Category: Bradley

Matches of the Day

At the moment I’m not really playing any one game or mode. I definitely will be going back to regular PES2009 Become a Legend play soon enough. I’ll admit to not being as enamoured of the mode as I was a few weeks ago. The novelty has worn off. But the excellence of it remains. If I didn’t want to play BaL any more, I’d come right out and say so and I’d discuss my reasons. But I am still interested in it. I just need a break to spend some time with other games, which I’ve sorely missed. And I need to spend some time with other game modes in PES2009 and FIFA09, of course.

With my decent new camera, I have filmed two full matches from PES2009 and FIFA09. I filmed myself playing a Master League match from my old save-game as Coventry City. And I filmed a match I played in FIFA09’s Ultimate Team mode.

Don’t worry. I’m not about to post the full videos—at 700MB apiece, I doubt I’d find anywhere to put ’em anyway. There’s little duller than watching other people play football games. (Unless, of course, it’s August or something, and you’re watching a blurry mobile phone clip of somebody playing the imminent new football games. In which case it’s very interesting indeed—but then you’re still only really interested in what can be gleaned about the gameplay. There’s little or no actual interest in seeing how some random ‘trade fair guy’ is playing the game. Indeed, most often they seem to play it very badly.)

Instead of the full, dull games, I’ve put together two short highlights packages. One for the PES2009 match, one for the FIFA09 match. I was going to package these highlights complete with an actual voice-over from yours truly, TV-style. That would have been hilarious… The most whimsical jape of the season! But, sadly/fortunately, I didn’t have time.

Here they are, the PES2009 one first. I’ll set the scene. I’m using the Vertical Wide camera, BaL-style. It’s a useful familiarising tool. Playing with all 11 players using the BaL camera helps you learn its quirks, which are many. But then I started getting back into my old Master League career for its own sake. I’ve been sneakily playing ML matches, off and on, for a few weeks now.

I’m in the Sky Blue strip, naturally, playing against Zenit St Petersburg. This was a typical Master League match. After several near-misses, Bradley—a powerful, swashbuckling DMF in the best PES tradition—gets a fine goal (one that really showcases the joys of Vertical Wide). Then, after having had NOT A KICK all game, Zenit St Petersburg come at me with a late surge. Can you guess the final result?

The big news of the moment in FIFA09 is that everybody has been given some free Ultimate Team coins. If you were an early adopter then you suffered the most from its online teething troubles—and now you get 10,000 coins, gratis. If you bought the DLC later, after the online problems were mostly resolved, you get a decent consolation prize of 5000 coins.

I was very happy to see I had 14,000 coins when I loaded up the game. It’s been a week or more since I last played. I had a few Trades that came though for me to go with the bonus 10K.

I bought a Gold pack, a Silver pack, and put in some bids for some Silver-level backroom staff. I also made a cheeky bid for Arsene Wenger as a manager. That was in a two-day auction. At the time of writing I don’t know if the bid’s been successful. (I’ll edit it in here when I do know.)

Here are the highlights of my first match with my new-look Ultimate Team. All those Gold and Silver cards were like manna from heaven. My two-star team became a three-star team.

One of my new players is a striker called T Gekas. He plays up front in my 4-4-2 with one Gary McSheffrey, a former real-life Coventry City player whom I was very happy to acquire in the Silver pack. Watch for a great debut performance from Gekas:

Link: FIFA09 Ultimate Team - match highlights

Only now as my Ultimate Team starts to gel and become more powerful do I really, really feel the lack of a good offline mode. These one-off ‘club matches’ just aren’t satisfying in the long run, and I don’t like playing online. I’m never going to be an online player. Yes, I have occasional spurts of enthusiasm, but they never last longer than a day. I would love it—ahem, ‘just love it’—if FIFA2010 shipped with Ultimate Team built-in and with a comprehensive Master League-style offline career mode.

I don’t want much, do I? But think how great it would be. EA should just scrap Manager Mode and replace it with an Ultimate Team/Master League hybrid. If that really happened I think I’d be the happiest football gamer in the world.

