Month: December 2015

The opposite of victory

The Invincibles dream didn’t make it to mid-season:

PES2016 finally defeatedI lost 2-0 at QPR in a match that was classic PES robbery, or more exactly, classic Master League robbery.

QPR, near the bottom of the table, got their first goal straight from their kickoff. I battered their goal for the rest of the half and got nothing. They got their second almost immediately after kickoff in the second half. I attacked, lost the ball, and they swept downfield to score, and at that stage I knew it was up, pretty much.

I was disappointed to lose the chance of an Invincible season, but not gravely so. Having had one in the past on another PES (2012, I think), that itch has been scratched.

I did stage an heroic comeback from 0-2 down in the next match, against Chelsea. There I went 2-0 down in the first half but pulled it around to win 3-2 in one of my most satisfying comebacks in all of PES history. PES2016 isn’t the grandiose footy gaming experience of years past, but every so often there’s a match in this edition that shows just what the game can do, and why it’s a pretty good football game despite the multiplayer focus.

That one defeat against QPR didn’t dislodge me from the top:

PES2016 season 7 after 277 points clear. 11 matches to go. I can’t blow the title now. Can I?

I’m well past mid-season now. I didn’t get any new players. I don’t believe in transfer activity for the sake of it. I’ve already got a superb squad, with no gaps anywhere.

The Champions League group went very well:

PES2016 CL group final tableAnd this was the draw – a tough opponent, but I always like having the away leg first.

PES2016 CL knockout drawI won it easily over two legs, 4-1 on aggregate, drew Paris St Germain in the next round, and have Barcelona in the next. That tie is upcoming at the time of writing.

Reyes is starting to emerge as one of the few notable individuals of PES2016. Not quite up there with Castledine and Cavani just yet, but he’s becoming very useful. Up to 82 OPR in the SS position, which isn’t his best position for me. AMF/SMF seems to be where he shines. Here he is just after bagging a hat-trick:

Reyes Hat-trick

Here’s a few other goals from the middle bit of Season 7:

The second goal from Castledine – an R2 curler from outside the box – is a type that the forums claim is very easy in PES2016. I’ve not found that to be the case. This is the first such I’ve scored on PES2016, and it’s not for want of trying. Most of my R2 curlers go wide, or go over, or go wide and over, or go ‘safely into the keeper’s gloves’ as the saying goes. This one curled delightfully in.

The final goal of the clip above is Rabiot’s first goal for me from his DMF position, and you can see how it had to happen. A one-two run from deep, and a nice lob to finish. That was the first goal in a bizarre demolition job I did on Arsenal in the FA Cup.

Hammered Arsenal in the Cup PES2016

Nothing like that result would ever happen in a league match. If there are to be 5 goals in a league match against top-6 opposition, they’d be shared between the teams.

And so I go on. Into the last third of my last season on PES2016. Probably my last season…

I’m starting to wonder if I might give unassisted passing and shooting a try, but I already know I won’t, so I won’t.

All being well, I’ll finish season 7 – and PES2016 – on a positive note sometime next week.

One of the aircraft carriers that went to the Falklands

Look at this table below. It’s not just about where I am (if I don’t win the title this season, I’ll be having a serious word with myself). But just see the Losses column:

PES2016 season 7 after 15

Could it be that…? Might I manage to…? You know…? One of those seasons… That unmentionable word… I’m not saying it.

I could do it, as I’m not sure if PES2016 has much left to really test me anymore. That’s tempting fate in a huge way, as we all know what the game is capable of doing. Sooner or later I’ll get the peculiar game where nothing I try seems to work and the AI snatches a goal that it defends to the death. I wonder if that is inevitable?

I’ve been helped by having a really strong squad. I’ve stopped puzzling over the lack of 90+ OPR players. The rating system is changed now. The 80s are the new 90s in Pro Evo — until Konami changes it all again, which they doubtless will.

