Month: February 2016

Responsive is the new rock and roll

I have 8 matches left of Season 7 in my born-again PES2014 Master League adventure.

The overall experience continues to pan out at a high level. Building attacks takes time. Rare indeed are the fast breakaway goals that characterise the 2016 edition of the franchise.

The most common PES2014 experience? Trying to build attacks in ways that the game doesn’t easily allow. Realising you lost the ball because you were too impatient. My own impatience is a wall that I dash myself against time and time again.

In ’14, you have to take your time. You have to be aware of players’ running speed and direction and momentum. No wonder so many people hated this ‘unresponsive’ game. No wonder that a peculiar process of natural selection has brought us to the uber-responsive, arcade-oriented State of Football Gaming today.

‘Responsive’ should be a swear-word in football gaming, not the seemingly unquestioned pro-word that it has mysteriously become. But I digress slightly.

The current table is an exciting one:

PES2014 Season 7 after 30

I’m in 5th, 4 points behind Arsenal in 4th. I’ve a vastly inferior goal-difference. But with 8 matches left, and ML league table scripting as prevalent in this PES as any other, I fancy my chances of sneaking an unlikely Champions League spot.

It’d be very unlikely, as this is still pretty much the squad that squeaked promotion from Division 2 a season ago. (I’m still playing ‘only’ on Top Player difficulty, I should add here.)

Truth be told, it’d be something of a travesty to sneak into the Champions League with the squad I have, and the kind of patchy form I’m showing. But this is Pro Evo and fantasy football is the name of the game.

The only top-4 side I’ve beaten all season has been Chelsea. All the others have mostly beaten me quite easily, with a few draws sprinkled among the pain.

At least I should definitely be in the Europa League, barring a Leicester-style collapse (oh yes, I can see the real-world future…).

The other day, inspired by talk on the blog of other football games, I fired up PES2011 and then PES2015 on my PC to take them through their paces. On my Windows machine I have all the Pro Evos sitting in a nice fat folder of their own. I nearly said a nice phat folder, there, but stopped myself in time, what with me being a middle-aged man and everything.

On a PC over time, any program’s installation tends to degrade while Windows metamorphoses around it. Since my Windows 10 upgrade some months ago, I’ve only verified PES5 and PES2013 as still working.

I had to do some monkeying around to get PES2015 running. I had a SweetFX patch installed that Windows 10 didn’t like. But PES2011 worked first time, albeit in a quarter-screen-sized window that I couldn’t be bothered quitting out of to fix via Settings.exe. (Alt+Enter did nothing, before you ask.)

I only played about half of a single half in each case, as I never mix football games. If you want to play a football game, never mix them. It’s a simple and effective rule.

Back in PES2014, it was even more obvious that this game represents a curious crossroads in the history of the franchise. You can definitely see what they were trying to do – trying to give us the most PESlike PES they could. Casting my mind back, I wonder what the outcome would have been had the vanilla PES2014 been more like the final patched version. I’m pretty sure I’d have liked it from the start.

Dramatic Totti should be a meme

Forlan at Man City in PES201419-year-old Forlan is a leading striker in my Master League world. The picture above (with my lads wearing our black-and-orange away kit) was snapped during a 3-1 defeat that I suffered at Manchester City. This teenage Forlan materially helped to bring it about. Forlan was one of my players of PES2012 and PES2015. So there’s a definite sense of betrayal.

He’s a fully-statted, fully-developed striker, thanks to a bug in PES2014. All Regens return with their prior incarnation’s stats. That’s just what happens now. It’s not a feature of this ML that I’d have chosen, but it’s making for some interesting times.

I don’t really have a chance of signing most of these super-Regens. David Pizarro (84OVR at age 17) is the only one I’ve managed to snag. So they’re all being snapped up by the AI clubs. It’s like an added layer of difficulty.

Manchester City started Forlan and Totti up front, and Drogba as a late substitute.

You’ve got to hand it to Konami. Their default faces have famously been rubbish for several years now, but they do keep nailing these original likenesses.

Totti in PES2014

In this post I’m going to focus on this one match against Manchester City. I haven’t played much since Friday’s post — just two sessions of about three matches apiece.

At the time of PES2014’s release, Manchester City were the pre-eminent English team. Their performance in PES2014 reflects that.

I took the lead in this match. I never got a kick after it.

I’d just beaten Chelsea in the league, at my place, 1-0 — a game in which Hazard got a straight red in the first half for a tackle on one of my players. So I entered something of a false state of confidence after going 1-0 up against Man City.

Forlan and Totti between them (complete with the ageing, but still capable, likes of Silva and Kompany et al) carved me open repeatedly after that. It showed me that I still have only a basic idea how to defend against a determined AI in PES2014.

They came back to 1-1, then Forlan scrambled another to make it 2-1, and then Totti popped up to make it 3-1 with the following goal. The AI in this game seems better at creating a variety of different chances for itself and taking them than anything we’ve seen since.

At the start there I was trying to play a cross-field ball to my right-back. I keep forgetting in PES2014  that the power bar needs to be filled all the way for that sort of move. I simply didn’t give it enough welly.

This defeat left me in 5th place. I’m 6 points and a goodish amount of goal-difference behind Arsenal in 4th.

I bought one player in the mid-season window. I had £30,000,000 quid to spend, but nobody worth buying would come. I ended up signing one lone striker, a player called MASCARA. Really. I believe he’s based on this player here. He’s pretty good, but nothing better than what I already have.

Still, a high league finish this season, with at least Europa League football next, should see me more able to attract better players. Maybe one day I’ll be able to get the Forlans and Tottis of this singular ML world for myself.

