Month: July 2019

The Irregulars 2019

myClub’s turn on the summertime stage. Remember when summer holiday TV was given over to cheerful variety shows? Tommy Boyd introducing Kajagoogoo on Skegness beach?

I was excited about myClub. Regular readers will recall last summer’s astonishing dalliance with myClub in PES2018. I perversely enjoyed that foray into the mode that has single-handedly destroyed my beloved single-player game.

How will 2019 go?

I amused myself spending an accumulated 200,000 GP and some 400 Coins. They soon go. I acquired Aguero. Zico (the Zico). Ozil. And plenty of others, including an old friend from Master League.

But the essence of football gaming – and PES – is competing with lesser players.

I assembled the squad above, which included a couple of Gold players (I’ll go all Bronze/Silver from now on). I played a few matches against the COM, and then headed online for a few matches.

Here is match 1. I think this opponent was decent in every sense and it was a good match.

The TL;DW version: I dominated the match, having more possession and more attempts on goal. I played ‘better’. But as so often happens in the online sphere, my opponent finished with more goals. It was a horrible mistake from me for his goal (10:45). I tried to play my way out of a tight spot. I should know better after suffering a million similar situations against The AI That We Need.

The final stats tell the full tale of my woe.

I then played another match, and this opponent was a bit more of a dick. Not excessively so, just a little bit – see the shenanigans he gets up to in the opening (and closing) minutes:

A question for the experienced online players on here. At 12:20 he kicks the ball against my striker, gifting me a late goal and giving me a chance of getting something from the match. From his resulting kickoff, the game immediately starts to lag. Is he the one doing that?

For us to go from a butter-smooth connection to a treacle-sticky one, instantly after I pull a goal back, seems suspicious.

Is that what deliberate lag-switching looks like? If so, why is he doing it in this circumstance? What is he afraid will happen? Is he just being a dick for no reason, or is he afraid of momentum, or what?

I just about deserved to lose this match anyway so I was not too miffed. Just curious.What’s my feeling after these few sessions on myClub? My feeling is that I want more! I want to continue to grow my club and the individual squads within it. I’ll take my star-studded squad online next.

But it’s the basic squad that interests me the most. Having a new story to tell with Castledine and Jarvis and co., tickles me in intimate ways.

It’ll get me through the next few weeks leading to the eDisgrace2020 demo, and who knows, perhaps through the month of August too.

myUltimate Club eTeam

Super short post today. I’m loving this summer and these lazy days of drifting at a whim from one thing to another. The other night I played a few hours of PES5 on PC until 2am. Because I could, and because I wanted to.

Here is almost a full match from Ultimate Team on FIFA19. Highlights come at around 1:50 with a superb headed goal from the AI. Followed at about 3:30 by an almost-as-good response from me – a ‘team goal’ for those who like that sort of thing.

As I type, I have a PES2019 myClub match on pause. I’ve dropped in on the mode for the first time since Week 1 in September. Back then I set up a team of Irregulars, just as in PES2018, intending to return whenever ML gave up the ghost. ML proved unexpectedly durable in PES2019, which meant I never got back to myClub until now. More on this next week.

Now I know how Simon Francis felt

What strange days these summertime days are to a football gamer. They always are strange, every year, but this year they seem extra-strange.

In my case this summer feels extra-strange because I gave a month to FIFA. Regular perusers of this blog will know that a month for FIFA is about 3.5 weeks more than FIFA usually gets from me. So perhaps it’s no wonder this year feels somewhat different.

I’m not officially done with FIFA19 yet. I’m enjoying myself at the moment doing what I feel like. And what I feel like right now is some PES2019 on the PC, modded to the gills.

One of the aspects of modern football gaming that appals any right-thinking single-player is the conspicuous lack of AI fouls. PES has few fouls, sometimes none at all. FIFA has even fewer fouls, often none at all. It’s a scandal. Both EA and Konami cater for online players first, and online players are typically 9 years old, whatever their age. They don’t like it when their frenzied button-mashing is interrupted for any reason. Ergo, no fouls.

So I was most interested to try a version of PES2019(PC) specifically modded to ‘allow’ fouls.

Take a look at this post-match screenshot. I was Bournemouth. The AI was Liverpool.

I have rarely, if ever, played a PES2019 match on the PS4 that had 6 AI fouls in it. The above is from a modded PES2019(PC). I started a Master League, as Bournemouth, using the Bournemouth squad. I went looking for my favourite Default players – and picked up Rice, Castledine and Jarvis. They all turned up on the Free Agent list.

I played 5 matches. Top Player.

It’s early days, of course, but these 5 matches in this 1 session was one of the best single football gaming sessions of my football gaming life. A slow, methodical, at times clumsy and stop-start game – everything that Konami and EA are too scared to implement in the modern era. Glorious.

