Month: April 2013

12 Monkeys

PES5 got Camacho

I’ve played pre-season in my extremely casual dalliance with PES5(PC). Remember this…

PES5 calendar

Choosing how many pre-season games to play. I always choose based on how much money I think I’ll need to make up my Expected Earnings.

Speaking of which:

PES5 expected earnings

I had a nice cushion, but I wanted to buy some players.

I made an audacious-seeming bid for Camacho, who’s a pretty well-developed 20-year-old in this ML world right now. I made a Trade offer of Stein+6000, and was surprised when the bid was successful.

PES5 season X - team

Having Mathieu and Camacho at the same time probably violates some kind of Law of PES. So far, though, nothing spooky has happened. They’ve played together in the two pre-season matches without ill effect.

I picked random teams to play, and then deleted all but two—against Real Madrid and Auxerre.

By the way: how nice to hear Brookley and Bracking again on the commentary. (Sic, also by the way.)

I lost the Madrid game 0-1, and still needed to make up my Expected Earnings. Still getting the warning.

I romped to a 2-0 win againt Auxerre in the next friendly. Should have been 3-0. I got a penalty late on that I just knew, in the way that I always knew, would be missed—and indeed it hit the bar. Back in the day it was a notorious feature of the old-school PES games that they rarely used to ‘allow’ penalties to be scored if the scoreline and/or match momentum was generally going in your favour. Momentum, thy name is scripting.

The Fisher King

PES5 Mathieu

A football game has broken out. A short session of the PC version of PES5—the eight-years-old PES5—played on a Bootcamped installation of Windows, on a Macbook. Runs great. And it’s very handy, being on a machine that I already use for hours most days.

Perhaps I’m not sick of football games after all—perhaps I’m just sick of my routine that’s sprouted around them over the last many-many years. I play in the mornings, and my routine has been: get up, have breakfast, turn on the PS3, play PES.

I am FED UP of doing that. I needed to disrupt the routine, and I’ve done that in style.

Football gaming needed freshening up for me.

I’ve been playing this one PES5 save for years, usually for just a week of two every August in the downtime before the next PES release.

It’s the usual ersatz Coventry City. We’re in the Premier now. It’s an olde-school PES, of course. This is where I was most happiest. I’m not going to make any grand predictions about what I’ll spend the summer doing.

I just finished season 5, and finished 8th in the table. Playing on 4* difficulty still, and it’s plenty difficult enough.

PES5 2013-season 5 final table

Generally, I don’t really give a stuff about any football game right now. It’s going to take a lot more time for this empty tank to fill up again.

The only game I really want to play at this moment in time is Civilization V. I’m still playing the same game from last week. This isn’t me being lazy or not playing Civ very much either. I’ve played every day for an hour or two. This is how long games typically last.

And I’m going to lose this one (again). I’ve never actually won a Civ V game, in what must be 20 separate attempts now. I could play on a lower difficulty and guarantee getting a maiden win, but as all Civ players know, rolling downhill to a certain victory over hundreds of turns isn’t any fun.

Last week I posted a screenshot of a highly strategic point on my map. I revisited Istanbul last night with my more modern units, after deploying a navy of sorts to screen my army from bombardment.

Another shot at Istanbul

My navy lasted two turns before being destroyed. Two turns after this screenshot was taken, my army was destroyed. And then the Ottoman navy rushed into my coastal waters and destroyed all my fishing boats. Which caused a cascade of unhappiness and hunger across my nation. But that was the least of my worries.

Civ V Backstabbed by the French

All game long, the French have been the runaway technology leaders, and my staunchest allies.

I spied on them and took a few techs, and now they have invaded me, sending waves of units across the treacherous English territories. That’s the French blue units closing in for an irresistible combined arms assault on my city of Cardiff above. After my Istanbul debacle, I have a single cavalry unit in the field.

The turn after this screenshot was taken, the French took Cardiff. Weirdly, this happened at almost the exact same moment that the final whistle blew on the real-life Cardiff City’s promotion match last night. I was listening to it on the radio.

Nope. This is not PES Chronicles as it has been, but it’s the only PES Chronicles anybody is going to get. For now.

Brazil

FIFA13 offered job

Sunday morning I started up FIFA13 for the first time in a few weeks. I’ve been drifting away from football gaming for a while—not just in the past few weeks, but for several months, it’s now clear to me.

I wasn’t particularly banking on FIFA13 to relight the fire. So there was no pressure on the game—or on me—for it to do so.

