Month: December 2016

Dier traits

Gritty. Infuriating. Exhilarating. Three words that describe a great session of PES2017.

It’s been a great start to Season 5, on the whole, There was an awful opening session when the average per-match satisfaction rating would have been about 5/10 across 6 matches. But I’ve had solid 8/10 averages in two sessions since. My latest, on Monday evening, was a superb 9/10 per-match session.

I think there’s a decent chance this game might be another PS2-era-style PES. Perhaps not in terms of out-and-out gameplay quality, when all’s said and done, but possibly so in terms of ML longevity.

We shall see.

pes2017-season-5-beating-liverpoolHighlight of recent sessions was another visit to Anfield where I ground out a wonderful 2-0 victory against an ultra-competitive Liverpool side.

I’ve now played at the DLC Anfield stadium about 4 times. Each match has been great. The stadium looks as good as anything we have ever seen in PES. I seriously considered making Anfield my home ground, if possible, but in the end I decided not to. That’s the end of that story.

The table after 10 matches:

pes2017-season-5-after-10

I’ve played on a good bit after this screenshot was taken, and things are much the same.

I’ve only lost 1 match, and I’ve drawn loads. This might be seen as evidence of stasis in the gameplay and the AI, but I’m not so sure. My subjective experience of the matches — barring that dreadful opening chunk — has been of deeply absorbing, properly PESlike excellence.

A word about my principal new signing for Season 5, Eric Dier. He’s got the tenacity and the big, booming shot of a classic PES DMF. I worry that his shooting traits will count for nothing in a PES that artificially hobbles distance shooting. If my DMF isn’t netting from 30 yards every once in a while, I’m not happy.

It took Dier about 4 matches to settle in. That’s something PES has always done excellently well, it seems to me. Whenever you buy a new player, particularly a good new player, it’s going to take a few matches for him to settle in and start doing things that warrant the transfer.

Of course this is cheerfully unrealistic, in my view, as there are many instances in real life where players arrive at new clubs and have a sensational debut, or just a solid first few matches. But so what? How much realism truly belongs in PES? Is the hyper-professional, 4-5-1-lovin’, mutual-nullification-tending, real-life game worthy of being imitated these days?

I care very little for real-life football. The match highlights packages you see on MOTD are 5 minutes long for a reason.

A word about Jamie Vardy — he was one of my Youth promotees pre-season. So far, he’s not done a great deal, but I hear good reports of him in PES2017 from many a source. I have been bringing him on as a sub regularly. Just to see.

New Youths are never much cop for me. They can have the odd standout match. But I cannot remember a single instance, in all my years, of a new Youth being consistent over many matches. So there’s a ways to go.

Here is a mini-compilation of moments from my opening few sessions of Season 5. The 16-year-old Vardy’s debut goal appears towards the end. Lobato, though, is the star.

No Man’s Friday

pes2017-season-4-over

Season 4 has ended. The final table – 7th from bottom in the end:

pes2017-season-4-final-table

I sold Friday – to Brighton and Hove Albion. Kept Lobato, who performed well in the last 10 or so matches, scoring a few and setting up a few others. Friday did absolutely nothing and I sold him for £7m, considerably less than the £18m I paid to buy him back a few seasons ago after selling him for the first time.

season-5-away

season-5-home

But at least I got a 28-goal season out of him that propelled me to the Premier, so it was worth it. Friday will remain one of my characters of PES2017 no matter what else happens. Goodbye, Black Schwarz, I won’t forget you.

Kits time, and thanks to regular commenter Paul, I’ve got a readymade home kit, left.

I mucked about with the Home kit in Photoshop to make the Away version, right.

I’m sticking with no sponsor this season. A hark back to a more refreshing time. I remember when there were no shirt sponsors. As such I’ve never really grasped the sponsor logo as being a proper part of a football shirt. The no-sponsor look seems more authentic.

Eric Dier arrived:

dier-arrives

It’s too early to tell. ‘Lord Sugar’s search for his outstanding DMF of the PES year… continues…

I had to choose my ‘My Favourite Players’ for Season 5. That’s PES Productions’ awkward grammar, not mine.

I would have preferred not to choose any. None of them had a stellar campaign. But in the end I plumped for R JARVIS, my returnee Default who is quietly becoming a very effective goal-poacher.

jarvis-season-5-favourite-player

And so onto Season 5.

another-sighting

I bought a couple of players and sold a good few more. I left myself short of an AMF and went hunting with a transfer kitty of £28m. Swansea wanted a non-negotiable £37m for Ross Barkley. I noped the hell out of that one and plumped for the much-cheaper Halilovic at £21m.

Halilovic didn’t get a cutscene, but he got an unusual news splash.

signing-halilovic

I brought in some new Youths: Vardy and Gabi. I sent Fletcher and Carrick out on loan. I dumped Bartual for a very nice £9m and Tim Cahill for a disappointing £4m.

