Month: August 2018

Second Impressions count double

So my 1st Impressions on Wednesday were somewhat lukewarm. At that stage I’d only had the game a few hours, and only played a handful of matches. I spent much of that time trying to get things looking nice on my new telly.

My 2nd Impressions today are rather more enthusiastic. I’ve gone from a general 7/10 kind of Satisfaction Score to around a 9/10 today.

The lesson of Release Day for me is: don’t spend ages fiddling with your settings on a new 4K TV and expect to come away with a proper appreciation of whatever you’re supposed to be playing on it.

By very late Wednesday night I’d settled on my settings. It turns out that the psychology involved in calibrating a 4K TV is a little like the mind-games you play with yourself over FIFA’s sliders. No matter how ‘nice’ you end up getting it, after a while you think: hmmmm, maybe another slight tweak will make it absolutely perfect.

In the end, I left HDR ON, and everything else I left as it was more or less out of the box. My replays will look a little washed-out all year, but screenshots – as above – should look OK.

I don’t know if PES2019’s apparently wonky typography is a side-effect of a 4K TV, or if everyone has it. Look at the kerning and multiple baselines on show here. Shudder.

I played a one-off Exhibition match to test out the Option File I’ve installed – and got hammered 0-5, as seen above. That was on Top Player.

I keep hearing about PES2019’s allegedly poor AI, but I keep failing to see any real evidence of it myself. Sometimes, yes, the AI does dumb things. Unquestionably. But the spaces separating those things are large enough to preserve suspension of disbelief. For now. I am watching the AI closely.

After this I was thirsty for some Master League experience.

I’d had the notion that it might be time for a change. After… 18 years or so of playing ML with my own custom Coventry City team, why not make up a completely new team? A Melchester Rovers-type of team? Yes – why not? Covchester United or something.

I whizzed through set-up, Editing PES United and moving them to the Skybet league in place of Brentford. (Poor old Brentford. I think they’ve been replaced in my MLs before.)

I couldn’t think of a good new name, so I left PES United as-is for now. At this stage I still believed this was my real and final ML that I was starting.

It was right about here, seeing this green-themed introductory cut-scene, that I started to think: nah. Bring back Coventry City!

Still, I persevered, curious by now just to explore Master League and have a few matches with the Defaults. Just to see what the feel of PES2019 is when playing with really, really poor players against better opposition.

In ML this year, you start with an ICC tournament where you are matched against much better opposition. It’s a great introduction to your new team, as you battle against the odds to get a result.

I started on Professional difficulty.

This scene right here was the point when I knew for sure that I wanted to restart as my usual Coventry City. That moment of seeing your team stride out for the first time in Master League. They have to be in Sky Blue!

My PES United kits were two generic kits that I’d grabbed from PESFX, whose proprietor, Paul, is a regular commenter on this blog. When I realised I needed to restart, I asked Paul for some Coventry City kits, as he has provided them in previous years.

Paul does take requests over on PESFX. I understand it is currently a busy time for him. Many thanks, Paul!

I’ll be playing with these kits, as Coventry City, from Monday onwards. A busy weekend of life and work is annoyingly positioned in the way first.

So I played two of the ICC matches with the Defaults – that match against Atletico Madrid, and then the next against Boca Juniors. I lost both quite heavily, scoring just one goal in the process. But overall, these matches might well have been two of the best matches I’ve played in any nuPES game, ever.

The feel of the ball. The passing. The tactics. The wonderful aggression of the AI. The fouls and free kicks providing the variance and depth that nuPES has sorely lacked. The sprinkling of new names in the Defaults didn’t impress me much, but there’s a lot of getting-to-know-you to come with them.

I came away with my Satisfaction levels very high indeed. Master League proper will start for me from Monday. My post on Tuesday will be my proper setting-up-ML post, of the kind that I do every year. Today’s post is a warm-up.

So far so good. Can it last?

PES2019: 1st Impressions

It is here. Another year has flown by, and PES2019 landed on the doormat earlier than expected today, before 11am, which must be something of a Royal Mail record in the modern era. Younger readers won’t remember, but there was a time when your post would always arrive before everyone had even got up. 7.30am was considered late to get your post. Nowadays, 10.40am is early. How times have-

Oh, right, PES2019.

Hmmmm. Well, the TL;DR version: I’m pleased, I’m content, I’m as impressed as I always am on Day 1 of a new PES. But –

I’m not completely blown away by PES2019. Not yet. And this is probably a good thing.

I have never felt comfortable with how excited and borderline-hysterical I always get on Day 1 of a new PES, considering how things subsequently end up, particularly in recent years.

nuPES has done its best to destroy the legacy of Pro Evolution Soccer. I cannot forget, or forgive.

Session 1, if I was giving it an overall Satisfaction Score, would rate only something like a cool 7/10. (Note for skim-readers: this is not any kind of score for the game. It is only a score for my overall Satisfaction level after 1 session on Day 1.)

Playing 7 or 8 Exhibition matches in a row isn’t what I want to do with PES2019, anyway. The real test will come over the next few days and weeks as Master League gets going.