My mods:

Broadcast Camera Zoom disable. Critical to prevent the cut-to-closeup thing that has spoiled Broadcast Camera forever in PES. It seems that ‘eSport Soccergame 2020’ or whatever the fuck it’s called will have a Broadcast camera that doesn’t need modding.

Speed adjuster. I know… what does this mod do that the in-game speed adjustments, from -2 to +2 – don’t? To try it out I left the basic speed on 0 and lowered this mod’s settings to a few notches below default, to see what it felt like. The result? Pretty nice actually. You can see the outcome below.

Gameplay mod, via the dt_64.exe file in the installation folder. I hunted through the many available on EvoWeb for an .exe that was specifically billed as boosting the amount of fouls.

For some reason adding the latter mod above negated some of my graphical mods – specifically, the Sky Sports overlay, the Premier League logo ‘swoosh’ for replays, and things of that nature. I am still tinkering.

Here are a couple of minutes from the Bournemouth game. You can see the notable aggression from the AI almost from the start. There are 3 of the 6 AI fouls in this little selection. And I play terribly. It feels like a long time before the Liverpool goalkeeper even appears on-screen:

(Change quality to 1080p if you have the bandwidth.)

Watch to the end to see my one meaningful attacking move of this sequence, in which L COOK picks up an actual substantive injury that forced him off the field and put him out of action for 5 weeks.

Yes, Jermain Defoe is still at Bournemouth here. I haven’t updated the squads. The danger of playing with PC stuff at this time of the footy game year is that most of the links are old and some are expired.

On to my one solitary goal. In the next match, vs Arsenal, I was already 0-2 down at the end of another tough, fouls-filled match. I hadn’t scored a single goal. I brought the young Rice on to play at CMF, and in the last seconds…

27 yards or so. The one moment in the match when the AI defence wasn’t closing me down sufficiently. It was a great feeling when it went in, needless to say. My one and only goal in 5 matches of a mesmerising, maddening, modded PES2019 on PC. The post-match average fouls count was 4 or so. Still not as high as I would like, but a lot better than the standard 0.75-ish.

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A special ‘treat’ today. I’ve recently upgraded my Internet speeds and am now able to upload longer and higher-quality files to YouTube.

I don’t think I’ve ever posted a full match on the blog before, or if I have, the visuals have been low quality.

Even for today’s fibre-assisted maiden effort I reduced the quality to 720p to enable a quick upload. The original file was 8GB and I got scared. Here it is, at 720p, complete with all my dicking around in menus and so on – the full Bournemouth vs Liverpool match, me as Bournemouth, modded gameplay and camera, modded speed, Master League…

O Dresden Fortuna

Early July. The football gaming world is in hibernation mode. So of course it’s time for me to sample FIFA19’s notorious Ultimate Team mode.

Why ‘notorious’? Because Ultimate Team was the first mode of its kind on the scene, back in FIFA09, I believe (the Internet is vague). It’s 10 years old this year (probably). ‘Ultimate Team’ is still a byword for everything that’s profoundly wrong with football gaming in our time.

The focus on big-name stars. The absolute farce of being able to have an instant squad of world-beaters. The pressure to take things online and play against so-called ‘other people’.

Ultimate Team puzzled everyone. What is it for? What does it do?

Whatever else it was for, it helped create a new dynamic that has steadily undermined all football gaming over the past decade, culminating in the abomination of ‘eFootball PES 2020’.

Now that my statutory anti-online foaming at the mouth is out of the way with, on with today’s shortened show.

I picked a squad, a badge, and a strip almost at random. Dresden Fortuna the club. Holland the badge. Andy Carroll my free Gold player. Reus my free loan player. All very very familiar from a certain other mode…A genuine question that I would love to know the answer to: how haven’t EA sued the backside off Konami over its UT knock-off, myClub? Konami didn’t just copy the basic idea of Ultimate Team. They copied its entire appearance and function too.

Here is my very first goal – a nice fast breakaway and finish. Always great when you play the pass that puts the player through on goal, and then finish it off.

I won this opening match 3-0 and was happy with the rewards.

I played another one after it, and won that 1-0.

As usual, FIFA19’s general gameplay rarely disappoints me. It’s absorbing, intricate, interesting.

The AI could be a little more aggressive, and there could be a few fouls here and there to break up the play and offer something else to do.

When will single-players ever be catered for again in general gameplay terms? An ‘AI aggression’ slider would seem to be the obvious solution, and perfectly in keeping with FIFA’s famous customisation ethic. But so far, nothing. And EA very interestingly observes a Great Silence on the whole topic of single-player fouls. There’s more evidence for the existence of Bigfoot than there is evidence of EA taking the matter seriously. So I’m not holding out any hope.

Will I play Ultimate Team again? I could do, but probably won’t.

I think it might be time for me to put my PC installation of PES2019 through a proper week or two.

It’ll at least be an interesting summertime test to see if I do have it in me to be a PC football gamer. (Spoiler alert: no.)