Category: Kim U Don

Sliding back down

Every so often I find myself with a hankering to get back into a Football Manager game for the first time since 2005. In that venerable franchise, you take complete control of a football club. You pick a formation and design your own tactics in considerable depth. Football Manager players have a paranoid belief that the AI ‘learns’ any new tactic and will crack it after a while, forcing you to tinker anew. (Plenty of other Football Manager players, of course, say that they never change their tactics but still have loads of success, and they don’t know what all this ‘scripting’ nonsense is all about…)

I never can quite manage to get back into Football Manager, no matter how hard I try. I suppose it’s a time thing, first and foremost. And when it comes to gaming, I’m a console gamer at heart.

In PES2010, something similar to Football Manager’s ‘cracked tactics’ syndrome may have arisen. I’m talking about the new innovation, borrowed/stolen from EA: the tactics sliders, and the odd way they seem to stop working after a certain amount of time.

Recently, after fiddling with them for a long time (unforgivably, it was my first really long fiddle since starting to play PES2010 a few months ago), I had an amazing run of form. Well, now that run has come to an end. It is almost as if the AI has indeed cracked my tactical changes, and now I’m back to the status quo.

Having had that success, I was very reluctant to change the sliders again. I persisted with my new slider settings for about 10 matches. Things were not encouraging. Win, draw, draw, win, draw, lose, lose, win, draw, draw… This has been my Master League life for far too long

The AI teams had their usual fun with me. I can usually fend off the lower teams and secure a win. The bigger teams are a real headache. They’re too fast for me—the whole game is too fast for me when they’re in the mood. Porto came back from behind to thump me 4-1. That one hurt. But it didn’t hurt as much as a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Arsenal (for reasons that are made clear in today’s mini-movie, below).

My record has gone back to being mediocre at best. With half the season gone, I’m rooted in mid-table and I think I will stay that way. My dreams of the title this season were ridiculously premature.

At least now I know what I have to do to try and change things. It’s the sliders. (Or: “It’s your tactics”, in the immortal words of the Football Manager forums…) What worked once is not guaranteed to go on working.

This could be the start of a whole new obsessive layer of PES for me. In a way I resent that. If I get an hour and a half to play PES per day, I mainly want to spend that time playing the game. Not fiddling about with menus and sliders etc. But this is a faulty outlook and I need to correct it. There’s little point in suffering through bad matches when I’m not exploiting gameplay-affecting settings to their full potiential. So I need to start slidering, routinely, before every match, or at the very least during every match. Even if only a little.

In brighter news, I have qualified from the group stage of the Europa League. I beat Juventus again in our return match. Parma beat me twice. I scored late to draw with Dinamo Bucuresti, and I beat them the second time. In the end I qualified on goal difference. It was a good campaign, and I’m looking forward to the knockout stage.

Today’s mini-movie shows two ordinary goals (although the looping header felt a bit special, and looks good too). There are also two moments of total horror, PES2010-style. The first horror incident was bad enough, an attempted pass that actually goes NINETY DEGREES in another direction. That cost me a goal against Parma in a big European match. The second horror incident is possibly the very worst thing that has ever happened to me in PES. Ever. It was a double-whammy of glitches, first another magic ball incident and then, in the same passage of play, some next-gen PES goalkeeper eccentricity at its very worst:

Link: Mixed Clips2 - PES2010

Regular readers will know that I never reload a previous savegame in order to get a different outcome. Sometimes, though, something so sickening happens that I consider doing so. This was one of those rare times. How the ghost of Kim U Don’t must be laughing. Jan Kun Mu, my new keeper, has so far been pretty dire. I might move him on at the end of the season. What is going on with Korean goalkeepers in this Japanese-made game?

I didn’t reload in the end. But I was >this< close…

Goalkeepers Are Indifferent

After starting season 2011 very well I was almost scared to start playing again. My usual schtick in PES2008 is to take one step forward and three steps back. Followed by another step or two back, before taking a step forward again. Followed by… you get the idea.

The next match was a pretty dour struggle against Portsmouth. 0-0 it ended, without much incident. The ball seemed to be stuck in the midfield for most of the game. I’d win possession (I’m good at winning possession now), then try to move forward but find that none of my usual moves were getting through. Was this the start of another of my fabled PES2008 Master League backstepping manoeuvres?

No. It wasn’t. I was up against Liverpool in the next game. They never seem to do well against me nowadays. In last season’s Cup Final I thoroughly battered them.

