Art for art’s sake

Season 5 of Master League in PES2016 has rumbled to a halt. The final table:

PES2016 Season 5 final tableMy second season up here in the Premier League saw a considerably worse performance than my maiden top-flight season, where I finished 8th and came within a result or two of getting into the Europa League.

It’s difficult to explain the decline this season. I feel that my squad got stronger, that I’m more enthusiastic about the game in general, and that I played better and turned in better performances on the whole. What’s possibly different is that the lesser teams took more off me this season than last. More of the marginal results went my way last season.

Work of Art Coventry 1 Liverpool 0 in PES2016

Highlights of my run-in included a 1-0 win over Liverpool that was a true work of art.

They turned up like any top team in PES2016 does: tooled up and slavering for the fight. You sense it from the beginning: hyper-aggression, hyper-speed, no time on the ball.

Under such conditions there’s nothing to do except turn turtle: play hyper-conservatively, making sure you give away nothing at the back, never commit too many players forward, and hope to snatch a goal or two at some point.

And that’s exactly what happened, with my main man Castledine bagging the winner midway through the second half. My patience and tactics were rewarded. I was very pleased.

And so to Season 6. In the run-up to the end of the season Cavani was performing so well that I received a £26,000,000 bid for him, He’s valued at £19,000,000 currently. This opportunity to cash in on an over-30 striker almost certainly won’t come again. I should sell, shouldn’t I?

But I’m not going to sell Cavani. My instinct is telling me not to sell. There’s another good season at least in Cavani. I need his goals and the inspiration that playing with him brings. It often seems that only two of my players are capable of popping up with critical goals. One is a certain Mr Castledine. The other is Cavani. Like so:

He’s staying. Besides, it’s not like I’m short of offers for other players who might be surplus to requirements.

This is a very generous Master League on the offers-coming-in front. One of those other offers is a £13,000,000 bid for Dzeko, who is valued around £16,000,000. This one I am tempted by, as I feel Dzeko has had his day and is in decline. And Dzeko’s departure wouldn’t leave me short of big men up front. I have the young Luca Toni on my books to act as understudy to Cavani. So it’s looking like Dzeko will be on his way.

Bertrand comment season 5It’s still a dilemma, as Dzeko is still at least as good as Cavani. My instinct tells me Dzeko’s ready for the door, though. This is the kind of decision-making that I play Master League for.

My pre-season transfer wheeler-dealering will be detailed on Tuesday. And then to Season 6, where I want to at least qualify for the Champions League.

I always start any season, wherever I am and whatever level I’ve reached, wanting to finish as high up the table as possible, ideally in Number 1 spot. It’s only when I get to roughly this level of an ML campaign, though, that it’s actually feasible. I’ve got a great squad. I’m very happy with some individuals. All the carping aside, I’m enjoying PES2016. This isn’t a classic year by any means. But it’s still a decent one.


  1. nG – Because everyone loves a good Bob Ross picture?

  2. Chris99 — Bob is almost unknown in this country except as a meme, so I’m hoping it thoroughly confuses a few. And re. your quest for Don Bradman, I’m surprised you entered into an auction when there are Buy It Now alternatives for a quid or two more.

  3. So am I…
    Having just re-checked there’s a Buy It Now at the same price inc p&p, so if I get outbid that’s my next option.

    BTW I’d never heard of Bob Ross either until this afternoon.

  4. 0830 on discovery back in the day. Perfect hangover tv.

  5. There are no mistakes just happy coincidences – could be pes’s story this year..

  6. Man oh man they need to sort out this slide tackling it’s driving me nuts

    Every time I go near their goal I’m hacked down no freekick just play on to them.

    Potentially a game breaker and it’s only happening in the games that really matter. It’s like the ref is blind and mute.

  7. Chris99 — I’m not a cricket fan at all, but I am a baseball fan and have played a fair few baseball games which are similar. The batting has to feel solid and there has to be variety and strategy in the bowling/pitching. I’ve also played a bit of Don Bradman on the PC and it felt solid on both fronts. Well worth a punt.

  8. Stewdog — there’s no ‘potentially a gamebreaker’ about it IMO. PES2016 is never going to go down in PES history as one of the classic editions. You have to go back and play one of the older PES games and witness your muscle memory trying to use PES2016 rhythms — sprint and slide and sprint and slide and sprint and slide and sprint and slide and sprint and slide (all the time, all the time, all the time…) — and the approach blatantly either not working at all or being penalised, to see just how arcadey (yes, that is the word) PES2016 truly is. A shame, but I’m still playing and still interested in Season 6 now, so the game’s got something. Other than PES2008(PS3), this is the most button-mashy, arcadey PES ever made, without question.

