Ask Jack Bauer

No, I’m not too sure about the blog’s new look yet either. I’ll be tinkering with it for a week or two. I do quite like the mock-1950s comic book header I ended up with, but it could still use some work.

The football gaming news today is sad. There’ll be no FIFA12 for me today. ShopTo have let me down this year.

Even since the dawn of Internet time, ShopTo have received their stock on the Tuesday and dispatched the same day. And once again this year, they got their stock yesterday, but…

“By agreement with EA”, it seems, ShopTo have waited until today—Wednesday—to dispatch their stock. The best I can hope for is to get it tomorrow, Royal Mail willing.

I’m happy to wait for FIFA12, but I’ve cancelled my PES2012 preorder with ShopTo. I can’t take the risk.

For PES2012 I will go back to my traditional supplier, GAME. They may turn out to have the same kind of agreement with Konami, but we’ll see.

Getting PES2012 on Wednesday October 12th would be a completely different proposition from getting it on Thursday October 13th or even, horror of horrors, on Friday October 14th itself.

I’m off work that week. I booked it off especially. It’s the first time I’ve done so for a few years. Getting my PS3 copy of PES2012 on the Wednesday of release week is more important to me this year than it usually is.

A lot can happen in 24 hours, as Jack Bauer would testify (in front of some no-balls Senate committee, dammit).

In 24 hours a lot of the settling-in time that I always need with a new football game can be got out of the way. I could move myself up the learning curve and onto Master League that much quicker.

I should get FIFA12 sometime tomorrow, probably too late for me to actually play it much. I work afternoons/evenings. Our post has started arriving mid-afternoon. It’s likely I won’t actually play FIFA12 until Friday morning. Whatever happens, I’ll have my full first impressions post up on Friday afternoon.

I have retired PES5 for the foreseeable future. Only an unthinkable and unlikely catastrophe involving the two games would see me resume PES5.

Over the past few days I have been amusing myself  with a fully patched and pimped-out version of PES2012 Demo 2 on PC.

By all accounts this as close to the final retail game as it’s possible to get. I’ve been playing 15-minute friendlies between random teams, and loving everything about it.

Of course the retail version is out in various parts of the world. The PES forums have exploded over the past few days with a familiar round of bickering and contradiction. The game’s too fast, there’s too much AI pressure, the stumble animation is back, and so on.

I have a contact abroad—a fancy way of saying “old school friend who moved to America and keeps in touch via emails a few times a year”—who has been into football games for as long as I.

He assures me that the game isn’t too fast, that the AI pressure is variable and tolerable, and—most importantly for me—that there is no stumble animation.

There are other issues, of course. Doubtless there are issues that will only emerge after several days’ or weeks’ play. But the kneejerk mewling and puking currently going on in some quarters is premature and misplaced.


  1. The Legend of Castolo is dead. Long live Cinalton!

  2. Great write up Paul – I must say I’m intrigued enough by career mode to consider adding FIFA to my Christmas wishlist… I guess time will tell if it becomes a procession of exhibition matches with fluff inbetween; I really hope not!

    nOir_dEux – I’d love to get involved in an old farts PES league but I’m 360 only I’m afraid; I have a feeling that puts me in a minority…

    CK – stop being a tease, what’s the game like???

  3. nOir_dEux—is there more to UT this year than before? I haven’t really looked at it since the very first year it came out. I’ve just assumed since that it’s remained the same setup of one-off Ex matches offline and the bulk of the action being online. Have they added more offline dimensions?

  4. Paul—I grabbed the 2K basketball game demos to see what the fuss was about and I agree, what a game. It’s not all about the graphics and presentation though, as us PES fans know very well. There has to be some appreciation for the underlying game, its rhythms and patterns etc., and I just don’t have that for basketball.

  5. ck—yes c’mon, you’vehad the game for days now. You’ve always picked up early on reasons why a next-gen PES hasn’t quite worked out, so what’s the verdict this year? Am I going to be crying or cheering by December?

  6. Chris—I take it you’ve been avoiding the forums and missed the talk of a ‘stutter run’ bug affecting the 360 only? (Not a joke, sadly.) Well, there’ll be a day 1 patch, but if there’s not or it doesn’t fix the bug, the workaround is to sign in a second controller and press start on that at a certain key point. Again, I stress this is not a joke. I hope you’re already up to speed on it, seeing as how you’re always lurking on the PES forums 😉

  7. not-greg i’ve gone and done it now. pes 2012 is due for devlivery tomorrow, so what did i do today? went and bought fifa 12, the game i said i wasnt going to buy. What is it with us and football games? the test my resolve like nothing else, i just couldnt resist buying it. The problem is that, and i stress that i’ve only had it a few hours, is that its a damn fine game!! Now i really have a problem tomorrow when pes arrives.

