Freaky Friday

jimmy-hill-bannerIf you want to see your own banners hanging in stadia in Master League, you have to edit them before the mode starts.

Careful readers of the blog will recall me mentioning, a couple of months ago now, that I casually edited a single banner whilst browsing the menus when carrying out my pre-ML edits.

At the time, unable to think of anything else, I simply made one banner say ‘JIMMY HILL’. The great man is always on our minds in Coventry.

I catch poignant glimpses of my JIMMY HILL banner occasionally, hanging on the fences among my edited club’s other, German-language banners, and it always strikes me as amusingly incongruous. Just like the man himself.

(In passing: what is that pile of stuff supposed to be that’s partly blocking the view there? It looks like a pile of Christmas parcels and mattresses to me. What’s it doing there?)

going-up-and-coming-down

I had the strangest start in the Premier League. My first three matches were against West Ham, Aston Villa, and Burnley. What do these teams all have in common? They all play in a version of claret and blue. My first three matches were against teams that looked exactly the same as each other.

First up were West Ham, away, and I scored my first-ever Premier league goal in some style, as seen on Tuesday’s sickbed post.

Then came Aston Villa, a solid 0-0 draw with lots of fouls, and a properly rancid ‘derby’ atmosphere that was reflected in that goalless scoreline. It was one of the highest-quality matches I’ve played on PES2017. PES never used to be afraid to dish out a stop-starty 0-0. These matches were one of the reasons the series acquired its exalted reputation.

One big concern, though, can be seen in this screenshot:

a-proper-rivals-match-at-last

Zero shots on goal from the home team, on Superstar. That is already a concern for me on Superstar – the peculiar toothlessness of the AI.

I recall pre-release one of the Konami PR team, Adam himself, indicating that Master League on Superstar would be an extraordinary experience that he had to lobby hard to keep in the final game. That led me to expect something like a PES2012-style, rampant, unstoppable AI. So far I have seen no sign of that at all. I suspect the PES devs quietly undid Adam’s souped-up AI at the last moment.

No goals yet from last season’s star man, Friday. I have just played the FA Cup match, against Leeds, and Friday got a scrambled late winner there. But nothing so far in the league, and that’s where strikers earn their stripes.

Here’s my Season 4 Starting XI and Squad – I’ve started with the 4-2-4 just to see how it fares:

pes2017-season-4-starting-xi-and-squad

Maicon, Fletcher, Damonte and Cassano are all place-fillers from the Youths.

I sold Giorza after some rumination. I got £11m for him. He is a quality player, but I had him all through 9 seasons in PES2016. I’m giving his understudy, Komano, a chance. Maicon will share the RB berth.

That’s Ghulam on loan at LB.

My big signing was a big defender – Sokratis at CB, a £10m import from Juventus.

sokratis-arrives

The overall experience of the gameplay on Superstar is good – even great, sometimes. PES2017 has settled down again after a somewhat ‘grey’ spell a week or so ago.

I still find that the pace increases to obnoxious levels far too often. There are now too many passages of play that are exactly like PES2016. Thrash-metal video game football is the worst.

How did we get here? Is it the game adapting to me, or me adapting to the game? Did patch 1.02 do something to unpick the threads that made PES2017 feel so distinctive and solid after release? Or have I just adapted?

Whatever the truth of the matter, the game needs an injection (or re-injection) of fouls very badly.

Yes, I know, I’m going on about fouls again. Fouls are my thing. The PES forums feature lots of obsessions: nets, kits, pitch textures, foot planting, etc. My thing is fouls – a real gameplay concern, rather than a cosmetic one. I will never stop obsessing about the relative absence of fouls from all football games of the modern era.

(You get fouls? I’m very happy for you. I wish I was you, and I mean that in a literal, Freaky Friday kind of way.)

Fouls are a barometer of quality in a football video game. Lots of fouls = a high quality football game played at a proper pace with regular hiatuses and dimensions of thought. Few or no fouls = a crazy frenetic blur where you have to queue substitutions in the 50th minute to be sure of getting them on before the end.

Fouls in a football video game enhance the experience so much that they cannot be missing without causing a serious degradation in quality.

A match with a decent amount of fouls in it has regular pauses that function the same as ‘beats’ in music, or linebreaks in poetry. Coherent and consistent refereeing enforces restraint in defence. No button-mashy, easy-squeezy sprint-clamping when there’s a whistle-happy referee on the pitch. I want that in every match. I want shedloads of fouls and free kicks in every single match. I can’t have them. Why?