  9. I love that phrase “game breaker”

    I have FA cup final, Europa final and league final match this evening.

    Let’s hope for a good result and you are totally right it’s very arcadey now such a shame they moved away from staunch simulation to this shenanigans

    If they fix the tackling id be pretty damn happy I can accept the way the Ai scores goals

  10. Chris – As I played quite a bit of Don Bradman I will give you a few thoughts. The batting and bowling is reasonably solid as NG says but as soon as you jump from amateur to pro level the batting is bloody tough to even score due to the speed of reaction as you need to not only select your footwork on this level first then you do the shot selection but the speed of the bowl means you have to predetermine the shot and get it wrong and you are out. Bowling is OK and good when you learn the techniques but soon gets boring during test or 1st class matches. The worst part though is the career mode as you can start as something like a 16, 21 or 24 year old. If you start as a 16 year old you then have to build your attributes or skills from scratch but having done this you find that you end up with similar skills by the time you reach 21 as if you had just started then. The biggest bug is that the players don’t change throughout as the England team or say Lancashire will be exactly the same team and batting order throughout your entire game. There is also a lack of variety of dismissals unless you want to tweak every players stats. The game gas massive potential so I would give it 6/10.

    If you are prepared to ignore all the issues it is still the best Cricket game made on a console.

  11. The silverware has arrived!

    Season 3 finished – Europa League Champs, League and FA Cup Winners and very late last night World Cup winners with England.

    The final push last night gave me the title after outrunning City and Chelsea down the home straight

    Those final weeks played out something like a nightmare, City in league, Liverpool in league, City in the Cup final, Liverpool in the Europa, the Newcastle who were thumped 5-0 in the final league game at the AMEX

    The big boys no longer really hold much fear for me maybe just Chelsea. I fear stoke, Everton, and palace way more! And Sunderland with an ancient Drogba.

    The World Cup was a bizarre affair, England are a super strong team without having any particularly enjoyable or exciting players. Sturridge was probably the pick of the bunch and Luke Shaw down the left.

    The group stages were a routine affair although losing to Colombja was embarrassing. The knock out was where I thought the level would raise and I think this is why PES still has it’s stranglehold on me. All four games were cracking, a surprising adept and star laden morocco got blitzed before Brazil were ripped on the counter, fairly realistic that they over relied on Neymar and were terrible defensively. Holland were very difficult robben and van persie lethal I had a jump out your seat moment when with a minute to go having thrown him on Welbeck popped up to make it 3-2. The final against Spain was very even I ran around after the Spanish and luckily De Gea had a bad day at the office letting Sterling in at the near post.

    Oddly after all this success the job offers I’m getting are still terrible. Both club and country aren’t worth a change. I wanted Spain or Brazil but none of the sort so I’ll stay simming England games til the next major tournament.

    Brought in Coutinho, Pogba, Gaya and Varane my squad is slowly becoming a monster

    £45m for Pogba is steep but exchanging for Verratti and £20m seemed a better deal, verratti was a huge disappointment and besides Cambiasso has come into his own at DMF. lukaku and Sturridge next on the shopping list.

    Let’s see what happens I’m nearly at completion point now. Just the small matter of the champions league.

  12. Stewdog – I sold Lukaku for £70 million to fund stealing fat Ronaldo off Chelsea.

  13. Lloyd – Wow, I never really get any offers over £20m for my boys, all the clubs in my ML are stingy as hell.

  14. 70m blimey! I’ve got him and would happily take that.

    I’m ready to resume season 4 having finally finished far cry 3. Loved it for 99% of the game and had an idea I knew what was coming as the final reveal – the insanity speech, the loading screens with Alice in wonderland quotes, the succession of ‘larger than life’ characters…. And wow was I wrong. I won’t spoil it in case but…..maybe don’t read on…….it was horribly underwhelming, I felt robbed.

    Thanks for the continued bradman info Darryl. I have regularly wondered but I just think cricket, like 70 lap formula 1 races, just isn’t playstation territory. The only cricket game I consistently enjoyed was cricket captain on the PC but even that got boring midway through matches, it’s just too time consuming changing deliveries, fields and strategies. I end up trying to take a wicket or hit a six every ball. Anyone played civilisation revolutions? I can’t be bothered playing games on the laptop any more but reviews suggest it’s a shadow of a good civ game.

    Got lego Star Wars and lego Jurassic park on santa’s list for the small fella. Won’t be unhappy to be playing them Boxing Day!

  15. nG – Just found out my cheeky Don Bradman bid won. Cheers

  16. stewdog – sounds like you’re at or near the end. Very interesting to hear about the international venture, proving that the game plays differently in different modes.