I also snapped up the ageing Otamendi at CB from Man City for a bargain £8m. He’s in decline, but I’m looking for experience and individuality.

All the toings and froings left me with slightly depleted numbers, but with no Europe, this’ll do me:

season-5-starting-xi-and-squad

I had a terrible first session in Season 5. The worst quality session on PES2017 so far.

pes2017-season-5-month-1

If this turns out to be the regular standard of gameplay of Superstar once you get a decent team, I doubt I’d be able to play it for very long.

Fortunately my next session was somewhat better. There were still a couple of duff matches, but most adhered to the sim-like gameplay that has mostly impressed me over the past 4 seasons.

The problem is that when the game decides not to behave itself, there’s little or nothing you can do. The AI players are on you in a flash, forcing you to circulate the ball much more rapidly than you otherwise would, which gradually degenerates into constantly-frantic chasing and slide-tackling, and before you know it you’re drooling and dazed and sleepwalking through whole matches with your fingers gripping the sprint-clamp buttons.

If this Jekyll and Hyde character is evidence of PES Productions attempting to please both parties – the oldies and  the tweenage ‘kidz’ – then I’m not pleased, and I demand a separate game for the over-25s next year.

Other gaming is about to reduce my PES-playing time. I’ve been playing this game a lot over the past week:

nms-reloaded

Yes, No Man’s Sky, the six-fingered ginger stepchild of 2016’s all-round annus horribilis, is threatening to make a Lazarus-like return from just oblivion.

I am a certified sci-fi snob. I enjoy Star Wars, but it’s not ‘real’ sci-fi in my view. And so I was critical of No Man’s Sky art design on release – that whole 1970s sci-fi book cover look – but I now see it’s an essential part of the overall vision and charm. It’s a pleasure just tootling around the planets and the galaxy at large, even if it is a garishly-coloured fantasy-scape.

At the time this post is published, I’m probably playing this game, which has its own entry under the definition of ‘long-awaited’:

the-last-guardian

As ever, it’s all very well planning to play games other than PES, but the reality is that if I have a spare hour, do I want to play a football game that I know intimately and lends itself very well to having a self-contained spare hour – or these other game-game(s) with their open-endedness, complex menus, and maps and buttons to remember?

Cassano harm, no foul

pes2017-a-non-burning-wall-rivals-imagePrior to my latest Rivals match against the Villa, I saw this alternative graphic to the Burning Wall. I’m calling it the Misty Floodlights. Not as dramatic or Rivals-y as the infamous wall of flames, but still an appropriate mood-setter, strangely.

The pre-match Rivals graphics are usually more interesting than the Rivals matches themselves. I must have played 10+ Rivals matches across my 3.9 seasons now. I have Villa, Birmingham and Leicester set as my Rivals.

I don’t remember any of them being good matches. Doubtless one or two of them were a bit less shitty than the others, but the majority have been 1000mph fouls-free blurs, with the quality of play as poor as PES2017 gets.

This match against Villa was a truly dreadful 0-0 in fouls and goals. Everything that could be said to have ever made PES great, this match wasn’t. There are too many matches like it in PES2017.

I’m seriously considering simming all non-crucial Rivals matches from now on (or just removing the relevant settings in Edit mode, if it’ll carry over into my ML world). They’re a complete waste of time.

Whoever it is at PES Productions that thinks fast, frenzied, unceasing action makes for good football gaming needs to be given another assignment, to put it politely. But that won’t happen. We all know precisely where it is in the footy gaming cosmos that fast, frenzied, unceasing action is considered to be good football gaming. A place that rhymes with ‘Schmonline’.

Back at the actual football game, it’s a good job I had 30-odd points on the board, as I went through a spell of 7 matches without a win. The game notices when this happens and smirks about it in the main menu:

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161205121707

All grumbles aside, I played a golden session, a true 10/10 session, on Monday morning of 5 matches. I lost 2, drew 2 and won 1. The quality came from the nature of the games. And the one I won featured my best goal in PES2017 so far (see below).

I played, in this order: Arsenal, Spurs, Man Utd, Newcastle, and Swansea. Results went 1-1, 0-4, 1-2, 0-0, and 3-1.

Here are the stats from that 0-4 drubbing at the hands of Spurs:

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161205113806

Yes, it was regrettably lite on fouls, but I hardly noticed as there was so much else going on in the game that was great.

The most interesting stat there, to me, is the Crosses one. I swung in 7 crosses for a return of 0 goals. I don’t recall even getting on the end of one. PES2017 is still ‘just another PES’ on the crossing front for me. I convert a few, but not enough for the game to get anywhere near the status of ‘Crossing Festival 2017’ that so many others seem to be playing.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161205105927

I enjoyed Spurs’ performance so much that I helped myself to one of their key players. ERIC DIER will be joining my team in the summer. As a DMF.

