Month: October 2011

There’s a sting in the tail…

There’s a great new Default player in Master League 2012. Goes by the name of Irjescu. He’s a DMF/CMF—the kind of versatile everyman midfielder that PES has always specialised in. He’s got a great booming shot on him. His accuracy is laughable, but with proper development that can be cured. He’s one of my favourite Default players.

Here’s a scene-setting picture of him in action for my team, Coventry City:

I’ve actually scored a few goals with Irjescu already in season 1. Each was a true net-busting 25-to-30-yard screamer.

Alas, the shots didn’t go where I was actually aiming. They were the kinds of goals that are making people quit PES2012 in disgust, I’m sorry to say. I won’t ever show a goal like that on here or celebrate it. When it happens in-game, anybody able to see my face would probably think I was eating a lemon.

Thankfully, in version 1.00 of the game at least, truly wonky shooting happens very seldom—and when it does happen, it’s mainly Irjescu.

So, here’s the latest news on my Irjescu:

It was a training injury. His return date is April 2013.

It’s a terrible blow, particularly as I’d trimmed my squad down to 23 players in the post-season period. Irjescu’s injury leaves me quite light.

Below is my current full squad, showing my preferred starting formation (this was before Irjescu’s injury):

That’s not my first-choice starting XI. Ahmet is my no. 1 keeper. The short-term injuries to El Moubarki and Cinalton have kept them out for a week or two. They’re both first choice players when fit.

Irjescu’s injury promoted a rethink. I have since rearranged the above formation to a 4-1-3-2 with one DMF, and Ettori occupying a central AMF role behind the front two. It also accommodates my two new boys, Sciacca and Ozturk, who are proving very useful. Shimizu is… a little guy who gets a game sometimes.

Here’s the table after 1 match of season 2—I’m playing on Regular, it has to be said. We should all stop marvelling at the fact we’re playing on lower difficulties now. The levels have been rebalanced. Top Player is no longer the same as it used to be, and no manly chest-hairs are acquired or bigger testicles grown through doggedly sticking to it. Professional and Regular are both perfectly fine places to be.

I’ve played a few matches after the above, and lost them all. I’m back down scraping the bottom. I show the above table in the expectation that it’s the highest-placed I’ll be all season. I do have some pride.

I cannot leave without a word about my current star player—Ordaz. I call him Awesome Ordaz this year. The Default strikers often flatter to deceive, but Ordaz has got it all this year. I also quite like Maqualao, whose novelty goal appears first in this clip:

The first goal is made by Maqualao’s first touch, which slightly bobbles the ball up into the air for him to strike with venom.

The second goal from Ordaz, a delicious R2 finish, was the goal that won me game #1 of this season 2, and gave me the briefest sniff of life near the top of the table.

—————–

I wrote the bulk of this post late last night (Sunday). This morning, Monday (natch), for no reason at all, I played some PES2010 (yes, PES2010—the one that everybody but me hated).

Then I played some FIFA12. Oh, FIFA12…. why did you have to go and exist…. Why, FIFA12, why?

It’s all left me with some food for thought.

Deep breath. I’m going to just come out and say it. I don’t think that PES2012 is a great game of football. There. I’ve said it.

PES2012 is more than adequate—it’s definitely not shit. But it’s not amazing, nor even very good. I invested so much in anticipating it through the summer that it’s hard for me to say I think PES2012 isn’t great, because by doing so I retrospectively make myself look a little foolish, and nobody goes out of their way to do that. But I’ll turn 40 next year, and one of the great side-effects of becoming OLD is that you care a lot less about such things. (Seriously, that side of ageing is great.)

There was another PES game in recent memory that wasn’t great… one that was only ‘more than adequate’… that game was PES2010. I played the absolute arse off that game, and rated it the highest of any next-gen PES game.

Why? Because of Master League. I played it for 20 seasons. I loved it so much I bought the fucking t-shirt. All inspired by a version of PES that was widely dismissed as a bad joke. I played it this morning, as I said, and the old magic is still there. PES2010 had a magic for me that was more than the sum of its clunky parts.

PES2010’s Master League brought in all the new features and depth. Features and depth that PES2012 has taken away.

