Month: January 2016

The Last Day of PES2016

Missing you already

My last session on PES2016. Yes, I think it’s the last one ever, but I’m never saying never again, again.

I got to the FA Cup Final, lost the FA Cup Final, and then finished my League campaign in a distant 5th place.

Like so:

12419197_427001437496874_1916831471706941186_oI went out of the Champions League at the Quarter Final stage. So I finish my final season, the 8th of its line, having won precisely nothing (except the Community Shield and Supercup way back at the start).

And that’s fine with me. Superstar turned out to be a decent challenge in the end. Unassisted passing was also well worth playing another season for. All in all, I do not regret playing this one extra season.

12401889_427001397496878_8833746293656628920_o

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The FA Cup Final was a beast of a game. I lost it in extra time. The AI came out firing on all cylinders, just like it had in the Champions League QF, where I was eliminated 7-1 on aggregate. I’ll say it again: why could the AI not always be like this? Instead of being so strangely passive and loathe to put its boot in. I actually get a couple of free kicks when the AI is ramped up like that.

The Team of the Tournament:

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Good old Giorza!

I forwarded time to the very end of the season, and gulped when I saw the transfer kitty I’d have had to play with in a completely hypothetical Season 9:

12489181_427001597496858_6183190229917213365_oThat’s enough for at least one super-duper player (a Messi or a Suarez), and much more.

No, I wasn’t tempted. In a previous PES with proper player individuality, maybe I would have been tempted. But one of the sad truths about PES2016 is that nearly all the players feel much the same as each other.

Some last highlights — beginning with a comical blunder from my goalkeeper of a sort that’s actually pretty rare in PES2016:

I’m going to miss that Castledine fellow. Despite this game’s overall flattening-out of player individuality, he will remain one of my most memorable single players in any PES.

And so, just like that, on a grey day in January, PES2016 came to a full stop. Like I said above, I’m never saying never. I have yet to try full-manual shooting in PES2016…

But it is over. I probably played for a few weeks longer than I should have. This game was sucked dry for me sometime in early December, truth be told.

PES2016’s gushing reviews and high scores (all that the games publishers really care about, whatever they say in public) were not justified, in my view.

Reviewers were universally indulgent to aspects of gameplay that would have been savaged in FIFA. I’m talking about the almost complete absence of fouls and free kicks from single-player gameplay, of course.

I will save more recriminations — and much praise — for my end-of-year review in September/October later this year (depending on PES2017’s release schedule).

If I was awarding my own score right now I’d plump for 7/10. But my feelings about that whole fouls/free kicks issue are so strong that a score of 5/10 for PES2016 would be completely justified, in my opinion.

No-fouls gameplay matters so much because it affects EVERYTHING so much. PES2016’s arcadiness is 95% down to the laissez-faire fouling environment. Almost anything goes. No consequences.

I know that PES2015 was much the same in terms of no-fouls. FIFA15 was also the same, for me. FIFA16 is the same, for me. No fouls or low fouls, all football games now are the same. It’s complete bullshit. It really makes me depressed to think about.

It might be unfair for PES2016 to bear the full load of a trend that’s been creeping into football gaming for as long as the desires of the online marketplace have been setting the agenda. But that’s what’s happened.

Right. So.

PES2016 is now officially over on the blog. From Tuesday I will be blogging about my footy gaming adventures in a whole new direction. I’m taking a step back one generation to my dear old PlayStation3. I’ll be playing the fully-patched PES2014. The PES game that just about everyone loathed after release — but, in its final patched form, almost nobody ever played…

Penultimatum

Last Days of PES2016I’m closing in on the last stages of my last season (for real this time) on PES2016. I’m playing with Unassisted passing on Superstar Difficulty (for real this time).

A busy working weekend meant I only had time for a paltry few matches. I managed to get to matchday 31 without seeing any movement towards the league leaders.

But I already know I’m not going to win the fabled Superstar Treble on PES2016. I’m out of the Champions League in humiliating style. Complacency undid me. I sailed through qualifying and then the first knockout match. I assumed it’d be plain sailing all the way.

Except I had a disastrous opening leg to the Quarter Final knockout round. Lost 0-4 at home against Manchester City.

Maybe on Assisted passing there’d be a chance of coming back from that in the second leg, but what Unassisted does very well is make every chance worked-for. And they take time to create. Chances don’t come along every few seconds.

I struggled to get anything going in the second leg, went a goal down pretty fast, and crashed out in miserable fashion, losing the match 3-1 in the end to make it a 7-1 thumping overall.

