Month: September 2015

Twist and Shoot

PES2016 back of the net

I’ve played almost to the end of season 1 in Master League on PES2016. With great enjoyment, mostly, it has to be said.

This is a PES that works, on the whole, as a football game, with intuitive passing and shooting and, generally, a good tempo to events.

Contrary to What The Forums Say, not every shot on goal flies in for either side, me or the AI. I play on Level 1 passing with Normal shooting (I refuse to call it Basic).

I’m seeing fouls and getting free kicks, sometimes at a greater level than PES2015.

Master League is magnificent! The Defaults are very capable this year (bring back Hamsun!). Arcas and Castledine are the Lennon and McCartney of my midfield.

For the first time in 5 years — that”s 4 whole editions of PES — Master League is a worthy, substantial mode. There’s loads to see and do and ruminate over. I’ve got so used over the past 4 editions to just clicking my way from one match to the next that it feels strange to have things to look at and think about. I’m still getting used to it.

Greg Not Pensive

As ever with PES there’s a ‘but’.

The ‘but’ this time is that PES2016 seems very often to be an all-action, high-scoring affair that’s out of keeping with the series’ traditions. Online they’re talking about routine 7-4 and 8-8 and 11-3 scorelines. That reflects the kind of thing I’ve seen offline, in single-player, sometimes. It makes me feel… uneasy.

Last week I had several alarming sessions of high-scoring matches on Professional and then Top Player.

I’m now on Superstar, something that doesn’t traditionally happen until 7 or 8 seasons in.

The change came just after the halfway point of season 1. For the first time in my PES and Master League history. No other PES has ever forced me onto the hardest difficulty the way PES2016 has.

This might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Every year it seems the difficulty levels are ‘rezoned’. It was only in recent years, I think, that Professional became a worthy introductory level for several seasons, followed by a steady progression to Top Player and then Superstar once my team was appropriately matured.

That routine seems to have been thrown out of the window this year. I’m uncomfortable about it. I don’t know what it means yet. I don’t know what the future holds, and I don’t like it. I’m the sort of PES player and the sort of person who won’t be able to ignore this. I can’t simply forget about it, until it’s very clear that it’s not really an issue. So you have been warned.

Here were my first 5 matches on Superstar, last Friday afternoon:

PES2016 first 5 matches on SS

Not bad, not too bad at all. I can accept, even applaud, the AI scoring hatfuls of goals against me. My own scoring was happily respectable.

It has to be acknowledged that Konami don’t publish football games exclusively for me. They’re under no obligation to cater for my tastes and expectations. If they’ve decided that they want to grab a piece of the pie baked by FIFA and Ultimate Team, and push out a high-octane, all-action, button-mashing festival of goals, that’s something I’ve either got to live with — or not. Up to me.

I’ve long foreseen a time coming where PES would be changed so much to accommodate the online player/the casual player/the curious new player, that the older crowd who’ve been with the series forever would be effectively sidelined. It has been coming. Now… is it here?

It’s far too early to tell. The true character of a PES game doesn’t show itself for at least a couple of seasons of Master League. There are so many factors in play.

By Friday I’ll have finished Season 1 and be well underway with Season 2. I’ll speak in some depth about my players and transfers. And then I’ll be going all-out for a Season 2 promotion campaign. Part of me’s worried that it’ll be a successful one.

It wouldn’t be PES without a wobble

Castledine winds one up

Interesting times in PES2016.

The worry about this game that I thought would be the most worrisome – fouls, or the lack thereof – has receded almost to invisibility (for now).

The scene above is a scene I’ve actually seen many times already in PES2016. The undoubted hero of Season 1, Castledine, taking a free kick – in shooting range!

I’ve had more free kicks around the box in just over half a season of PES2016 than in 14 full seasons on PES2015. No exaggeration.

I’ve blasted them all wide or over, or into the wall, or into the keeper’s hands.

But Castledine… This is the best incarnation of PES’s Eternal Hero (Castello, Castolo, Cinalton, Castolis, et al) since the PS2 days.

Here’s a short clip of him scoring three good goals in a recent session – right foot, header, left foot – with the last goal on show being my first true long-ranger of PES2016::

I spent so long exulting over the long-ranger that I neglected to save the goal being scored in real-time. I have my Share settings set to a 1-minute recording time. But I allowed more than 1 minute to elapse after scoring before going to save the recording. Slow-motion replay is all I got of it. Darn.

PES2016 ML away kit

PES2016 ML home kit

The way the game moves and handles in general is a delight.

I could do with a passing setting between full Unassisted and Level 1 (surely that’ll be rethought in a patch?).

The keepers need some work – not much, just some – and we could always do with PS2-level individuality making a return, but for me the positives of PES2016 far outweigh the grumbles. In all but one respect.

I spent the last few days watching, with mounting unease, as the scorelines in my Master League matches seemed to balloon beyond all reason.

First on Professional and then on Top Player, scorelines went from the respectable 2-1 sort of scorelines, to preposterous (by PES standards) 4-4 and 5-0 scores.

