Category: passing

Of bars and Superstars

Season 9 4th Kit

That up there is my 4th kit for season 9, a deliberately cheesy orange-and-pale-blue number that I hardly ever get to actually wear. One of my first three away kits always fits the bill.

I think this match, whenever it was and whoever it was against, was the only time this season that I’ve used it. The orange stripes are strangely appropriate with Robben in the picture there.

That’s Pirlo on the left, who’s been nothing special for me in this PES. I hang onto him because of who he is, not what he does. I might move him on soon.

That’s Kalou in the middle, and he’s just scored a goal in this picture.

I’ve had Kalou since season 2 or thereabouts and his stats have remained consistently high. He rarely starts a match these days, but he’s always on the bench, and usually comes on at some point. He can play anywhere from deep midfield, or out wide, or up front. He’s quietly been one of the most dependable players of the team. I’ve tried to sell him a few times but, in PES2015’s bizarre transfer market, there’s never been any takers. I’ll be hanging onto him until the end now.

At the moment, I’m coming to the end of Season 9. The only outstanding question is whether I’ll qualify for Season 10’s Champions League, or have to settle again for the Europa League.

I’ve been considering having another crack at playing on Superstar difficulty, something that has so far defeated at least three separate and whole-hearted attempts. PES2015 on Superstar, with 1-bar passing, is just too much for me.

A discussion in the comments section of the last post about passing assistance levels set me thinking. I have always played PES2015 on 1-bar, simply because that was the level I played PES2012 and PES2013 on.

But for my next attempt at Superstar, why not switch to 2-bar passing assistance and see what happens?

So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve already made the switch, even with some of Season 9 still to go, and with important questions remaining.

I decided to appoint a new club captain for this hopeful new era — step forward, the man of PES2015, Peter Crouch:

Captain Crouch

…and Superstar promptly started kicking my arse, again — even with 2-bar passing.

Possession is at an absolute premium on Superstar, and I had to focus and force myself to exercise discipline with the ball. Things were slightly better with 2-bar passing, but not a great deal better.

It’s so tempting to treat it like a computer game, and imagine that you’re entitled to ping the ball forward without obstruction and create hatfuls of chances with ease.

I wonder if it’s that factor that has turned so many players off football games these days? There’s so much else vying for our attention: other games, TV, films, books, not to mention so-called ‘real life’… I wonder if people just aren’t prepared to put in the hours any more and allow themselves to grow into a football game like a pair of slippers.

I ground out a 0-0 against Sunderland. I beat Derby 2-0. Manchester City thumped me 3-1, and they finished the match with 70% possession to my 30%, probably my worst possession stat ever. I got a draw against West Ham. I lost against Villa.

The important thing was the feel of the games. They felt great — some of the best games I’ve had on PES2015, full stop.

2-bar passing on Superstar looks like a winner. I’m not fleeing back to Top Player this time. Here is where I’ll make my stand.

I’ll finish today with a couple of noteworthy goals.

Both were scored in the above-described first session on Superstar, 2-bar passing. My favourite is Villalba’s, the second in the clip. Crouch’s goal was satsifying too. Just before the pass got to him, I planned what to do, and double-tapped R1 to perform the knock-ahead that creates the space for the shot:


We Can Be Zeroes

I have played past mid-season in season 1 of my Master League career in PES2013.

Without further ado, here’s Friday morning’s current table:

The difficulty is still ‘only’ on Professional, which gives a relatively easier time of things in PES2013 generally. If I whacked it up to Top Player or Superstar I suppose I could have the authentic miserable Default experience.

But I’m excited about being in the promotion hunt, and so I will be leaving the difficulty as it stands—for the rest of this season at least. If I wanted a PES2012-type experience, I’d play PES2012.

Besides, I have now switched to zero-bar passing, which has mixed things up a little. More on this below.

The biggest event of the last few sessions was the transfer market opening in January.

Wanting to reduce clutter, and with my eye on the future financial situation, I released a few more Defaults. Eborcany for one. And Zaltsyn for another, who was actually a wrench to part with, because he’d just scored this goal:

That’s a first for me in PES. Never seen that animation before. To be truthful, I expected the bicycle kick animation to fire in that context. When I looked closely at the second view, and saw the over-the-shoulder, side-footed, hook shot kind of thing… One of my rare save-to-HD goals.

I got Rafael from the Free Agents, a striker of 68OVR and 27 years of age.

The blurb on the info panel said: ‘Do we really need this player?’, which put doubts in my mind.

Presumably his age combined with relatively low OVR makes the game think he’s not a long-term prospect. And the game is certainly correct about that.

But it’s what he can do for me right now that really matters. He’s the type of striker you need in any Master League career when you’re trying to escape the Default doldrums.

And with Rafael’s very first touch, in his very first game, in the very first attack, this happened:

That’s Castolis delivering the cross. He’s a proper little wizard for me. Currently top of the assists leaderboard too.