Which might be my worst-ever defeat in European competition on any PES.

PES2016’s infamous low difficulty can throw these extreme difficulty spikes at you. What a shame it happens all too seldom. I’d have liked to see every match in the whole game pitched at the difficulty of this tie.

PES2016 World Manager of the YearI won the World Manager of the Year — for last season, of course, the Phantom Treble that I won ‘only’ (as it turned out) on Top Player difficulty. Still, it was nice to see the award coming my way under any circumstances.

I’ll have final words to say on PES2016 in Friday’s post. It’s not been bad! No-fouls is bad. Superslide-tackle is bad. General gameplay is pretty good.

Nothing’s ever changed on the no-fouls front in PES2016. 90% of matches end with zero free kicks for me. Perhaps even worse, at least 75% of those matches end with zero free kicks for either side. My skills at executing PES2016’s completely bullshit overpowered slide-tackle is now so far developed that I only concede free kicks if I get sloppy. I forgave PES2015 for no-fouls football. I will never forgive PES2016 for it. But it’s by no means alone.

The way I play football games — pass and move, with very little dribbling and trying to take on defenders — means that every football game of recent years has been a low- or no-fouling game for me.

Other football gamers report a satisfying amount of free kicks in FIFA.

I’ve played a bit of FIFA16 over the past few days while assessing my next move, footy gaming-wise. Most matches in FIFA16 also end with no free kicks to me.

I can give away plenty of free kicks in FIFA16, fair enough, but I very rarely get them.

This no-fouls/low-fouls issue, right here, is the biggest one affecting the single-player football gaming experience in the current era. We really are being forced to put up with the football gaming that online multiplayers want to play. Maximum flow. Minimum interruptions to their button-mashing, trance-like state.

I don’t have any hope for change. PES2017, and FIFA17, and all football games ever made from now on, will have no-fouls or low-fouls as their baseline reality.

The most we can hope for as single players would be the introduction of a referee strictness slider or similar in PES. It would be so simple to do (PC modders have been doing it for years). It would save the single-player game.

I do fear for the future, though. Some voices on the PES forums are confidently predicting that PES2017 must — surely! — reintroduce fouls and free kicks to single-player gameplay. Well, I confidently predict that PES2017 won’t do anything of the sort.

Friday’s post will be the last of PES2016. Will I be able to sign off with at least a League and Cup double?

A season too far?

Castledine speaks PES2016Season 8 is well underway. I’m still turning down silly money offers for the Player of PES2016, and he still seems to be OK with that.

This is definitely my final season on PES2016. What I wanted from Season 8 was to really milk the game for its last drops of sustenance using Unassisted Passing.

I believe I have done that now. At the time of writing I’ve already played up to Matchday 25. (In Tuesday’s post I’d only played to Matchday 5, but that post was actually written a week ago. I wanted to clear the decks for a weekend of Metal Gear Solid, and I delivered on my own promise to myself, so at least one of my multiple and feuding personalities was satisfied…)

Here’s the table after 25:

PES2016 Season 8 after 25

Now, that table tells the story in a nutshell of life on Superstar for me and also life with Unassisted Passing. Lots of draws. Not quite as many goals.

This is reflected in my results for the month of November:

Season 8 a run of results

The matches are fairly absorbing. One pleasing aspect  of gameplay that Unassisted Passing seems to have unlocked is indicated by that 4-0 thumping of Leeds. You’re able to punish weaker teams by using better passing. That might just be me wishing for PES2016 to prove itself PES-like. But it’s the definite feeling I get.

Unassisted passing isn’t manual passing — it’s still stats-based, just unassisted, meaning the game doesn’t help you with guidance if you get it slightly wrong, as it does on other settings. In that sense it’s arguably the only ‘true’ way to play a football game and tease the individuality out of players.

I had hoped that Casteldine and Reyes and Rosicky and so on would distinguish themselves with Unassisted Passing. Sadly, I have yet to find that to be the case. The players are all still much of a muchness, except I have to concentrate on my aiming a bit more.

I breezed through my Champions League group. 10 goals scored, none conceded. Defending in PES2016 really is easier than it should be:

PES2016 season 8 CL final group table

And why’s that? Why is defending easier than it should be in PES2016? Because of no-fouls football, of course.

In PES2016 you can pretty much keep that finger on R1 all the time, and complement it with as much hacking, sliding, and barging as you like. In fact, this aggression-max approach is exactly the way everybody plays PES2016. You might as well play with maximum speed and violence when you’ll be unlucky to concede a foul, never mind receive a card of any colour.