Sigh. I’ve been going on about this for three years now. Fouls in PES are the very definition of a lost cause. Nothing is ever going to change.

This doesn’t mean that PES2017 is on its way down the tubes. PES2015 was also a fouls-free shambles, but it did a lot else that was right (individuality, shooting), and was a 9/10 game for me. I hope PES2017 will be too. PES2016, though, got a kicking on several fronts, so we’ll see where this one falls.

The early table – I do always enjoy my first glimpse of my team nestled in amongst the big names of the top flight:

seaason-4-after-3-pes2017

Updated: 18th November 2016 — 11:11

72 Comments

  1. Paul – Boom!!

  2. 10 points off second with 14 games to go. Just when I seem to close the gap I lose 1-0. I feel even this far out that I’m destined for the playoffs. I can’t remember the last time I contested the playoffs, it’s never been my route and feel it was the beginning of ‘modern football’, designed to serve t.v. I’m hoping origi will rediscover his touch and I can go balls to the wall to try and win every game from now on.

  3. Turf – getting close then. I lost track but this is again season 1 for you, right?
    In other news I managed to withstand scripting for once. Restarted the shit champions league from my last post, against dynamo kyiv. Chose an ultra defensive strategy as soon as I noticed all my players again showing elephant touches and just being bumbling fuckheads all around. Could keep them off and sure enough, as the match progressed my players started to play better. Didn’t win, but was happy about that as I don’t have any business beating such as a side at the moment. I still think the CPU is going about simulating a certain ebb and flow to games / seasons the wrong way, but at least there is some hope for me in that you actually can prevent auto-goals and all around shenanigans from the CPU.

  4. Just played my first match since Friday afternoon, and it was wonderful. Despite me losing 1-0, having created enough chances to win 10 matches. I hit the post or crossbar five times. The computer shut-out felt deeply scripted, needless to say. But because my gaming is so rationed at the moment, I’d worked up an appetite just for playing, and this match – which would have sent many of you to the looney bin – felt like the acme of football gaming. I’ve got Man City in the cup next and I can’t wait to engage with whatever the game has got in store for me. No doubt this is all due to me not getting any gametime at all for 3 days and thus working up an appetite. Which is a problem. PES in its heyday didn’t need the player to have an appetite, it created its own, regardless of how often you played. We shouldn’t have to ration ourselves.

  5. #1 – restart, second season.

    NG – that’s the exact same match that prompted me to turn off after it finished just now. I was on a good run, pegging the leaders back to 7 points, working lots of different goals (the headers are maybe now every 3/10). Then I lost 1-0, a goal scored in the fifth minute by a forward who somehow sliced it in using the outside of his wrong foot – I had to check the replay to confirm I really saw it happen, it was physically impossible without any sort of back lift. Needless to say I then had 17 shots and in the final minute a 1 on 1 which had so much time I actually stopped, set r2 and placed it in the corner. Except it went wide. The opponents were of course the team lying in second place. It’s always been there but it feels like they’ve swapped stronger AI for outright fakery. People don’t tend to mind if they get blown away by a well crafted move but this year ivenot seen any of that just 1-0 after 1-0 of nonsense.

  6. NG – that is a good point and one I was just thinking about. I don’t play everyday, far from it and I think that keeps me wanting more despite all the misgivings.

  7. Seems I’m now at a completely different point with PES as the rest of you, except NG, in the fact that I’m now absolutely loving the game and whilst still accepting that the fouls are simply broken (intentionally so) and that there’s moments of absurd scripting (there always has been in PES. Even PES5) I’m also at a point where I’m enjoying everything the game does so right over and above all the other stuff.

    In Feb of season 5, second in the table now 1 point behind Arsenal who were at one stage, 11 points clear, after putting together a a run of 6 wins from 6 games, then a top of the table clash with Arsenal which saw me completely mark 29 goal top scorer Ronaldo (the classic legendary Brazilian one) out of the game so well he was subbed after half time.
    I also came back from 1-0 down to grab a win with a brace from Embolo and close to within a point.

    Something else astounding actually happened ….. but I will post a video soon of that.

    Oh, and let me Just say, playing PES 17 on a professionally calibrated 4K 55″ tv is a thing of visual beauty. Seeing so many details and graphical wow moments that I just did not see on a normal HD tv. And that’s without the impending 4K update for PES and without a PS4 pro.
    The difference is unexplainable.

