Month: November 2012

Iron, like a lion, in Bayern

So my first few competitive matches on Superstar, on zero-bar passing, went pretty badly. My very first match of the season was against Bayern Munich. It was the first leg of the qualifier for the Champions League. I was the home team—for what that turned out to be worth.

Bayern blew me away, in classic new-style PES fashion. They eased into a 2-0 lead by half-time. I performed heroically after the break, doing well to stop them scoring another. I somehow jammied a goal back, and so the game ended 1-2 to them. After the hurricane of the first half, I was actually delighted. It felt like a very recoverable deficit to overcome in the second leg.

In between the two legs, the Premier League season got underway. QPR were the opponents. I was at home again—and I lost 0-1.

Here was where I started getting fed up with zero bar passing. When zero bar is working, the matches feel natural and engaging in a way that football games need to do, I think, to be more than what they are. If that makes sense.

When zero bar stops working, as it sometimes does, it often feels as if it’s not your fault, that the game is interfering with things, and that feels very uncomfortable indeed.

I signed one more player before the transfer window closed. I very rarely follow up on player recommendations seen in the wild, but when I saw an AMF called LINCOLN pop up on my List of Targets for about £800k, I snapped him up.

At the time of writing he still hasn’t actually played a minute for me. He’s been on a blue or purple arrow since arrival. I haven’t risked him, not yet.

I spent the rest of my cash on upgrading every staff member to Level 5. So that’s that sorted, then.

I played the second leg of the tie against Bayern Munich.

And I won the match 1-0, at Bayern—a fantastic game and a great performance. Wroughllen got my solitary goal. That’s him exulting in it at the top of this post (and modelling this season’s Away kit). But those two away goals from Bayern had killed me.

What disappointed me about this match was that after I scored, in the 60th minute or so, there was plenty of time for me to get the second goal that would have taken me through. But it seemed that an old, old PES problem came to the fore: the game didn’t know it was the second leg of a two-legged tie in which it was still ahead. It reacted exactly the way you’d expect it to at 0-1 down in a one-off match: powerplay time.

I hardly had the ball for the rest of the match. I certainly didn’t get a shot on goal. Bayern dominated play and made all the running.

Into the Europa League, then, and in truth, I’m not too bothered. It was always too early for me and Champions League.

I played my first Europa match, against a team called DHROFFSMITZ. I had Coynborough sent off early on for going straight through the back of one of their players—a touch of frustration from me. Despite being down to ten men, I won 3-0, a great Superstar game of footy.

My goals included a 35-yarder from Jacomorac, playing as emergency DMF, which continued my tradtion of scoring screamers with the most unlikely players.

Also see a nice opportunist goal from Bebe on his debut, showing once again that, yes, keepers rushing out is a thing in PES2013:

[jwplayer config=”Standard Size 2012″ mediaid=”12562″]

Alternate Link if your browser won’t play the above.

I went back to up 1-bar passing around about here. I was struggling to cope with zero bar on Superstar.

I said somewhere recently that I wished there was a difficulty between Professional and Superstar other than Top Player that I could find my feet on. Well, Superstar on 1-bar passing will have to do. And it does very well, on the whole.

It feels good not to have to worry about the last-third nerf for a while. The game on these settings reminds me a lot of being in the deepest groove with PES2012. No bad thing.

Here’s the League table:

I suppose I should mention the 1.02 patch. There. I just did.

2% proof

Season 6 is underway—almost. I’ve hit another busy portion of so-called ‘real life’, and only managed to play 4 Training Matches since Monday’s post. My first match of the season will be the Champions League playoff, first leg.

I’ve done all the preparation. I’ve changed my kits (that’s the new home kit above—check out Captain Coynborough’s alpha male power walk). I’ve looked at the pitiful few players that I’m allowed to sign. And I’ve wondered a lot about what difficulty to play the coming season on.

First things first: I cannot bloody sign anyone!

After a pretty successful season where I was in title contention until the last few matches of the season, scored more goals than any other team, and qualified for the Champions League, my club ranking went up from the mid-160s to… 126th in the world.

Which means that I still cannot sign any established players of note. This seems to be simply how Master League is this year.

Some people seem to think this is a cock-up by Konami, but I see it as a shrewd calculation on their part. Consider: they introduced a whole new training and customisation system. Let’s be charitable and imagine that they gave that system some extended and careful thought. To whit, precisely how the boots, items, and skill cards would work within Master League as the seasons rolled by.

