Month: September 2012

The Strongest Team In The World

If I was doing an end-of-week review of PES2013, having played probably as much of the game as any proper reviewer did, I’d currently give it a 9. But I remain very cautious. It’s what we think of the game after a few months—or after a year—that really counts. That’s the true measure of a PES, not the first flush of new love.

With reluctance, I have suspended my fledgling Master League in anticipation of the arrival of a Championship Option File.

I spent yesterday and this morning playing in the Copa Libertadores.

Flicking through the teams available, there could only be one choice. I decided to play as Bolivia’s most celebrated team: The Strongest.

That really is their glorious name: The Strongest.

I confessed a while ago to never having heard of many South American teams, to my shame. (Not that I would ever claim to be the most knowledgeable football person. I’m definitely not. This PES blog is about PES. It’s only about football insofar as PES is about football.)

But I had heard about The Strongest, somewhere in the dim and distant past. Where had I heard about them, though? I think it was on a documentary on late-night Channel 4 back in the 1990s. Somewhere between The Word and the late-late-night fare that was all we had to watch back then.

The Strongest played Once Caldas in the pre-tournament qualifying round, a two-legged affair. I huffed and puffed my way through the first leg, winning it 2-1 after going behind to an early soft goal. I won the second leg 1-0.

From where I was plunged into a group with SC International, Santos FC, and Juan Aurich. A defeat and a draw so far.

Life is tough. And I’m still only on Professional difficulty. With players averaging in the high-60s OVR, this difficulty is still enough of a challenge to make things very interesting. Games can be scrappy if I let them. I have to seek to impose myself on games to get any kind of flow going. It’s very deep and rewarding.

So far the standout player for me is an old-fashioned outside-left called ESCOBAR. I also note the presence of a DMF called LIMA, who I’m sure I bought for a Football Manager 2005 save a long, long time ago.

Being exposed to the Brazilian top-flight teams in my Master League, and now seeing these teams and this atmosphere in the Copa Libertadores, tells me that I need to play a South American Master League career at some point this year.

If today’s WENB Championship OF is late, I’ll start playing Master League down South America way. Maybe as The Strongest, who knows.

EDIT: the WENB OF came out as I was preparing today’s post.

UPDATE – I can install the new OF, but can’t seem to use it. Each time it just freezes on the spinning blue circle load screen (pre-match). Sometimes it only gets as far as the black screen. A hard reset each time (three beeps, never good to hear).

The file looks awesome too, exactly what I was waiting for. I’ll wait to see if it’s a widespread problem or if there’s a fix. I f there’s no sign by tomorrow, to heck with it, I’ll start my permanent ML with the made-up teams and players.

UPDATE to the UPDATE – I can play if it’s anything other than Championship vs Championship. Eg. Man Utd vs Cardiff works. But, alas, Cardiff vs Crystal Palace, nope. Freezes. Very odd.

Whatever happens, Monday’s post will see the real start of my real Master League. I’m done hanging around now.

Gone in 60 Minutes

The last time I tried my hand at any in-depth PES Editing, this picture here is what happened. Like something out of a horror film.

That was supposedly David N’Gog, at Bolton, back in PES2012. I cocked up that Option File installation, needless to say.

It’s been tempting to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in with some DIY Editing on PES2013. Plenty of others are working hard on stuff. Why should I sit back and wait for things to fall into my lap?

But I have no familiarity with the system and no time, really, to learn it. Back at work today. I’ll wait for the Championship Option File, and then see what I want to do when it turns up.

I’m warming to my Emergency Standby Master League. I’ve got the Brazilian giants in Division 2 with me. They really are all rather good, for the most part. My feeble Defaults are routinely battered by their pace and strength. I’m back down on Professional difficulty, and pondering Regular. My time on Top Player was hilariously brief.

The table after 8 matches:

Thanks to my first and so far only win of the season, I’m off the bottom—for now.

I’m still no further along, really, in getting to know these new Defaults. At the moment, most are just a capital letter followed by a stream of other letters.

I am starting to know a few, and warm to a few as well. Minandinho is the star striker. Castilis is a capable midfielder. Coynborough, my favourite, has the erratic first touch of pinball flippers—but I like him anyway.

On Monday I was about 95% sure that I’d be switching from this Master League to a more traditional-feeling one, like the one that served me so excellently in PES2012. I.e., one with a full and satisfying Championship component.

But now that I have slightly bedded down in this League, I’m only about 70% sure that I’ll be restarting.

I’m settling into the world, getting to know my team and my opponents. I met Ronaldinho at his new club, Atletico Mineiro, and coped pretty well with him. I can defend well in PES2013, but goal-scoring remains a problem. Take a look at the new-look Calendar:

That’s a 6-0 thrashing I took at the hands of Chelsea in the FA Cup on October 3rd. I was 4-0 down after 20 minutes. The final score could have been 10-0, but I decided not to humiliate myself and shut up shop after their sixth goal went in partway through the second half.

The other scores aren’t too clear on this picture of the calendar. Your own results are shown in bold, which shows up indistinct here. I only won one match, 2-1, on the 21st of the month. I got a draw on the 6th, and lost the others.

