Month: July 2012

Back with a bang

Just in time for the month of July’s final post, I’ve climbed firmly back into the PES2012 saddle. I haven’t played the PES2013 demo since Saturday morning. I doubt I will play it again now. I’ll take another brief look at Demo 2 when it arrives. Other than that, I’m not interested.

My PES2012 Master League appetite is back. I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, revivified, revitalised, and… ah, is remoralised a word? It is now.

My very first game back after 3 days away was a proper barnstormer. I met the runaway league leaders, Manchester Utd, and thumped them 5-2.

Look at the stats for shots on target. Yep. All of mine went in. A true rarity on this game. Forlan got a hat trick.

Since the start of the season Man Utd have been the CPU uber-team. They’d won every game, scoring roughly double the amount of goals anyone else has scored.

Good finishing and a bit of defensive discipline stood me in good stead. But most important was my sense of playing with a new enthusiasm, having shaken off the jaded feeling of last week.

The victory has to count as one of my best ever—and what a welcome back to the game after a few days away. Almost suspiciously so in fact.

It’s as if there’s a line of code in the game that says ‘Hey, he’s had a few days off. Let’s give him a great welcome back…’

Not that the game was particularly easy. I conceded two goals, which would usually be enough for the season’s top CPU team to beat me or get a draw. This was a freak result on so many levels. The stats show that I made relatively few chances. I took them, that was the difference.

It cut Man Yoo’s lead at the top of the table. I’m still playing catchup, but now I’m 6 points behind them instead of 9. If I’d lost this match it would’ve been a 12-point gap and the League season would be effectively over.

I’m still in the FA Cup and also still—just—in the Champions League, where I will have to be very careful.

Bayern Munich beat me at home, and I only managed a draw in my next match against Besiktas—also at home. I often find it easier to play away in Europe, so we’ll see how those two return matches go.

All in all, it’s great to be back. Let the PES forumites tear each other apart while they play their hundreds of empty PES2013 demo games. They’re welcome to the fight. Me, I’ve still got plenty of unfinished business with PES2012 and Master League.

The PES that didn’t bark in the nighttime

The PES2013 demo gets a big thumbs-up from me. It seems to have gone down well in general, if the forums are any guide (they’re not, of course, but if they were).

Which only begs the question: how much will Konami spoil the final game this year?

I first played the demo on the Xbox360—not my PES console of choice by any means. It was an eye-opener. I’ve always been a PlayStation man when it comes to ISS/PES, a tradition I have stuck to in the PS3 era.

How depressing, then, to see the 360’s pin-sharp graphics; its more vibrant colours and brightness; and its general air of vitality and next-gen pizzazz. Even PES2008 (*spit*) ran about 10% better and smoother on the 360, back in 2007. Incredibly, that graphical gap between the two consoles has persisted into the year 2012-2013. How? Why?

I saw the kerfuffle about the nighttime matches on PS3 and didn’t know what people were going on about—until I downloaded the PS3 demo and saw for myself. Ugh. You know, if I hadn’t seen the 360 version running so beautifully, it might not have been so bad.

No, PES has never been about graphics, but we’re entitled to expect at least some parity across platforms.

Things are much better in the daytime on PS3. It’s still blurrier than it has any right to be, but it’s acceptable.

I probably will stick with the PS3 for the final game. There’s the ease of applying Option Files, and I prefer the controller.

As for PES2013’s gameplay, I love the manual options.

The option to turn shooting all-manual looks very tempting. I loved playing next-gen FIFA with semi-assisted shooting. It adds a new dimension of difficulty, a new challenge. Can you imagine this: Default ML squad, Superstar difficulty, 0 bar passing, and manual shooting set to always-ON?! I would almost certainly never take up such a challenge, but I know of many who will…

My first PES2013 manual goal—for now anyway, I like using the big arrow. (Not pictured.)

Scott Parker, midway through my 4th or 5th match.

I also spotted many ‘PES2010 turns’. Those of us who played PES2010 will recall that some of the players executed an awkward-feeling ‘tanker turn’ when on the ball. A three-point animation that often lost the ball, or created trouble if you were careless.

It was stats-based, of course. PES’s famous player individuality in action. Players shouldn’t be able to turn on the proverbial sixpence. There should be the limitations of inertia. I like the glimpses I’ve seen of this feature making a comeback in PES2013.

Keepers seem identical to PES2012 v1.06. The same repertoire of saves and non-saves. And the frustrating long pause between them picking the ball up and throwing it out has not been rectified. Damn.

I’m not going to play the demo much more after this week. Maybe two more mini-sessions over the weekend, and I’ll be done.

I feel a growing hunger to get back into my unfinished PES2012 ML career, which I will be doing from Monday’s post onward. I do plan to ‘finish’ playing PES2012 about a week or two before PES2013’s arrival, to make sure I feel fresh for the new game.

So now the question is how much this glimpse of a great PES2013 will be watered down for final release. It’s absolutely guaranteed that it’ll be faster than the demo. I’d put a sizeable chunk of everything I own on that. It’s happened every year for the past three years, and it will happen again this year as surely as the sun rises and sets every day.