I bossed the game, taking an early lead – and then predictably lost a goal to some suspicious nonsense. 1-1, and I had a certain sinking feeling..

In the middle of the second half I was pressing hard for another goal. Then I got it. Shimizu in his new right-sided CF role has been fantastic for me this season. (He was rubbish when I played him there in seasons 2007 and 2008, but he was only about 6 years old at the time.) This was a classic PES finish:

There’s nothing like rifling one in from an angle across the keeper. These kinds of goals are true bread and butter strikes.

I bagged another goal before the end and ran out a 3-1 winner. It wasn’t very tough.

Sunderland were next. Sunderland: the team that has handed out so many painful beatings to me over the seasons that I’ve lost count of just how much I owe them.

I have a suspicion that the game automatically earmarks certain other club(s) at the start of a Master League as being your bogey team(s). Every game I play against either Galatasaray or Sunderland (my two bogey teams) seems characterised by intensity. That’s the only way I can describe it. The tackles are unflinching; the pace, electric.

This was another relatively dull game in the Portsmouth pattern. The fireworks of the Liverpool game were largely absent. I got a goal with Schwarz early in the second half. Immediately afterward, the Sunderland players turned on their customary Brazilian skills (!) and tried to dance past my defence, but I held firm. I was lucky on one or two occasions. The final whistle blew. Happy? Yes. Yes, I was happy.

Next up was Zagreb away. Things did not get off to a good start. Watch my goalkeeper, Friedel, in this clip:

Thanks for that, Brad. You and Kim U Don’t aren’t sharing a room on away trips ever again.

Okay, so my passing between defenders that gave the ball away was poor – but I had seen out of the corner of my eye this strange black-clad figure running up the pitch, and it distracted me. I wonder how far Friedel would have kept going if I hadn’t lost possession?

If I was now going to give Brad Friedel a permanent nickname along the lines of Kim U Don’t, there’s an obvious one: Bad Friedel. But I went on to win the game 4-1, so I’ll forgive him.

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These results – three wins and a draw, with goals aplenty – have pushed me up to third in the table after nine games. Nosebleed territory.

If this is indicative of the season to come, I should be in with a chance at Europe.

I’m still not convinced, though. I still fully expect to find myself dragged back down into the relegation quagmire sooner or later.

Jubilant scenes at a cafe

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A couple of good games and a nice goal or two always improve the mood. I’m still hovering above the relegation battlezone, but hopefully starting to pull away.

After his inexplicable wander away from the ball at the worst possible moment in the Chelsea game, I dropped Kim U Don’t and put Friedel back in the First XI.

I had another ridiculous game against Newcastle that ended 3-3, with Alan Smith playing like some kind of 1970s-style Brazilian superman throughout. Beware of Newcastle and Michael Owen in PES2008, is all I’ll say. They are licensed, after all…

Next I played Man Utd at home, and they won 2-1. But I was very happy to score a goal that briefly made the score 1-1 in the second half:

Nice set-up pass from Schwarz, and a super strike from Reyes. These kinds of goals, so plentiful in PES6 (a bit too plentiful, really), are hard to come by in PES2008. I like me some first-time shots, I do…

So I won a couple of games, I lost a couple of games, I drew a couple of games. All very ‘first season in the top flight’, really. With no chance of doing anything in the league this season, the Cup is my only way into Europe (and all of those lucrative fixtures).

I took on Copenhagen at home in the second round (had a bye in the first) and won 1-0. Then I drew 1-1 with them at their place. That was one tough game. They were all over me, and scored at the worst possible time: the very start. I’m talking literally 10 seconds into the game. Ouch.

I resisted the inevitable CPU onslaught (you know how it goes by now), and got my goal towards the end of the half.

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Folan, starting for the first time in a while, received the ball in the centre-forward position. I noticed Schwarz in a bit of space for once and clipped a neat through-ball over the back line into his path. The defenders were almost upon him when he received the ball. It had to be a first-time shot… and in it flew, past the keeper’s dive, low into the opposite corner of the net. A fine goal, and most importantly an away goal. Not even I could mess up this one, and I didn’t.

Kim U Don’t: Chelsea 1, Coventry 0

Since the release of PES2008 there has been lots of speculation about it being an unfinished game that was rushed to market for commercial reasons.

Something has happened to me in the game that, to my mind, confirms the speculation. I still can’t believe it. I shake my head and grimace whenever I think about it. If I ever bump into Seabass in the street, I plan to give him a piece of my mind. And it won’t be a very nice piece. (I often bump into international games developers in the streets of Coventry, so it could happen.)

