Month: April 2013

3am shadow

PES5 after 7

I was up until 3am last night watching the gripping end of season 2 of Breaking Bad. I’m reading a book this morning, from which I’ve just broken off to write today’s post. Football gaming is quite a way down on the to-do list these days.

Fortunately for the blog, I played a couple of matches of PES5(PC) yesterday morning.

As ever, ’twas a pleasure. PES5 has aged, no question, but it weirdly stands up. Its integrity as a game—as a solid, reputable, fully credentialled game of computer football—stands the test of time. Others have come close, but for me PES5’s status as The Best Ever is unimpeachable.

Perhaps if I was still playing for hours every day I might come to a different view, who knows.

This more casual approach is suiting me fine. I’m still fascinated by what feels like a process of disengagement from gaming in general. I doubt I’ll ever play an FPS again.

Last time, I was fretting about my 4-2-2-2 formation, adapted from PES2012/13, not really working out in PES5.

I finally pushed my deep-lying twosome further forward. Mathieu and Camacho now sit on the halfway line, calling the shots. Suddenly I’m much more potent up front, and there’s little difference to defending.

Won 1-0. Lost 0-1. The table is at the top.

This week, I will at some point fully install PES2013(PC) with the latest super-duper custom patch from Jenkey, and give it a play.

I’m more than a little reluctant, as I’m on a cushy routine with PES5 and don’t want to break the spell. But my curiosity is outweighing my reluctance. I might have done this in time for Wednesday’s post, but if not, Friday for sure.

Firefly: good, but overrated

PES5 current formation and XI

I’m sticking with my PES2012-style formation in PES5, but it’s not really getting me anywhere. I’ve only scored two goals in four matches using the 4-2-2-2.

I probably need to push Mathieu and Camacho forward. Their deep-lying nature is a relic of PES2012 and PES2013. The super-dribbling AI is not a problem in PES5. The super-passing one is. The super-possession one is. When this AI decides it wants to play keepball, it plays keepball, and that’s that.

I cannot decide what my best strikeforce is. It’s Bergkamp and Almeida in the screenshot. Usually I go with Schwarz instead of Bergkamp, but the big legend was tired for this match.

It was against Sao Paolo—an English Division 1 team in this ML world. It was the latest match where I struggled to score or do anything by way of threatening the goal.

I kept switching to my attacking alt-formation (a ridiculously swashbuckling 1-2-2-5 lineup) to try and get something going up front. Which would often leave me very vulnerable at the back. I conceded a goal to a Sao Paolo breakaway after half-time, and that looked like being the final result.

Then, with the last move of the game… the one where you know that as soon as you lose the ball and the AI moves it up towards the halfway line, the whistle will go, so there’s pressure, there’s pressure…

Some bonus sound from Brackley and Brooking there.

A punch-the-air moment! I’d huffed and puffed to no real purpose all game, and deserved to lose, but by sticking with it I’d salvaged a point.

And that was that. One session, one match.

Sessions of PES these days are short and to the point. It now seems like another life where I often spent hours playing on the PS3. I couldn’t do that nowadays even if I wanted to.

Fortunately, I don’t want to. I’m catching up with some reading. I’m finally watching the excellent Breaking Bad (never knew it’d be so funny). I’m debating whether to rewatch Firefly again—which I thoroughly enjoyed a few years ago, but its notorious early cancellation left an empty, unsatisfying feeling.

Peter Davison was my Doctor

PES5 2013 after 4

Another few matches of PES5(PC) in-between the cracks of everyday life. Good stuff. Anybody waiting for me to tire of this and move onto something else, or go back to aimless wandering—that’s just not my style, not how I operate, as the blog has demonstrated for five and a half years now.

My recent bout of restless wandering was the exception. Steady play of ONE game, regularly, over a looong period, is the rule.

I tried the 4-2-2-2 formation, which felt odd. 4-3-3 was how I played Pro Evo from ISS2 all the way through to PES2010. No change or deviation allowed. 4-2-2-2 only came along with PES2011 and the new school of PES.

