A Castolo I can believe in

Do you want to see a picture of Castolo playing in FIFA12? Okay, then:

What sorcery is this?

Here is the man himself, doing his thing:

NB: I know that neither of the goals are anything special. They’re only special because of who is scoring them (CASTOLO) and where (FIFA!). Also, I thought long and hard about including the PES2 goal replay music. While I’m committing sacrilege, I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb…

Before anybody lodges an objection about the defenders, I was deliberately playing on Semi-Pro in order to road-test my gleaming new FIFA12 version of Castolo. He got 5 goals in this game. I had also tweaked the defenders to be 5% slower. You can do that now in FIFA.

I’ve since moved back to a more respectable Professional difficulty level, and restored the CPU sliders to default.

And Castolo is still great. What a player! But where did he come from…?

I got FIFA12 last week, started playing it on Friday, and have been having a great time. This is the best FIFA since FIFA09, no question in my mind. The football is just a deep, absorbing experience. There is individuality in bucketloads by comparison to previous years. The individuality is still short of PES at its greatest in that regard, but it’s closed the gap.

Still early days of course. I’ve yet to start Career Mode—for me the only real test of the value of a football game.

When I start that Career Mode, I might do so with PES United. Using the ML Default players of Pro Evolution Soccer fame. (I’m not the user called ‘bongowongo7’ as seen in the screenshot to the right, who had the idea the day before me.)

You can do the whole Editing thing now in FIFA. It might be old news to many, but I only found out about it late on Saturday night. It’s called Creation Centre. Over release weekend, the web interface has been a little sluggish for me, but it does its job.

Creation Centre is FIFA’s very own in-depth, fully comprehensive Edit Mode. You can find other people’s creations and bookmark them for download later on your console.

Or you can make your own stuff. You can work at your leisure on your own custom players, teams, and even entire league or cup competitions. You can save work in progress. When it’s all finished you can choose to keep it all to yourself, or publish it for the world to see and download. Feel free to have a look for my Castolo.

A more limited version of Creation Centre started last year, with FIFA11. It’s a measure of how little I bothered with FIFA11 that I had no idea.

The difference this year, with FIFA12, is that all creations can be used in Career Mode. Not every part is free, though. There’s a certain level beyond which you hit the annoying little padlock sign and have to pay. I’m seriously considering paying out real cash for full access to everything. But there’s enough free stuff to be getting on with.

It’s free to create custom players and use them. I experimented on Saturday night with creating my very own Castolo. Starting out small.

Yes, I know I made his skin tone a shade or two too dark. But hey, this is still a Castolo I can believe in.

After much tweaking I ended up with a 74 OVR striker. He’s got two good feet and an explosive shot. He’s fast and strong, and goes through defences like a human threshing machine.

I imported him to the existing Coventry City squad, just to see how things worked.

I then played the first few matches of an FA Cup tournament with Coventry, with Castolo leading the line.

Needless to say, it was all rather compelling. I stayed up way past my normal bedtime, until 3:30 in the morning.

It all gave me a few ideas.

First of all, I thought I’d just make a few Default PES players and introduce them to the Coventry squad for the fun of it.

Then I investigated Creation Centre further and discovered the full range of options.

I wasn’t the first to have the idea about PES United, no sir. On  the left is pictured the First XI in bongowongo7’s PES United squad.

I’d have made some different choices—I wouldn’t have included Piliniak from PES3. I had to Google him before I remembered him, to be honest.

Otherwise, they’re all there. Ivarov, Ceciu, Ruskin, Ximelez, Espimas, all of them. Macco and Burchet and the rest are in the subs and reserves list.

And of course this old Castolo is the more recent kind. Over 30 and a myth in the making.

My all-new Castolo is just 20, and a towering, Drogba-like figure.

He’s the Brazilian Schwarz. When I make Schwarz—and it will happen—I’ll have to make a Schwarz who’s even more Schwarz-like to compensate.

