Jesus Christ, Superstar?

No, I haven’t signed a young, bearded Middle Easterner with a dreamy look in his eye who shows potential. I have gone up to Superstar difficulty, and crazily, I seem to be thriving. This is BIG NEWS, especially coming from Mr Average here.

First, the end of one season and the start of another brings with it a certain amount of admin work.

There’s the new Home kit pictured above. I wanted to try a horizontally-striped kit. I’m sticking with the brown 1970s Away strip for another season. I’ve got used to it.

The tale of the tape for season 11:

A good season by any standard, really.

And so I came to the pre-season Training Matches. And I went up to Superstar!

For now, it’s just an experiment. The other morning I was thinking about difficulty levels on PES2012. Well, I thought, I’ve never actually played the game on Top Player or Superstar—time to give it a go?

I was interested to see it styled in the Settings menu as Super Star—two words, both capitalised. I notice things like that, and I think about them. In general PES2012 discourse it’s known as Superstar.

I think the two-word menu version is an instance of Japanglish. A native English-speaker would naturally incline to the one-word version, Superstar, which has ample precedent in common usage. No, I really don’t get out much.

I played a couple of Exhibition Matches on Superstar first. I was expecting Superstar to be a dizzyingly fast torture chamber of CPU pressure and dribbling and scripting—like Professional at its most extreme, only multiplied by a hundred.

I didn’t want to risk my Master League season on something like that. A season in ML is a lot of work, and you don’t casually throw one away by doing experiments on it.

So I played two Exhibition Matches, England vs. Scotland, on Superstar. I recommend trying Exhibitions first to anybody interested in sampling Superstar for themselves.

Both were very absorbing, intriguing games, that I loved. I had two of the best games I’ve ever had on PES2012—on any PES, ever—right there.

I drew the first 1-1, with just 57% of the possession. I’m used to 60-65% on Professional. I lost the second match 1-2. There seemed to be more midfield play in both matches than I was used to on Professional.

Of course, never discount the prodigious power of the placebo effect. I was acutely aware of this.

But here’s the big deal: the CPU didn’t seem to be camping in its own box quite so much, and there wasn’t a crazy amount of dribbling going on.

What there was of it I could weirdly accept, a good deal more happily than on Professional, telling myself, “Hey, it’s Superstar.”

I went back into my Master League career and played the rest of my Training Matches on Superstar.

And now I’ve started the proper Season 12 on Superstar. I’ve won all three opening League matches, on Superstar. I had to go back and check after each match, unable to believe it.

One of the matches was away against my nemesis of last season, Manchester United, away. I beat them 4-2, and it was startlingly easy.

Look at those shots on goal. Again, I checked the difficulty post-match. Superstar. Weird, isn’t it? If any readers conduct a similar experiment, I’d be very interested in hearing about it.

I’m going to give it 10 matches. It’s a risk, as you don’t just throw away Master League seasons, as I risk doing if this goes wrong. Surely Superstar will give me a good pounding sooner or later?

But it’s a worthy risk.

Playing on Superstar is bloody amazing! First of all, you get to cackle and tell yourself: Ha-haaaa! Superstar! Everything counts treble!

And the game overall just feels better. You find you focus more, knowing it’s Superstar, and when you focus more, you play better, and when you play better, the game rewards you more. It also feels less ‘cheaty’. Even when it does feel cheaty, it feels less annoying, because of being on Superstar.

Here’s one of the concrete differences I’ve noticed on Superstar—look at how the CPU team, in white, is shaped here:

That’s a moment from a match against Real Madrid in a Champions League group match. The score at the time was 1-1. This was a normal passage of play. I wasn’t counter-attacking.

Look at that CPU defence! It looks quite normal—no camping AI. There are actually CPU midfielders standing upfield, watching the action.

In the screenshot, my Forlan is about to receive the ball and score this great 25-yard strike:

I won that match 2-1. On Superstar.

Okay, I have got some serious misgivings. Somehow, it doesn’t feel right that it should feel this easy on Superstar. Here’s the league table:

My other results were 3-2 over Manchester City at home, and 3-0 over Sunderland at home.

Maybe it’s partly down to a change in formation? For the new season I decided to sacrfice one of my advanced midfielders for the sake of accommodatng Farinos and Neeskens in the same team.

Finally, I am seeing the best of Farinos. Him and Neeskens together in that midfield are immense.

Farinos is also a great passer, and has a wicked shot, although I’ve yet to get a belter with him. It’s coming though, it’s coming.

We’ll see how Superstar pans out. It should be remembered here that I’ve only played about 8 matches on Superstar so far.

I will give it until 10 league matches, and then decide what to do. Although right now, I’m in the weird position of contemplating going down to Top Player—or even back to Professional—to make it harder…

Perhaps Superstar will tear off its mask of reasonableness and DEVOUR me pretty soon.

Right now, though, I am loving PES2012 even more than I already was. This is an amazing game of football, and it just keeps getting better.


  1. Paul—I meant to have my Top Player matches this morning, but couldn’t tear myself away from Superstar. Having a golden few sessions, and my first maddening moments where the game decided to award itself a few goals by misdirecting passes etc. I played Stoke back-to-back in League and Cup and had two very different matches, one where I tried playing with a slightly tweaked formation to counter their midfield pressing in the first match, and it worked. Very satisfying.

    I’m getting worried about FIFA12, as I’m not even keeping it warm nowadays.

  2. Why worry about FIFA12?
    the ultimate is to have your gaming year filled with a great footy title, PES12 is doing that so why even need to worry about playing a different title?

    I think if you even dabbled in FIFA now it would detract from your ongoing PES Experience.

  3. Paul—I’m not worried worried about getting to FIFA12. I’ve pretty much skipped good FIFAs before (FIFA10 springs to mind). It’s just that FIFA12 is different, and as a footy game fan I would at some point like to give it a fair go. But while Master League and PES2012 has its hooks in me, it won’t happen. I’m prepared to play PES2012 all the way until the eve of PES2013 if need be. All-year-round was always the way with PES2/3/4/5 and I’d actually love to see a return to that now. I won’t repeat the mistake of PES2010, where I suspended play prematurely to sample FIFA10 and couldn’t really get back into it.

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