It’s not really worked in PES5 so far. I feel I haven’t yet got the players in midfield required to make it work. That’s odd, considering my two deep-lying midfielders are those twin PES legends, Mathieu and Camacho.

Both are still quite young, though—Mathieu is 25, but Camacho is only 20 and still very raw. If memory serves, Mathieu only hits his stride around the 30 mark, and Camacho around the mid-20s.

And I’ve still got to get properly to grips with PES5 again, of course.

My two wide men in the 4-2-2-2 are… Arshavin and Jesus Navas. Again, both are a bit weak.

I’ve got Schwarz and Aquilani up front. Two big men. I need a fox in the box—a Saviola, a Villa, a Gary Twigg… I’ll be looking, next negotiations window.

General gameplay continues to please me. I would acknowledge that the old-school PES gameplay has been superseded in many respects by the innovations that started in PES2011 and continued to the present day.

Whether old-school PES has been bettered is another argument. I think that, yes, on the whole PES gameplay has been better in PES2011/12/13, than in the old days. In the same way that the rebooted Doctor Who is clearly better in every way than the old Doctor Who. But do you know what? I cannot stand the rebooted Doctor Who.

The old school tie

Mathieu About to Wallop one

So it’s looking more and more like PES5 will be my football game until the end of time—or the end of summer. Whichever comes first. And if summer ever begins.

I’m playing the PC version, on a Bootcamp partition, on a Mac.

Convenience is the watchword. The game’s right there at my fingertips. It takes about thirty seconds to get the game up and running. Even if I’m on the Mac OS side of the partition, it’s still quicker to boot into Windows than it is to start up the PS3.

And the PC version of PES5 plays so smoothly.

(Incidentally, I should probably always put air-quotes around ‘the PC version’. I thoroughly dislike the PESverse convention of describing identical games on different platforms as ‘versions’. The only essential difference between the PC ‘version’ of PES5 and the PS2 ‘version’ of PES5 is the former’s capacity for modding. Only in that sense is talk of ‘versions’ in any way meaningful. Otherwise, unmodded, the PC and PS2 ‘versions’ of PES5 are identical games that play exactly the same.)

Here’s a lovely free kick from Mathieu. This came against Liverpool in the opening game of my new season. I forgot to trurn on FRAPS before this quick game, so it’s only a phone replay, unfortunately:

I went on to win 3-1, withstanding some fierce Liverpool pressure at 2-1 with only a late goal—a penalty from that man Mathieu—easing the pressure on me.

I’ve got Camacho and Mathieu in the same team. It feels a bit like a Lampard-Gerrard-style conundrum. But just as with that real-life example, it’s more the idea of a problem than a real problem. You can’t have too many good players.

If Mathieu plays (he’s still quite young and raw), he plays DMF. Then Camacho plays wide on the right. If Mathieu needs a rest, Camacho plays DMF. It works.

I’ve stuck with my old-school favourite formation of 4-3-3 despite having got used to a 4-2-2-2 in PES over the past few years. I think I’ll try that 4-2-2-2 in PES5, just to see Mathieu and Camacho alongside one another in midfield. The dream partnership.

I drew my second match of the season, against Man Utd. A stalemate 0-0.

Still playing on 4* difficulty with two gradations to go up yet.

Yep, I think my weeks of wandering in the wilderness are gone.

Gone is my morning routine of getting up and turning on the PS3 and playing that for an hour or two.

My life has changed over the past 6 months—to the point where my old morning footy game routine was no longer sustainable. The routine simply had to go. Change had to happen. You’ve seen it happening right here.

Nowadays, I’m snatching sessions and odd games when I can, when I feel like it, and it’s working for me.

I can barely look at the poor old PS3 now. I’ll have to have a good old think about what to do re. the PS4/Xbox720, when the time comes. Do I need ’em? Really?

Viva the old school!