Month: April 2017

As a Mathieu of fact

Having just 8 (EIGHT) teams in PES5’s Master League Division 2 is a wonderful feature that I wish could be brought back.

There are just 8 (EIGHT) teams in Division 2. This means that you only have to play a comfortable amount of settling-in and getting-to-know-you matches before you get to dip into the transfer market and start to bring about incremental change.

In my historical PES5 adventures, I’ve usually helped myself to Ono during the first transfer window. Ono is a wonderful, versatile Japanese midfielder who is almost as dear to me as many of the Defaults.

Ono is so good that he usually stayed to the end. I’ve got another save of PES5 that I’ve played very occasionally over the past several years – a few matches every month or two, with most played in mid-summer. I think that career is in Season 6 or 7 and Ono is a hardy regular there.So I skipped getting Ono this time.

Instead, I helped myself to another beloved regular. The Most Beloved Regular of all.

Step forward, J Mathieu.

I don’t recall ever getting him this early before. Not in the very first transfer window.

I held off getting any further players. Mathieu cost me 4133 Points. Expected Earnings indicated I’d still just be able to pay squad wages at the end of the season. I didn’t want to risk a Game Over.

Besides, I’m not getting promoted this season:

Or… could I? 5 points off the promotion spots…

I doubt it. I just cannot score goals.

4 goals scored in 10 matches says it all. These are the best two:

At least I’m not conceding. The AI is strangely reticent in front of goal – a problem that plagues PES in almost every instalment. I do recall PES5 being like this as well. This isn’t a shock rediscovery.

How’s the general experience? What’s it really, really like, with a 13-year-old football game as my main daily football game?

I said before this PES5 adventure started that I’d be completely honest about how it feels, and I will stick to that promise.

So far I’d rate my PES5 experience ‘only’ as 8/10.

Gameplay is deep and satisfying but I just cannot get anything going for long. The Defaults are too poor.

And this is how it should be. Master League should be pretty dour in Season 1.

This initial dourness is why the PES makers changed the essence of Master League in recent years. They remade ML so that things were instantly ace on the pitch, with skilful players and hatfuls of goals.

That way is not our way. Those of us who were there in the early years of this century recall a Master League that was often so unrewarding to begin with that you wondered what you were getting from it.

So that’s why PES5 feels like an 8/10 sort of experience currently. In classic ML, you have to tunnel through to the great stuff. You have to earn it all.

The die is Castolo

Ah, the way we were. What’s quaint about this screenshot isn’t just the style of it – the old-school PES interface and colouring and whatnot. It’s the fact that I’m playing against Le Mans in a league encounter. Le Mans are one of my Division 2 opponents. And there are only 8 teams in Division 2.

I’ve played 6 matches in Season 1 and I’m already almost at the halfway point.Not a bad opening record, that, especially considering I started on 6* difficulty. I never normally open a Master League campaign on the ‘I’m proper hard, me’ difficulty.

The Defaults are as rubbish as I remember them.

On the right is my Formation along with my Starting XI, if they’re all fit and in form (they never are).

A 4-3-3 is the only formation I can play classic PES with. The game mis-calls it 4-2-1-3, in a nice tradition that continues to this day.

Jaric gets the nod at DMF over Dodo simply because Jaric is the better player. Jaric is my ‘he’ll do until Mathieu comes along’ player.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Libermann again. Ximelez is as wonderfully rubbish as ever. Ordaz is a pleasure. And Castolo…

I’ve scored 2 goals in the league so far, and 1 in the D2 Cup. (First leg ended 1-0 to me.)

My very first goal in PES5 was scored by a certain Myth.

Look at him doing That Dance after that relatively straightforward finish following an AI blunder. I thought: you cheeky bastard

Regular readers will know that I have something of a love-hate relationship with Castolo. It’s only ‘something’ of a love-hate relationship because I have never loved Castolo.

When PES fans wax lyrical about Castolo, I never think they’re remembering Castolo. I always think they’re remembering his previous incarnation, Castello – back then he truly was a remarkable player, even a phenomenal one.

When the switch from Castello to Castolo came along, I found him poor. The only distinguishing feature was pace, and I’m more of a pass-and-move football gamer.

So Castolo, for me, became The Myth of Castolo, and I enjoyed making fun of the enduring renown that rightly belongs to his previous incarnation, Castello.

I know, I know – you have always turned Castolo into a superstar, he’s da best player ever, etc.

