Month: March 2015

You could meet somebody who really lobs you

When PES2015 was released back in November, I wasn’t blogging. I restarted the blog just last week, on March 26th. That’s a gap of over four months of playing the game and scoring goals.

I’ve taken every single replay of my goals saved to the console hard drive since November, stitched them all together, slapped on some truly anthemic PES music, and turned the speedometer up. The above video is the result. It’s still only just over 6-and-a-half minutes long, as I’ve refrained from showing the usual multiple replays of individual goals in favour of speed.

The PS4’s save-direct-to-harddrive feature still feels fresh and new to me. I always make use of the feature whenever I score a goal that I want to save for any reason.

I’ve accumulated 15GB of saved PES2015 footage on my PS4 hard drive. Much of it is junk — entire matches that I didn’t realise I’d recorded; a few CPU goals that seemed unusual in some way; funny little glitches, and bugs, and so on. None of these made the cut.

The first two goals are from my early experiments in Exhibition mode with England. All the remainder are goals from Master League.

Watch for a few special moments.

Watch for the insistent, hypnotic music (the original replay music from PES2, which you can download from here).

Most of all, watch for the sheer energy and joy that Master League and only Master League can provide.

Putting the movie together inspired me to return to my ML with renewed zeal. I think it represents the spirit of my whole PES2015 experience. The game is surging up in my estimation. Still not quite top-tier. But it’s getting there. It’s at least neck-and-neck with PES2010 now, and nipping at the heels of PES2012.

One last note about the variety of goals in the movie: I chose to save those replays.The movie is the product of four months of saved goals from across hundreds of matches. Why is this obvious fact worth mentioning? Because one of the falsest complaints about PES2015 is that goals often look and feel the same. They don’t. The movie might suggest that the game yields abundant quantities of long-rangers and edge-of-the-box raspers. It doesn’t. It takes a long time to start scoring a few, and they never become common. The only reason there’s lots of them in the movie is that they’re the types of goals I enjoy scoring, and I am therefore more likely than not to hit the PS4’s Record/Save button. There’s a selection bias at work.

So that’s that sorted.

I’ll be back on Friday with an update on how season 8 turned out in the end. I’ve nearly finished the season, and will certainly do so over the next few days. I’ve made it through to the domestic Cup semi-final. I’m still challenging for the league. Victory in the Cup quarter final was a very satisfying moment, beating West Ham 3-1 at their place. Away wins are an achievement in PES2015.

The league is looking dodgy again. I’ve hit an iffy patch of form at just the wrong time. I could blame scripting, and why not, but I think it’s more a case of me naively straining too hard to put teams properly to the sword after I go 1-0 up, when a certain amount of finesse and cunning are called for. I’m shipping silly points in matches that I should lock up tight. A 0-1 reversal at the hands of Chelsea allowed them to leapfrog me at the top. The table after 30 matches:

PES2015 Season 8 after 32

There’s a MyClub if you’d like to go

PES2015-Zaltstyn-You-Silly-Faced-Bastard-You

Right. So where was I? In May 2013 I was just getting over a bit of a downer on PES2013 — great game, poor Master League of overpowered player development– when I decided to take a short break.

That break lasted almost two years.

In the interim I completely missed PES2014. I missed talking about it on the blog. I’ll rectify that before the end of the current footy gaming year with a special post looking back at PES2014 — the PES that got away, for almost everybody.

So now I am back, and PES Chronicles is back.

The wary reader would be forgiven for asking: ‘Well, how long before you pull another vanishing act? You football game bloggers seem rather prone to mysteriously disappearing…

It’s a fair point. Not one that I can answer, because I can’t see the future. However. One thing I’ve learned over the past two years is that I’m a football gamer for life. It seems I can’t get away from some iteration of PES. Or FIFA. But let’s face it, it’s usually PES.

Football gaming is as much an integrated, essential part of my life as reading books, watching television, eating food, blinking, and swinging my arms whilst walking. The boffins tells us that if we didn’t swing our arms as we walked, we’d all have bad backs. It’s something to do with the weight distribution.

I believe I’m back for good. Barring some unforeseen calamity.

Forlan Season 7

And so I resume blogging in the very midst of PES2015. That’s my regen Forlan up there, leaping like a digital Uruguayan salmon. He’s wearing my current third away kit. Usually these kinds of details about where I am in Master League would be revealed naturally, as they happened. We’re jumping on the horse mid-gallop here.

The game suffered an iffy start with me back in November.

After several weeks of playing FIFA15, PES2015 looked terrible and seemed to handle worse. Usually you can get to the nutty goodness of a PES game pretty quickly, no matter how much pre-release FIFA-playing you’ve been doing. This time the magic of PES seemed mostly absent.