I have scored some good goals with the new Defaults. They tend to be satisfying goals in context, rather than spectacular ones in their own right. A Coynborough equaliser in a tough match. A Minandinho header to get my first win. Goals like that.

I have only scored one of my beloved long rangers in Master League so far, with… AAKOBJOERG? It’s the first goal on show in today’s special video… Brought to you in my own hosted video player—buffering takes a bit longer than usual, but it should be fine.

[jwplayer config=”Standard Size 2012″ mediaid=”11962″]

Ah, you’ve got to love that music.

(Please let me know if that vid doesn’t work at all in your browser or on your mobile device. Here’s an alternative link for viewing, if the player above hasn’t worked for you.)

And it’s true: the second goal was scored in Become A Legend. After Monday’s report about dabbling with Online, I have stepped across and sampled another of my disliked modes.

A regular commenter (thanks Liam) tipped me off that you could now play in BaL as an established Pro, and thus circumvent the awful, shocking, insulting periods when you have to watch CPU vs CPU action from the bench.

I’ve always enjoyed the core gameplay of BaL. In the past, though, I have always wound up hating it for frequently not letting me actually play the game. It simply cannot be tolerated, no way, ever.

I wanted to play as a good striker at a lesser team, feeling that I was guaranteed to stay on the pitch and actually play. I picked Pogrebnyak at Reading.

He’s a great player! You know what, he’s got one of the sweetest left foots in all of PES. I scored a hat trick with him in the pre-season Training Match. Most importantly, I stayed on the pitch for 90 minutes.

But then Pogrebnyak was called up for Russia, and I was subbed off after 60 minutes despite being the best player on the pitch.

I had to watch, fuming, while the x2 speed CPU-controlled players ran around for FAR TOO LONG.

This is why Become a Legend, in its current form, will never be for me.

I love the idea of it. When it lets me play, I get very involved and very satisfied at pulling things off—things like that goal above. (Could that be the best goal–or at least the sweetest long-ranger—I will ever score in PES2013?)

I played the next League match too, and stayed on the pitch for 70 minutes this time. I suppose you’d have to play as Messi or someone to stand a great chance of playing the full 90.

I tentatively started a ‘proper’ BaL career with a young player, an AMF starting out in the Dutch league. After being subbed off at 60 minutes in my opening Training Match, I quit BaL. I doubt I’ll be back in its current form.

Let me be clear: I understand that sometimes/often being on the bench and sometimes/often being subbed off is an intrinsic part of the BaL experience. I can accept that, embrace it even. But I cannot accept being forced to watch the CPU play against itself. That is what I have always hated about BaL.

When they let you skip the CPU vs CPU periods, that’s when I’ll be interested in BaL again.

I’ll tell you this, though—that Pogrebnyak really does have one sweet left foot. He reminded me of Schwarz from PES2011. If Pogrebnyak was a few years younger he’d be top of my shopping list for Master League.

Master League 2013

Master League 2013 has begun. I’ve started in a custom Division 2, but not with the made-up Konami teams. I edited the league structure and drafted in 17 sides from the Brazilian League. This will make things interesting in all sorts of ways.

I was kidding myself that I could wait for a full Championship patch. I reserve the right to start a new career when one eventually pops up. But I just could not wait any longer.

I needed to crack on, so I’m cracking on. I took time off work specifically to play PES2013 and get started in Master League. That’s what had to happen.

My new team are an edited WE United, renamed—and reskinned—as COVENTRY CITY.

My new home kit is pretty standard. In the future I plan to use a different kit every season, as ever.

No, I’m not sure about the striped socks with that plain kind of shirt either. I mean, they’re very bold, but are they really me?

I took the default stadium on offer. I’ll get into a custom stadium over the next few days. I’ve never been the kind of PES player who really enjoys messing about in menus and editing for its own sake.

I’m really not fiussed about the new secretary either. Take her or leave her.

I have little love for this whole cutscene malarkey to begin with, and no cartoon foxy lady with however impressive a rack is going to change my mind.

These cutscenes just need to GO.

As for the rest of the Master League world—in particular the boots and items—I’ll have to talk about them next time.

My contact with them has been very minimal. I’ve unlocked a few boots, and bought some items.

I want to see how boots and items actually work before offering an informed opinion.

Here are my general settings:

I’ve started on Top Player, but it’s a bit too tough. The Brazilian sides have been killing my poor Defaults. I will almost certainly drop down to Professional for a bit. I’ll see how the next few matches unfold first.

Sparta Prague tore me apart in this pre-season Training Match, winning 2-0. I think I had one shot on target in the whole match.

I’ve only played one league match at the time of writing (Sunday evening). That was against Vasco Da Gama (their in-game acronym: VAG). They also dominated me, winning 2-0. [MONDAY MORNING EDIT: I cannot cope with life on Top Player, have dropped down to Professional, and am 70% sure I’ll drop further down to Regular.]

One good thing this year: you cannot be sacked in Master League. No more chairman confidence meter.