The league table (see bottom of page) shows that Ive scored 55 goals in 29 matches.

I’ve conceded 60 goals.

This is my most attack-oriented, goals-filled Master League first season ever. Not even PES2008 was like this. Not even PES2013 was like this.

So I’m worried about the difficulty scaling this year, but it’s still early days – and I can see from the forums and from other players commenting here that this is by no means a universal experience.

Yesterday morning I played one match on Superstar. (That’s one word. I refuse to style it the Konami way, as ‘Super Star’.)

The incessant attack-oriented gameplay of Top Player was largely absent. The single match ended 1-0 to me. There was a good midfield battle going on. I had 5 shots on goal in total, as opposed to 15-20 shots on goal (yes, really) in the previous Top Player games.

My standard 4-2-2-2 formation is complemented by two alt formations. One ultra-attacking, the other ultra-defensive

This is a tradition that stretches all the way back to ISS on the PS1 (I think…), or at any rate as early as it was possible to set up alt formations.
PES2016 alt formation ATT

PES2016 alt formation DEFI move to the formations seen here on the left and right as and when circumstances demand. Both incur a substantial Team Spirit penalty, as can be seen in the figures on the top right. My current Team Spirit is 92. But in both these alt-formation instances, it’s more important to have bodies piled up in the relevant areas of the pitch. And it’s easy to switch back to 4-2-2-2 with a press of the d-pad button.

Chasing a deficit late on, I’ll switch to the one on the right – and very often get done on the counter-attack. It’s not uncommon for me to ship one or two late goals while trying to chase a game, and lose disastrously.

I’m already past mid-season, and couldn’t buy any players. I sent a few players out on loan, and accidentally left myself short of goalkeeping cover. I went searching for a loan GK to see me through to the end of the season. Sorenson was available but would have cost half a million just to come for 6 months.

I fell back on the old faithful: the Youth team, revitalised and repurposed for season 2016. Youths were largely meaningless for me in PES2015, so it’s nice to see them mean something again.

I promoted Augustin from the Youths. I also raided the Youth ranks for a couple of old favourites: Wroughllen and Niellendner, two players who were stars of my PES2013 campaign.

I hope that echo of PES2013 (without doubt a great PES game, but a painfully short ML campaign due to seriously unbalanced difficulty scaling) doesn’t prove to be prophetic…

PES2016 Season 1 after 29

Castle-dyne, or Castle-deen?

Greg Not appointed manager PES2016When I’m wearing my reading glasses, that’s not too far from what I look like. Like a cross between a mild-mannered bank clerk and Heinrich Himmler.

PES2016 editing

PES2016 is underway, which means that Master League is underway.

I got started on Saturday after a mammoth Editing session that began on Friday.

Editing spanned three sessions on the game and lasted about 4 hours in total. I’m sure those who’ve done the Editing deed this year have all got war stories to tell about the experience. Mine was quite nightmarish, as I messed up the initial import and put many images in wrong categories and– eh, I’ll save it for my therapist.

Editing took up time, it’s safe to say, and so for the first time ever, I skipped a portion of my routine with a new PES. I usually play an International Tournament with England, but I didn’t this year. In between bouts of exhausting Editing I played odd Exhibitions. As soon as I was done, I was ready for Master League.

PES2016 New Highfield Road

I edited PES United into Coventry City, swapped them into the Championship (sorry Rotherham, you’re sitting this one out), adopted Rose Park as New Highfield Road (looking good, above), and away I went.

I’m on Professional difficulty, playing at -1 speed, 1-bar passing, and regular shooting. I won my opening match — a glorious sunny day at pretend Pride Park.

PES2016 ML opening day WIN

As ever with a new crop of Defaults, it’s hard to get a handle on who’s who and who’s best at what. I’m not one for slowly and patiently going through players one after another and looking for things. I just wanted to play.

PES2016 starting XI

I stuck with the formation served up to me by the game – an eerily exact replica of my preferred formation in PES over the past few years.

That’s a 4-2-2-2 with two DMFs, two wide AMF/SMFs, and two central strikers.

I’ll be tweaking things as ever as time goes by.

These players in the First XI, though, are the best I’ve got right now.

That second DMF, BIKEL, is the only player I managed to sign in the August window – and he’s a loaner.

Among the others, Arcas is proving a great player, Yankov is scoring for fun at times, and with Vrany it’s sometimes like Ruskin has fallen through a wormhole into 2016.

Here’s a brief video digest of Saturday:

The additional features of Master League 2016 are a nice surprise. Over the next weeks and months I’ll look at them in more depth than is possible here in post number 1 of the new campaign.

For now, I like the changes to the transfer system that make it more rigorous and realistic. Also, the addition of player traits already seems to be making a difference. Coutinho, one of my strikers, acquired a trait that made him more likely to pick up free kicks — a wild claim for PES2016, you would think, but no, it seems to be working as advertised. I’ve had as many shooting-range free kicks in the handful of matches since he acquired this trait than I probably had in all of PES2015.

Before PES2016 was released I thought Arcas would be the main man, and indeed the stats show that Arcas is a top performer. But he’s not stood out for me, curiously enough.