I’m looking forward to seeing how these stats translate. The DMF role is the most important one for me in PES in general, particularly now that I’ve adopted a version of my classic 4-3-3 with a lone DMF.

Spurs are the best team I’ve played in PES2017 so far. Generally, playing the top teams always gives me a good, challenging game. The pressing feels a little obnoxious at times, but it’s up to me to deal with that tactically and emotionally.

My new obsession in this ML is favouring player individuality over all other considerations. I’m tired of playing with players who feel the same as hundreds of other players.

I played my Regen Gary Cahill for a few matches and he felt like an individual: tall and quick with good strength. My other two Regens, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, have yet to show anything. But they’re Youths and will get another few seasons, and possibly a loan spell each.

The likes of Bartual won’t. He’s gone at the end of the season, along with a few others. And either Lobato or Friday will go too.

I’m thinking Lobato can go, as he’s expensive and has never really shone for me. Friday has that magical 28-goal Top Player Championship season behind him, but Superstar in the Premier League has really exposed his shortcomings. Decisions, decisions.

Now to my best goal of PES2017 so far:

I literally screamed out loud when that one went in. You can have the idea about doing such things in PES2017, but the idea hardly ever bears fruit. This time, it did.

Cassano was the scorer, and he’s been such a steady performer for me since his promotion from the Youths that I’ve given him that right-sided berth in my front three permanently. Tim Cahill has disappointed so far and is probably close to the exit hatch as well.

Also of note is the assist from Jarvis. I’m still not scoring many, but when I do, Jarvis is nearly always getting them. Friday is no longer automatic first-choice. I’ve been playing with Lobato-Jarvis-Cassano as my front 3, and loving the options they give me. Yes, I’m saying Lobato looks like earning a stay of execution.

At the time of writing I’ve only got a few matches before the end of the season. I’ll finish 5th or 6th from bottom. Friday’s post should be all about pre-Season 5 transfers. There’ll be quite a few changes, and to Friday and Lobato I can only say this: one of you will be fired.

It’s starting to feel a lot like Easter

Just three weeks to the winter solstice, and then we begin the incremental journey back to lighter evenings and warmer weather. Before you know it you’ll be picking the silver paper off miniature chocolate eggs and hearing the first rumours about PES2018.

Will I be accompanied by PES2017 through to that unimaginable time, though?

Almost certainly. Hopefully. PES2017 continues to hold up. At this time I have no major worries about the game. I can sort of see where things might fall apart one day, but that day is currently so theoretical and unreal that I’m not going to spoil the here-and-now by worrying about it.

Here’s my Season 4 post-transfer-window Squad and First XI:

pes2017-season-4-squad-and-first-xi

Rice is hanging onto his first-choice position out of reputation rather than performance. I have so many other options now. My patience with him – and with Friday – won’t last forever.

Friday has actually shown some signs of coming to life. I kept him during the transfer window.

I sold Lescott. He was far too much of a nuPES clone for my liking. Playing with him was just like playing with any other identikit CB from the post-PS3 days. This is my new policy regarding players in PES. They have to come with some sense of themselves as individuals, or I’m not going to persevere with them.

The three PS4-era PES games we’ve had so far have seen individuality massively diluted. I don’t care what anyone says, there is no convincing me that individuality hasn’t been watered down, year on year, in the name of online-friendly ‘balancing’. Everything that’s rotten in the state of PES can ultimately be traced back to the stinking, piss-bottle-strewn lair of Johnny Onliner. Fact.

Over the next season or two I’ll be offloading every player who doesn’t feel like an individual – Bartual, thy days are numbered – and favouring players who do feel like individuals. This is my new sort-of House Rule.

The month of February in Season 4 was a poor one for results:

season-4-february-nightmare

That 3-0 drubbing of Reading was easily the highlight. Many moments from the matches above can be seen in today’s promised 5-minute compilation in some form:

Some big goals and some big misses from Friday in there. And I got one of those heel-flicky goals with Jarvis, who’s quietly becoming an indispensable sort of player.

I included the very last clip to show how I typically play PES2017. From the kickoff to the shot, some 10 passes and lots of ball-squatting later, I’m carefully husbanding possession, working the positions, waiting for my players to be open before trying the pass.

There are still many who aren’t having a great time with PES2017. I wonder if they’re trying to play direct all the time?

My experience is that direct play doesn’t lead to good things. Sometimes, yes, it does bear fruit, impressive fruit (as with the first goal in the clip), but most often I find that the slow-and-steady approach enhances PES2017 considerably.

The current table – 31 points after 31 matches:

pes2017-season-4-after-31

It’s reassuring to see the other two teams I came up with, Villa and Burnley, scrapping down there with me. I believe I’m safe for another season. But another few points will make certain.

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