If I had to pick one reason why I am relatively cool after 1 session, it’s that it didn’t take many matches for things to feel more or less like PES2018 again. The same urgent, end-to-end rhythms.

Visual Fatigue, as expected, is nowhere in evidence.

It plays a great game of footy. I got hammered by the AI on Top player – see above. I did have John Stones sent off early in this one, and I did spend most of my time messing around, taking long shots, playing speculative passes, and the like. But I still got my backside handed to me.

The AI overall has been a pleasant surprise. It scored a wonderful volley from outside the box, which is in the brief video at the bottom. #AIthatweneed

AI-committed fouls so far feel as if they have been nerfed, relative to the demo. My sequence of AI-committed fouls over the first 5 matches went something like 0, 2, 1, 2, 1.

So there was only one match with none, an improvement on PES2018. But the demo had given me a reasonable expectation that the levels of fouls seen in the demo would scale up proportionally to longer matches. That expectation has so far not been met.

A warning for all potential 4K TV purchasers: you will likely spend as much or more time fretting over and tinkering with its settings as playing or watching things on it. At least to begin with. I went through this first session of PES2019 with the display menus open on the TV and the PS4 at least three times in every match. And still wasn’t quite settled by the end of it

My final match I switched the Passing Assistance from my customary PA1 to PA0, Unassisted – or ‘manual’ as it has come to be known to PES players.

Every year I think ‘this is the year I ascend to Manual Nirvana and become as one with the gods’. Every year I play with PA0 for a match or two, then go back to PA1 and forget all about it.

I really enjoyed the PA0 match I played, more than any other in previous years. We will see.

PES Day is a major highlight of the year for me and always feels special – and so does this one. I think after so many years of frustration over nuPES, I’m wary of offering PES2019 my hand at this stage.

This is a game that I will cautiously feel my way into. It will have to win me over. I will not roll over to have my tummy tickled.

The plan for tomorrow is to install an Option File and start a Master League. I will probably use an all-new bespoke club, instead of my usual Coventry City. I feel like ringing this changes this year.

Friday’s post will be up at midday as usual. Happy PES Day, one and all.

Clip 1: a good move is almost finished off spectacularly by Rashford. This was me testing the mechanics of the game. I do love a volleyed goal from a dropping aerial through-ball.

Clip 2: the AI scores a stunning volley from a cleared corner. One of its 7 goals against me in that thrashing.

Clip 3: my very first goal scored in PES2019. A standard header from Kane, in my first match.

PES2019 arrives

Earlier than usual. I wasn’t expecting it until my usual local delivery time, lunchtime or just after. I now have to pop out for an hour before playing it (I really wasn’t anticipating delivery this early), but will have all afternoon on it later.

My first impressions post should be up at about 8pm this evening. I’ll record and post my first goal for posterity, no matter what it’s like.

Happy PES Day.

Release Week at the knees

I didn’t get to play another session on the PES2019 PC demo with the Time Expander tool after all. Life and work intervened. When I’ve played, I’ve played other games. (There are other games than PES in my life.)

There’s always something to worry about in the post-singleplayer-focused world, which is definitely the world we now inhabit. The problem is that while we know this intellectually, we still manage to think and feel as if cuddly old Seabass is still at the helm, that it’s basically still 2004 right now, and that the new PES simply must be awesome.

The only football game action I’ve had since Tuesday has been keeping an eye on the forums and the general chatter about the full PES2019 game. Early copies have reached a few outlying regions.

I don’t like what I’ve seen and heard about the speed of the full game. I don’t like what I’ve seen and heard about player individuality in the full game.

I definitely don’t like what I’ve seen and heard about AI-committed fouls in the full game. There’s not much evidence out there that the demo AI fouling levels have been scaled up to longer matches in the full game.

In the 5-minute PES2019 demo on consoles, many matches were agreeably ‘full’ of fouls. There were still too many with few or none, but there were enough with many to appease me.

‘Wow,’ we all thought. ‘Imagine this scaled up to 10-minute matches in the full game!’

The burning question is: have they done the dirty on us? Has it been a bait-and-switch operation?

This is potentially the mother of all PES betrayals over the past decade. Every other anti-singleplayer indignity the series has suffered would, in my view, pale into near-nothingness in comparison to this.

This is the final red line that must not be crossed.

As ever, playing the game with your own hands is the only analysis that really counts.

Roll on next week. Release Week! It’s this special feeling that makes us keep coming back, year after year.

It feels good to be here again, after genuinely feeling earlier this year that I could no longer participate in the nuPES era.

That feeling might return, might not, who knows. I suspect that at some point over the next few years, PES will really have to make its mind up and pick a side – and it’ll pick the other side – the online side – but that time is not quite here. Not just yet. Theres still enough of PES left for me to feel this special feeling today.

In this coming Bank Holiday week I’ll most likely get the game via Royal Mail on Wednesday 29th August. So I should be able to post my 1st Impressions post that same evening.