that.

  32. Not Given—It might be worth your while investing in a USB stick (or sticks). They’re dirt-cheap nowadays, and you’d only need a small capacity one to use as your PS3 backup. Get two sticks in case one breaks! The further into ML you go the more you stand to lose should the unthinkable happen.

    The incessant draws are more demoralising than defeats in many ways. I went through a whole 7-match session once without scoring or conceding a goal, all 0-0. I disliked that more than I disliked a shenanigans-riddled session.

  33. Found out the PSP memory stick is compatible with this PS3- i’ll back up at the end of this season.

    Went on a great run which included two wins in a row, and a very satisfying 0-1 over WE United. We are 13th in the league with 26 points but I fear it’s coming to an end. It was 0-0 against Porto until Gillardino scored a long range shot to win it for them. I actually cheered though as its a nice change from the cross-header-goal routine of this season. My goal for this campaign was to finish out of the bottom 3, and we are 6 points clear at the moment. We might do it.

  34. Not Given—I still think my experience was a one-off and nobody else—surely?—could take as many seasons to get promoted. I’d back you to get there in three or four.

    Porto are immense in my ML. I’ve rarely seen anything so phenomenal in PES. The AI often nets long-rangers against me as well. I can remember it getting at least two crackers this season alone.

  35. Porto are immense in this file too. They finished top of the league by a mile and won every award. Although I did get Jaric and Baumann into team of the season. We finished on two straight wins, an absolute miracle and brought us to 40 points. Despite that I have no confidence we can even equal that next season, the whole run has felt pure luck.

  36. Not Given—my Porto are just about unplayable at times. I had en epic game against them yesterday morning that left me feeling totally exhausted. The other big clubs never have that effect. Even Arsenal are merely tricky opponents. Porto are impossible!

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