Month: March 2013

Betwixt and between

I’m strenuously resisting the urge to go back to PES2013 for a non-developmental Master League experience. I’m against chopping and changing my football game at a whim and don’t want to encourage bad habits in myself.

It’s a tempting call because I really do think that PES2013 is the apotheosis of next-gen PES. Every good idea they’ve had since 2007 was put into the on-field action. What a shame it was so severely let down by the Master League and other modes. (I don’t regard any kind of online football—or ‘squeezeball’ as I call it—as a football game. I’m sure the people who play it like it. They’re welcome to it.)

Only PES2011 is keeping me from PES2013 again. Only PES2011 is stopping me installing the final WENB patch on the PS3 and setting up again in PES2013 with a new team in a non-dev ML.

I’m nearly at the exciting end of my first season on PES2011. The current table:

PES2011 on PC season 1 after 31

Too many draws have cost me my top-three spot. With three games to go, I could miss out on promotion (although somehow I think I’ll make it).

The final three opponents are all top teams, with at least one of them also vying for promotion:

PES2011 PC season 1 run-in

So I’ve been playing on with PES2011—only a few games per day, on average, but enough to keep the flame alive.

I’m even enjoying nursing a certain Myth from the depths of youthful mediocrity towards being a respectable striker again. This is him after almost one full season. He plays as a sub most of the time and gets the odd goal.

Castolo in PES2011

The 34-year-old Sibon has been hugely disappointing. One goal since he signed mid-season. I marvel at how PES uncannily models the fading performances of a retiring player.

I swear that this game has got the PES ‘X’ factor. I rather misjudged it back in the day. I was too ready to see its gameplay features as insurmountable obstacles rather than as challenges to be dealt with.

I do miss a lot of what came in later PES editions. I sorely miss PES2012/13’s right stick control, especially at corners.

I even miss the ‘send player on run’ feature.

I also miss the L2+directional buttons method of changing the ATT/DEF levels.

On PES2011 you have to awkwardly tilt your controller towards yourself and press SELECT+R1/R2 in order to change the ATT/DEF levels. It’s never a comfortable way of doing it, and I’m not surprised it only lasted one iteration of the series.

Another downside to PES2011 is that I’m playing it on PC. Yes, the novelty has worn off a touch. The PC’s graphics and customisation options are wonderful, but I miss the convenience and routine of the console.

So the arguments to head back to PES2013 are stacking up, but I’m resisting—for now.

I do want to see what happens at the end of this season in PES2011. If I get promoted, I’ll be tempted to play on. But I know that if I play PES2011 into next season and pursue this career, it’ll be a while before I’m ready to look at PES2013 again.

And with so much PES under my belt, would I still want to play PES2013 in a few months’ time?

All things considered, the only window of opportunity to play a non-dev PES2013 ML might be right now… The decision time is coming.

Hold Onto Your Knees

Clingan up close

Another few days of another few matches. Life is taking me through a spell of busy-ness that will be alleviated by a few days off next week, so I’m looking forward to that.

But even when I have days off I plan to do a lot more in the way of Football Manager and Civilization and general ‘goofing off’ (as I believe the young people still say), than football gaming. I keep wondering why this is.

Around this time last year I was beginning one of the most intensive periods of football gaming in my entire life. PES2012’s second wind carried me through a total of 18 seasons all the way to August. I wonder just what effect that unusual spring-summer schedule had on my general disposition as a football gamer. Usually a football gamer’s schedule is more autumn-winter, and maybe a nibble of spring, with summer as the relaxing downtime.

Like a rogue comet entering a stable star system, PES2012’s unusual timing last year set off perturbations that I’m still feeling today. Mainly in the form of a certain distance from football gaming.

Like every other ageing gamer, I see the loss of will-to-game as an alarming development that should be resisted as much as possible. Like losing your hair or your libido, or your knees (my knees hate going up stairs lately).

PES2011 is fighting the good fight in fine form. I’m still loving its qualities and seeing its annoyances as challenges rather than obstacles to enjoyment. The only thing I ever see dragging me away from PES2011 is a non-developmental Master League in PES2013. I do want to get to that at some point.

Training in PES2011

PES2011’s Master League setup is great, with the only downside being the odd decision to communicate player stats changes in the form of text notifications between weeks.

Bizarre. But the rest of the mode really holds up. I’m still loving the PC gaming revolution too. The likelihood of the PS4/Xbox720 being an automatic day 1 purchase grows fainter with each passing day.

I’ve fallen off the top of the league table, but am still in the top 3 and looking good for promotion. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the season.

I’m still having a few matches every couple of days on my Bootcamped Mac installation of PES5.

Below is a clip (best viewed in 720p) that first shows the notorious thinly-lined pitch that we all hated playing on in PES5. I still hate it, and should get around to removing it from all the teams that use it.

Then see a bizarre goal the CPU scored against me—especially see the famous/notorious ‘check side’ motion of the bouncing ball when it comes back off the post and rolls in:

Is It Really Snow Strange?