The standout player at the moment is a certain Castledine, whose name evokes a certain mythical PES player, and who looks rather familiar too…

PES2016 who is that man

It’s him! It’s the Eternal Showboater. The Myth made flesh. The One Who Must Not Be Named.

In this guise he resembles PES2012’s Cinalton much more than he does Castolo/Castello/Castolis.

Cinalton was one of the most useful players of the Class of 2012. So far Castledine is proving very capable. No goals yet, though…

The AI is so far more than holding its own against me. My current Win-Draw-Loss figure is a poor 3-0-7. There’ll be no Season 1 promotion.

All things considered, this should be a good year. Unless something rears its head further down the line. It’s an exciting time, as this seems to be an edition of PES that has great gameplay and a good Master League. If I talked about everything worth talking about, this post would be 2000 words, easy, but I’m keeping it to 700 or so.

PES2016 Castledine in action

There’s a lot to get through in the months ahead.

The stats screens served up at the end of every month — useful, or just window dressing? The training — anything more than surface gloss? Is Arcas the new Macco? Is Hettich the new Irjescu? Is Coutinho really supposed to be the new Minandinho? Will Wroughllen come up from the Youths and take the ML world by storm again? Those player traits — is there any way to influence their acquisition, and do they manifest properly?

And finally for today: for me, it’s Castle-dyne.


PES2016: First Impressions

Just Edited 2 teams PES2016

A special post this evening to deal with my very first impressions of PES2016 based on my first session.

PES2016 is here

The game plopped through my letterbox late morning today, Thursday 17th, the day before official release (thanks be to ShopTo, once again, for exemplary service).

I think the game’s great. I always like football games at first, so we’ll see what I think tomorrow, next week, next month, next September, and so on, but this is one of the most engrossing first sessions with a new PES that I can remember.

I started as ever playing England vs Scotland. -1 Speed. Dynamic Wide Camera with maximum zoom and height. And, as ever, playing on default difficulty – Regular.

I scored within 20 seconds of kicking off:

And that made me worried. But I didn’t score again in this match, and actually LOST it 1-2. Which is something of a first, I think. I usually win the opener, or at least draw it.

This game is very good. The PES DNA is strong in this one. The first session with any PES should always be full of doubts that ebb and flow as the session progresses, ending in a feeling of confidence – and that’s how this one went. Mostly. There’s a sizeable BUT that I’ll get to at the end.

I never hammered the demo – barely touched it, in fact – so the gameplay was fresh and new to me.

It feels peculiar at first, as it darn well should. The passing seems off – but it’s just new. The shooting seems off – but it’s just new. The way the players tussle and jab and joust for the ball seems off – it’s just new.

I played about 7 matches. 4 of them Exhibitions where I didn’t win until my 3rd match, against Germany, Professional, a 2-0 win – with this as my favourite goal of the whole session:

I love setting a player free on the wing with a through-ball.

I then played 3 matches in Champions League mode as Arsenal. Why Arsenal? Because they were the first team I edited – we can import images and kits and stuff now.

I also edited PES United, turning them into the Coventry City team that I’ll be using in Master League – here’s a clip of an Exhibition match against Aston Villa (also edited), using strips kindly provided by my co-blogger Paul, of UltraSoccerBlog:

Note the rubbish celebration. Cringe.

The kits look great in closeup. I already feel closer to PES2016 in a weird way because of the small amount of work I’ve done on it.

So gameplay feels great. Too early to call, of course. Things could go south quickly. It’s several weeks, sometimes months, that decide a football game’s quality, not a few hours (reviewers take note).

Here’s the BUT. Here’s the turd in PES2016’s punchbowl.

In all 7 matches I did not have one free kick.

I was not fouled even once by the AI.

You forget about it at first. Do your best to look away, pretend it’s not happening, or that it doesn’t really matter, as the game feels so good. (The game seriously feels so good.)

You start to notice it again after a while.

Then you forget it again – the gameplay is just so good!

But then you notice that you’re giving away a realistic number of free kicks (I do anyway), and you see the AI teams having relief from pressure that free kicks bring to a football team, and the AI gets shooting chances with free kicks around the box, and you think: I’d like some of that. I’d like to take a free kick in this football game!

Only it’s not happening.

PES2015 was bad enough on the AI fouls front, but at least I’d get some fouls there.

PES2016 takes things to an absurd new level. If today’s first session is any guide, I might be lucky to get one free kick every 10 matches (assuming I get one soon).

It’s a great shame, almost a crime, as the gameplay is so good – the passing, the link-up play, the little deft touches and moments that happen. All great. My first impression of PES2016 is of a game that justifies its lavish reception.

Which makes it all the more a cause of anguish that such a characteristic and defining part of football – fouls and free kicks – are missing.

So that’s the downer, which I’ll end on for now. I won’t post again tomorrow (Friday), as this one turned out so long, and I can embellish and expand in comments. I’ll be back with a follow-up post on Saturday or Sunday. I have a feeling I’m going to start Master League very soon, transfers be damned.