RIGHT. So all this gushing  about Creation Centre, FIFA’s answer to Edit Mode—a feature we’ve had in PES for 10 years and counting-is all well and good, but what does it mean?

Have I spent the weekend just messing about with the ribbon, or actually playing the football game?

I’m pleased with the discovery of Edit mode because it does for FIFA what Edit mode has always done for PES: it broadens the game out and makes it more of a personal, lived-in space that you want to take ownership of.

Is the effort worth it? There are those among us who might see today’s post as evidence that FIFA is just flashy fun: worth fiddling about with for a while, but ultimately hollow.

In the long run, they might be proved right. But just at this moment, I believe FIFA12 does bring a football game to match its gaudy promise.

With FIFA12, EA have done two very important things.

First and foremost, they have mercilessly ditched sprint-pressure defending. That on its own has made a huge difference to the game of football that FIFA plays. I can now spend whole swathes of matches without the ball when I try, unconsciously of course, simply to charge in and take it. I have to use the new defensive system soberly and carefully.

Secondly, they have introduced sliders that control many critical aspects of the gameplay. For example, noticing in one match that the CPU never misplaced a pass, I lowered its accuracy from 50 to 40 and saw an immediate difference. The CPU started misplacing occasional passes, and increasingly so when I closed down space intelligently.

FIFA12 is the kind of game where, after a match, you think to yourself: “I really moved the ball well in that match”, or: “I defended well at the end there”—just like PES, in other words.

It all raises a few very interesting issues for me. 

I’m forced to ask myself what the point is of getting smoochy with FIFA. PES2012 is going to come along in the fullness of time (10 days or so), and bring it all to a halt.

Isn’t it?

I still think it is, yes. It’s no longer an absolute stick-on certainty, but yes, I still expect that PES2012 and Master League will be the game for me.

I said all along that the likelihood of two great football games this year was a terrifying prospect. For me at least, that semi-nightmare scenario is becoming a reality.

74 Comments

  1. danny—that’s sad news for me about the away form dip being gone. If they’d kept it but made it more logical, perhaps more dependent on actual recent results and form, it would have been better.

    Great to hear you’re still relishing the game. I think enough days have gone by for us to start considering that we rally do have a classic year on our hands.

  2. Max—thanks for that, and coming from you—you’ve always been upbeat and positive about PES—this is very surprising, and a lot of food for thought. Particularly your thoughts on ML.

    As ever, I’ll wait to see, but my own findings on the PES2012 Demo 2 (maxed out with patches on PC) is that setting 0/5 for pass assistance feels very much like semi-manual passing on FIFA, if you’ve ever experienced that. The best of both worlds IMO. But I supposed I’ll have to see what the final game is like.

    Schwarz starts on 54!

    I had heard about this training problem of having to maintain it every day. I await my own hands-on before seeing how annoyed, or not, I am.

  3. Max – if those points are all true about ML -and im sure you wouldnt lie, then it does not bode well.

    The point of having to invest in a fan club in order to grow attendances and revenues, which directly affect, along with on pitch success – your ability to sign bigger and better players, along with the scouting, and training etc all added vastly towards Master leagues massive immersion factor, if they have screwed all this up then I shall be very pissed.
    It sounds as if Konami have thought “well we havent fucked up gameplay this year, we’d best fuck with the most important mode in the game instead then!!”

    This news has seriously dampened my enthusiasm for a Long PES12 master league campaign!!!

  4. Paul—somebody mentioned—danny I think—that aspects like fan club etc are optional, i.e. they have to be turned on or off in a menu somewhere. If so, Max may have overlooked the option.

    I never felt comfortable with PES2011’s ML. Its little tweaks never gelled for me. A lot of that dissatisfaction was because the problems I had with PES2011’s gameplay made me look for faults. With solid gameplay in PES2012, as I still expect it to be for me anyway, any niggles in ML will be easy to live with.

  5. I really hope so mate, i’ve been pinning my hopes of an amazing football gaming year for the last 6 months on PES12, so any drop in quality of Ml would be huge!

