Superstar has started kicking my arse good and proper, and I love it. That’s the current league table up there. I’ve lost and drawn league matches that I would have won easily on Professional. The League is looking dodgy.
Oh, and I’ve been knocked out of the Champions League—so the Treble is definitely gone for another season. I find that I don’t really mind.
I’m not ready for the Treble yet. When it comes , I hope it’ll come on Superstar, but that’s not certain.
Superstar has got a lot going for it. The CPU defences play a bit higher up. When I played on Professional and the game did its super-dribble, wonder-goal stuff on me, I usually sulked, and often moaned about its wicked ways. When Superstar does it, although it’s just as maddening, I somehow put up with it a bit better.
I’d like to believe I’m on Superstar for good now, but my skill level is still low. I’ll give it to the end of the season and decide then.
I played West Ham away in the league, and I lost 2-0. That defeat would simply never have happened on Professional. A draw would have been my worst-possible result back then, and even then I’d have had to play really carelessly.
I played very well against West Ham on Superstar, but after I went 1-0 down I went chasing a goal and I shouldn’t have. I simply shouldn’t have. I started all-out attacking in the 40th minute. No, no, no. Big mistake.
The CPU made hay with a crushing second goal just before the break, on the counter-attack when I stupidly had all my players upfield for a corner.
All through the second half the Hammers gleefully snuffed out all my attacks, secure in their 2-0 lead. I think I managed 4 shots. I hit the post once. It was so eerily realistic—an example of a big team going to a supposed minnow and being intimidated and outplayed. PES2012′s AI has been much-maligned (often by me), but credit where credit’s due.
This result and others saw me slip further back in the race for the League title. It was followed by a calamitous 1-3 defeat by Real Madrid at home in the Champions League.
Again my tactical approach was all wrong. Madrid scored after 15 minutes and I reacted as if it was a personal insult to be 1-0 down. Again I over-committed too much when I didn’t need to (again with the 40th minute all-out attack…), and got punished.
My goal in this 1-3 defeat (at home! the pain, the humiliation…) was a nice long-range free kick from John Barnes. I don’t score many free kicks in PES2012. I always feel that I should get more. When I do score one it’s a special occasion for me.
So that was nice.
That defeat left me needing to beat Bayern Munich, at Bayern Munich, to progress to the knockouts.
I lost 2-0. And I did the thing—the silly chasing-the-game-early thing—again. I was out of the Champions League. The final group table:
At least I go straight into the Europa League. Now I can concentrate on winning a trophy I don’t believe I’ve ever won in PES before.
What a weird and wonderful year this is turning out to be.
Ruggeri started moaning during my bad run. His yellow face soon became the angriest red face ever seen, after I only managed to draw 2-2 at Cardiff. (Again, this fixture would have been another almost guaranteed 3 points under the old Professional regime.)
I arrested the slide with a stunning away win over Manchester City. I dropped Reyes and played Roberto Mancini as a right-sided AMF. I moved Barnes even further out to the other wing. I tinkered with the tactical sliders pre-match, turning everything up to Wide.
I was rewarded with two headed goals from crosses and a 2-1 halftime lead. One of the goals was from Roberto Mancini. In the second half I squeezed another in with Forlan to make the game safe and take the sting out of City.
The result leapfrogged us over Manchester City back into the top 4, still 6 points behind the leaders Arsenal, but only halfway through the season. Mancini was quoted in a press conference afterwards as saying the title race was over.
As I head into the second half of season 12, I feel confident enough to declare this definitely my best Master League experience since PES2010, and arguably my best since PES5. I’m starting up the game and playing at very unusual times for me—late at night. I usually never play at that time, but recently I find myself playing PES2012 until 2am, marvelling at its discovered complexity.
I should briefly mention patch 1.06, which I installed late Saturday night. I wasn’t going to, but the hysteria on the forums infected me. I got very curious. Surely the Internet couldn’t be wrong about something…?
I’ve played 1.06 a good bit now, and so far I don’t see or feel any changes to the ball physics, player animations, shooting, passing, tackling, or any other major gameplay component. The game speed seems a touch faster, which I’m not happy about, but a drop down to -2 speed soon cured that problem.
Otherwise, I have to say right now that 1.06 isn’t wearing any clothes. But I’ll keep playing (of course) and keep trying to feel the differences, if they’re there.
I also have the PC version of the game. One day soon I’m going to mod the hell out of it. I’ll install all the extra turfs and nets that make it look so gorgeous. I’ll play 1.03 on that and compare the two versions side-by-side. That’s if I can tear myself away from the PS3 for long enough, of course…