Pressure, pushing down on me

Things are bad. At this moment in time, I honestly believe I will be relegated this season. The PES2011 AI has closed a set of steely jaws around me and it won’t let go.

I’ve graduated to Top Player difficulty for my first season in the Premier League. As if that wasn’t enough, the latest PES2011 gameplay patch came out at the same time.

The forums have buzzed ever since with claims that the patch has cranked AI pressure up to an unprecedented level in PES. For once, I agree with them. I don’t recall ever previously encountering in a PES game anything like what I am currently going through.

The game is kicking my backside on a regular basis. Before, in Division 2 (on Professional difficulty), I was able to find a bit of time and space to build my attacks and create chances. Now, I cannot do anything without being swarmed by two or three AI players, all the time, all over the pitch.

I’m fascinated by the existential horror of what’s happening. My Master League career is collapsing in front of my eyes. It’s car-crash gaming.

Thursday and Friday last week I played two full sessions of five or six matches each without scoring a single goal. In about 10 matches, not a single goal—and not many chances of scoring one either.

In a state of some shock, I have now stumbled my way to the mid-season point. Things are worse for me than they have ever been in any Master League campaign, ever. I think relegation, for the very first time in all my ML years, is a strong probability.

Look at this table of shame—these numbers do not lie:

I’m second from bottom. 11 goals scored in 18 matches so far. Only Rangers below me are worse. A 5-point gap between me and safety.

If this keeps up, I will be relegated.

At first, I blamed Top Player. Now the consensus on the forums is that it’s the patch, and I agree, with caveats.

People have talked about and talked about AI pressure for many weeks now. I didn’t pooh-pooh the claims.

I believed them, but I believed that I had experienced the AI pressure and was coping with it in a different way (i.e. with a non-dribbling, pass-and-move, endlessly patient approach to the game).

But that doesn’t work for me any more.

I’m at my wits’ end over what to do about the AI pressure now that the deadly combination of Top Player and the patch have moved the goalposts a long, long way down the field.

The sane thing to do would be to go back to Professional difficulty, at least. But I don’t want to do that. I’ve done my time on Professional. I like to go to Top Player and stay there. And now I’m curious. Where is this crisis leading me?

I’m in shock, and in trouble. The deepest shock and most profound trouble I’ve ever known in PES.

Time for some damage control. The mid-season transfer window is at hand, and like many PES2011 ML players, I have taken to treating it as a negotiation and transfer window. I haven’t got any new players lined up, but I will have a good look.

But would new players really help me? Maybe the top-rated, super-skilled ones would, but they are a long way out of reach financially and reputation-wise at the moment.

My best chance of avoiding relegation this season is to go back to basics, and go out in each match with the determination not to concede, and just hope that my odd goals here and there might accumulate enough points to save me.

But the AI is steamrollering me for fun. It’s scoring goals in a way that I don’t recall it doing before the patch landed.

And, if this continues… If I never get used to life on Top Player, post-patch… If PES2011 effectively runs me out of town… What then?

71 Comments

  1. El-ahrairah—if you think it’s bad now, wait until you get the patch. It’s worth doing just to see how bad it can be (it’s easily uninstalled).

  2. Jamiey—it’s not pressure per se that I’m struggling with and that I object to: it’s persistent swarming of two or three CPU players at a time, for the whole 90 minutes. It strikes me as very ‘gamey’ and unrealistic. Clearly it’s another layer of Konami’s ongoing efforts to provide an AI worthy of lasting for a year. It’s only November (just), I keep having to remind myself. So it might be the case that in a week or two it comes to seem normal and we’ve adjusted to it. I had a slightly better time this morning, but only slightly.

  3. Franbeard—thanks for your comment, and it might or might not be the case that the 360 experience is qualitatively different from the PS3 one. I remember PES2008 being a much better game technically on 360. Some of my issues with PES2011 do seem to be technical—stuttering animations etc. (not a hardware problem but a seeming by-product of player individuality; many of my players seem about to stumble over the ball as they’re dribbling).

    When I get back on the game later or tomorrow morning, I’ll have a peek at the team sliders in Edit mode. I’m usually very unwilling to mess with those. I like to play the game as ‘out of the box’ as possible, but I’d at least like to see just to satisfy my curiosity.

