There have been some tragi-comic developments in my Master League. First of all, even though I’m ‘only’ playing on Regular difficulty, I can’t seem to gain any traction. The CPU is still perfectly capable of destroying me. God knows what’s waiting for me up on Top Player, if I ever get there. As for Superstar, well, after waiting all this time for the reintroduction of an equivalent to the old 6* difficulty, I might not get there at all in PES2012.
I’ve had some bad results, including a memorable 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Norwich City that showed me what the AI is capable of—for good and ill.
I went 1-0 down early on. How often does that happen in PES2012? Too often for it to be anything other than a consciously crafted outcome, in my view.
I’m not saying the early CPU goal is scripted, as such. Just that it’s coded to be a strong possibility if you’re not defensively alert. Remember when PES’s core philosophy was just to represent the game of football as closely as possible? Nowadays Seabass is on record somewhere as saying that his aim is to create excitement for the player. The two principles overlap, of course—football is exciting and difficult—but they’re uneasy bedfellows when it comes to making human players feel that they’re playing on a level playing field.
I equalised to make it 1-1 against Norwich. Almost as soon as my fist-pumping and self-congratulations were over, Norwich were ahead again. Straight from the kick-off, in fact. And they went on to massacre me in the rest of the game. Morison was like some unholy combination of Batistuta at his peak and Conan the Barbarian.
Final score: Norwich 5, Coventry 1. On the final whistle I reflected on a humiliating defeat, and imagined some breathless Norwich commentator reciting a list of celebrated Coventrians. “Clive Owen… Philip Larkin… The Specials… That cat bin lady… Sir Frank Whittle…. Pete Waterman… Pete Waterman… can you hear me? Your boys took a hell of a beating…. Your boys took a hell of a beating!”
Anyway, such perennial PES gripes aside, I’m still loving my Master League. Although I am increasingly wondering how and why.
There was a comical moment in a match against newly-relegated Swansea. I was 1-0 up in the last few minutes, and they threw the lot at me. In the last minute, this happened—watch what happens to the ball as it goes towards the keeper’s legs:
I should note here that I’ve been happy with the keepers ever since patch 1.02. If anything, they save a bit too much now. I haven’t seen many instances of the pat-a-cake goals, as I call them, where they push away tame shots for an easy follow-up. Good hands, and good goalkeeping nous, are on display.
Although I do fear that Konami mostly achieved this balance with dirty tricks, i.e. wonky shooting and park-the-bus defences. No power on this earth will ever convince me that the shooting in PES2012 is the subtly nuanced system that its defenders like to claim it is. It’s blatantly been twisted to serve another purpose, in my view.
Here’s the league table after 11 matches.
I have an outside chance of promotion this season. By now I had expected to have won enough matches to regain the Chairman’s trust and go back up to Professional, but it hasn’t worked out like that. If anything, it’s a bit more precarious. After every draw or defeat I get the “Chairman is openly unhappy” message in a cutscene. It gives me the willies, right enough.