So PES2012 never really had to be a superb game for me to potentially play it for ages and love it. The whole edifice of PES2012, for me, rests on its Master League. And I have a slightly queasy feeling about that. We’ll see how things unfold.

Sweet release

Season 1 of Master League 2012 has come to an end: I finished second from bottom in the table. I played 10-minute matches all season. Just look at the goals scored column for all teams (e.g., Zenit St Petersburg in 4th). Make no mistake, PES2012 is a very high-scoring edition of the series.

I had a few distractions early on with the whole shooting issue that was resolved (for now) to my satisfaction—although I have no idea precisely what Konami thought they were doing when they monkeyed around with the shooting accuracy in this most crucial edition of their troubled flagship football franchise.

But anyway. The season ended and I set about trying to save my financial skin. I was about £2,000,000 short of breaking even.

The first thing to do was to release surplus players. You start out with such a large squad that there are 4 or 5 players who rarely, if ever, get a game. I’d had them and several others on the transfer and loan list for several weeks, but there were no bids. With the end of the window approaching, I had to get rid of them—and more.

Here’s the full list of the players I let go:

LOTHAR
ZALECKI
LIBERMANN
STEIN
BURCHET
XECHINTO
VAN DEN BERG
MACCO
HEEDERS

And I also sent STREMER out on loan.

I signed AHMET as goalkeeper cover from the Youths. He and Iorghenov (sp.?) are my two goalkeepers, both pretty good; I don’t need any more.

I still had a sizeable shortfall of funds—each of the above players only had an average of £50,000 salary. Releasing them made some difference, but not a lot.

At the start of last season I’d hired new staff with £500,000 salaries. It was time to revert to Level 1 staff with £40,000 salaries. I did so, and my finances were resolved—and I even had a £400,000 surplus. Enough to try to sign a few new players.

It was tempting to raid the Youths, but truth be told I was wary of doing that. I could easily have snapped up Duffy and Zarate and maybe one or two others. I would still have had cash to spare, but I stopped myself. They’re young players, and no matter what legends they might become, I needed to spend my hard-earned and scarce resources on a bit of solid experience.

Time to go shopping.

I’ve been very worried about my ‘List of Targets’ being empty for the whole of season 1. This is the list that used to be called ‘Openness to Negotiation’ in old-school Master League on the PS2. The players in it are pretty much guaranteed to look favourably on an approach from you. You’re not wasting any time by going for them, as you often are by going for players using Advanced Search.

My List of Targets had been empty all season. I was worried about it being a bug, but I needn’t have worried. The moment I released all the players above, hey presto: there were suddenly two pages of players in ‘List of Targets’, as normal. I think I just wasn’t allowed to see any when I’d had a full squad. If so, that’s a bizarre game structuring decision in and of itself, but at least it wasn’t a bug.

I bid for a couple of players on that list, failed to get them, and bid for a couple more—and got them. Both were billed as costing a few hundred thousand each, but the negotiated fee with their clubs was ZERO. Free transfers. A nice surprise.

They were an AMF called OZTURK (72 OVR) and a CMF called SCIACCA (70 OVR). Sciacca sounds like something that happens to your back, and Ozturk looks a bit like Dimitar Berbatov.

Both are in their mid-twenties, and both have added a much-needed bit of class to what felt like a very lightweight team after a while in season 1. I played them from the start in pre-season friendlies (Training Matches, I should say; there seems to be no benefit from them other than trying out new players).  I won all three against pretty decent opposition. I haven’t decided yet how to accommodate them along with my Season 1 players. I’ll post a squad list and formation on Monday.

This is what Master League is all about, and one of the key reasons why I love it so much. Perhaps the best time in Master League is when you start to get one or two better new players, and so begin that incremental increase in power and skill that brings enough results to be able to afford one or two more, and so on, building the squad like a snowball rolling down a mountain.

I move into season 2 in a considerably better frame of mind than I started it. This time last week I was developing a deep sense of foreboding about PES2012. The reasons for that (shooting, shooting, and shooting) have been addressed, but others may come to the fore.