Dosh and Becks

I’ve played a load more games in my Master League career on PES2009. And I’m still really liking it. Six seasons into this career, I’m enjoying PES2009’s ML a lot more than I was enjoying PES6’s ML at the same stage two years ago. I thought PES6’s ML was an easy one. PES2009’s certainly hasn’t been easy so far.

I’ve been braced for PES2009 to turn into a pumpkin. To suddenly reveal itself as being as hollow as PES2008. (Will that game ever be forgiven? No, it won’t.) But so far it hasn’t happened. I’m still cautious about hailing PES2009 as a ‘proper’ PES game in case it all goes the proverbial tits-up a week or a month down the line. If I’m still playing this game with the same enjoyment this time next month, in the fabled January, then I might let myself relax a bit.

At the moment I would argue that everything that once made PES great is fully present in PES2009. Its only problem—and I admit it’s a big problem—is that everything that made PES less than great is still here as well. Scripting, eight-directional movement, stupidly wandering CBs and SBs, perplexing transfer market shenanigans in Master League… All the same old issues are here. Only they seem bigger and potentially more destructive now, as they should have been fixed by now.

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Here’s the current Division 1 table in Week 18—that’s me in 13th place:

Not bad for me to be in mid-table after 17 games in my first Division 1 season. I’ve won 5 games, and drawn 6. That’s brought enough points to keep me out of the relegation zone. I was half-expecting I’d be down there by now.

My goals-scored record is still pitiful. If anything is going to drag me down into the mire, it’ll be my lack of goals. I’m really showing the signs of lacking a clear-cut top striker, with experience and a bit of height. To be honest I thought I’d do slightly better with my midget youngsters up front—an over-confidence possibly bred from last year’s non-game…

I’ve been through the mid-season negotiations. Back in the pre-season negotiations I shied away from getting any players, largely because the game was treating me as a D2 side even though I’d just been promoted. That memory still annoys me. PES has done a lot of annoying things to me over the years.

Here in the Division 1 mid-season, I went for Prieto again. I really want Prieto! (In a non-carnal, PES-only way, I hasten to add.) His team accepted my bid of Traore+1000 points. I had my foot in the door. All I had to do was persuade the player. He was on 840 points at his current club, and he’s only 20 years old.

Over the next three negotiation weeks I offered Prieto 1100 points, 1200 points, and then 1300 points. He wouldn’t accept, and I’m going no higher at this stage. Money is less of a problem for me this season than the past few seasons. But it’s still not a bottomless pit. I still have to be careful about throwing money at players. So I’m not doing it yet.

Once again I found myself sniffing around the Youth list. I’ve found that, by default, I’ve focused on Youth players so far during this career. The initial seasons were tough and I often flew very close to the precipice when it was time to pay the players’ wages at the end of a season. Back then, Youth players were the only players I could afford. It’s actually made for an interesting career so far. I think I’ll continue with this ad hoc Youth policy. 

I picked up three new youths: BECKHAM, GIGGS, and BRADLEY.

Am I succumbing to the myth of Beckham? He’s never been a great player for me in PES. For all his undoubted passing and crossing abilities, he lacks the explosive pace that makes a good PES player great. Strangely I can’t remember having Beckham in any of my ML teams before. I’ll see how he develops.

Giggs needs no justification to have in my team. A real-life world-class player even in his sleep, he was a stalwart for my PS2/PSP PES2008 team, and I’m looking forward to developing him in this one along the same lines. A versatile left winger/striker with an absolutely lethal left foot.

Bradley is an old friend from last year’s PS3 PES2008—one of its few highlights, in fact. I also had him on the PS2/PSP version where he scored increasingly longer and longer-ranged goals for fun. I need goals in PES2009 and he could provide them regularly from the DMF position. I’d settle for 10 a season in the fulness of time (he’s still a Youth, I have to remember).

These acquisitions boost my squad to a pretty unmanageable—and expensive—size. It will have to be trimmed drastically at the end of the season. I’m also still carrying a few Default players, unusually for me after this many seasons.

Please, Konami, can we have some more?

For the past week I’ve been playing my Master League career almost exclusively on the PSP. I hardly ever get much quality PlayStation3 time lately, what with work and various other things taking up so much time.