For the record, the cross was delivered with a double-tap of the circle button. The analogue stick was pointing at 1 o’clock (yes, up and just to the right), trying to aim for the near post, and it worked.

I also picked up Wrougllin from the Youths, and signed another Free agent called Zerkovic. He’s a midfielder with a sleek left foot. Why do so many left-footed players seem more ‘cultured’ compared to their right-footed brethren?

Minandinho must be the best Default striker since the original Castello himself. There he is on the left, wearing my deliberately retro Away kit.

A thick single stripe on the front of a football shirt always makes me think of the 1970s for some reason.

So. Can I get promotion, at the first time of asking, for the first time since, oh, roughly PES3 or so?

I might, you know.

But I’ve introduced another factor that’s messing with my game, and making things a touch more difficult, without a move to Top Player being necessary.

I’ve switched to zero bar passing assistance and feel as if I’ve settled there.

I’ll have to try my best not to evangelise zero bar. I know how elitist it can sound. But it really improves the game so much that it’ll be hard not to sound as if I am going on a bit. So I’ll try to get it out of my system here and now.

I’ve tried zero bar before in PES2012, briefly, and then again at the start of PES2013.

The problem I found was that it made matches feel rather bitty and fragmented. The flow of a good PES match is one the series’ primary joys. That’s rather spoiled at first by moving down to zero bar.

Not that it’s really manual. It’s most certainly not. Player stats are crucial when it comes to zero bar on PES—arguably more crucial than on any other setting.

One of my favourite get-out-of-jail passing routines in PES has always been the blind pass to a player behind and to one side of the ball carrier. Time and again when you’ve headed down a cul-de-sac, a blind assisted pass gets you out of trouble.

With zero bar passing, the blind pass is very easy to get wrong. You need precise aim, and the right kind of passer with good technique. Zero bar promotes good footballing practices all round.

With the Defaults on zero bar, when the CPU is ‘hunting’ the ball, it’s terrifying trying to find a free pass. So you end up playing rather conservatively. Sending Hollywood balls up to your front men is routine on higher assistance settings. On zero bar, it’s a much more sedate approach, and you have to be very choosy about picking those Hollywood moments.

Not everyone will like zero bar—I never used to—but for me it’s now almost certainly a permanent change.

And the great bonus is that it’s effectively another layer of difficulty—a difficulty setting within a difficulty setting, so to speak.

I’m sold, and committed now to playing the entirety of PES2013 on this setting.

And I will try not to bang on about it too much…

Passing Assistance 0, Realism 1

Finished season 12, in which I won NOTHING. Despite which it was one of my most enjoyable seasons on PES2012, and one of my best seasons on Master League ever. PES2012 still hasn’t toppled PES5 in my affections, but it’s getting there.

The last piece of the jigsaw has slotted into place. Ever since the demo, back in August 2011(!), I’ve played on 1 bar passing assistance. I’ve now gone all the way down to 0 passing assistance.

I knocked it down to 0 for the last few mostly meaningless games of the season, and for the Training Matches.

Debate still rages over whether the passing assistance bars have any real effect. I can say that after my first few minutes on my first match at the 0 setting, I noticed a huge difference. Not all good. This is by no means a done deal.

Zero passing assistance seems to make the game incredibly scrappy. I ended the first match with 56/44 on the possession stats. (Could be good, could be bad…)

There seemed to be a frustratingly random element to the passing sometimes. E.g., I aimed 10 o’clock, but the pass went to 11 o’clock. You would have thought the opposite would be the case. No?

But why should we assume that 0 passing assistance in the PESverse has to function in the same way as next-gen FIFA’s version? Could it be the case that on Zero passing assistance, PES2012 takes stats into account THE MOST, and favours them over the player’s input?

I believe that is how passing assistance in PES2012 works.

I.e., if I’m controlling a weak passer who’s fatigued or whatever, on full passing assistance he’ll still be able to make his passes. Even on 1 bar, he’ll still make his passes most of the time.

On Zero? Probably not as much. Those weak stats and other factors will come into play, big time.

Just my early thoughts on the topic. I sense that it’s a totally different concept from FIFA’s.

Zero passing assistance does make for a more realistic-feeling game at times, but a more frustrating one too. Realism isn’t always necessarily better. My matches on 0 haven’t been nearly as enjoyable as earlier in the season, due to the scrappiness. I’m giving myself time to get used to it, but I reserve the right to head back to 1 bar at any time.

I look forward to seeing what Seabass & co. have up their sleeves for PES2013’s much-touted new manual passing (and shooting!). Like many PES fans, a FIFA-style full manual option has never appealed to me. It doesn’t excite me. It seems antithetical to the PES ideal, if there is such a thing. But let’s see.

Here’s season 12’s final League table:

As stated, I won nothing in this first season on Superstar difficulty.