  8. Paul – that’s a good place to be as any with pes. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy it and I assume most others as well. I’m not ruling out a full “comeback” either..

  9. Still loving it here.

  10. Something weird I just came across somewhere (excuse the vagueness), apparently there are hundreds of “hidden” call names that are currently unused, but easily unlockable on pc. So they are actually IN the game… Just not being used? How very Konami.

  11. The 3 highest rated players in my entire ML world at the moment are all DMFs, including Fletcher.

    nG would be in his element.

  12. Good Morning gents.

    SO, in true NG’s ‘what happened next?’ style, during my session yesterday something astounding happened ….

    Can you guess what happened next ?

  13. Paul – You didn’t did you? Not a penalty surely!

    Like n-G I’ve had very little time to play over the past few days but the games I have managed (the first four of season four) have been highly enjoyable – even the 3-0 defeat to Man City.

  14. Paul – I think it’s definitely a penalty, the only question being what it’s awarded for. The Man Utd player’s arms were up and the ref gave a penalty for blocking the shot with his arms?

    And are you lining up a PS4 Pro?

  15. It happened!! 5 seasons, 200 games, my first penalty.
    You will know I’ve been vocal about fouls and lack of penalties in the past, the fact that I’ve been assaulted, hacked, scythed down, close-lined, and generally ABH’d in the box numerous times and nothing is ever given, well here I finally get a penalty, and what is it given for?
    ME kicking a COM player – incredible. But I’ll take it seeing as I’m due about another 200. And is representative of my glowing patch with the game at present, everything is going in my favour.

    NG – Possibly. I cant really do justice to the difference it makes playing PES on a 4K tv upscaled, the detail and clarity is so vastly superior, I could only imagine how nice it would look on a PS4 Pro with dedicated 4K output, and the upcoming 4k Patch from Konami.
    Its more whether I can be assed with the hassle of having to transfer everything over from the PS4 to the PS4 Pro, I’ve heard a full transfer can take upward of 19hours.

  16. Well restarted in Ligue 2 as a bespoke USL Dunkerque. I transferred ost of my FC Bozen team in edit mode as I grew to like em loads.

    Managed 6 matches! last night with Miniwerd 2 asleep on my lap. 3 own goals!. Two for the com one for me. Loving it again. Also put out Tolouse in the cup. Giant killer me they say round Dunkerque way.

    No penalties yet though

  17. Paul – given for the poke in the eye.

  18. Lloyd – I didn’t even mention that as I thought it was ridiculous.

  19. Paul – if you’re a PS+ subscriber all your saves etc would be stored online, so you could be up and running with PES almost immediately and then restore the rest of your HD on a piecemeal basis as you go along, week by week.

    I’m not tempted, personally. Maybe in a year or so. It’s more a time thing, really. The several hours I’d spend on a PS4 Pro/TV upgrade, I really need for other things, not least PES-playing itself.

    Did you score the penalty?!

    And you would have liked PES2014, where penalties and free kicks were awarded to you with gay abandon for kicking the other team.

  20. I have a fair few games, all digital downloads, and apps etc sowould all have to be transferred across, PES included, I don’t really do discs anymore.

    PS4 Pro isn’t an essential purchase so wouldn’t blame you for holding off, its more a luxury, nice to have!

  21. Paul – it’s the sort of thing I would enjoy tinkering with for its own sake, never mind the performance and graphical enhancements, which would also be welcome. No time at the present though. One for the summer, maybe. Oh, and glad to hear you’re onboard now with the digital download thing. I still get physical copies of PES and always will, but that’s it. My one remaining misgiving is the pricing of console digital downloads. They’re excessive compared to the PC/Steam market. Years after release, Bloodborne is still a 30-40 quid purchase as a digital download on PSN. The Far Cry games are also much too expensive. There’s a PS4 Disgaea game that I’d love to get to complete my collection, but am not paying 30-40 quid for when I can play the old ones for free on my phone.

  22. NG – digi-downloads are comparatively expensive as you say, considering that you don’t get a shiny new case to hold for a thumb-shot, or instructions or any of the allure and anticipation of owning a physical copy.
    But I like the convenience of being able to pre-buy the game, then download it and have it ready to play on release day, rather than have to wait in for a disc to pop through the letterbox or make sure I’m around to sign for it, or find my way to a shop etc.

    The Tv purchase was essential for me as Im having SkyQ 4K installed next week, so needed it to make the most of that, the added visuals of PES as a result was just a bonus.

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