  4. abbeyhill—how are you finding the aerial through-balls? I’m finding them a bit broken, but I have to bear in mind that most of my players are still ‘only’ in the 65-75 OVR range.

  5. ali—there’s definitely a few few good Championship OFs knocking about. I just found a couple in the PESGaming sub-forum here. I’m no expert at judging the quality of them though so have a read of the user comments there.

  6. Be careful though, I installed a championship option file and whether it was directly related to me scrapping 4 seasons worth of ML save or not, it was certainly a factor.

    maybe worth researching the OF and seeing if team stats and player stats have been tinkered with first.

    @Not-Greg … can relate mate, thats exactly what I was feeling about the game which led to my drastic restart.
    my Div 2 now is not championship modded but ive added my own made up Div 2 logo (used as badges on shirt sleeves too) and playing with a mix of teams in there such as Rosenborg Ballklub, Anderlecht, Boca Jnrs, and left 2 or 3 of the generic made up Konami PES League teams in too.
    Playing a much nicer game, am on a 4 game unbeaten run at the mo.

  7. @Not-Greg
    Completely understand around getting the time to fit everything in but its a total sacrilege that you havent opened Uncharted 2. Hands down the best game on any console thus far. Trust me, if you play it, you will be blown away by it.

  8. Paul—I miss general gaming. Football gaming fits right into my day-to-day life, but at some point I need to pick up and play the many next-gen classics I’ve got sitting on my shelf.

    Just finishing off tomorrow’s post now, which is short and to the point, and will feature a video.

  9. Cool, so many games so little time, i still have the ltd edition copy of Metal gear Solid 4 on my shelf that has never even been opened.
    As you say with footy gaming its just pick up and play, you can chip away at it game by game, there’s no story lines to remember or way points to reach, i think of it as disposable gaming.

  10. Sounds like you’re nearing the end of your tether.
    Just a suggestion but maybe you need a complete break from footy gaming. It’s not necessarily good for the blog but maybe you should get stuck into some of those classics that are gathering dust and trade in your PS3 PES for the 360 version.
    I can’t help thinking that it must be something beyond an OF for us to have such drastically different experiences and it’s crossed my mind before that it may be the platform.
    By the time you come back to it you’ll feel fresh and ready to give it another crack plus Daymos will have completed his OF.

  11. Paul—quite right. For me it’s the problem fo remembering how to open inventories, what’s going on with plotlines, missions, etc. I loved Oblivion (got it with my first PS3) and played it for 50 hours, then stopped mid-mission quite late on in the game, went away on holiday for a week and never touched it again. I’ve made two attempts to play Mass Effect. In Fallout 3 I got to the first town. I’ve got a shedload of Mac and PC games just sitting there waiting for my loving attention. Footy gaming is just so damn convenient and one of its great strengths.

    I think you’ll be particularly interested in tomorrow’s video. It’s not about the AI pressure in the end, as the match files were too large (over a GB) and the issue wasn’t really coming across in edited highlights. So I put together a little digest of other problems instead.

  12. Chris—I’ve never really got on with the 360 controller for PES. I’ve got a Windows 360 controller for my PC versions of the game(s), and can just about tolerate it for the short bursts involved, but with PES it’s got to be the PS3 for me. Have a look at the video I’ve got for tomorrow and let me know if you ever see anything like the issues on display on the 360 version.

  13. Ugh, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve got the 1.2 patch for my PS3, and am playing with an option file of my own creation — I’ve only edited team kits and names, not changed any stats.

    I’m on Professional, which is the level I was playing prior to the patch, and I’m not noticing much difference with CPU pressuring.

    The PS2 version is similarly veeery heavy-handed with the pressure — the sorts of CPU aggression that was left for scripting in older versions is the norm. I agree with you that it makes the game unplayable.

    It sounds like to me you love the game on Professional and dislike it on Top Player. Nothing wrong with that.

  14. Woops, my second season highlights video didn’t work. Here’s the link.

    About the pressure, I’ve only played a few matches on exhibition with the patch yet, but it seems the same as before. However, when I was putting together that highlights video, I saw that the AI did apply a fair amount of pressure; I just never noticed it whilst playing.

    not-Greg, one thing that works for me is counter-attacking; I enjoy soaking up the pressure. One thing Konami should be congratulated upon is the variety of the AI’s attacking play. Sometimes, they pass it around, waiting for an opening, and other times they race down the wings and cross it. A break will probably do you some good; I’ve heard Uncharted is amazing.