    Lloyd – Lukaku in PES2011 was almost Schwarz-like in prowess, and I bet he’s much the same in PES2016, which does oddly favour the big lumbering strikers.

    Uncle Turf – as a Civilization man I cannot recommend Revolutions. It’s a decent enough mobile/tablet strategy game and worth picking up if it’s a few quid, but don’t expect too much. It’s not worthy of the mighty Civ name. Combat is dumbed down to basics. Diplomacy involves witnessing a dreadful Sims-style babble from the other leaders that’s supposed to be cute and humorous, but isn’t even so-bad-it’s-good funny. I’d steer well clear. I can’t really get into games on phone and iPad, so I don’t know of any alternatives but I’m sure they’re out there.

    Chris99 – contra Uncle Turf, when I played baseball games I used to play all 9 innings and play them properly – bunting, paying attention to who was on base and where, sacrifice fly balls, etc. Proper baseball strategy instead of going for home runs on every pitch. The only reason I no longer play baseball games (and there are a few great ones around) is because of time. The little I saw of Don Bradman suggests that it’s much the same sort of game that rewards a patient approach.

  17. NG – cheers, that’s pretty much what player comments say – where’s the diplomacy, a big army wins every time etc. I tried the demo of tropico but didn’t like it. I just see so much of my laptop screen I can’t face firing up games on it.

  18. Turf/NG – I was a huge fan of Civilisation back in the day I played PC games and Civilisation 3 and 4 where my favourites. I used to love all the humour and the advisors. The only other format I played it on was the X Box which was OK but a little bit easy and was a watered down version of the main game.

  19. NG – to survive on DB on pro level you have to be mega patient and adopt a Boycott like approach to batting. Don Bradman himself was renound for taking risk out of his game and would barely give anyone a chance so in this regard the game is a worthy tribute to him.

  20. Darryl – that Xbox Civ game you’re describing is Revolutions, the heftily diluted version of the series that I cannot recommend. It’s not completely terrible, but it’s not Civ. And re. patience with games, we must imagine Uncle Turf playing chess and snapping after 5 moves, and trying to hop his pawn round the board like a draughts piece…

  21. He he, you’re not wrong, I have zero patience – in real cricket my captain once asked why I tried to smash every ball for six (with no success I might add). I can, however, play the long game in the likes of civ (my last one was civ3). Maybe because it’s constantly changing in terms of things to research/build/do but what really gets me are those cut scene ‘have to be endured with no alternative outcome’ mini movies in games like max Payne, dream sequencey shite with the odd stick twiddle. I imagined civ Rev was somewhere similar to sid’s Pirates on the Xbox, really just an arcade romp.

  22. Uncle Turf – Just this weekend I was playing through a few levels with mini-Shed on Lego Star Wars. He has no interest in footy or PES but in Star Wars and Lego we have a common ground. And Lego Star Wars (the complete saga one on PS3) is a great game. Mini-Shed has this new Lego Dimensions thing on his Christmas list. Looks over complicated and expensive to me but what do I know?

    Back to some PES at last over the weekend and my Brighton side continue their often ridiculously one-sided charge towards promotion and the Div 1 title on Superstar. Results went 1-0, 3-0, 2-0 and 3-0 in late session last night. Now ten games to go and I’m five points clear of Villa who are second and a whopping 17 clear of Derby in third. Coutinho now on 30 goals for the season, Rambe on 17. Regen Antonio De Natalie is also proving to be quite some player for a little fella.

  23. Shed – same here, except I get too easily wound up by him killing me. He thinks it’s the funniest thing in the world to suit up as Ice Man in Lego marvel and freeze my character. I know I shouldn’t but I have to invoke the ‘I’m turning it off’ routine. He has looked at Dimensions but what a scam – £70+ for the product, £20+ for each small pack of characters – I thought Disney Infinity was pricey but that’s outrageous. It’s the full saga I’ve bought and he should like the dinos as well.

    I’ve also bought him the character encyclopedia as I’m fed up of being asked who the new people are – 1977-83 no problem but Binks and beyond I haven’t a clue.

  24. Uncle Turf — impatience manifests itself in Civilization by charging off to war before you’re prepared. You have to have enough units to at least take 1 city, preferably more, and then to look after your own borders during the war and afterwards when the AI will come after you. But it’s a common trap in Civ to start a war with far too few units, so you don’t achieve your objectives and then you get steamrollered when the AI counter-attacks. I just BET that kept happening to you when you played…

    I’ve always got a Civ game on the go. Currently playing Civ V, a great game nowadays after a shocking launch in 2010, where I’m the Assyrians and bossing my continent on a difficulty level where I usually end up getting trounced. Taking each turn as it comes. Weeks can pass between sessions but it’s a requirement of my life. (PES, Civ, MGS, Final Fantasy: my big four game series, although it’s been years since FF had a compelling instalment IMO.)

