My Blimp camera mania has cooled a little after last week’s extraordinary few sessions.
I ran into the brick wall of PES2012 in its most charming, stubborn, unyielding guise. Many people admire this game for its high difficulty. I admire the spirit of its difficulty (it was about time we had something like it), but I’m deeply uncomfortable with the manner of its execution.
Too often the game achieves its difficulty by placing artifical barriers in your way. I’m talking about 9 or 10 AI players behind the ball, regardless of the match situation.
Most of my attacking play consists of playing it around in front of a massed defence, probing for an opening, for AGES. This is typically where my 70% possession stats come from. It’s absorbing in its own way—but is it football?
And too often the game takes advantage of its foreknowledge of your button presses to represent ‘skilful’ CPU players jinking and twisting their way past every challenge. I was left with a very nasty taste in my mouth after a match against Aston Villa, in which Stephen Ireland continually went on Maradona-style mazy dribbles almost the length of the pitch. Seriously, almost every time Villa mounted an attack, it was via Stephen Ireland dribbling like some kind of Pele-Maradona-Cruyff hybrid.
I’ll stick my head above the parapet and call those kinds of dribbles—which almost any player, it seems, is capable of—often unstoppable. “Defend better” may be a justified riposte, but I would demur on the grounds that the CPU knows what I’m doing and is programmed to evade it. The CPU can just move its player aside, or just ignore my challenges and tackles with flaky collision detection.
Every PES2012 veteran—hell, every PES fan of any vintage—knows exactly what I mean here. The series has always been able to make limbs pass through limbs and footballs pass through solid bodies if it requires it.
To sum up: PES2012’s AI deserves its formidable reputation, but plays dirty to achieve it.
I actually won that game against the legendary Stephen Ireland, 1-0. Generally, my good form has continued. Here’s the current table after 32 matches:
That’s pretty exciting to look at—I’ve never been up so high this late on. And there’s added spice. The outcome of this current season will ultimately decide my football gaming destiny for the rest of the year.
It’s like this: if I finish the season in a Champions League spot, I will play PES2012 for another season at the very least (and having built up such momentum, probably for longer after that).
If I don’t finish in the Champions League places, I’ll set aside PES2012 for now, and take up FIFA12 for the foreseeable future.
In either case, I’ll be content. In the former case, I’ll be playing on and questing for Master League glory in a game that I have come to respect despite its considerable flaws (wonky shooting, camping AI).
In the second case, I’ll depart from PES2012 on good terms, and head off for what I expect to be a great football game, FIFA12. (And it would be good timing with my Vita and its copy of FIFA Soccer arriving this week.)
Wednesday’s post should see me finish the season. It’s all to play for.