Castledine is one of the best players on the planetThe power of habit is strong. Since the dawn of Master League, most Defaults have been rubbish for so long that most of us have a habit of looking to sell them all for as good a price as possible as early as possible. Many ML veterans will therefore have moved their Castledines on as soon as the first good offers arrived in the early seasons. Bet you’re sorry now, eh?

It’s a toss-up between Castledine and Aimar as to who will be my first 90-rated player. Both are on 88 at the moment and both still growing. A few regular readers of the blog vouched for Aimar when I first promoted him from the Youths, and he is indeed becoming a game-changer.

CL is up and running

The Champions League has started. I’ve won all three of the opening ties and am top of the group table. I don’t anticipate trouble in the Champions League until the knockout stages. I’m also through the first few rounds of the FA Cup. The Treble is still on.

One of this season’s Youth promotees, Lopez, came on towards the end of a tough league derby match at Villa. A rare daytime game was heading for 0-0 when I got an even rarer free kick. It’s common for me to play entire sessions of 5 matches without having a single free kick. Excited, I was.

My usual free-kicker, Castledine, was being rested (blue-arrowed, I think). The game auto-selected Embolo as the kicker, but I checked and saw the lad Lopez had some ability. I slotted him in as the kicker. This free kick would be his very first touch of his whole professional career. Could he…?

Indeed, that side of the Villa wall were all midgets. But you’ve still got to put them away. (The goals, not the midgets.)

I’m having a decent time with the game at the moment, chiefly because I had to leave a gap of a few days in playing it over the weekend. I didn’t play Friday either, so when I booted up Monday morning it had been four days since my last footy gaming action.

It felt really good, so good that I’m heeding the message and trying to leave gaps of a day or two here and there. I still have Metal Gear Solid V to finish.

Any football game would buckle under the kind of scrutiny I’ve brought to bear on PES2016. But I remain profoundly unimpressed with the elements of PES2016 that are self-evidently made to meet multiplayer expectations. I plan to moan about this forever. No-fouls football is an abomination.


Forty million pounds Sterling

Season 7 signing John TerrySeason 7, and what will probably be my finale on PES2016. This actually depends on me winning the league title. If I don’t, then I will want to carry on to Season 8. So I’m actually making a bold prediction that I’ll win the title. Famous last words? Begging for a hubris-stinging sting in the tail? We shall see.

Transfer activity: very little. Cavani went, as was already arranged. I had loads of cash. Fifty-odd million.

First I brought in a few Youths – John Terry for one, against my better judgement.

I dislike his real-life counterpart for a number of reasons, not least the way he embodies that whole screaming-at-referees model of ‘official management’ that all professional players indulge in, aiming to browbeat officials and influence decisions in their favour. It works too. ‘Oh yes, I clearly grabbed the attacker around the midriff and stopped him from jumping, and you clearly saw it, but if you give this decision I am going to come over with loads of my teammates and scream at you.’

It’s a sobering thought that there are no properly officiated professional football matches anymore. There never will be again.

Terry is one of the leading exponents of this, so it was a long thinking process before I got him. But Pro Evo is its own footballing world – a much better world. Yes, even this multiplayer-focused PES2016. At least its reluctance to penalise foul play is internally consistent.

So John Terry came, along with a couple of other likely lads: Iraola and Lopez.

Already the three have ridiculously high OPR ratings for their age and experience. Early times with them indicate that they handle and perform like seasoned pros. This isn’t what we’re used to, but perhaps that’s wrong: it’s been the new norm for three editions of the game. This is now the norm. Bring back Ordaz!

I only got one new player and I paid a lot of money for him. Here’s the First XI and squad, with that new player slotting in as a right-sided AMF for now:

PES2016 season 7 squad and First XII had all the Cavani cash to spend and I spent nearly all of it on Raheem Sterling.

Again he’s not my favourite real-life player (I don’t think I have any anymore). He’s very pleased with himself, isn’t he? But he played well for 10 minutes of England-Italy last year in the World Cup, and he’s a nippy little AMF/SS/CF sort of character, ideal for the uber-responsive PES2016 (that’s not a compliment), and he wanted to come, so I snapped him up.