I’ll cover the reasons why PES2015 is disliked and/or loathed by so many in future posts. My first post back after the Interregnum isn’t the time or the place to commence a detailed breakdown. That comes over the course of many posts, over a long period of time.

PES2015 is a game that just gets better and better the more it’s played. It rewards extended play. PES2015 contains old-fashioned PES satisfaction in bucketloads. It’s there. It’s all there.

Historically on PES Chronicles, from 2007 through to 2013, my thoughts and feelings have been documented in an unfolding process of organic growth. All the way from Day 1’s thumb shot, through my early fumblings, early high points, and through the ups and downs that have always followed. And then the grind of those early seasons of Master League.

If I’d been blogging back in November, I’d have posted a whole month of ‘meh’ when it came to PES2015.

I remember one night in November. Seemingly the darkest and most miserable November day ever. I remember thinking that there was no way I’d still be playing PES2015 come springtime.

And now here I am in the freshening days of late March, and I’m playing PES2015 with the kind of gusto and va-va-voom that I haven’t felt since the halcyon days of PES2012. PES2015 is a very good game of computer football. Perhaps even a great one. I hope to show just how and why as the coming weeks unfold.

I do hate playing on this pitch, though:

PES2015 the worst pitch

Right. Thumbnail sketch of where I am with PES2015’s Master League.

I’m about halfway through Season 8.

Playing as a bespoke Coventry City (of course), with 4 kits.

Top Player. I have tried going up to Superstar a couple of times, and got my arse kicked back down to Top Player each time.

1-bar passing.

All other settings — shooting and so on — are on normal.

I’ve won nothing on PES2015 yet, and not even come close. However, this season:

PES2015 Season 8 after 17

That’s the table after  17 matches. And I’m still in the FA Cup. I hope it’s safe to say I should at least qualify for the Champions League. Everything else is in the lap of the gods.

Let me say it again: I’ve won nothing in PES2015 yet. I need to get some silverware.

Here is my First XI and Squad:

PES2015 season 8 starting squad

That rather swashbuckling formation is a bad idea in PES2015. It only lasted a few matches before I went back to my now-traditional 4-2-2-2, with two DMFs — Conti and Carrick together. Conti is a big player for such a relatively modest OVR rating. He plays well above his stats.

One of Master League’s many demerits in PES2015 is that it’s much too easy to get good new players. I’d assembled the nucleus of the above squad before the end of season 2.

Regens in particular are very easy to come by. I’ve got a lot of them there.

My favourite has to be Peter Crouch. He’s the player of this edition of PES so far. Other players are better, sure. Drogba is a powerhouse. Forlan is a crafty poacher. But Crouch is my big sentimental favourite.

PES has always had an uncanny way of replicating real-life player quirks. Crouch’s physical unusualness manifests itself in gameplay in all sorts of ways. I can’t remember playing with any player quite like him in PES before.

And Peter Crouch scored this goal a few seasons ago — the best I’ve scored on PES2015, and one of my all-time favourites ever:

I’m still firmly against all varieties of online football gaming. The AI plays better football. A great Master League or Career Mode is infinitely more absorbing and exciting than anything online. The worst match against the worst AI team is better than almost any match against any human player. I’m only slightly exaggerating for effect. Offline beats online, every single day of the week.

For the blog’s sake, and for the sake of the experience, I might — MIGHT — spend a few days in MyClub later this year.

I will return on Tuesday 31st March for post #2 of the new era. I’ve got a whole load of replays saved up on the PS4’s hard drive. I’m still sorting through them for a catchup movie highlight reel of goals, goals, goals. I might have that ready for Tuesday. If not, it’ll be along in good time.

My regular posting schedule from now on will be every Tuesday and Friday, barring unforeseen life circumstances. Come the summertime doldrums, that may drop to once-per-week. I’ll see how things play out as the year unfolds. It all depends on how well PES2015 lasts. At the moment I can see me playing it until PES2016.

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USB header

It only remains to address a great unexplained mystery — the continued absence from the online airwaves of the blogger known as Paul.

A regular commenter for many years on PES Chronicles, for the past three years Paul has run a sister site to this one, PESUltra, which became UltraSoccerBlog in due course.

Exactly two months ago, he posted his last post and then went missing. Not literally (one hopes) — just absent from his blog.

I know the kinds of pressures that can accompany running a blog. It’s okay when there’s nothing else going on in your life. It’s a bit of fun. A hobby.  A way to turn those footy gaming hours into something substantial.

We can only imagine that Paul has succumbed in some way to the pressures of life, and his blog has taken a back seat in the process. If he comes back, the virtual world is big enough for both of us. A few years ago it seemed that people were starting football gaming blogs every week. Starting a football game blog is easy. It’s keeping it going that can be tricky. I’m sure Paul won’t allow his hard work to lie fallow in the field — as I did with my blog, and now truly regret doing.

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