Category: Camera

I am starting to like this PES2012 game they speak of

It’s a funny old game. I’ve been going crazy for the Blimp camera this week and praising it to high heaven. Let me do some more of that.

Wednesday morning’s session was my first full one with the Blimp. It was pretty amazing—easily my best single session with PES2012. Afterward, I’d have sworn on a stack of holy PS2 games that PES2012 was one of the best, if not the best, PES that I’d ever played. Seriously. Everything that its most diehard fans claim for it, I saw.

Passing was better. Movement was sublime. I kept the ball more effectively and I did things with it that I’d never dreamed were possible in PES2012. I put in some performances and got some unprecedented results. Results like this one:

2-0 against Liverpool, with 72% possession, and more than double their number of shots. I’ve beaten Liverpool before in PES2012, but never like this.

Before switching to Blimp, the game had pretty much been kicking my arse. Suddenly, I was a new player. I won 4 matches and drew 1. I was up to 4th in the table at one point, just 5 points off 1st.

I began to dream of the unthinkable.

And then Thursday came along and slightly cooled my ardour. Yesterday morning, I went through a frustrating run of 4 goalless matches.

I suppose I should have expected it. I’ve always believed in the existence of macro-scripting in Master League, where the game dynamically reacts to a human player’s good form by throwing a ‘balancing’ curveball or two your way. Many experienced PES players scoff at such notions, but many just as experienced PES players know that they are facts, not notions. Scripting exists, man…

So I couldn’t score for 4 matches. Wasn’t allowed to. Sniff.

But I was still unbeaten. I didn’t concede any goals in those 4 matches either. In fact, in about 12 matches since switching to Blimp, I’ve only lost 1 match—in the Europa League knockout phase, first match, first leg, 1-2 at home. And I played that match on the old Wide camera to see how it felt now…

It’s hard to describe exactly what’s changed for me. I’ll give two examples.

I was 1-0 up against Derby and coming under immense pressure, the kind of pressure that only PES2012 can apply.

I noticed the Derby right-back had pushed a long way upfield. Barnes was standing in space on my left wing with no one near him. Now, in the Wide view, I would never have seen that. I would have had to see it on the radar screen, and I rarely have the prepossession to do more than glance down there.

On Blimp view, it was all right there in front of me. The whole pitch, every player. So I passed an extravagant through-ball up to Barnes, he ran on and held up the ball until strikers arrived in the box, and then sent in a cross. He’s a superb crosser, is Barnes.

Van Basten was there in the box to nod it in. 2-0 to me, and the end of Derby’s realistic chances of getting anything.

I was delighted with the goal—sitting up, grinning, shaking my fist at the wall. You know the deal. It was just a simple run down the wing, a cross, and a headed goal from 2 yards out. For more than a decade, that is what Pro Evo has done: made ordinary football moments seem totally extraordinary.

My other example is from that man of my PES gaming year so far, Georghe Hagi.

My Hagi is in decline, sad to say. I feel about this much the same way I felt when I started losing my hair in my early 30s. I don’t want to believe it, but I know it’s happening.

He was 29 when I got him and he’ll be 33 this season. He’s noticeably less effective in most matches. That astonishing left foot no longer packs quite the same threat.

But he’s still got it enough of the time to justify making him a first choice player. And when he pops up with something—an assist or a goal—it’s often significant, and usually a stunner.

It was 0-0 against Blackburn, away, and the 88th minute.

I’d all but given up on getting the 3 points. All my players were exhausted after one of those bewildering International fixture days just two days before the match. I set off on what had to be my last attack, and worked the ball to Doolin on the right. As seen in the clip below, I cut in slightly, and when you see me get to the corner of the box, I was automatically readying myself to take a shot.

That’s when I saw Hagi steaming up from midfield. In the replay below, he’s only visible late on, but in Blimp view he was visible to me for long enough to think: Okay, no wild shooting here, I’ll play the ball to Hagi and see what happens. And I did:

Not his most spectacular, but I was drooling at the placement. I love the ‘tucked away’ nature of it, across the keeper with the instep. Once again, this was PES making the nuts and bolts of football technique feel like something much, much more.

All of which leaves me with this league position after 26 matches:

I know—the goals scored column is a shocker.

What can I do? Blimp has revolutionised my general approach play, and made me better at defending, but I still have to deal with PES2012’s shooting. The more I discover about PES2012’s unexpectedly rich depths, the more unhappy I feel about the shooting.

So what does this all mean for the immediate future? I was going to suspend PES2012 after this season and play FIFA12 for a while. My born-again Blimptastic PES2012 life has made me look again at that decision. If I finish in a Champions League position, I think I’ll be tempted to play on…

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ll play it by ear.

Pimp my Blimp

I’ve played all the way to the middle of season 8 now. It’s PES2012. It’s Master League. But for how much longer?

Possibly longer than I thought. I was planning to set PES2012 aside after the current season. The game’s bad issues are threatening to overtake the good ones and drown them out. It’s sensible to forestall that, I think, and depart on good terms (with the option to come back), rather than leave it any longer and storm off in disgust.