    I’ve created custom banners, adboards, kits, fencing the lot, many hours of painstaking precision editing in photoshop ready to load into PES12, id hate for all that to have been for nothing.
    Id like to extend the offer to any readers of this blog too, that may like some kits/adboards/club badges/fencing/banners etc designing for their custom ML team in PES, to let me know and Id be happy to help.
    I have all the templates setup and can produce high res PNG files in the exact formats needed to just load straight into PES12.

    I didn’t play PES10 Ml for more than a week, right before October, so i cant really comment on how good that years version was, all i know is that what i Played in PES11, my first proper Multi season ML for a a few years, was superb,IMO anyway.

    Also a quick FIFA caveat – one thing is annoying me a lot – CPU Intercepted through balls.
    It seems every through ball i attempt, even ones that should be nailed-on are intercepted by the defender, its very aggravating and im sure if i could find a way to combat this, my goals ratio would increase by at least 25%.

  6. Ok just to clarify a few things about master league. First, things like investment in youth team, fan club, hiring of staff etc are optional in this years game. You can turn them on or off at master league set up menu, max must have missed the option when he started it.

    Second, yes training is very differnt this year. It is done as an overall team and not a idividual players. Training must be dealt with more or less everyday and can be cycled between 4 or 5 option. Invidual player training is gone im afraid.

    Next max is correct that the scouting system is gone. All players stats are available from the start and there is not scouting done when in the transfer market.

    I dont mind the daily team management or the cut scenes, all in all everything still moves along pretty quickly for me from game to game. I dont feel bogged down by the way the calender works this year. I guess it just comes down to individual preference

    Max i have to agree about the automatic shooting, its quite deflating when you aim a shot to the left corner and it flies into the opposite corner instead. Goals that come that way just dont feel satisfactory at all. As for the passing moving the bar to 0 out of 5 works fine for me

  7. Just got back from buying a new 42 inch TV so i hope this improves my enjoyment of the game as much as it did for you not-greg!

    i just checked and saw the option to manage club finances i´ll be sure to select it when i start my defualt ML.

    Danny i presume u have it turned on? do you still get the match day earnings screen? more money for a win and such?

    i´d like to point out that i´m also playing on regular difficulty so its not the “true game” as yet. tonight i´m moving up to proffesional for the second season so i´ll see how it gos. As for the passing back down to 0 and guna stay there till i get used to it, anyway i can prob live with passes going astrey as that happens in real life all the time. The shooting on the other hand could be my game breaker…

    p.s. theres an unlockable 6th level of difficulty which should be interesting, this years AI attack very well and shoot from anywhere inside your half. with this years dribble mechanics its very hard to stop them getting through on goal, but the terrible shooting mechanics level it out…

  8. I’ve also found shooting and passing to be a bit hit and miss, but I have scored a few intentional screamers, so I just blamed it on ny unfamiliarity. We’ll see.
    Paul – I’d love to take you up on your offer of some custom stuff. I know the basics of photoshop and can edit templates but id love some high quality features. Not-Greg, please could you forward my email address. Thanks.

  9. Paul—I don’t think your hard work will turn out to have been wasted. I heard from my associate overseas this morning, who hasn’t touched ML at all yet but took a look as a favour. He says the cut scenes stand out as potential annoyances, but everything else seems pretty solid.

    Re. FIFA12’s through-balls, they do seem inconsistent—actually, that’s too kind a word for them. I find they just don’t work except when putting the ball out to the wings. We are looking at it from a PES perspective, though, i.e. using the ‘rules of engagement’ from other football games to determine what’s right and wrong. By that light, FIFA12’s through-balls are a little wrong, but I’m still enjoying the whole package too much to be bothered about it right now,. And the all-manual devotees would tell us both to stop using assisted through balls anyway.

