Month: October 2012

You shall go to the ball

There he is again. The man of the hour, Coynborough, modelling my new Home kit for season 3, and playing with the new ball. I went for the Powercat. Yes, you can choose which ball you play with in the top division. Just one more reason I wanted to get out of Division 2, where a stupid bug means it’s always the default ball.

As for the new, mostly non-Sky Blue home strip… I know it looks more like an Away strip. But I fancied a change here as well. When I inevitably return to Sky Blue next season, it’ll be even more special.

Before going any further, here’s a successful cross from the wing (a double-tap jobby) that leads to a diving near-post header:

And another two goals from crosses, fresh from this morning’s session:

And finally a slightly different one—after spotting Rafael’s checked run at the near post, I improvised a near-post aerial through ball for him to (just) get on the end of:

Wing play and crosses do work in PES2013. They just have to be worked a bit harder for than in PES2012.

Not much happened in the transfer market. I signed two players: MEHMEDI, to go along with my very similarly-named Mehmeti (it’s nice to have the set); and DE BRUYNE. Both are versatile attacking front men. I’ll talk more next time about them and how they’re fitting into my side.

For the move up to the Premier League, I have moved up a notch on the difficulty scale, from Professional to Top Player.

Professional is (was) by no means an easy level. But I felt that certain matches where I was winning very easily were coming along far too often. I was getting too much space in and around the opposition box. There’s absolutely no point sitting on Professional and fretting or grumbling about it feeling easy, when there are another two difficulty levels above it waiting to be moved into.

And now, after playing all of pre-season and the first 6 matches in the Premier League, I’m really enjoying Top Player. I haven’t come up against any of the big boys yet, but so far it’s everything I wanted it to be. The feeling is back of being at the ground floor of something epic.

The rumoured scripting shenanigans—while pretty bloody obvious sometimes, as ever in PES—haven’t been totally obnoxious.

The CPU player pressure is notably increased. They get closer and tighter to you much faster. My favourite scoring routine of passing down the wing and then into feet is still possible, but nowhere near as regularly. I’ve scored just one such goal in my opening 6 matches.

Matches generally are a touch faster, but I’ve gone down to -1 to counteract that. It’s a testament to PES2013 that I lasted on the default starting speed until now.

Here’s the table after 6 matches:

Won 2, drawn 2, lost 2. Scored 9, conceded 8.

I beat Everton 3-1 in my opening match, and then drew 1-1 with West Brom. After those matches I was in the top six, and the alarm bells really were ringing for the lifespan of PES2013.

I went to Sunderland and lost 0-1. Next I hosted QPR and won easily, 2-0.

Swansea came to the Ricoh next. They were one of the teams promoted with me from Division 2. They slaughtered me in this match. I was guilty of carelessness, conceding a stupid early goal that I never recovered from. I lost 0-2, and really felt the power of Top Player against me for the first time.

Game 6 was against the Villa (*spits*), and once again when they took an early lead I feared the worst.

Ah, but then Castolis stepped up.

Playing on zero-bar passing, as I now do permanently, really makes the good passers stand out. Castolis is one such player. In the 80th minute, facing another frustrating defeat, I spotted Minandinho in the box. From out wide I hit a 30-yard ground pass with Castolis that bisected all the defenders and found its way to Minandinho’s right boot. 1-1, and I was jubilant.

I was nearly ecstatic a few minutes later when Castolis found Aakobjoerg with an aerial through-ball that put him clean through on goal for a one-on-one. Was I about to have a special PES moment?

Sadly, I skewed the shot wide with the goal at my mercy. 1-1 the final result.

These matches on Top Player really brought back that titanic feeling from PES2012. The feeling that I’m playing with very tight margins of success and failure.

Coy of the Rovers

It’s happened. Promotion to the Premier League has been achieved in season 2 of my Master League career in PES2013.

The final Division 2 table:

On goal difference, no less. I squeaked home, having lost my penultimate match in very strange circumstances. It was just one of those matches where nothing worked. I conceded early and came up against a solid wall of fiendish computer-controlled supermen.

It meant I had to win my last match and hope results would go my way.

Yes, it is funny how often that happens in PES, isn’t it? Almost as if there’s a conscious intent to keep the human player involved and interested right to the end. Hmmm.

My final match was against… Someteamville FC (yes, one of them). It went completely my way, and I trotted out a 3-1 winner.

The final whistle went and my players celebrated, as did I.