This aspect of PES2016 is total, unmitigated garbage. No-fouls football is the fundamental issue with this game. There are no excuses that stand up to any kind of rational scrutiny. New engine my arse. No-fouls football is blatantly deliberate, blatantly for myClub’s sake, and blatantly the way things will be from now on. PES2017 will be the same, just wait and see.

I manage to sort of forget about PES2016’s no-fouls football for much of the time. But then I’ll get a match with no free kicks of any kind for either side, and I’m amazed how I could have taken PES2016 seriously enough to play it for 8 Master League seasons. But here I am.

PES2016 season 8 January TotMRosicky is emerging as one of my most important players. He has another great long-ranger in the compilation at the end of the post. Giorza, my other great Default, just keeps going and going at right-back.

I promoted ALONSO and CASILLAS from the Youths, and bought S GERRARD once more. I’m only going to have half a season with them.

My last ever PES2016 squad picture:

PES2016 season 8 January squadToni is my first 90-rated player in the game. One thing PES2016 gets almost right is the scaling of the player ratings.

I say almost right because too often, player ratings and core stats seem to be meaningless in PES2016. Or at most, barely perceptible.

Ribery has now played for me for half a season. He handles just like Gotze, Sterling, Rosicky, and many others before him.

And every single player without exception is able to perform geometrically perfect slide-tackles.

So PES2016 is the least individuality-oriented PES there has ever been. Much like FIFA, you have several distinct player types – big centre-forwards; nimble midfield dribblers; stout centre-halves; etc. – and the individuals are simply representatives of the types.

Some highlights (not all of them goals) from the opening half of Season 8, set to music and fiddled about with in Share Factory:

PES2016 goes into extra time

PES2016 goes into extra timeIt’s happened before, it’s happening now, and it’ll no doubt happen again. After all the hysterics and ballyhoo, I’m continuing with PES2016 on Superstar difficulty (for real this time) — and on Unassisted passing. Shooting will remain the same.

Why continue with a game I’d become totally exhausted by a few weeks ago? And why does this keep happening to me?

I won’t go too deeply into it. I’m here to blog about my football gaming, not my football gaming psychology.

But it has a lot to do with my near-daily playing habit, which is pretty rare for a 40-something man in this day and age.

When you play nearly every day, and for long sessions each time, a football game’s problems become magnified. Then the opposite happens when you take a short break. Metal Gear Solid V and Christmas-New Year have just disrupted my footy gaming to a massive degree. So when I picked up PES2016 again a week or so ago, it felt fresh and interesting again.

And then, in my first Season 8 league match, literally seconds after kickoff, I scored this:

My instinct is to continue with PES2016. I’ll get to the other football games in due course. There are NINE MONTHS of the footy gaming year remaining. That’s assuming PES2017 lands in September. It could just as easily arrive in October/November. A long old time.

I’m just as capable of walking away mid-Season 8. We’ll see how it goes.

First, I signed this young Regen — only 19, but it’s plain he’s going to be ace:

Season 8 Ibra joins

I also signed this ‘un — time will tell if he proves to be just another identikit sort of player, as so many sadly are in PES2016:

Season 8 Ribery joins

I partly financed these deals by selling Mario Gotze.

My full Season 8 squad:

Season 8 PES2016 starting squad

The table after 5 matches:

PES2016 season 8 after 5Superstar difficulty for reals this time.

Unassisted passing — 0-bar — isn’t manual passing. That’s very important to grasp.

I also won the Charity Shield, as my mind insists on calling it:

Season 8 PES2016 won the supercup

How long will PES2016 last now?

Whats it all about anyway

PES2014 and FIFA16, for different reasons, are both calling to me.

PES2014 appeals because it’s the Great Unknown among PES games. The one nobody played. The one that everybody hates to this day. People hate PES2014 more than they hate any other PES. They seem to hate it more than old-school FIFA. It’ll be interesting for me to work my way through it, when the time comes. Which it will.

And then there’s FIFA16. I bought this game in the PS Store on Christmas Eve, and played enough of it in the days afterward to know that it is high quality indeed. For so many reasons, FIFA16 embodies many of the principles that PES used to be revered for. Back in the Seabass days. When its time comes, FIFA16 might be the FIFA that turns me completely.

But PES still has something. That Rosicky screamer above spoke to me at a very deep level. There’s more goodness to be mined from PES2016. I’m sure of it.

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