Since last week the Metal Gear Solid 4 disc has basically lived in my PS3. All of my sit-down, big console time has been spent sneaking around gorgeously-rendered locales, and being awestruck by the exquisite gameplay and immersive storyline of the PS3’s first real showstopper of a game. Konami, let’s have some more, please…

Playing PES2008 solely on the PSP is just fine by me. I love the PSP (am I the only one?), and I love PES2008 on the PSP. It’s a proper game of PES on a handheld console. I think it’s a great achievement that Konami and Team Seabass haven’t received the proper recognition for, for many reasons.

The main reason is that this viable, playable, fully-featured PES for the PSP came along shockingly LATE…. It was at least a year overdue—arguably two years. Also, the backlash against the next-gen consoles’ version of the game has shifted the focus away from the still-good ‘classic’ PES that’s available on PSP and PS2. I think it’ll take a pretty good PES2009 for Konami and Seabass to recover the ground they’ve lost with the fanbase.

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As I move into the last third of season 2018 it’s important to stay focused. I’m top of the league by nine points. My main league rivals, Valencia, are lurking in second place, waiting for a slip-up.

I played Sevilla and absolutely thrashed them. It’s quite rare for me to absolutely thrash any team. I was 5-0 up at half time, and wondered if I might be able to reach the fabled ten-goal margin of victory. (I never have on any PES—a 9-1 was my best, on the ghastly PS3 version of PES2008. *Shudder*)

The second half was slightly annoying because the AI turned to its old friend, God Mode, and I couldn’t keep hold of the ball for longer than a few seconds at a time. Yes, after a first half that I had completely dominated with excessive amounts of attacking and oodles of skilful play (if I may say so myself), suddenly those same players could neither pass nor kick nor head the ball a few yards to each other. Right. The AI naturally kept the funny business going until it got itself a goal, then relaxed long enough for me to grab another. The final score was 6-1 to me.

In the European Cup quarter final I met a stubborn old rival—Galatasaray. They held me 3-3 at home in the first leg, a torrid game in which I was 1-3 down by half time. I was just terrible. No excuses. Still, on the bright side it was only half time, and I had plenty of time to come back, and I did. I took the draw gratefully, worried about their three away goals but knowing that I could and should win the return leg easily. I’ve done it loads of time before. My game plan will be to score as early as possible and concede nothing at the back. We’ll see how that goes…

I played several more league games, winning some, drawing some. I’m still unbeaten all season—and I really want to hold onto that record until the end. I’m almost more motivated to accomplish an unbeaten season (it’d be my first since PES5) than I would have been about completing a Treble. Funny old game…

A noteworthy goal from these league games came from a cleared corner. I’ve done more than my fair share of moaning on this blog about PES2008’s many apparently scripted elements. One of those elements is the way that an AI clearance from your corner never seems to fall outside the box to one of your players (the kind of ball that always fall to the AI at the other end when you clear their corners).

Every rule has its exceptions, and here is one. This corner was knocked out to Bradley, who ran onto it and unleashed a cannonball of a shot that blasted through the penalty area and high into the net. I was proud of this one because instead of simply blasting in any old direction, I used the PSP’s little analogue nubbin to direct the ball high and to the left:

Far out, man

The season’s biggest game was upon me. Here in 2016, it’s about time I won a Treble—League, Cup, European Cup— and put the matter to rest once and for all. It’s a few seasons overdue. I think that in previous years I’d won a Treble by about 2014 at the latest. Maybe 2015 at a pinch.

I don’t think PES2008 (the PS2/PSP version) is a particularly hard PES. In some ways it’s among the easiest. But I did spend the first three months of this PES year on the PlayStation3 version. When I jumped ship to the so-called ‘last-gen’ version it took me some time to adapt to the classic gameplay style, which I’d clean forgotten after all the weeks of arcadey dribbling and regular cricket scorelines.

I’m absolutely flying in the two Cups. In the European Cup quarter-final I disposed of AC Milan with suspicious ease. After a 0-1 win away from home against Zaragoza in the first leg of the Division 1 Cup quarter-final, I’m nicely poised to go through to semi-final, although I’ll have to be careful in the return leg. So I’m not worried about the Cups.

But I think the League might now be beyond me. Even if PES itself, with all of its wondrous macro-scripting, does me a huge favour and makes Valencia drop points for fun, it’d be hard to overcome some of the extremely determined CPU teams that I’m playing week in, week out.