But there may be some life left in the old dog yet. I’ve experienced some different gameplay over the past few days, and it’s all down to a change of camera.

I spotted a few posts on the PES forums that extravagantly praised PES2012’s Blimp camera option. I had tried it myself, back when PES2012 was brand new, and didn’t like it much. I think it lasted 60 seconds, at most, before I switched back to Wide.

I’ve seen praise for the Blimp camera, off and on, for the last few months, but put it down to the usual sort of Internet hyperbole that people are so keen to indulge in.

Yesterday morning, apropos of nothing in particular, I decided to give Blimp cam one more go, and this time I decided to force myself to play one entire match.

With Blimp cam, you can pretty much see all 22 outfield players at the same time. Blimp cam makes the players look like squirming little ants. Until you get used to it.

What’s so great about a camera mode that makes the game resemble a mid-1990s clone of Sensible Soccer? The chief benefit of Blimp cam is being able to see where all the AI players are and what they’re up to. This helps you play around them a lot better. It enables a sense of openness and freedom in PES2012 that I’ve rarely felt before.

Too often in PES2012 the gameplay feels cramped and suffocated by the marauding, high-pressure AI. Particularly on higher difficulties, such as Professional, where I’ve been playing—and suffering—for several weeks now.

Blimp cam seems to change all that. Instead of running blindly down cul-de-sacs and being tamely dispossessed by the CPU, I can not only see the CPU players coming, but I can see where the next trap is being laid, and take steps to evade both.

I can see my players out in the open on the other side of the pitch, and ping them a circle pass. I could do that before, of course, with Wide cam, but with Blimp I can see the receiver and feel more confident.

Yesterday morning, in 4 matches played on Blimp, I won 3 and drew 1. Those matches included a 2-0 home win against Manchester United. I felt that my solid performance against the super-skilled Man Utd players was primarily due to the Blimp perspective.

I also closed out a successful qualifying campaign in the Europa League, beating an ultra-supercharged Dynamo Kiev 2-1 in the last match to clinch second place.

It’s way too early to say that Blimp cam permanently changes PES2012’s gameplay for the better. And it’s probably too late for me to become so enamoured of life on Professional that I abandon my cunning plan to sneak over to FIFA12 for a few months. But it might postpone it for a week or so.

Starting, and then stopping

It was my first start in the First XI at Portsmouth. I’m almost midway through my second season as a young professional footballer in PES2009’s Become A Legend mode. After a rocky start (it just felt wrong not to control every player) I’ve ‘got’ what BaL’s all about. I’m enjoying it almost as much as I’ve enjoyed Master League in its pomp, which is saying something.

I was nervous about my first start, and I played tight. I probably played more conservatively than at any time since I started playing this mode. I had an average match. It was the first leg of a D1 Cup tie, at home, against Sunderland. It ended 0-0 and I was pleased with my average performance. I was taken off in the 68th minute, which was fair enough. My stamina levels still need a lot of work. I thought I’d done enough to stay in the team for the next match, a full league match, and so it proved. I was selected in the First XI again.

After nearly a season and a half, I’m still learning my trade, still settling into the solo-player ethos of the BaL gameplay. I’ve finally worked out that the best way of getting the ball is loitering near the ball, rather than charging in and trying to take it. Your AI team-mates actually do want to pass it to you—you just have to coax them into doing it. Most of the time the ball will come to you if you position yourself intelligently. It really is an off-the-ball game as much as an on-the ball one.

I knew I’d need to play well to keep a regular place. A goal, or at least an assist, would do very nicely. My only goal in BaL so far is still that headed goal in training with Aston Villa last season. I’m so hungry for my first proper goal, in a proper match. Preferably one scored with my feet.

Sadly, I did not play well in my second full start. I was substituted at half-time. We were 0-2 down by that point. The final result was 0-3. My post-match rating was 5.5. Ouch.

I was disappointed but not surprised to find myself back on the subs’ bench for the next match. It’s pretty clear that I’ve got to play well to keep a place at this stage of my BaL career. I’m working on my game. I’m trying to get better. But this mode brings certain frustrations that I’m still not getting to grips with.

A big frustration for me is when one of our attacks breaks down and the other team streams back upfield and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop them. I can see their counter-attacking script playing itself out. They will keep the ball, and they will create a chance or get a corner, and I just have to watch helplessly. It’s this aspect of BaL more than any other that feels utterly foreign to me.

After sitting on the bench for the ENTIRE next match (easily the thing I hate about BaL the most) I was brought on as a sub in the next match. Only, I was brought on as a DMF. Uh? Never mind. I tried to get on with it, but then a few minutes later I was subbed myself. A caption appeared on-screen saying 4-3-3, as if that should be enough explanation for me. No, it wasn’t. In any real football match I would have been part of that reorganised team, part of the 4-3-3. In 30 years of watching football I can only remember a handful of occasions when an uninjured substitute has himself been substituted. I suppose I just have to mark this one down as yet another PES quirk.