  8. danny—the thing with football game is that that they’re damn fine games to play and have around, even an average one. They fit in well with our adult lives. There’s no new set of buttons to learn, maps to follow, storylines to bear in mind. If you want to take a break for a few days or longer, they’re easy to pick up again right where you left them. 4 years ago I took a few days’ break from a 60-hour game of Oblivion and haven’t been back since. Viva football games, I say.

    That is a problem—a pleasant problem, mind—about liking FIFA12 so much. But it’s what keeps you coming back for more over a period of months that counts. Since FIFA09 I just haven’t ever really felt it with FIFA long-term. I want FIFA12 to be different though.

  9. Ultimate team now has a pretty large selection of offline tournaments with differing entry requirements (1star team, all silver players, players from one league or nation etc., with new ones being added periodically all it really needs is a league structure but I suspect that their licences may preclude that ever happening. If you ever had a sticker album Ultimate team is the mode for you!!!
    BTW. The latest to come out regarding career mode is perpetual daytime matches in bright sunshine, and the CPU never getting booked for fouls, apprently a patch is on the way for Europen launch day…How again the MANY MNAY (ALL?) in depth reviews missed this after their “extensive” playtesting escapes me, but then again people actually sim matches in manager mode apprently..Why not just get Football manager? their simulation engine actually works and scouting has a purpose and is interactive and their stats are always pretty much on track with real life.

    I am looking forward to two great games this year one has depth and problems that seemingly are being addressed, the other is shiney and collectey and pretty and cheaty and exploity just as it has always been!

    I love football game time, still not getting Fifa til Monday, maybe I can snag a Ulitmate or special edition without a pre-order!I WANT MY STICKERS!

  10. ps.
    If you sign into the EA web site with your PSN or Live username and password and go to their Ultimate team microsite and you have played the mode before you get two free packs!

  11. not-greg i’m certainly no expert on technical matters and such but i find fifa 12 to be a very satisfying organic experience. I know a lot of bad feedback has been left with regard to the AI, and while obviously not on par with pes 2012, i can definitely see improvements over last years game, in both attack and defence. Also the combination of tactical defending and the much maligned impact engine can make for some heart stopping goalmouth defending. Thumbs up after initial playtest, of course the real test will be how it plays 2 months from now. Actually, if pes 2012 retail game turns out to be as good as i hope it will be then i may never play fifa 12 again, strange to say after just buying it but it entirely possible

  12. nOir_dEux—thanks for the info, I’m at work and the work browser isn’t supported. (What is this thing between employers and IE7?!)

    I’m hoping for FIFA12 to be waiting for me when I get home, so I’ll be straight into it.

  13. danny—I had to smile at your opening gambit there. You’re braced for someone to pop up and tell you why you shouldn’t be enjoying a particular football game, for some reason or other. Usually that reason—as you anticipate—is a technical one that isn’t worth bothering about if the game plays well in your hands. The forums have been very much ‘like that’ over the past few days. Was it as bad as this in previous years? I don’t remember.

    As for there being a good chance of never playing FIFA12 again, as long as PES2012 and ML turn out to be what they darn well should be, I’m in the same dilemma. It hurts in a weird way and it feels wrong, but ML trumps all.

  14. What bug????? In fact, don’t tell me – I have a high tolerance to bugs in gameplay as long as ML is relatively bug free so I’ll carry on in my merry ignorance (see PES 2011). I’m sure if it’s something major on only one platform there’ll be an early patch for whatever’s got the flappers in a flap.
    In all honesty (ahem) I only dip into the murky forum waters at certain times of a games lifespan – just after a game has been released in one region whilst the rest of the world waits to play is my number one time to avoid the bloody things.

  15. thanks for the FIFA feedback Danny, sounds a bit more encouraging. The initial youtube vidoes look pretty similar to FIFA11. No matter how good PES is I’m still guaranteed to spend many hours on FIFA owing to the fun of playing as Ipswich and other lower league teams! Ultimate team sounds quite intriguing too if there’s a decent offline structure this year

  16. If Fifa isnt waiting for you im definetly canceling my pre order for pes *keeps fingers crossed*

  17. Yep whats the status on your FIFA shopto order mate?
    I Pre-ordered PES12 back in march with shopto on the premise id get it a couple of days early.
    If shopto are not delivering until release day now, then i shall cancel, as I may as well just go to GAME on the day and get it, and not risk there being nobody home to sign for it when the postie delivers it.

  18. Jamie & Paul—it did come yesterday after I went out. Playing it right now. 🙂 Post at noon.

  19. good stuff! look forward to the write up

  20. Paul—just starting now, got about 45 mins to do it so it won’t be long, just basic 1st impressions.

  21. Thats fine mate, just interested to hear your initial thoughts. Shall be picking up a retail copy at lunch time, the early release copy i had has now expired.

  22. @Chris @not-Greg:

    Executive Summary

    This is a damn fine PES. There really isn’t anything better than a fresh PES game. It’s not without faults, and I haven’t played near enough matches to find out in what ways it might be predictable or annoying, but I do think that the AI improvements mean that there will be more longevity in PES 2012 than in previous years.