They must have thought something like this: “Hang on, if players are arriving and leaving every five minutes, there won’t really be a proper incentive to leverage the new system and get the best out of it. Come on, guys, how do we make the ML player focus on the new system…”

The solution? Nerfing the transfer market. At least for the first 5-10 seasons or so. When you look at your ML world’s 2% likelihood transfers, you’re being directed to the shop, and you’re being told to work with the players that you have using what you find there.

It’s a game-balancing act that isn’t finding favour with many. I’m not too sure about it myself yet. (Whaaat? You mean I’ve got to work mostly with the players I have now? Awwww….) But I do think it’s supposed to be like this. No bugs or glitches here, I am convinced.

I did buy one player—BEBE, a decent 75 OVR, 26 years old. The best I could get. I’m going to need cover for the coming season.

I had 4 pre-season (or post-season, or whatever they are) Training Matches to get through. All played on Superstar difficulty, as a test.

I drew 1-1 with Besiktas. I beat PAOK 2-0. I beat Andlerlect 3-1. I lost the final one, against Galatasaray, 1-2.

There was cheating and scripting—of course. Straight-from-kickoff CPU powerplay scripts were much in evidence. But no more so than on Professional, it seemed.

Overall, the games were played at a sedate pace. I’m on 0-bar passing still, and have conceived a new respect for it. The last-third nerf hardly bothers me now, because I rarely try the kinds of passes that I know are risky. A Castolis or a Zerkovic can play a 20-yarder through to a striker for a turn-and-shoot. Coynborough can’t do the same very often.

Last year I felt instinctively at home on PES2012’s Superstar, as my rather amazed first post indicated.

PES2013 feels just as wonderful on Superstar. Slow and steady for periods, and then fast in quick bursts, as football really is. I’m a big fan all over again. I know they’re not necessarily any guide, but the Training Matches went well enough to convince me that I need to start the season proper on Superstar. The time has come.

I intend to play the first 5 matches of the season on Superstar as a trial. If I’m not destroyed by the AI, I will persist. But I will go back to Professional for another whole season if there’s any sign that once again my reach has exceeded my grasp.

My very first match of the season on Superstar, of course, would be the first leg of the Champions League playoff.

The fixture list popped up, and I looked eagerly to see who those opponents would be…

Bayern fucking Munich. Holy sh–

Midnight Mass-ter League

On Friday and Saturday nights I did something I very, very rarely do: I played PES into the wee small hours.

I haven’t deliberately avoided playing PES at night over the past few years. It’s just been how things have worked out. Working at a job with non-standard hours, it’s been natural for me to play in the mornings. I let night-times stay reserved for other activities. Such as reading, watching TV and movies, talking to other people if I have to, etc.

The time when I would switch on the games console at about 11pm and switch it off sometime between 4-6am before crawling into bed, seems like a very long time ago now. Because it is.

It’s weird playing at night. Feeling tired, knowing that pretty soon you’ll have to call it a night. Morning-time play is open-ended. Of course it isn’t so in practical terms, not really. It just feels that way because the whole of the day is ahead of you.

I found playing at night (and they were two decent, longish sessions) to be a very different, slightly more oppressive atmosphere. It wasn’t a terrible experience, but I’ll be happy to go back to my morning routine now.

During my two night sessions I went through a patch of winning games 2-1. They always worked out the same. I would go behind 0-1 to an early-ish CPU goal, which always came either straight from kick-off, or—if it was my kick-off—during the CPU’s first attack. And there are still people who deny the presence of scripts in PES. Incredible.

Then I would huff and puff but fail to get through the CPU defence. But I’d score my equaliser midway through the second half. Then get my winner towards the end of the match—sometimes at the very end, with the last kick of the ball.

A few such samey matches in a row is nothing unusual. But I must have had about six of these 2-1 wins in a row.

It was a relief eventually to get out of this patch of 2-1 scorelines and back to some different-feeling sorts of matches.

At least all the 2-1 wins meant I was in with a serious chance of winning the title with a few matches to go. I really thought I might snatch it. But I lost a couple of matches badly and that was that.

The final table:

That orange blob at the bottom, stretching from Sunderland to Everton? The nighttime orange glow of my bedside lamp, reflected in the TV screen.

The wretched CPU goal-scoring leaps out from that table. It doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in the underlying logic of the ML world as a whole.

But I’m very satisfied to have finished in a Champions League spot. Although I will of course have to navigate a tricky pre-season playoff tie. I’m confident. In all the years since they introduced pre-season playoff ties, I dont think I have ever lost one of them. (You’ll have to imagine your own famouslastwordshashtag thing here. I cannot bring myself to deploy one of them for real.)