  15. One things which is very interesting in this years ML is the TEAMWORK stat…its very low when u get the player but even regulars have low stat …..i think the game rewards playing same 11 ..but on the other hand the stamina issues is such that its not possible to play same 11 …very intriguing…..also i have noticed now top teams like chelsea and man utd have classy players even after 6-7-8 seasons …i remember Chelsea last year kept playing Drogba even when he was 65 on overall stat..now its different they buy massive players..in my ML i have a Chelsea with Augero,Messi,Veron all rated above 103…no player is less than 90..its a scare to play them…Btw i am 13 the now in the league ..and in the second round of CL…its turning out to be hell of a game…

  16. ck—as tomorrow’s post will show, I’m cheesed off about a bit more than just the AI pressure. I have issues with the game that won’t be solved by reverting to Professional (a totally sensible step that I have no qualms about taking). AI Pressure was the catalyst for this rocky period. I’ve decided to stop looking the other way, whistling, while PES2011 does unacceptable things.

  17. Darshan—it was a relief to see you scoring goals with players other than Shimizu! Very nice video, and I always like it when the music is something other than the obligatory rap/hip hop/skater rawk. 5 years ago I made a PES5 compilation with Mary Hopkin as one of the backing tracks. At the time I was a regular PESfan poster and It did not go down well on the forums. They were all “uh, dude, wtf?”

  18. Jamiey—I remember a time in ML when teamwork was the most important element of building a team. New players had to be bedded in (one of the main uses for pre-season friendlies). It’s good to see you starting to really enjoy the game now after your initial scepticism. Despite all my current troubles I still think I’ll be playing ML on PES2011 in 2011.

  19. Will look forward to todays post and video, be interesting to see how many of my niggles I can notice affecting you also.
    Had a 4 game session last night, was dumped out of the FA Cup first round 1-0 tby Udinese,although they are top of my Div 2, painful thing was it was an OG!
    then drew 1 and won 2.
    Now im going to say something which may sound stupid but hey ho…..
    Its well known that PES11’s passing system is massively different, and the general concensus is that you tap the pass button for an ‘assisted’ pass and hold the button to power up for more manual passes… right!?
    Well Ive still thought over the last month that the passing didnt go where you wanted it to and was still shabby, until last night.
    I must have for all this time, been over pressing the ‘tap’ of the pass button and therefore manually passing in whatever direction my left stick is pointing, leading to largely inaccurate passes.
    Last night I played a game and literally ‘feathered’ the pass button to make assisted passes and they were all pretty much spot on, allowing me to ping it about quicker and create a bit more space.
    Wish Id had my PVR setuup as one team goal involved 12 passes in midfield, a slotted through ball through the defence, Schwarz run onto it, nipped it away from the defenders foot and side foot slotted a curler in off the far post, looked amazing. And without the ability to play quick accurate passes i couldnt have managed it.
    Cant believe that ive been overcooking assisted passes all this time and not realised.
    Am sat 5th in Div 2 after 10 games, promotion push first season perhaps!?
    As an experiment I played an exhibition match on Top Player, beat Real Madrid 1-0 and never looked like losing.

  20. not-greg, I wouldn’t say I’m finding the aerial through-balls particularly effective, but just less ineffective than playing tippy-tappy football with my 65-70 rated midfielders (although will try Paul’s new passing tip with interest). Also lots of early L1+O crosses from all over the pitch, or just punting it long from the back and hoping to win the second ball or hustle the defenders into mistakes. My league record is still only 1-2-2 so it’s going to be a long hard season, probably a relegation battle

  21. abbeyhill—I find the aerial through-balls are ‘muffled’. E.g. I see a player open in space and go to play the ball—you know, the standard over-the-top diagonal through-ball we’ve been playing in our sleep for 10 years now—and the resulting effort often seems strangely lacking in power. I’ve sometimes cranked it up to max power and it’ll still just sort of float vaguely towards my target. It could be due to my players or me (or both), but I suspect it’s a method they’ve come up with to limit chance-creation. I susepct everything at the moment…

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