Portsmouth are near the bottom of the league table at the moment. We started the season very well, but I wasn’t anywhere near the team back then. Since I’ve started making appearances as sub, and now getting a few starts, we’ve barely scored a goal, never mind won a match. It would seem to be all my fault. That’s strangely fine by me: what I caused, I can correct. I think Portsmouth will be relegated to Division 2. It’s far too early in my career for me to be the kind of one-man team I think I’d need to be, in order to turn this ship around. But I’ll stick it out here. The mid-season break is fast approaching. No doubt I’ll get a few offers from other clubs. But my mind is made up: I’m Pompey now and I’m Pompey for the next several seasons, until I’ve at least taken them to a D1 title. I’ll make my BaL name right here or not at all.

There has been another development. Last week, a few days after starting to play BaL seriously, I also started playing my old Master League save again, using the same BaL camera: Vertical Wide. It was in order to familiarise myself. The camera is a tricky one to use. It twists around when focus is on the wing, and the directional controls are always relative to your view. You can find yourself running the ball out of play if you’re not careful. The shooting values seem different too.

Playing my Master League save with the Vertical Long camera was like discovering a hidden 6-star difficulty level. My Coventry City team, packed with superstars, has taken some awful beatings. We’re 13th in the league table after 10 matches. I’m toying with the idea of starting a new ML career with the Default team, using this camera angle. But I’ve got enough on my plate right now. There’s only room for BaL.

Vertical longing

I’ll get straight to it. In times of yore, the Vertical Long camera provided a zoomed-out viewpoint from behind your goal for the whole of a match. But we haven’t seen what I regard as a ‘proper’ Vertical Long camera in PES for over a decade now. In every version since ISS98, the Vertical Long camera has forced you to play ‘downscreen’ for one half of a match. And I hate playing downscreen in a Vertical view. So I’ve stuck entirely with the default horizontal Wide view for a decade—and now I want my old Vertical Long camera back.

I want PES2009 to have a Vertical Long camera that allows me to play ‘upscreen’ in both halves. I think I remember reading a month or so ago that the game will permit this feature for the first time in a decade. I keep wondering if it’s true, and hoping.

The 2009 batch of football games are so close that I really don’t think I can function properly until I get my hands on them. The FIFA09 demo will be available a week tomorrow; the full game is only a month away. PES2009 (and its demo) is now only 6 weeks away. Or 7 weeks—it all depends what release date you believe.

I don’t know whether I am coming or going. It’s all producing some strange symptoms…

The other day I spent an hour in town walking between various shops, hunting for a PS1 copy of ISS98. I didn’t find it. I could easily get it from eBay, but I think I’ll just leave it now. I’ll hang on for FIFA09. And I suspect that it’s only a matter of time before ISS98 (or any one of those early ISS titles) pops up as a PSP download on the PlayStation Network. In which case I would be at the front of the queue.

I’ve mentioned on several occasions that ISS98 is one of my favourite versions of ISS/PES. ISS98 was the one with Fabrizio Ravanelli and Paul Ince eyeballing one another on the cover. Back in 1998 I played it almost into the ground on my old PlayStation—whilst wearing short trousers… (Not really. I was twenty-something in 1998, but it was so long ago now that it feels as if I should have been wearing short trousers.)

No doubt the mists of memory are being kinder to ISS98 than it deserves. No doubt I’ll reel in horror, if/when I ever get to play it again.

Ah, but it had that 100%, ‘proper’ Vertical Long camera… If it is indeed back for PES2009 then I can see me and Pro Evo getting very cosy together again. There’s something about playing vertically, directly attacking a goal ‘upscreen’ that makes an already immersive game even more so. Shooting in particular when using a Vertical camera is extremely satisfying. Aiming is so much more intuitive.

If anyone has any concrete information about the Vertical camera in PES2009, I’d love to hear about it. Remember that it has to point towards the opponent’s goal in both halves. Otherwise, I’m not interested.

I doubt that any of the early playtesters—at Leipzig and elsewhere—took the trouble to test all the camera modes. Even if they did, I bet none of them played with the Vertical Long camera. And even if they did, I bet they never used it for the whole match. When the big PES websites—PESfan, WENB, that lot—start getting their promo copies of the game, I’ll post a question for them. But will I get my question answered? Those Q&A threads are nightmarishly fast and furious. I think I’ll end up finding this one out for myself.

———————–

In my next post I’ll be bringing down the curtain on the game that has occupied most of my football game year. I’m talking about the PS2/PSP version of PES2008. Old faithful.

FIFA08 ran it close. I have played loads of FIFA08, more now than ever. But that shabby, classico version of PES2008 just edges it in terms of hours played. And I owe it a special post to discuss my current state of play, what I think of it overall as a PES game, and whether or not I will continue my ML career on the PSP version over the coming year.

On my next FIFA Sunday I’ll also be doing a similar summing-it-all-up post about FIFA08. That game has been another faithful servant in this grim year for PES fans.

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