I reloaded my last save, with Dagenham & Redbridge, where I was at rock-bottom of League 2 with just two wins all season.

I’d just had a job offer from Fluminense in Brazilian First Division, or Serie A.

I took the offer, and went from the dank basement of English football to the glittering pinnacle of South American football at a stroke. A turn of events that would never happen in reality under any circumstances, of course, but as I say many times, realism in a football game is not something to be necessarily looked for.

FIFA13 Fluminense

My new Fluminense team is pretty good—all high 70s and a few low 80s.

Among them is the veteran Portuguese playmaker, Deco, who was a standout in the first few games. Fred, the captain and star striker, should be good, but feels weak. Diego and Edinho and Thiago Neves really stand out. Going from the rubbish Dagenham players to these players is very nice. It feels good to be able to play a bit.

The rhythm of the season is different in Brazil. The season starts in March and consists of Cup games at first. I played two two-legged encounters before switch-off, lining up against Ronaldinho’s Atletico Mineiro at one point.

Enjoyed them, winning each one quite comfortably with the exception of the last, which I won only on penalties.

FIFA13 is very different from PES. Not that I can really remember much about either now. It’s been a few weeks since I played with real enthusiasm. I genuinely do wonder if the mojo will ever return. I feel that it probably will, but who knows.

Sweet Carroll-fine

Another few days without football gaming. I’m still not missing it, and don’t feel especially anxious about not missing it. I feel okay, actually. The only wrinkle on the horizon is what to do with the blog.

I have played more NSS. After 5 seasons I still haven’t discovered the super-easy game that many other players report. I still have regular stinkers that see me subbed off in the second half. Maybe it’s because it’s the iPad version.

Over on my long-running Football Manager 2010 save, I had a decision to make that I’ve been putting off for months of real time. Tomas Necid arrived for £20m at the start of my fifth season, but he hadn’t scored, hadn’t looked like scoring, and was homesick.

Should I give my misfit new star a one-month leave of absence, or not? That was the dilemma.

I gave him the leave of absence, figuring that he’ll be back with weeks to go before the January window—plenty of time to see if he’s going to settle down and start scoring. I’ll sell him otherwise, and hope to recoup most of my £20m

The 3D match engine is the best innovation in these types of games since the games themselves. I never experienced the text-only Champ Man years (but still harbour a hankering to).

An example of the 3D match engine delivering the goods: just before I let Necid go on his leave of absence, he was clean through on goal. I actually thought, that’s it, first goal, great stuff, and even had time to wonder if I should switch to a defensive tactic for the rest of the game, maybe even go to two Defensive Midfielders, etc.

But the ball wasn’t in the net yet. My misfit striker visibly hesitated, giving the keeper time to rush out and smother the shot. It was so lifelike and reminiscent of a striker low on confidence. When you see a current-era Torres or a Giroud get a chance, it’s almost a hands-over-the-eyes situation as you wonder if they’ll fluff another one. Ditto my pixelated Necid.

So Necid has gone back to the Czech Republic for a month, and I’m making do with a front two of the veteran Kikin Fonseca and… Andy Carroll.

This is Football Manager 2010, remember—a game that shipped back in 2009, when nobody had heard of Carroll. I picked him up for a bargain £1m from Newcastle’s reserves.

He’s been good for a young target man, but his aggression and discipline is all over the place in this game, for me, right now. He keeps getting sent off. I’ve slapped fines on him to no effect. I’ll probably sell him, depending on what happens with Necid.

I’ve never won anything in Football Manager. My last big huzzah with the game was FM2005, when I got promoted via the playoffs (as I did this time). Never won a title or any cups in this entire series, ever.

I don’t reload games—whatever happens happens—so if I make a misstep, I’m stuck with it. The usual way my FM games end is with the sack. Most often, though, I’ve just drifted away, lacking the time to put in. Playing a few matches once or twice a week works out surprisingly well.

So this is my football gaming life right now. NSS and Football Manager.

I found myself eyeing my PS3 and its games the other day and wondering how much I’d get for them from Cash Generator (not much, I know, but the point is that I’m wondering about it).

Things can’t go on like this on the blog. PES Chronicles is a thrice-weekly affair for a reason. I need to be playing in order to fill these posts. The last week or so of ‘other games’ is okay for a short time, but not how the blog will operate permanently.

I’ll see how things go over the weekend. Monday’s post will be a proper one. I’m going to play a football game one of these mornings—probably FIFA—and see if that relights the fire.

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