Training has started to grate on me after just one season. It’s all charming and novel to begin with, but after the novelty wears off, what are we left with? A weekly button-press. No individual focus. No skill card training. Hmmm. Okay, so it’s a rollback to the beloved PS2 days—when training was a background task, pretty basic and general—but it seems a strange backward step after PES2010 and PES2011 moved things in another direction entirely.

Gameplay is king, though, and as long as that holds up, I’ll go on. I’ve always been a simple soul.

The aim of the game

After all the drama of the past few days, I have re-oriented myself to PES2012. Master League seems to be back on track.

As I outlined in Monday’s post, I was having serious problems with PES2012’s shooting mechanic. You didn’t have to read between the lines of that post to see that I feared the worst for the future of PES2012. I feared that I would soon be quitting yet another next-gen PES game prematurely.

Who knows, that might still happen. But disaster has been staved off for now by deleting patch 1.01. I have reverted to ‘vanilla’ PES2012, ver. 1.00. The shooting is better in 1.00.

I won’t rehash the long process that led to my findings. (See the comments section of the last post for details.)

Below is an example of the type of shot in 1.00 that just wasn’t working for me in 1.01.

Cinalton, 25 yards out, side-on to the goal, on his favoured left foot. I love clipping shots across the keeper to the far post from positions like this. In 1.01, it just wasn’t happening for me. In 1.00, it does happen.

No, it’s not a goal. It’s just an everyday sort of weak-ass shot, but it illustrates the point. It went towards the far post, where I was aiming. Normal PES aiming protocols were used in the taking of this shot—none of the ‘overaiming’ workaround that I’d almost got used to on 1.01..

My conclusion? The random shooting error factor that has always been present in PES to some degree, is turned UP to a higher degree than ever in PES2012 ver. 1.01. It’s still pretty high in 1.00, as it happens, but it’s tolerable to me.

I still have the queasy suspicion that it could all just be a placebo, but I really haven’t got time to stop and carry out endless experiments.

I just want to get on with Master League and enjoy playing.

———————–

So I’ve played on in my Master League season 1 as my edited Coventry City, and continued losing.

I came to the mid-season transfer window, where I needed to bring in more players but couldn’t afford any. I also have contract rebels—Cinalton among them. He’s become pretty important to me playing as an SS in my current First XI.

I failed to sign any of the players I tried for, so had to make do with a couple of familiar names from the Youths: Schwarz (52 OVR) and Palmieri (68 OVR).

Schwarz seems to be starting from way behind where he was last year. Palmieri is the same competent young CB he was before. We’ll see if I can keep them, or even want to keep them.

I went down to Regular difficulty after a 5-0 spanking on Professional like no other. The CPU is programmed to indulge in what I call ‘flash attacks’, where they start out all innocent-like in their own half, and then seconds later the ball’s in the back of your net and you wonder if there was anything at all you could have done.

Here’s the very latest league table, after 31 matches:

I’ve started scoring a few more goals on Regular. And with the extra time and space on the ball, I’ve started seeing a lot more of Shimizu.

Yesterday morning I brought him on in the 85th minute of a match that was clearly heading for a 2-2 draw. All my players were knackered and I had no ideas. Shimizu, on the bench with a blue form arrow for this game, started and finished a move in the 92nd minute that gave me a precious 3-2 win. The camera is focused on him in both views:

I thought the PES2 replay music was appropriate on this occasion.

I love two things about the goal. First of all, Shimizu’s mazy run to get on the return pass. Finally, a concrete example of the famous ‘diagonal runs’ (or at least wavy-line runs) that we were promised in the summer.

And then there’s the finish. Shimizu’s useless at shooting from outside the box currently, but this is just on the edge and it’s a lovely R2 finish in off the far post (exactly where I was aiming towards).

I’ll wrap up this season on Friday’s post and take stock. I have a feeling the season 2 finances are ging to be brutal. I have a Master League tradition of jettisoning players and then having to make do with skeleton squads for a while. I think that tradition will be upheld in PES2012.

About the shooting

Blimey, it’s never straightforward, playing next-gen Pro Evolution Soccer, is it?

PES2012 has been out in the UK for a little over a week. Already there’s a community-wide kerfuffle over the merits of the gameplay—specifically, the merits of official Konami patch 1.01.