  10. im glad youth team and fan club etc havnt gone. i ws thinking for a minute to just buy fifa if all this was gone. ML would seem to simple with all of this gone. as for scouting im not to bihered. does this mean its going to be like pes 6 where you put down how much you are going to bid for the player and its wages etc.

  11. danny—(and max)—re. automatic shooting, did you both choose to have shooting assistance ON during setup? I only ask because I saw someone in a forum mention the same thing, and it turned out he had CPU assistance for shooting switched ON. Apparently there’s an introductory menu selection thing when you first turn on the game—?

    And I heard from another forum poster that the weekly training schedule change is no more onerous than the old Regulate Condition thing we all used to do by rote several years ago. Or you could just set training to ‘Technique’—nice and general—and forget about it forever. I might end up doing precisely that.

  12. Max—moving to a bigger TV changed my football gaming life! You’re in for a pleasurable week or so before you get used to it.

    Re. your automatic shooting gripe, see my answer to danny just above. Is there a chance you have CPU assistance switched ON?

  13. Grilled Seabass—I’m more than happy to make the introductions and send Paul your email.

  14. ali—youth team, fan club etc. are all still there. You just have the option to leave them off if you want a more streamlined experience. It sounds like they’re turned OFF by default, though, so take care when you’re setting up your ML to look for the option. Knowing Konami it’ll be buried in a sub-menu somewhere.

    We’ve always been able to bid for players just like in the old days, it’s an option as well. Make sure you choose ‘negotiate directly’ when setting up your ML. You still have to wait a week or two (unlike the instant answer in the old days). And only when the other club has agreed can you start haggling on the price. Assuming it’s all the same as in PES2011, of course. It might have changed. We’ll see.

  15. Seabass – no probs mate, just let me know what you want and in what colours etc and i’ll send you some bits.

    Just finished a Glasgow Rangers pack for a guy over on the evo-web forums last night so can work on yours this week. he was extremely happy with his files.

    Really pleased to hear ML isnt so broken, what a travesty that would have been, but well within konami’s armour to have done it too!

  16. not-greg – the player assistance menu has options for passing, shooting and clearances but it says for players on your team that you dont control so i didnt think it would affect anthing. I will try turning it off though and see what happens. And as for training you are correct its just like the old regulate condition. Its fine for me

    Max – yes when you switch on the management option you see the match day earnings screen

  17. Paul—I always said I never liked the little ML changes from PES2010 to PES2011, but the thing that wrecked the latter game was the gameplay, not ML. As long as the PES2012 gameplay is solid I’ll put up with almost anything that annoys me in the ML ‘world’. The PS3 is the only platform where full game installation isn’t possible, so I suspect the pause to wait for cutscenes to load will become annoying after a while.

  18. danny—try it out and let us know if that setting affects anything. We all know Konami of old and know that they’re capable of linking anything to anything. If that setting did turn out to affect your own controlled player’s shooting, would anybody be surprised?!

  19. not-greg switching the option off made no difference. The shooting at times is still has that automatated feel to it

  20. Paul – I’d also love to take you up on your very kind offer as it’s not really my forte, but I’m on 360… I’m presuming that’s going to mean a no goer?

  21. Chris – M ore than happy to help mate, im assuming gfx files would be the same resolution, so shouldnt be a problem.
    youll need to check on the xbox though what formats it requires, PNG files in 1028 x 128 for adboards, 512 x 256 for fencing etc on the ps3.

  22. Thanks mate, you’re a star – however, after a brief look it appears you can’t import files for stadium creation on the 360??? I’ll have a proper look around t’internet and get back to you.

  23. Chris—FIFA12’s Career Mode looks good and feels good, but it’s week 1. I should get through most of a season before PES2012 hits, and will be able to tell if it’s really changed or just ‘pretending’.\

    And I thought Editing on the 360 wasn’t allowed by Microsoft or something (I don’t keep up with the Editing scene as such)?

  24. I couldn’t post it on here, so i’ve sent it to your @peschronicles account for your perusal not-Greg….. I await your apology 🙂

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