Table after 4 matches:

PES2016 season 7 after 4That’s the kind of start that I anticipate seeing through to the end. One of my results was a satisfying 2-0 against Arsenal – quietly one of my bogey teams in this football game.

PES2016 season 7 Champs League group

There was just enough time to see the Champions League draw.

It’ll be interesting to see if Ibrahimovic FC or Gary Neville FC give me any trouble. Knowing Pro Evo, it’ll be the unpronounceable one at the bottom that’ll trip me up. I hope so!

As things stand, PES2016 will be a mid-term Pro Evo, rather than a long-term one. But that could still change.

What I need from a PES edition for long-term play is the feeling that it can always surprise me. I’d like it to throw some curveballs that aren’t too transparently unfair. I’m hoping somewhere in PES2016 there’s a few of those left.

Pages from Ceefax

Without further ado — my final Season 6 table:

Final Table Season 6 PES2016I only pulled clear of 5th and secured that all-important top-4 place in the final few matches. It was nip and tuck until that point, with a Europa League spot looking likeliest.

In last Friday’s post, I said that I needed to stop drawing so many matches and start winning them instead. That’s what I went ahead and did. My record since last Friday is Played 23, Won 17, Drawn 3, Lost 3. That’s top-4 form, easy. Perhaps not quite Treble-winning form if translated to a season-long campaign, but it’s getting there, and it’s been good enough to secure me a shot at the Champions League next season.

Note as a curiosity how I’m 3rd in almost everything in that table. 3rd in position. 3rd in games won. 3rd in games lost. 3rd in goals scored.

I was happy to see some of my players among the honours at season’s end:

Season 6 goals ranking PES2016I doubt I’ll ever score enough goals with one player to match Cavalcanti up there. Wow.

The Assist Ranking makes for encouraging reading:

Season 6 Assist Ranking PES2016As well as Castledine (my Player of PES2016, without any doubt), my soon-to-be-ex-striker, Cavani, made a great showing here too.

Now for my promised end-of-season highlights reel, which is not as lengthy as it was meant to be, for reasons I’ll explain. There are still some decent goals and a couple of comedy moments here and there. Enjoy the music:

I had a ton of season 6 goal snippets saved up on the PS4 HD that I exported to USB to make this video. After the export was done, I made a mistake: I deleted all the clips on my PS4, assuming I had them all safe and sound on USB.

When I plugged the USB into my PC, there were tech issues with some of the vids. About a third were corrupted when I came to examine them. The ones that survived are the only ones in the above vid.

Ehhhh. I shouldn’t have deleted the originals, I know. It’s not my usual practice. I’m usually a cautious curator of my own digital stuff. Multiple copies, multiple redundancies, is my modus operandi. Except for this time. Oh well.

Anyway, it’s still a decent slice of Season 6’s goals, with some of my favourite moments on show.

One of the comedy moments is at 0:59 in the form of a blatant foul I committed on the AI that should have been a penalty. PES2016 is a mutiplayer game at its heart, and thus ‘interruptions’ have to be kept to a minimum, and thus we have a physical modelling system that doesn’t register even 1% of the fouls it should register, and it doesn’t in this instance as in so many others. PES2016 is an ultra-arcadey edition of the series that will never take a high place in the PES pantheon because of moments like that.

Which leads me onto something of an announcement. This coming season, Season 7, will be my last on PES2016’s Master League. I expect to win the title, possibly the Treble, and it will be a fitting finale either way.

For the record, I don’t have any real dislike for PES2016. It’s a good football-based computer game. It’s not a PES classic, but few are.

Instead it’s all very reminiscent of PES2013, which came to an early end at a similar stage (8 seasons). I didn’t abandon PES2013 in disgust, but simply recognised it had reached a natural end (and I even half-heartedly started a non-dev ML), and so it is with PES2016. Getting out of PES2016 while I still have a mostly positive view of it is probably for the best,

And so to Season 7. I’ll be going all-out for that Treble.