If you’re happily playing PES2012 and don’t know anything about the patch 1.00/1.01 debate, or about the shot-placement issue (which may or may not be related), you’d probably better stop reading about all football games on the Internet right now.

Remove all football gaming-related sites, including this one, from your Bookmarks and from your memory. Just play whatever game you like for the next solid year, and enjoy blissful ignorance of what other people think.

Remember how you wallowed in the early PES games on PS2, and how they were almost like great secrets that only you knew about?

Hardly anybody even had the Internet in those days, much less spent every spare second analysing the state of every last pixel on it.

So, yeah, pack up and bid adieu to the hive mind. Hold the door on your way out, because I might not be far behind you.

Having said all that… the shot-direction thing with PES2012 is a reality. I’m not sure personally about the patch thing and general gameplay, but there’s an impressive amount of anecdotal testimony about that side of things from others.

I’m carrying out a longer test on version 1.00 for a few days. The general gameplay seems a little more open to me currently, but I don’t discount the placebo factor, i.e. seeing what I expect to see/want to see. I never had a problem liking 1.01’s supposedly more ‘closed’ gameplay anyway.

It’s all about the shooting for me. I cannot emphasise this enough. Something seems to be very wrong with PES2012’s shooting, and it’s got me very worried.

I see no difference in the core shooting mechanic in 1.00. It’s still disturbingly eccentric and seemingly random in a way that PES shooting never has been before.

Shooting goes well a lot of the time, as seen below. Ordaz, free in the box, slots perfectly past the keeper into the far right corner of the net.

(That’s from version 1.01, by the way.)

The problem with PES2012’s shooting is that, for reasons unknown, aiming often doesn’t seem to work. You can be straight through on goal with no one else around you, exactly as seen above. You aim fully to the right of the keeper, but your player will put it straight down the middle, or worse, to the opposite side of the goal.

Going forward, one of these three scenarios will turn out to be the case:

1) Wonky shooting is a relatively trivial bug that Konami will patch very soon, possibly in the November patch for the 360’s stutter-run problem.

2) There’s a method to the madness and wonky shooting is something that I’m doing wrong, that we’re all doing wrong. Take the Ordaz clip above—why did that go right? Why? On too many previous, similar occasions, the shot’s gone centrally, or to the other side. So what did I do right here that I did wrong the other times?

I’ve got a tentative answer, and it’s to do with the timing of button presses. (I should note that I’m also talking about extensive Training mode sessions with high-rated and middle-rated players from various teams, not just the Master League Default donkeys.)

I believe that the game may be strictly enforcing a ‘zone of right function’. In other words, if the ball is farther out from your feet than is logical when you press shoot… if you try to ‘queue up’ a shot, as we’re used to being able to do in PES over the years… then a randomly factored degree of inaccuracy may result.

On the other hand, if you have the ball at your feet and a player fully in control, normal PES shooting discipline applies and you can expect good results as in the clip above.

The flaw in this theory is that I know for certain that I’ve had the ball at my feet and been ideally positioned for shooting, and the ball’s still gone astray.

But it’s a start!

3) This is the possibility that I fear the most, because if it’s true, it’s the end of PES2012 for me. I fear that PES2012’s shooting represents a new random seed element introduced by Konami for whatever inscrutable reason they may have. Placed shots will randomly go straight to the keeper, or even to the opposite side, and that’s all there is to it. We can talk about ‘over-aiming’ in order to compensate all we want, but that’s our own phantom solution, an only partly satisfactory workaround.

If this fearful possibility turns out to be the case—and it’ll only take me another week or so of play to decide exactly what the case is with this shooting malarkey—it’s very likely that I will abandon PES2012 even before the end of the calendar month of its release.

Let me be clear. To put things in perspective, wonky shooting doesn’t happen all the time. It doesn’t even happen much. PES2012 is a great game otherwise! But it happens enough for it to be a problem. I’m always braced for it to happen. I feel utterly wretched when it does happen. I feel weirdly embarrassed when it happens…

PES2012 is a great game until you pull the trigger, at which point it becomes a lottery.

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