For example, just prior to the Valencia game I played Almela – Almela! – and I took an early lead. I was all over them, dominating possession, launching raid after raid on their goal. Try as I might I couldn’t score again—and of course they equalised with a few minutes left. I couldn’t get a winner in the last seconds. It was an expensive draw that left me 10 points behind the leaders with just eight games left.

Next up was Valencia themselves. Now this was really do or die. Win this game, and the deficit would be reduced to 7 points.

It was a strange game. I felt cheated. Yes, that’s a familiar refrain from me on this blog, but I’ve got to report what is actually happening to me out there and what I’m actually thinking and feeling about it, day by day, otherwise there’d be no point.

I took the lead and although I wasn’t exactly comfortable, I wasn’t struggling either. As I have mentioned before, Valencia are the best CPU team in the division by some distance. Barca and Real don’t even come close. It’s just one of the quirks of this Master League setup, I suppose. In ten seasons’ time, who knows how the land will lie? Things might be different in the future, but for now Valencia are the team to beat.

I resisted the inevitable onslaught, defending superbly—if I may say so myself. I haven’t mentioned him specifically for a long, long time, but Maldini is easily the best defender I have ever played with in PES2008, and arguably in PES full stop. He’s 25 now and fully developed. He’s effortlessly commanding in the air and accomplished on the ground. The only times he lets me down are for the CPU’s automatic goal corners, when he mysteriously finds his boots glued to the turf at just the wrong moment. However, all of my defenders suffer from that mystery ailment. So I can’t hold it against Maldini.

It was Maldini who was rooted to the spot—nailed to the ground!—when a Valencia corner came over in the 60th minute of the game. Their striker seemed to put his head through Maldini’s chest to nod the ball into the net. Great. I love it when that happens.

There was plenty of time left for me to get the winner. Anyway, by this stage I’m so used to the CPU teams automatically getting a goal at some point that I almost don’t notice it. I’d always assumed I’d need at least two goals to win this game, and so it proved.

When my second goal came, it was accompanied by a SHOUT. From me. I was glad I was nowhere out in public when this beauty went in:

Yes, it’s a PSP replay, taken with my mobile phone—the quality is thus doubly lacking. My apologies for that, but the essence of the goal can still be made out. It’s the furthest-out I’ve ever scored from, I think, in any PES. Bursting from his own half, Bradley—who else?!—shimmies past a couple of defenders. That was so unusual for me (I usually never dribble) that I thought I’d better try to cap it with a shot, from a thousand yards out or wherever I was. Here’s another view from pitch-level:

What I love about the goal isn’t just the distance of the strike. It’s the placement. It flies right into the postage-stamp corner, and the goalkeeper goes through that whole David Seaman-style ‘hopeless flapping’ animation (sorry, Dave, if you’re reading this. Nice hair, though).

It was the 75th minute. I think I was entitled to regard that goal as the winning goal. Right? Right? No, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.

A few minutes later, Valencia had their equaliser; a few minutes after that, they scored again, through an own-goal from me—another ricocheting monstrosity that I could do nothing to prevent. I was 2-3 down in the 90th minute when I kicked off and just ran the ball forward with Giggs…

I was angry. More than angry, I WAS FURIOUS. This isn’t a game, I was thinking. It really is just a partly-interactive script. Seabass can go and…

I floated a cross over with Giggs. Andy Cole, on as a substitute in place of the disappointing Kim Cyun Hi (who’s just not doing it for me out there on the right), nodded the ball into the net. Moments later, the final whistle blew. 3-3 was the final score.

Ridiculous, frustrating, and insulting. That was my overall feeling about the game. Yes, I’d loved the 50-yard goal from Bradley—that should really have been the winner. It’s the kind of goal I love to score in PES more than any other kind of goal, and I’ll spend the rest of the year trying to replicate or exceed it. But yet again I found myself having to save the game, switch it off, and go and lie down in a darkened room…

As of now I am officially declaring the League title race over. It’s Valencia’s crown. I’ll be focusing my efforts now on finishing second and avoiding qualification for Europe next season. Damn stupid game.

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