The point here is that I never have, and I wonder if I ever will.

So maybe now’s the chance to try. I will keep Castolo this time around on PES5, and see what becomes of him,

Here are the stats from my two opening matches. It’s worth noting that PES5 doesn’t always produce inflated fouls/free kicks counts.I only conceded 1 foul in that one, but got a ton (relative to PES2015-17) against me.

More balanced here:

I’ll try not to crow all the time about the plentiful fouls and free kicks that most matches are liberally sprinkled with. But it’s hard not to be thrilled by the experience of having fouls and free kicks in a football game, when they so clearly make general gameplay better by many orders of magnitude.

In more recent football games, particularly PESes 2015-16-17, the virtual elimination of a proper fouling mechanic means that the gameplay easily degenerates into a trancelike button-mashing state.

An abundance of fouls and free kicks makes for a richer, more complex, more PES-like experience. If there’s a serious case to be made for the opposite viewpoint, I would love to hear it.

One final piece of whimsy:

Trevor Brooking says ‘Pro Evolution Soccer 5’, followed by a wonderful PES5 ‘blurt’ sound.

Click that to hear exactly what it promises.

There’s quite a bit about PES5 that I don’t recall from its original year of life. I don’t remember experiencing the thrill of hearing Mr Brooking speak the title of the game before.

I heard it this week when I started the game up, then left the room for a few minutes. When I returned, the automatic demo match had just concluded and the game was reloading the main menu screen, and Trev uttered the immortal words instead of Peter Brackley.

We must imagine the Hammers legend, sealed in a recording booth in London, circa late 2003 or early 2004, a set of outsized ‘cans’ clamped onto his head, speaking the line over and over until he got it just right. Or do we think he nailed it first-time like a pro?

Note the change between ‘Evolution’ and Soccer’ – that strange pause and shift of emphasis. He says ‘Pro Evolution’ in a higher register than you’d expect, and then speeds up on ‘Soccer 5’, making it a sort of surprised-sounding announcement. Voice-over producers never simply wing it, everything is carefully weighed and assessed, so Trev’s rendition of the immortal phrase was no accident.

You can right-click and Save As to keep that sound clip for yourself. Me, I’m thinking of making it (or the ‘blurt’ sound just after it – or both) into my text message alert sound.

PES 5 Chronicles

The time for PES5 has arrived.

That’s my original copy from 2004 with the GAME price sticker still on it. £29.99? From an actual shop? What times they were, eh?

I’ll actually be playing this ‘version’ of the game:

Which has the benefit of better graphics, and of being playable in widescreen displays. The 2004-era graphics look splendid even on a modern HD monitor. No need to soup anything up.

I’d have snapped my thumbshot using the PC box, which I own, but it’s away in a drawer somewhere and I haven’t got the time to look for it. Or Photoshop it.

I bought PES5 four times in total — on PS2, on PSP, on the original Xbox, and on PC.

Here in 2017 I’ll be playing on this laptop:

A 2014 Toshiba Satellite. 8GB RAM. Nvidia GeForce GT 740M. Intel Core i7 CPU @ 2.40GHz.

I have it dual-screened and will be playing PES5 mainly on this:

— a 24″ Acer HD monitor.

Or, when I have time, I’ll be using this:

— to play on this:— a 32″ Samsung TV, from roughly 2011 or so. So old now that it doesn’t have all the Internet bells and whistles, but it’s a great gaming TV.

I’ll be playing

starting with this lot (team name edited to COVENTRY CITY):

— with the kits edited per season to something Sky Blue-like.

I’ll be starting out on PES5’s top difficulty level, the old-school PES equivalent of Superstar:

– in this Master League Division 1 and Division 2 environment:

— using this wired controller:

I know, using an Xbox360 for Windows controller to play PES5 is sacrilege… But it’ll do me until I can find the time to spend an hour to set up a PS3 controller using one of the several utilities available.

I’m using a random Option File that I grabbed in 2010-ish from PES Gaming or somewhere like that. The Option File is pre-Kitserver. It changes all team names to ‘proper’ names (no Manchester Red, etc.) and does a decent job of all the badges and kits too.

I’ve given lots of thought to a Certain Matter That Is Bound To Come Up, and decided that I will not offer any assistance in the procurement ofcopies of the PC version of PES5. I understand why the query may come, but it doesn’t have to be addressed by me. Anybody who has access to an Internet-enabled computer has all the advice and assistance they need right at their fingertips. If all else fails, there is always eBay and Amazon for the procurement of preowned copies.