After the match, Niellendner—who has quietly become one of my most valued players—couldn’t contain his excitement.

He can’t wait to take on [the] Barclays Premier League. We have a chance to really do well. Awww. Lucky he doesn’t know that we’re going to Top Player next season.

It was very interesting to see my Club Ranking after this 3rd-place finish in season 2 of my career. It had shot up to 168th in the ML world—before I’ve even kicked a ball in the top flight. As the screen shows, we’re still counted as a D2 club at this post-season stage. No, I don’t know what it’s all about either.

This is my quickest Master League promotion since… Well, I can hardly remember the last time I got promoted so quickly. PES6? Somewhere back then. PES6’s compromised difficulty made it one of my least-favourite editions of the game.

This ‘early’ promotion now is down to my decision to stay on Professional difficulty. If I’d moved to Top Player or Superstar, I very much doubt I’d have finished this season anywhere near the top 3.

I stayed on Professional partly because it’s a challenging but fair difficulty level. And partly because, well, having started with the Konami Division 2 and the out-of-the-box teams, I just wanted to get the hell out of here asap.

So I have consciously sought out this relatively quick promotion. I wanted it.  I don’t (currently) see any fault in the grading of PES2013’s difficulty levels.

Some highlights from my run-in. The best comes first: Coynborough in the final fixture, popping up in the ‘DMF hole’ and smacking in a half-volley from a cleared corner:

Regular readers will know of my love for DMFs in general, and this year for Coynborough in particular. I imagine that hit would be represented in comic book form something like the image at the top of the post.

Coynborough isn’t the only one who can hit them. PES2013 seems to be a heavy-hitting PES all round. Here’s young Wroughllen whacking one into the opposite corner with his trusty left:

I actually messed up the attempted aerial through-ball by not cooking it as much as I intended. The big story of these opening two seasons is my gradual adoption of zero-bar passing. Zero bar passing punishes any slight hesitation when trying to make the killer pass. But PES2013’s rather glitchy mechanics meant that the CPU defender ignored the ball.

The team of the season had four of my players in it:

If I had to pick my most valuable players, it would probably be those four. Castolis would sneak in just behind them. My keeper too.

Mehmeti was well worth his place. After a late scoring run, including a hat-trick in a 6-0 thrashing of the bottom side, he finished as Division 2’s overall top scorer:

Does getting promotion feel anti-climactic? A little bit, I have to admit.

I’ve enjoyed lots of epic struggles for promotion in all my recent years of PES. This hasn’t been an epic. My nine-season PES2010 promotion campaign inspired a movie. There’s been precious little drama about these two PES2013 seasons.

But I could have gone up to Top Player/Superstar at any time, and made things more interesting. I chose not to do that.

Staying on Professional was my decision, not the game’s fault. The true test of PES2013’s mettle will be how Master League stands up over multiple seasons on the higher difficulty levels.

And so that ends my time in Division 2—hopefully. I might well be back sooner than I think. We’ll see how Top Player treats me up among the big boys. Onward and upward.

Six and the City

My season 2 promotion campaign with my made-up Coventry City, in my made-up Master League, here in this equally made-up ‘real world’ that people keep going on about, has enjoyed some remarkable ups, while suffering a few downs.

I had my most startling result yet. I thumped Nortovka—second-from-bottom of Division 2—a whopping 6-0. (That’s SIX-NIL, in old-school vidprinter speak.)

I just ran away with the match in the first half, going into the break 4-0 up. Mehmeti scored a hat-trick. Two of his goals were twenty-yard strikes that almost took the net off its hinges, so to speak.

The most notable moment, though, came late on. I scored the longest long-ranger of my entire PES life.

Here’s the replay—as the action starts, I’m 5-0 up in the 92nd minute. I’ve just cleared a CPU corner that the CPU keeper had come up for—he’s the figure in black just running out of my penalty area, trying to get back:

PES replays are not long enough to properly show the whole story there. Which is a shame.

Anyway, I cleared the ball very neatly to Minandinho standing about ten yards inside his own half. And faced an open goal at the other end of the pitch.

I have had similar opportunities before, ever since GKs started coming up for late corners, and I have missed them all. The shoot mechanism does not work properly (if at all) from within your own half.

Ah, but in PES2013 we have this thing called manual shooting…

So I made sure Minandinho took the ball and got it into his stride. Then I squeezed L2, and took my best shot. I was careful not to overcook it, perhaps too careful as the ball only just trickled over the line, and my aim was almost off as well.