Here’s the table after, er, 1 match:

I know, that looks strange seeing Coventry City propping up all those top South American sides. There are all sorts of drawbacks to this league setup. Not the least of which is that I would end up facing Wondengine Town et al in the World Club match, further down the line.

As for the new Defaults, I’ll start talking about them in forthcoming posts. We’ll all get to know them in our own way.


Playing online? Me?

I can say that I’ve got a fondness for a few Defaults already. I actually met them for the first time ONLINE.

Yes, over the weekend I played a few matches ONLINE. It was the first time in about 3 years.

I was really at a loose end on Saturday. I usually work weekends, but I’d taken this one off specifically to play PES2013. And without a Championship patch, I was dithering and unsure what to do.

I worked myself into a bit of a state where I was almost getting angry with myself. I.e., the perfect conditions to play online, where everybody is angry all the time.

I look down on Online, and I know it’s unfair of me to do so. It’s a bit of a running joke on the blog, but I mean it too. I’ve never enjoyed multiplayer football gaming. That’s primarily because it is a different game. Everybody tends to sprint-clamp, holding down sprint and the tackle buttons. It’s all too fast and hectic for my taste.

I headed towards Master League Online, for the first time ever. Since its introduction in PES2011, I just haven’t been interested. Oh I love the idea of it—you start with the same Defaults as offline, and you build your team up gradually with the money gained from winning matches.

Really, though, it’s Master League in name only. There’s no league structure as such. None of the attractions of offline environment are there. There’s not much meat.

I played 5 matches, winning 1 and losing 4. I thought I did pretty well considering I had the basic Defaults and they mostly had complete teams already, with just a few Deafults left.

In each one, my random opponent pressure-abused, sprint-clamped, whatever you want to call it, all the time.

There was barely a single moment where I didn’t have at least one, usually two, and sometimes three opponents bearing down on me like homing missiles. Just an awful, ugly game of football. At times it was barely recognisable as being the same game as offline.

In fact, it struck me that the much-maligned AI in single-player plays much more attractive football, in a wider variety of styles, than the average online human player ever seems to.

The online game isn’t all bad. I DID enjoy myself, to a degree. I might even pop back to play another few matches of MLO from time to time.

I certainly enjoyed probably annoying the bejesus out of my opponents with my total possession game. I never had lower than 60%. In the game I won, I had 68%. I bet they all hated me. Tee hee!

The online experience has a certain intensity. Knowing there’s a person controlling the other team does add a certain spice. But I didn’t enjoy it nearly enough for online play to become a regular thing.

The undoubted highlight was scoring a screamer with one of the Default stiffs. I was 3-1 down with minutes left. I put four up front, and just went for it. A cleared corner found its way to Coynborough, a new DMF:

It was a consolation goal. My opponent wouldn’t let me watch the replay, despite me having let him watch all his goals (nothing changes online, I see). I recorded the above from saved highlights.

It’s the best goal I’ve scored in PES2013 so far. And Coynborough certainly got himself noticed. He’ll avoid the cull in my offline Master League career—for now…

I am The Bison

The above clip contains two goals from my first session yesterday afternoon. First is my very first goal on PES2013.

You can see me going for ye olde PES2012 turn-and-shoot goalscoring method. It works a lot less well, now that the R1 knock-on has been removed. <forumspeak>OMG this game is broken!</forumspeak>

The second goal is a Rooney bullet—more of the placed variety, admittedly, than a full-on laces shot. I still haven’t actually scored one of them. It’s not for the want of trying. The keepers are too good at stopping my efforts.

Day 1 with a new PES is rarely a completely comfortable experience. So it proved this time. It takes time to get to grips with a load of new tweaks and variables, and to stop trying to play it like the old game(s).

My early feeling is that this PES is going to be a classic, but a couple of things nagged at me yesterday: Keepers and Difficulty.

Keepers actually seemed much better last night and this morning. In about 10 more matches, I didn’t see one instance of pat-a-cake nonsense. What I saw a lot more of were good, solid stops, and safe diversions of shots off to the sides and behind for corners. I still want PES2013’s keepers to hold the ball more often, but as long as they’re not brazenly gifting me goals (or conceding them) with too many weak parries, I can live with them.

Difficulty as a worry is potentially more serious, but things have stabilised here too.

Here’s what I think about difficulty in PES2013: it’s all relative to PES2012. In PES2012, one of the joys was having to learn how to cope with the AI down on Regular or Professional difficulty, and finally moving up to Top Player or Superstar after a long apprencticeship.

There was a pleasing sense of progression, a feeling that you had really earned graduation. It all contributed to a sense of hard-won achievement.

The thing is, we bring all that experience with us into PES2013. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the game on Professional feels a touch easy. It’d be strange if it didn’t. I remember going back for a match on Professional in PES2012 after a long time on Superstar, and it was absurdly easy in comparison.

I had a few matches on Top Player, last night and this morning. Played 4, lost 4. Scored 1. Conceded 5.

Looking good. All I ask of PES2013’s difficulty is that it gives me much the same challenge up on Superstar, in Master League, that PES2012 did.

Speaking of Master League. If the WENB patch is satisfactory for my needs (it should be), I won’t be able to resist starting my career at some point over the weekend…