And with all the set-up niceties out of the way, I throw my slipper at you.

A semi-fond farewell to PES2017

It’s over. PES2017 Master League Season 10 has finished with me scooping the League and Champions League Double. The addition of remaining Invincible all season in the League makes for a unique kind of Treble.

I’m so pleased with notching up an Invincible season that I’m going to zoom in on my individual stats.

Lovely. I only just avoided keeping the Goals Against column in single figures too.

I know. This achievement has as much to do with glaring AI deficiencies than with my dubious skillz. That’s something for me to mull over in the future, in September’s end-of-year review of PES2017 perhaps. Here and now, I’m all for enjoying the moment.

The long odyssey that began in mid-September 2016 came to an end yesterday afternoon, 17 April 2017. The game lasted 7 (SEVEN) full calendar months.

Whatever else might be said of PES2017, that’s some sterling service, right there. PES always gives me incredible value for money. That’s been true of every single edition of the game.

My star striker this season has been Aduriz. He bagged 5 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final. I chanced upon this individual post-match stats screen that I did know was there, but have criminally under-perused throughout PES2017:

A great performance from a player who would have become a personal PES legend, I am sure, if I played a few more seasons.

I was looking for the overall match stats:

Look at the fouls and free kicks stats, there. Literally zero fouls on me in a full-blooded. hectic, high-scoring Champions League semi-final tussle. PES2017’s qualities arguably pale into insignificance when faced with its lack of AI fouls.

The final was against AS Roma.

Things started badly and carried on from there. I hacked and slide-tackled as much as I felt like doing. That’s what these modern-day football games have trained us to do, right? So I did it.

Just as a real-life defender bear-hugging a forward at a corner knows that 99% of the time the match officials will do nothing and it’s therefore worth the risk, so it goes with playing max-aggression style in our current football games. You nearly always get away with it, so you might as well do it.

But this time I got Bruno Alves, my big dependable CB, sent off. This was in the 40th minute. I was faced with playing more than a half of the Champions League final with 10 men.

And then I went 0-1 down after half-time. Things looked bleak.

But one of PES2017’s special features — scoring ‘easy’ goals from headers from crosses — came to my rescue. Even so, it was not a done deal and I had to fight for the chances. I was whooping when both goals went in. And won 2-1.

My two Champions League-winning goals are featured in today’s video, which covers ground from the last few League matches as well:

Also on show is the way Ibrahimovic is developing as an individual, scoring a signature goal or two and laying on a cheekily flamboyant assist as well.

I’ll miss quite a few things about PES2017, it turns out. Palacio, for one — easily my best player in PES2017, and one of my most memorable ever.

I will also miss Ibra. And Aduriz. And Wesley Sneijder, even if the post-match celebrations prove beyond all doubt that he is a vampire.

The Champions League final stats:

Yes, look again at the shameful statistic showing the number of AI fouls (0) and free kicks for me (0). This scandalous decision by Konami can never be ignored. It can never be forgiven. There will never, ever come a time when I’ll feel it’s been talked about enough.

The PES2018 demo will be with us before we know it. And I’ll assess it primarily according to the average amount of fouls I get per match. If the average — the AVERAGE — is below 4 AI fouls per match (and I think I’m being very generous stating such a low figure, there), I’m denouncing it straightaway. And I won’t stop mentioning it in every single post. I expect this is what’ll happen.

Palacio got Player of the Year. I got Manager of the Year, as is only right.

Curiously, I only had one player in the Team of the Tournament. Spot the marked bias toward one team in particular here — a team that only finished 6th:

They always program the next PES based on the current real-life football season’s happenings. So I have two predictions for PES2018: more than a few scorpion kick goals, and plenty of tough matches against a free-flowing Spurs.

I idly checked the top scorers for the Champions League. Wow:

I have no memory of Aduriz scoring that many.

I clicked through a few weeks after the last match of the season. Then, before the always-rubbish testimonial match, I switched off. I needed to edit today’s video in Share Factory. The PS4 gave me a gentle reminder:

I hit OK — with more regret than I thought I’d have. The last few sessions on PES2017 were pretty decent, actually. I might return to PES2017 before the year is over.

But for now, it’s on to pastures new.

Pastures old, I mean.