Keepers View PES2011

I work weekends and I travel by public transport, so the UK’s mega-snow weekend ate into my free time in a big way. As a result I only played four football matches—two on PES2011 on PC, and the other two on PES5 on… the Macbook Pro.

Yes, I finally did something I always swore I’d never do. Installed Windows, on a Bootcamp partition, on my beloved Mac.

Mac owners will know how pristine and lovely an installation of OSX is—like a pavement of fresh snow that it’s almost a shame to tread upon. For the five years that I’ve been a Mac user I always swore I’d never succumb by installing Windows on a partition, not even for the sake of a technical exercise.

But I finally did it. My current climate of PC experimentation made me curious to see how well the uber-expensive Apple hardware could handle PES.

PES5 on MBP

Bootcamp went fine. Took a few hours to make the Windows partition, as my hard disk was so fragmented after all these years of use, but otherwise it was all straightforward.

Windows on a Mac (predictably) runs better than I’ve ever seen Windows run anywhere. And PES5 runs fine. Better than fine—better than it has any right to. I only have the cheapest 2010 MBP (integrated mobile graphics, slowest processor). I suppose a 2005 game would run superbly on 2010 hardware of any rank.

Apart from some occasional v-sync tearing on some pitches at some times, the game runs like butter. I love PES5, and will always sing of its greatness.

I copied my ML save over from the other PC. I’ll go on doing what I’ve been doing for a few years now: playing PES5 ‘off the books’, and never—or rarely—mentioning it on the blog.

Of course the real test of the MBP’s chops would be how it handled PES2011 or any other more modern PES game.

And I just haven’t had time to test that out yet. I have a feeling it will work, but not on highest settings, which I’ve now got used to on the PC.

McSheffrey shoots PES2011

It’s instructive to play PES5 back-to-back with the likes of PES2011. You can spot the germination of many seeds that would only flower years later. PES2011’s physicality and enforced clumsiness of the players being the main one.

PES5 can handle incredibly clumsily, with players performing the same kind of ‘three-point turns’ as seen in PES2010, for example. And there’s also a version of PES2011’s stumble mechanic too.

I could have played lots and lots of matches on both.

But the snow weekend impacted me severely, and you know what? I didn’t care really.

Again and again in recent years I’ve looked deeply into myself and seen a shrinkage of the will-to-play.

Even at the peak of the footy game year every October/November, I play far less than I did in previous years. This is largely a factor of the passage of time and changing responsibilities and priorities, of course.

There’s no going back to the days of PES5, which I always hark back to as a Golden Age. Back then I could, if I wanted to, play PES for 10 hours a day, easily. And I often did. Those days are long, long gone. Only something crazy like a Lottery win is ever going to bring them back.

Playing by era

Gratuitous screenshot of the day

The PC gaming mini-revolution continues. I look at my PS3 now and wonder if this could be the end of an era. I’ve been a console gamer for my entire life, the early-80s Spectrum era aside.

And PES2011 continues. Lately I’ve been dicking about with capturing replay footage directly to hard drive. No more shaky handheld mobile phone replays, if this keeps up.

Here are the goals from a recent match against Derby that ended 1-1.

Pardon the ‘dramatic’ pauses at times there. I’m still feeling my way in this new world.

I’m well positioned for promotion in season 1.

ML2011 after 21

The game feels quite straightforward on Professional. I remember PES2011 being a much stiffer test in Division 2 two years ago.

I think this is a side-effect of the Option File I’m using now. The other teams in the mix with me for promotion are Championship opposition with Championship players. Two years ago I was facing off against a custom Division 2 made up of top European teams.

I should make promotion. I will of course have to be careful. There’s a long way to go and a lot can still happen.

A season 1 promotion would be fine by me. I’m not especially seeking a hardcore, gritty, double-figures seasons ML career from PES2011 on PC. I’m seeking to enjoy myself and enjoy the matches first and foremost. That whole deadly seriousness where I sit down to play Master League as if it’s The Wire or something? I’m done with that approach, for this year at least.

Before the match

PES2011 is a challenging game, perhaps the most physical PES we’ve ever had. Contact with other players is usually disastrous. The game makes you value space more than any other footballing commodity. An opposing player within a yard usually means having to get rid asap. If I see the notorious stumble, it means I’ve failed to respect the game’s boundaries.

I’m cultivating a different attitude from the one that soured me on PES2011 two years ago. It’s working for me.

The lineup

Overall, things are going well. If I wanted to go and play something else, I would. Time is far too precious to waste on playing or doing anything but exactly what you want to. PES2011 is answering every need I have.

And I’ve got to love that Master League. At the time in 2010-11, I resented it for being a slightly dumbed-down version of PES2010’s Master League. Little did I know just what was coming next in PES2012 and PES2013. Now, I happily concede that it remains the second-best-ever ML environment.

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