I enjoyed the goal, it’s fair to say.

I also waited expectantly for my Trophy award after scoring this super-duper long-ranger. Nothing. Either there is no long-range Trophy this year. Or there is one, but scoring from my own half doesn’t count. Or—most likely—I somehow neglected to transfer my Option File’s Edit Data in the prescribed manner, and therefore lost Trophy support for PES2013.

Still, Trophies aren’t that important to me. They’re an extra-curricular activity. The only segues, sorry Trophies, that count are the ones in the game itself. So how did the 6-0 count in my battle for promotion?

The 3 points were nice. The 6 goals helped my goal difference some. But I couldn’t fucking score for three matches immediately afterward.

The game just wouldn’t let me. I made enough chances in each match to win five matches, but nothing would go in. I hit posts and bars and blazed wide from two yards when it was easier to score and all sorts.

It’s fairly obvious after all these years that scripts exist in the heart of PES, and that they fire under certain conditions. One of the darkest, most devious scripts is the one that notices you’ve been scoring ‘too many’, and clamps down on you.

I met such a script. I drew two of these non-scoring matches 0-0, and lost the other 1-0. The net outcome is that I’m not as much of a favourite for promotion as I think I should be. The table:

Of course, it’s the same old PES-player’s complaint—or should that be, our darkest fear? That the game we love to play isn’t really a game at all, but something that we collaborate with. Something that plays us.

Despite this moan (the game actually punished me for scoring 6! it was ridiculous!) I’m still full of general good feeling about PES2013.

This year, I’ve yet to have a traditional post-release wobble, which is odd for me. By now, I’ve usually started grumbling about something that preys on my mind for the rest of the year. So far so good.

Brought to heel

Hmmm, a stylish backheeled goal:

I enjoyed seeing that go in, but such goals are merely occasional sugary treats. No intent of mine caused that backheel flick. Anxiously stabbing the shoot button prompted a contextually-fired special event, nothing more.

I’m happy that we can score goals like that in a football game, but I don’t revel in them. They’re not what PES is about. I’m pretty glad they’re not more common than they are.

That goal from Rafael helped position him near the top of the top scorers’ chart, just behind a certain celebrated player with a most unfortunate name. Please, no Jimmy Savile jokes:

I have forged ahead and passed through the mid-season transfer window in season 2. All is going well, and I remain up near the top of the table, within striking distance of the promotions spots.

I’ve had enough of the made-up Konami teams now, and I want out of Division 2. I’m pulling out all the stops to get promotion. I remain on Professional difficulty, zero-bar passing.

The games are fascinating  and my passing game has come up to speed. God knows what the big teams of the Premier League would do to me, and I cannot even think about Top Player or Superstar difficulties right now.

For large swathes of the PES-playin’ nation, the honeymoon may be over (the phrase itself seems to be spreading like some kind of contagion), but not for me it’s not.

Each PES2013 play-session is composed of goodness, and each session is too short. I could happily play on and on for a lot longer, every time.

Zero-bar passing is no longer something I am struggling to cope with. Instead, it is now something that I feel a growing sense of accomplishment with. This has been a huge part of my early enjoyment of PES2013.

There’s my entire squad and First XI on the right.

Mehmeti and Rafael are my solid first-choice partnership up front. Minandinho is very much second-choice.

In midfield, Castolis, Zerkovic, Niellendner and Gellazca between then take care of my attacking threat.

Further back, I’ve moved my trusty dual-DMFs slightly forward to offer more of an attacking threat. I believe I have got the CPU in my pocket whenever it tries its notorious central through-ball. Can’t even remember the last time I got caught out by that one.

Coynborough is a solid DMF, but I sold his mate (begins with V? Vollekauwioc?). His replacement, Berenguer, is a decent French DMF with the Long Ranger shooting ability.

I also picked up a right-back, Mano, and sold Fizzlebender or whatever his name was.

Once again, I deliberately avoided getting as many players as I could have got. I want to leave myself as generous a financial cushion as possible for the post-season.

This team is slowly, but surely, taxiing along the runway. I’ve got some ‘Stage 2’ strikers, and I’m starting to fill out the rest of the team.

I’m thinking hard about promotion this season, How can I not think about it? I’m really tired of Konami’s stupid made-up Division 2 teams and players. They don’t inspire me.

I’d need two or three really good players to help keep me in the Premier League. That’s a long way off though. I’ve actually got to play better and pick up more positive results down here first. Too many late-conceded goals are costing me valuable points.