    I played about half a season of Master League using WE United in the PES League on Professional difficulty, and I think I managed 3 or 4 goals.

    The AI movement was better, as was its defending. I enjoyed watching opposition defenders cover the space I was hoping to exploit.

    Of course it’s still too early to say whether PES 2012 is a game we’ll be loving come Christmas, but the initial signs are very good.

    “It’s just like watching Spain”

    In my matches, I didn’t have any problem holding the ball and controlling possession, even with the Defaults. Most likely, I’ll dial down the pass assistance until it feels a bit more balanced, but right now it’s just fun spraying the ball around, and I can manage 60-70% possession but still languish in 18th place!

    This is because the AI actually attacks with menace this year (can I get a hallelujah!), and scores some pretty goals of their own. On my end, scoring has been really tough so far . . . a good thing! As yet, the defensive toughness of the opposition AI doesn’t seem overly heavy-handed or due to “final third nerfing” a-la FIFA 11. The handful of goals I did manage to score were nice and varied, so that is really positive.

    Playing through the middle of the park seems to be a more viable strategy this year, which makes me happy.

    Where my Donkeys at?

    I don’t want to tell too much about the new ML for fear of spoiling it for you, but I will say that there are some new defaults who are suspiciously similar to the old defaults (they seem to have just filed off the serial numbers), but they modified them just enough that the Default squad is now fleshed out in such a way that you have the players to play pretty much any formation from matchday 1.

    Ettori is the new superstar of the defaults — every bit the young talent finally living up to his promise. The crafty Frenchman is your best player and ready to lead the new generation of Donkeys to the Promised Pastures of D1. He’s really fun to control.

    One problem I think we’ll all have is the way the new Master League has chosen to give you your information through cut-scenes. These scenes are awesome the first time you go through them, cute the next few, but by the tenth time your first-team coach tells you to man-mark the center forward on a team playing the Long Ball tactic?

    Gee, Dzerpinski, you think? Mark the target man? How much are we paying you again?

    Essentially, they’ve tried to fill in the blanks in ML with role-playing scenes, and I think it is a misstep, as they are nowhere near deep enough to sustain interest. But they’re easy enough to fast-forward through, so as of yet, I’m not grinding my teeth over it.

    It is kind of funny how the little animation of my manager looks more stressed out and wild-eyed when we’re on a 8-game losing streak and Dzerpinski is telling me that “it isn’t acceptable.” Gulp, I can feel the shadow of the axe crawling up my back.

    As usual, the changes to the game’s week-to-week management options are completely un-documented, so things like the way you set up training appears to have a huge effect on your squad and your players’ growth, but in what way specifically, I have no real idea. I do know that I managed to get Shimizu 7 (!) points of overall growth in one season, but Palmieri’s OVR declined! Uh, whoops? Surely a little tutorial would be in order?

    I also managed to lose all my best players while experimenting with contract negotiations, but the good news is that negotiations are a bit more forgiving than last year, and you can actually push back to get better terms, at the risk of alienating the player in question. They get all pissy and insist they are worth the requested salary, lol.

    No, Macco, you really aren’t. In fact, you’re barely worth the food cost for the training table, and you should just be grateful you get such a good seat near the bench on matchdays, ya donkey, ya.

    I also had a Luca Modric-type situation with a player who went mental on me because I kept rejecting offers for him! That was a nice touch. Of course, I sold him on, so let’s all wring our hands over player power in the modern game. What’s a losing manager with no budget to do?

    Anyway, I’ve aborted that monstrous fetus of a ML career and am about to boot up the old PS3 and go through the new training mode before starting a new game.

    I currently plan to start in D1 because if my first attempt at ML is any indication, a relegation fight might be the most excitement I could hope for come matchday 30! The game is tough!

  23. ck—I liked this:

    I also managed to lose all my best players while experimenting with contract negotiations

    Add in the traditional enigmatic undocumented features and I can see I’m in for a wonderful time on Master League again. I felt cheated out of last year’s experience, remember, so I’m hungry all over again in a way I haven’t been for a long time.

    What you have to say about the cut scenes is what I most feared would be the case. At least they can be skipped as soon they start, right? Right?

    I’ve always enjoyed roughly 60% possession levels in football games. I’m an average player overall but, boy, can I pass it around to no effect for ages!

    Thanks for the insight, and for not crowing about you getting the big soccerball game first. I still say it’s a shrewd marketing move by Konami, and I was all philosophical about it, but it’s starting to annoy me now. It’s too long!

  24. What you have to say about the cut scenes is what I most feared would be the case. At least they can be skipped as soon they start, right? Right?

    Right. Thank God, you’re right.


    Now you’re making fun of me. Did you say that using your best George W. Bush impersionation? 😉

  25. ck—Only a week and a half for us now, but I’m definitely getting tetchy about it. PES2012! y u not out yet!

    I rendered the soccerball mock-jibe using an impersonation of Jon Stewart’s impersonation of GWB.

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