    Shed — your D2 stroll will be abruptly halted in the Premiership, so be ready for it. Don’t be lulled by any early fixtures against fellow promotees etc. The big teams are insane on Superstar in this game and it takes a few seasons to tame them.

    Lloyd — you’ve got a great team there. Was Totti a youth signing? I’ve just had the Old Boys game for him and am expecting him to Regen soon.

  25. When I played civ2 on the ps (and that did feel like a very good effort to me) I was guilty at first of charging off as soon as I built a chariot. I think that version was over heavy in the war strategy and liking a lot of room at the start I would try and destroy cities in their infancy. However, I stopped doing it because of a) what you said, the counter attack but mainly b) I felt terrible if my one unit attack caused the destruction of the entire race. That message about ‘the Babylonians are extinct’ or whatever was real ‘are you happy now you genocidal maniac’ stuff! By the time I moved to civ 3 I did everything possible to avoid war. I built a huge defensive army and became a lover not a fighter, usually because I always ended up being attacked no matter what. I nearly always dropped nuclear bombs in two, don’t ever remember dropping a bomb in three. My ideal civ campaign would start with me not meeting any other races for about 1500 years.

    Sadly I really really don’t want to fire up games on the laptop but that looks the only civ option now.

    I also had a look at ico after far cry. I’ve had the reissue disc for years and got frustrated with shadow of the colossus so hadn’t bothered with the other one. This is probably heresy but yes it looks lovely and is very clever but…I find it really boring. Really really boring.

  26. n-G: Don’t worry, I’m already bracing myself for the challenge. Hopefully I’ll have the title tied up well before the end of this season to allow me to blood a few fringe players and ensure I’m at tip-top Team Spirit for the Prem in season 4.

    I’m still really enjoying the game – more so now I have less time to play, actually. That two weeks where I played every day started to expose the failings in the game and I did start to feel the fatigue of match after 100mph match.

  27. Ico has a lot of complex trial-and-error puzzles and general gameplay that simply aren’t for the impatient gamer, and thus not for you. It’s a wonderful game and a great experience, definitely in my top 5 of gaming experiences that match anything in movies, books, etc. Next to FF8, MGS3, PES5, and a few of the more memorable Civ experiences, including the time in Civ3 when I used a tactical nuke to prevent an AI Stack of Doom from getting through my stretched outer lines. I reduced that stack to a rump that soon retreated, but the AI nuked three of my interior cities the very next turn. I could cope with that — always an army of workers on hand to clean up — what I could never have coped with was the Stack of Doom, and the tactical nuke stopped ’em. I ended up winning that war and the game. This happened 10 or more years ago and I still remember the chill that stole over me throughout the key Dr Strangelove-like moves. I rarely go nuclear in Civ, mainly because I’ve either already won by that stage, or been defeated so badly that I retire. Once every 25 games or so, I get to the nuclear age with nothing decided, but I still somehow avoid pressing the button. I think I’ve used nukes maybe twice in all my years playing Civ, and this was one of those times. When I knew I was going to use a tactical nuke…

    Civ 2 was my first Civ on the PS1 too, and I thought it was amazing. My favourite is a tough call and I’d be stuck between Civ3 and 4. Civ5 is great too but I just don;t have the same time to devote these days. And no, I doubt we’ll ever see their like on phone or tablet.

  28. I don’t play any God type games on the iPad, they’re just money suckers or advert driven irritations. Is there anything you can think of for ps that would fit the bill? I’m not quite the goldfish in the bowl in terms of concentration but you’re right the puzzle platformer drives me insane. Civ2 for PS3 would be perfect. Is xcom any good? Strategy games generally get poor write ups. I haven’t finished with crusader kings but I so look forward to turning off the laptop it’ll have to wait another few years.

  29. I meant to say earlier, does it strike anyone else as odd that here we are a bunch of footy game fans and not one of us is playing or has even played FIFA 16?

    I’ve not been tempted by FIFA at all this year which perhaps is the biggest indication that PES 2016 is decent but I’d of bet that at least a couple of us would have played a couple of seasons on it by now.

  30. Shed — it’s mainly the release schedule this year. It’s a rare year PES appears before FIFA, and this is one of them. That’s the main factor but I think long and bitter experience has taught us that there’s no way to play two football games at the same time. Even testing out another football game (including other PES games) isn’t a viable move. So as long as there’s something left in PES2016, FIFA16 will have to wait.