It’s frustrating, but it seems that whatever the game speed of a PES demo is, visualise it running 5-10% faster on each speed setting, and that’s what you’ll end up with in October. Prove me wrong, Konami, prove me wrong.

Strangedays here I come

It was 7pm on the evening of Monday, July 23rd, 2012. I had a PS3 controller in my hand, and PES2012 playing on the TV. I was 1-0 up at home to Stoke City. With a minute of normal time remaining, I missed a golden chance to take a 2-0 lead. Seconds later I was pegged back to 1-1.

The final whistle went. I had 20 shots, 11 of them on target; Stoke had 5 shots, 1 on target. I’d been robbed.

And you know what? I wasn’t really bothered.

I just shrugged, and waited for Autosave to do its business—a painfully slow 20 seconds on the PS3. Then I quit the game, backed my current save up to a USB stick, and turned off the console. And I’ve not touched it since.

I am experiencing something that I haven’t felt for months: a profound disinclination to play PES2012.

I seem to have hit a wall in my football gaming year. Frankly I couldn’t care less right now if I never played another football game in my entire life.

Of course, that last bit is an exaggeration. I’ll grab the PES2013 demo later today, muse about it in a special post on Friday, and be back in the PES2012 saddle by Monday. Hopefully.

But it’s not too much of an exaggeration. After 16 seasons in Master League—the last 4 exhausting seasons on Superstar difficulty—I feel thoroughly burnt out.

My form at the opening of season 17 has been patchy to say the least. This is either a reflection of the game stepping it up to counter my great form of last season. Or perhaps the great weariness that I feel with the game is seeping into my on-field performances.

Too many draws—the old enemy of many an ML progression—are holding me back. Look at the table after 7 matches:

Manchester United have rediscovered themselves. Streaking away at the top there. It’s not hard to spot which CPU team has been paid a visit by the goal-scoring fairy this season.

In the Champions League, I have played PSV, away, and beat them 2-0. I then played Bayern Munich, at home, and lost 0-2. That was one tough game, where for once the CPU created more chances and had more clearcut openings, so no real complaints.

I beat Bolton 2-0 in the FA Cup. Next I’ll play… someone else. I didn’t look.

This sudden collapse of interest in PES2012 is very strange. It’s the first year since PES5 that I’ve been still playing a Master League at this stage, in July. My life today is very different from what it was back then. I have a job now, and plenty of other interests besides. I’m also a good deal older—I’ll turn 40 later this year. Back in the days of PES5 I was a very youthful 33-year-old.

I don’t know what to say. I should be pulling the threads together into some kind of conclusion. But all I can say is that I’ll play the PSE2013 demo sometime today or tomorrow, and I hope to get back to PES2012 in due course.

Or this could just become a Dwarf Fortress/Football Manager/Civilization blog from now on.

Just Seventeen

And here we go again, with Season 17 of my Master League career in PES2012. There really isn’t an end in sight, you know. A Treble might draw a dotted line under things, but I’d have to see how I feel if and when I ever get to that stage.

After season 16, my club ranking has gone up to 6th. Not bad considering I ‘only’ won the domestic League title. I suppose my semi-final appearance in the Champions League counted for a lot. The CL is massive in Japan.

A new Home kit for season 17. This time I’ve gone back to my favourite striped kit—except with black stripes instead of white stripes.

So far, I’m not really liking it. The effect is almost one of seeing a load of barred grates running around on the pitch. I’ve never disliked a new kit before, and I should really have a word with myself for creating it. I might change, or I might give it time to let it grow on me.

I’ve got other worries this season: FINANCIAL worries.

My free-and-easy transfer policy has come back to bite me. There was a stage when I wasn’t even looking at how much salary a player wanted. I was able to sign anyone, without a thought for money.

A couple of seasons ago, I had £300m in the bank. Last season, that went down to £170m. This season, despite selling two players (I finally got rid of Ribery and Vicente), that has gone down to £63m.

The tendency is clear. I need to do something to trim the budget. I have too many players earning too much money, and not enough coming in. I need to get rid of some players—and/or consistently win things, especially in Europe.

I thought I’d seen the last of financial troubles many seasons ago, but it seems not. At least I have the whole of this season to do something about it. If I can win everything in sight, I should be okay.

And so the season started.

In the league, my first two fixtures were Arsenal and Liverpool away. I beat the Arsenal 2-1 with a late Forlan winner. Prior to the Liverpool match, my coach warned me about their new striker, a certain young regen called J. Bothroyd.

I have to confess that I tittered aloud. The former real-life Coventry City lumper, Jay Bothroyd? Oooh, I’m scared…

Of course, you can guess what happened.

Bothroyd got both of Liverpool’s goals in a fine 2-1 win for them. One of his goals was an absolute rocket from the corner of the box that flew in like a cannonball. His other goal was a looping header from a corner. He looked sleek and lithe and deadly. The time of Andy Carroll and Emmanuel Thomas is past. I believe a new star is being born in my ML: Bothroyd.

And so I had lost a match almost as soon as the season started. No unbeaten record attempt this season. Never mind. That’s almost a relief.