After my less-than-average opening run in Division 1, I came up against Chelsea. I was appropriately fearful before the game, but I was able to pick all of my First XI for once. Whenever Donadel, Shimizu, and Shaw can play together in midfield I feel pretty much invincible. #We’re gonna scoo-ore one moo-oore than you!# – that’s about the size of it.

The game started ominously, with Chelsea rampant down both wings and through the middle. Shevchenko looks like a monster of a player in PES2008. I couldn’t cope with him. His pace and his movement was phenomenal. He should have had a hat-trick within the first 30 minutes.

Somehow, I held on, and then in the second half I started to dominate the game. I was snuffing out everything at the back and creating chances up front. The holy triumvirate – Donadel, Shimizu, Shaw – were working their magic once more.

Then I had Guimaraes sent off. It was absolutely stupid. I had a free kick about twenty yards short of the halfway line. Suzuki was the taker. Donadel was standing directly ahead, but he was covered by a Chelsea player standing beside him. So I rotated the view all the way to the right until the camera was pointing at Guimaraes, standing on his own in the open. I pressed X, holding the analogue stick firmly to the right just to make sure… but the kick went to Donadel anyway. Why does this so often happen at free kicks in PES? I mean, why???

The Chelsea player easily got the ball – darting in front of the motionless Donadel – and raced off in Guimaraes’ direction. I was angry. Very angry. I took a wild swipe at the Chelsea player with Guimaraes… and was sent off.

But that wasn’t the awful thing that happened to me in this game. There was worse to come.

I dug deep with the 10 men. I’m used to playing with 10 men in PES2008. Time went on and it was almost as if I hadn’t even had a man sent off. It got to the 85th minute and I was settling for a point, knocking the ball around, probing cautiously up front to see if I could sneak a cheeky winning goal.

Then Chelsea scored. They had a throw-in almost level with my penalty box. A midfielder played a hopeful pass toward goal. Bramble blocked the pass. I pressed the Square button to hoof the ball clear. But nothing happened. I pressed it again, and again. Still nothing. A Chelsea player was lurking behind Bramble. Somehow he smuggled the ball away from Bramble, and then slotted the ball into a suddenly empty net….

At first sight I knew something wasn’t quite right about the Chelsea goal, but I had to see the replay for myself to (dis)believe it.

This is the first replay of a goal from a CPU team that I have posted on this blog, and there’s a couple of good reasons why. Watch carefully

So. Bramble receives the ball to feet, and is jostled by the Chelsea player. This causes all kinds of fun and games. The ball partially disappears into Bramble’s left foot momentarily, then rolls toward his other leg and passes straight through it as if it isn’t there. Watch it a few times. I have.

Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough (and it is bad enough), my goalkeeper Kim U Don runs away from the goal in the opposite direction, leaving an easy tap-in for the Chelsea player (some dude called Halil Antintrop).

It’s possible that during the confusion I pressed Triangle to try to smother the loose ball with the keeper. I don’t specifically remember doing so, but I might have done it instinctively. But whether I pressed Triangle or didn’t press it, why is my keeper running away from the ball at a 90 degree angle? Kim U Don’t is his new official nickname.

I haven’t seen anything like this in 8 years of PES gaming. A bug? You’ve got to hope so. Because if this kind of thing is a deliberate programming decision by Seabass & co., we might as well all pack up and go home now.

Usually, I’m not one to mind too much about the many advantages that the CPU teams have over the human player. There has to be something to give the CPU a lift. Otherwise we’d be dribbling around 11 mannequins out there on the virtual pitch. Artificial Intelligence has yet to reproduce the functionality of an ant, never mind reproduce the mistakes and inconsistencies of a human being.

But this kind of thing goes beyond the pale. I would be just as unhappy to see an incident like this happen for me as I am to see it happen against me. (The incident last season where Kirkland carried the ball over the line wasn’t the same thing at all. There were no solid objects phasing through players’ limbs, or mysteriously scarpering keepers, in that one.)

The result leaves me fifth from bottom. If I had got the point out of the game that I deserved, I would be eyeing mid-table instead of looking nervously at the bottom 3. A relegation battle would be unprecedented for me on PES, but it is a real possibility. I can’t help thinking of how badly things went for me in Division 2 even after I started to get a good crop of players.

I had to switch off after this game. I had to calm down for a bit.

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