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:
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…