    Uncle Turf — I recently played XCOM all the way through to completion and it’s a great strategy game. That one is available on iPad and I hear it’s a decent port, but I played it on PC. Civ2 will work on PS3 of course, but can you stand that amount of retro? If so there’s a Buy It Now copy going on eBay right now for a fiver. I’m definitely the eBay special correspondent these days.

  31. Civ 2 on PS3? How so?

    I would only play xcom on PS3. In fact short of the odd puzzler and bit of wii dancing I’m strictly a PS3/4 man nowadays.

  32. Well bugger me, I never knew that (just googled ps1/3).

  33. Uncle Turf — the PS3 has always been able to play PS1 discs, not just the downloaded ones from the PS Store (don’t you remember playing FF7 on the PS3?!).

    After you get past the initial base-building tutorials, XCOM gets out of your way and lets you do as much or little as you wish. I’d say it’s pretty much perfect for somebody with your kind of werd-style ADHD, if you’ll pardon the multiple insults packed into one sentence…. Watch a YouTube vid first to see if the kind of strategy is your kind of thing. It’s turn-based, with a difference.

  34. I downloaded ff7, I didn’t have the disc – hence me not knowing about the capability. Dear me, that’s werd-like levels of detachment, how could I have never been aware of that?!

  35. I’ve just had a HORRENDOUS experience! (I’ll have to explain it in my useless neanderthal “not technologically minded at all” jive)

    My PS3’s HDMI connection has been playing up, flickering, cutting out, making that awful crackling sound with snowy picture you’d get when trying to tune in a telly 15 years ago)
    I was lead to believe the Hdmi port of the console would be the problem so tried a scart cable, that brought up no picture at all. Last night I found help online which suggested resetting the console which I did, chose some hdmi option which runs resulted in the aspect changing, it was NOT HDMIx the display was cloudy and zoomed in yet once I put the game on it changed to almost letterbox format. Unplayable.

    More messing with the settings of the tv allowed me to change to a nearly normal “cinema” aspect and I started my next match… god. It was like going back in time. The players had jagged white lines round them, could barely read any text and the sound was tinny. Somehow I won the game 2-1 (we both scored in injury time) then my wife reminded me her sister has brought another HDMI cable round earlier.

    Quick change and a flick through settings on PS3 and I’m back to crystal clear loveliness, hopefully for good!

  36. For a minute I thought I was about to read of another YLOD… Christmas would be a cruel time.

    Eased back into season four by playing easily the best team I’ve faced – Germany. Played our boys off the park 2-0. My post uruguay optimism crushed. Won my the next gateshead game in the cup before thrashing Marseilles. Champions league seems somehow sharper and a little more stat boosted than normal, my shots were crashing in, keepers were flying, everything just a bit crisper – although it might be the flashy packaging that led me on.

  37. Season 9 is drawing to a close and I’m top on goal difference from Chelsea who just beat me 3-2. 1-0 up against Fiorentina in the CL semi and Chelsea got their revenge in the Cup Semi, thrashing me 4-1. It’s gonna be a tight finish.

  38. With other interests gaming is now restricted to an hour or so at a time completing the odd mission on MSG. I do love the massive scope of the game as you can complete missions any way you want. For someone like me who has has the sutblenes of a elephant wearing flip flops this is ideal. I also like all the development side of things which strikes the perfect balance.

  39. Mike – so it was a faulty HDMI cable? Your SCART lack-of-output was likely just not selecting the proper output channel on the TV.

    Lloyd – Chelsea aren’t the force they were in my ML world now! Arsenal and Tottenham are much more formidable.

    Darryl – I go full Rambo about half the time on MGS, as stealth is so hard to pull off, even with D-Dog as a spotter. I’m near the finale – not sure exactly how far away, but I’m on mission 34 or so, and there are 40-odd. There are some weird surprises in store for you that I won’t spoil, including a fourth-wall-buster that I’ve never seen in any game.

  40. NG quite possibly. Hoping the wife can pick me up a new cable today. The picture was so bad it made me feel ill!

  41. Mike – I recently had the same problem with my PS3. I changed the cable but in the end it was 12-year-old mini-Shed who solved the issue. I think it was an output setting on the PS3. I’ll check which widget he twiddled later.

    Back to PES 2016 ML and promotion from Div 2 achieved with six games of season three to go last night. I did however see my unbeaten 28 game run come to an end away to Wolves due to both complacency on my part and some typical ML scripting.

    Still seven points clear of Villa so the championship and my first PES silverware of any kind since PES 2013 (shocking given how much I played 2015) is surely a formality now.

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