Fear and Loading

PES2014 ages to get from here to matchAt this stage of my PES2014 adventure, my number 1 gripe might be that it takes far too long to get from the above screen — pre-match — through to the whistle blowing and the kick-off.

Time crawls past while you’re waiting for PES2014 to grind through its gears and get going. And I’m playing the fully digital download version, remember. (They gave it away on PS+ in April 2014, and I availed myself of the opportunity. The boxed disc version is sitting safe among my collection, don’t worry.)

There’s no point blaming the PS3 for PES2014’s atrocious loading times. The PS3’s not to blame. It’s all PES2014’s fault.

The league table heading towards mid-season 7 transfer action:

PES2014 season 7 after 15I’d love to get into the CL qualifying spots this season. It would really add spice to Season 8.

At this stage I’d be gutted not to get at least into the Europa League. That’s the UEFA Cup of PES.

This is the squad I’ve currently got and have spent most of the season with:

PES2014 season 7 squad

STRAMBERG is the only squad member not visible, just off the bottom of the screen.

As can be seen, my team currently doesn’t lack for Heart, although a few indifferent results will soon take care of that and send them back to their normal plain green.

DAVID PIZARRO, age 17, is one of the Super Regens of PES2014. This refers to a glitch in the game whereby returning Regens come back with the same stats that they had upon retirement. I suppose it adds an extra dimension to the game.

Having said that, Pizarro’s good but not so great that it feels like a cheat to play with him.

BRECKO and DZUDOVIC and DAMIEN DELANEY are all Youth players. CASTOLIS is still knocking around, but so far past his best that he’ll be moved on or released as soon as possible. Same goes for VRATOKOV and the aforementioned STRAMBERG.

MACOVSHIRE is hanging onto his value, performing as a supersub or handy replacement for ISMAIL whenever the latter is suspended — which is often.

PES2014 features referees who will liberally dish out yellow cards and straight reds if you go sliding in all over the place.

My fingers and expectations still remember PES2016, so of course there are long periods when I do go sliding in all over the place, and get my just deserts.

I finish maybe one in four matches with 10 men on the virtual pitch. Sometimes with 9 men. I had a match in a recent session where I finished with 8 men.

There is no fault in the game here. The game is rightly punishing two-footed lunges that get nothing of the ball.

The problem, if there is one (there isn’t), lies squarely with how the no-fouls football games that have appeared in the years since PES2014, have wrongly conditioned expectations of what makes a ‘good’ football game. No-fouls does not make for a good football game. Take a look at the average online match and tell me I’m wrong. Harsh referees make for good football games, as they enforce discipline and actual football. My fear is that we’ll never see proper referees in any football game ever again.

I really like my midfield right now. Pizarro anchoring just in front of the defence, and the three more swashbuckling types just behind the front two. PES2014 is all about pulling the opposition out of shape and then supplying the killer pass, just like so-called ‘real’ football.

There are times when patience wears out and I dash myself against seemingly brick wall defences. In going for an unlikely Season 8 Champions League spot, I need to win most of my games – not draw them, and definitely not lose them – so I have to be patient and grind out the wins. Sometimes I run away with matches. A decent 3-0 will be followed by a tough-as-old-football-boots 1-0 win. Frustrating 1-1 draws and the occasional defeats still crop up. All in all, this has the authentic Master League feel about it.

Responsive is the new organic

Something slightly different today.

I spent nearly all my usual post-writing time putting together the above 3:42-long video – with spoken commentary from myself.

The video isn’t what I set out to make. I started off with all kinds of delusions about becoming some kind of v-logger or whatever they’re called. I had grand plans to put together some kind of PES-themed ‘skit’ (the actual term used by young people, I believe), complete with custom animations and whatnot. I drastically underestimated the time needed, and ended up with the above.

Responsive is the new buzzword on the PES forums. It’s overtaken ‘organic’ and ‘free’ (as in, the ball being free, which is automatically a Good Thing) and all the others.

Responsive has probably been around as part of the PES vocabulary for years, for such is the way with these things, but it’s really risen to prominence since PES2014. That game, by being deemed unresponsive, helped create the landscape we now inhabit: everything has to be responsive, and if it’s not, people wail and gnash their teeth and chant responsive, responsive, responsive until they get what they want.

PES2016 seems to be the outcome – a decent game, right enough, but is it PES? Is it really? 6-4 scorelines, arcade handling, powerslide tackles, no fouls? This is responsive, flowing gameplay. ‘This is what you all wanted, so here you go, have it,’ Konami said, with EA scrambling to follow suit (cf. the FIFA16 post-release patching scandal).

Responsive is not the automatic pro-word that its adherents think it is. In football gaming, 1:1 correlation between controller input and on-screen action is just about the worst thing that could ever happen. Think of the worst FIFA ever – I nominate FIFA2003 – and there you have responsiveness in all its inglory.

To be fair, that absurd vision of 1:1 command/control input isn’t what (most of) the responsiveness lobby means by the term (one hopes). They’ve never really said what they mean, but I surmise from context that they mean something like ‘more consistency and logic in the relation between input and action’, however that manifests.

Which only puzzles me more, because in that particular sense of ‘responsive’, PES2014 is a completely responsive football game. Arguably the most responsive football game ever. There is total consistency between input and on-screen action. All tangles and stumbles and delays and puzzling tank-like manoeuvres are all down to the player’s button-mashing. Not the game.

A controversial view, I know, but it’s the only view I have.

Anyway, so I made a video and recorded myself talking over it. I did it all in one take, unscripted. Sound quality is middling – I used the microphone on the computer. And my apologies to those who normally view this blog at work or are otherwise unable to view and/or listen to the video.

Back to normal posting on Friday with league tables and stuff. I’m coming up to mid-season 7 and still in with a shout of Champions League qualification.