The Team of the Season was very strange. I scored lots of goals and played good football, but only had two entrants. Minandinho getting in ahead of Wroughllen (the club’s top scorer with 20 goals) was peculiar, but at least Minandinho finished top of the Assists chart. Spot the orange glow again:

Oh well, I suppose I am in the Premier League now, and I ‘only’ finished 4th. I should be happy to have two players in the mix.

And that was season 5. This time last year, playing PES2012, I was in Season 3, and still in Division 2. The year before that, in PES2011, I was at the start of season 5 in the top flight. The year before that, PES2010, I was only on season 2—of course, the game came out much later back then. And I think I restarted as well.

So, onward to season 6. Change of strip? Yes, of course. Change of difficulty? Fancy a bit of Superstar?

I’m not sure. Possibly yes, but just as possibly, not. On the one hand I’ve been having a good time with Professional. The big teams are able to hand me my arse on a regular basis. But for much of the time, it does feel as if I’m coasting…

I’ll play a few Training Matches on Superstar and see how they feel. And of course I’ve yet have to find what my new club ranking will be. I still don’t know at the time of typing. That could be a huge factor, affecting player acquisition, squad quality, all of that. I’ll have to see.

Castolis and Nouhei, Pt 2

Another dual entry in the ‘Castolis and Nouhei special goals stakes’ today. These two players have had a stunning second half of the campaign, both emerging as joint contenders for my player of the season.

First of all, here’s my current League table. With 8 matches left I still have an outside chance of the League title. In practical terms, though, a Champions League spot is probably the best I can hope for:

I played Liverpool and Arsenal back-to-back just before this pic was taken, and drew both matches 1-1.

There are still some disturbing CPU goals-scored figures on show there. West Ham in 7th place with 28 goals from 30 matches is particularly painful to look at. The league leaders themselves aren’t doing much better.

I did take a look around at the other countries’ leagues, and the situation seems to be much the same in those as well. You’d think a credibility-affecting issue like this would be simple for Konami to patch, and possibly as a high priority, but seemingly not. Humph.

Here’s the Castolis goal. It’s not a jaw-dropper by any means. It’s just a goal that pleased me—you know the type? They’re not going to win any contests, but they make you feel happy. For that one fleeting moment, and for a few minutes afterward, they make you feel happy, dammit

I call these goals ‘golf-wedge’ shots. With his wrong foot too. A proper ‘swing and hope’.

It seems possible that PES2013 is the swansong for Master League as we have known it. If so, there will be no more members of the Castello/Castolo/Castolis family. They’re getting a worthy send-off in the form of this fella.

A match against Wigan ended 5-1 to me, with a hat-trick from none other than my defender Nouhei. Two headers from corners, and a penalty that was smashed straight down the middle.

I’ve started picking Hugo Leal as my second deep DMF alongside Coynborough. Leal is decent for his age and handles higher than his stats, but is prone to low stamina and bad form arrows. He probably only plays three in five matches.

When Leal isn’t available, I’ve got into the habit of making my second DMF a standalone CMF. Lurling is the man for this, and he’s a little terrier. In his first match as a deep CMF he must have made about 8 crucial saving tackles, seeming even more effective as a defensive midfielder than Coynborough, dare I say. So much so that I’ve spent 500 of my currently 4000GP on a position training card for Lurling. I’m going to make him a DMF and see what happens. I’m looking forward to finding out.

Speaking of Coynborough, he still hasn’t scored a goal in what must be over a season and half now. I keep trying to engineer an opening for him, with usually comical results. The shots always seem fated to be blocked, or just hopeless.

The one occasion on which I got a good shot off with Coynborough was from about 50 yards—seriously—and the ball flew and arced and dipped like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It flew towards the top corner. Here it is, I thought. My goal of the season. Perhaps my goal of PES2013…

The ball thudded back off the woodwork. Yep, that’s still happening. Hitting the post and bar is now such a normal part of playing PES2013 that I barely notice it. It’s this year’s central shooting.

Anyway, anyway. Nouhei’s special goal.

I’ve talked in comments over the past few days about how I have Nouhei set to go up for corners (and free kicks), and how he lurks in the vicinity afterwards.

Here’s a great example. Just before the action starts in the clip below, I’ve taken a free kick back towards my own defence, with Nouhei still stationed upfield.

Paccini gets the ball out wide. I know Nouhei is still in the box, and I decide to just launch the ball at him (L1+circle)…

Tee hee. A truly classic back-header from the big man. It put the seal on another great session. These are coming along thick and fast lately.