My goals-scored tally is pretty lightweight in comparison to the other heavy-hitters at the top of the league. The re-emergence of Liverpool as a major force in the league is a bit of a story. It’s pretty certain that the ML world is programmed to simulate eras of dominance for various teams, as in real life, and it’s currently Liverpool’s turn.

Well, it’s their turn until I start winning everything, of course. That has to be my long-term goal. To become a club capable of winning the lot not just once, but season after season.

A few of my lads made the end-of-season best XI:

I played through the Training Matches, and wheeled and dealed in the Transfer Market. I made a huge decision about my team’s personnel, which I’ll tell all about on Friday.

My club ranking took a hit, down from #2 to #3. That’s what not winning will do. I’m probably fortunate to still be at #3.

I’m riding on the exhaust fumes of my previous scintillating seasons, obviously.

My main priority for season 13? Just to win something, anything, on Superstar. League, Champions League, FA Cup. One of the three will do. Two would be marvellous. The Treble, after all this time, would be astonishing.

A right through-balls-up

So… FIFA09 and its notorious through-ball bug. Ouch—especially for PS3-owners, who seem to have drawn the shortest cross-platform straw (again).

There’s a patch in the offing. It’ll probably arrive in the next few weeks. I’m sure it’ll correct the problem and everything will be rosy. But it grates on me that we ever had to put up with the problem at all. It simply shouldn’t be like this.

What the frack happened in testing? What happened to games being released when they were ready? Let me rephrase that: whatever happened to games developers committing the necessary resources and personnel to a game to get it released BUG-FREE in the time available?

In the era of Internet-connected consoles, downloadable updates and patches, there’s a nasty new trend in the air. Games are pushed onto the shelves laden with the kinds of bugs and glitches that would have caused delays in previous eras. In the old days (not so long ago really) developers had to get it right within a specified timeframe, or they failed. Simple as. And they mostly didn’t fail. Games still appeared with bugs and glitches, of course they did. But nowadays the threshold of what is and isn’t acceptable on release day (Day Zero in developer-speak) is a lot lower. All because of the damn Internet—curse its miserable, virtual hide.

“We are all Beta-testers” has become an online cliche, applied to FIFA09 and to dozens of other games, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

The through-ball bug (also known as the side-shimmy bug, or ‘crab-walking’) in FIFA09 occurs when you play a through-ball to one of your players. (It’s also affected me whilst playing normal passes, but I won’t go there today.) For anyone who needs a refresher on the through-ball bug, here’s a clip of it in action. I’m currently seeing this happen two or three times in every game, often several times per half:

Instead of running smoothly onto the ball, the player inexplicably starts side-shuffling, dancing on the spot, slowing right down. It’s a ball-gathering animation that belongs in another context completely, when a player would be waiting for a slow pass from behind. Here, the player should be running ahead onto a ball in front of him. Hopefully this will be quite easy to fix. I have to say again: how could this have escaped the notice of EA’s playtesters? Perhaps it didn’t escape their attention, but it was too late to fix it so they just went ahead and published anyway, knowing they could rectify things with a patch. We really are just cash cows to the games industry, when it comes right down to it.

Instances of the bug SEEM to be related to the quality of players you choose to play with. Playing with Coventry, I suffer it several times per game; playing with better teams, maybe once per game, or once every other game. Many people report seeing the bug very rarely, or not at all. Xbox360 players seem to be the most fortunate, and I have to say that in my games on the 360 a few weeks ago I rarely saw it either. Some people claim never to see it. It exists, though. Oh yes. It exists.

I don’t think any football game in the history of football games has ever appeared with a bug quite like this one. The nearest comparable bug that springs to mind would be PES5’s ‘auto-stepover’ bug that constantly gave away silly, stupid, infuriating throw-ins. At least that bug never directly affected your goal-scoring efforts.

The FIFA09 through-ball bug penalises your patient build-up play by blowing a fat raspberry in your face. It blatantly robs you of clear goal-scoring opportunities. It smells, and I hate it I hate it I hate it.

I couldn’t blame the bug for my singular lack of progress in my Coventry City Manager Mode career. There are plenty of other ways to craft a goal in this great game (I still think it’s a great game) than the through-ball. My lack of goals is all my own fault. But the through-ball bug seems designed to infuriate struggling players in particlar, who might only create a handful of chances per match.

I’ve played another few games of my career. I managed a draw, but lost three games. A game against Norwich saw the worst-yet manifestation of the through-ball bug. 0-1 down with seconds to go, I somehow fashioned a killer through-ball to set my striker loose for a one-on-one opportunity—but my striker side-shimmied instead of running with the ball, and the defenders got back to smother the chance.

I’m about as resoundingly bottom of the league as it’s possible to be. I’ve had all the warnings from the board. I’ve had the dreaded vote of confidence. I predict that I will be sacked from this career within the next few games.