Category: pes

Evo, be thou my Good

FIFA16 is at an end. No point being playful and leading up to it. That’s it.

Yesterday morning I played a decent 1-1 draw, on Legendary difficulty, using some custom slider settings suggested by a regular commenter — thanks, Shed — and while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t get anything out of it either.

And just look at the calendar. August the what now?!

This is the wrong time of year to be exerting myself to get any deeper into a football game.

The only reason I would ever continue playing FIFA16 would be out of some sense of ‘providing fair and balanced coverage’ on the blog.

The thought of that always makes me smile. It would only happen if this blog was some kind of journalistic enterprise, which it isn’t.

It’s a hobbyist’s personal blog. I play and do exactly what I would play and do if the blog wasn’t running. That’s the main — and indeed only — editorial stance I take.

I might not even do an end-of-year review of FIFA16. I don’t feel I’ve played it enough. I’ve only played about two seasons’ worth of Career Mode. That’s still a hell of a lot of matches. A lot more matches than most games reviewers ever play.

There was no one breaking point. There wasn’t even a breaking point. FIFA16 remained interesting and engaging right to the point where I laid down the controller and knew that the game was over for me.

Before I quit — probably for the last time — I had one last mess-about in the Practice Arena.

You used to be able to set up full 11-vs-11 or 11-vs-5 practice sessions, or any combination thereof. I have no idea why they removed this very useful feature. Baffling. Maybe people weren’t spending enough time in Ultimate Team.

I discovered a surprise way to at least get some 1-vs-1 one action…

PES2017 will be here in 5 weeks and before that time comes I have a few other things to do — No Man’s Sky among them, plus some distracting work-and-life factors right now.

The PES2017 demo should land sometime next week. I’ll want to play and talk about that.

We already know it’s going to be another no-AI-fouls football game. All football games are no-AI-fouls football games these days.

What I don’t already know is whether PES2017’s general pace will be the same ‘fast frenetic flowing fun’ stuff that simply ISN’T to my taste.

So there’s no place for FIFA16 in my busy schedule. Once again, the summer holiday has come to an abrupt end. Same every year, right? Same every year.

Overall, a good game, probably better than FIFA15, but just as probably about the same. I gave FIFA15 a 9/10 score last year. If I did do a FIFA16 end-of-year review, I’d probably go around the same.

What next football game-wise?

Maybe some PES2014 — I really enjoyed the odd match I played on it last week.

Maybe some PES2011. The old ‘disc is still in the drive’ thing…

Maybe even some PES2016. Or some PES5.

Whatever happens from now on, it’ll be PES.

The lesson of this year’s summer holiday into FIFA is a familiar one. In any given footy game year, FIFA has to happen first, or it really struggles to happen at all.

It’s a knee-trap!

Another 6 or 7 matches in Season 8 in PES2014, and the new mood of steady progress and satisfying gameplay continues.

I played a six-pointer against runaway table-toppers Manchester City. I won it 2-0, one of my most satisfying results in this or any other Master League. One of my goals was slightly special and prompted me to gladly pick up the mobile phone to record. More later.

I breezed through the rest of the Europa League qualifying group, with a loss and a draw, sure, but with progress assured I was playing weakened teams in the last few fixtures:

PES2014 season 8 Europa Table final

Now I’m in the knockout stages I’ll be playing full-strength teams in every fixture (individual results in separate legs pending, of course).

The league is my main focus. A top-4 finish would give me a chance of going for the fabled Treble in Season 9. I want that. I doubt I can win the league or anything this season, even with the most generous ML table scripting possible, but there’s still an outside chance.

PES2014 season 8 Man City team

First of all, Man City’s team. Look at where the CPU is playing Totti and Aguero. Forlan and Drogba have to be there up front. And see Evra at left-back. That’s not a great bench, interestingly. Man City’s stature in this ML relies entirely on the quality of their First XI — and upon the under-the-hood programming that favours them.

Traditionally a top team in ML is hardly ever beatable until you get a squad that’s more or less on a par with theirs.

My squad is 82OVR, compared to their 88OVR. Close enough? It seems so, as I won 2-0, as mentioned, and it was deeply satisfying, as also mentioned….

It was one of those matches where I committed myself ahead of kick-off to at least getting a draw out of it. That meant keeping a clean sheet. It’s very peculiar, but in PES when I make a point of ‘pre-thinking’ a fixture and decide that I’m not going to concede, I rarely ever do concede.

This policy of ‘clean sheet first’ works such a charm in PES that I’m afraid to overuse it in case it stops working.

I withstood all of Man City’s opening attacks — rather straightforwardly, it has to be said. I am, after all, only on Top Player, and it looks increasingly as if this is where I’ll stay for my entire time on PES2014.

Then I got my opening goal, scored with Robbie Keane:

A bit of an unusual one. PES2014 is rather light on memorable goals. Most are of the bread and butter type. As I’ve ruefully noted, long-range goals remain very rare (but not impossible), and other types of ‘wow’ goals are also pretty rare. Which only serves to increase their value when they come along.

For the record, I wanted to try a Van Basten-style first-time hit as the ball dropped. I pressed shoot when the ball was about 5 virtual feet above and behind Keane. The game decided that Keane should knee-trap the ball first.

It’s possible this is a button-timing issue. By pressing shoot ridiculously early (really), I’d abdicated the decision to the game engine, and the knee-trap was the outcome.

But I wonder what would have happened had I pressed shoot just before the ball reached Keane? I.e., at the moment that it would have been realistic for the game to execute my command.

If I’d done that — if I’d pressed shoot with the ball about half a foot away from Keane — would I have got a first-time hit, as I wanted, or just another knee-trap? Boiling it down, the big question is: will the knee-trap happen here no matter what button I press and when?

It’s an open question, as is the follow-up: does it matter?

You can gauge the current state of footy gaming from the answer that probably 95% of 2016-era footy gamers would give to that question, which is a resounding Yes, it matters to them. It matters to them a lot.

The word-concept ‘responsive’ is now as much a part of the football gaming lexicon as ‘organic’ used to be (and still is). Mainstream PES fans seem to want a more or less 1:1 relationship between button input and action.

Which is where I part company with mainstream opinion. So-called unresponsive gameplay is an essential feature of a football game, rather than an unintended by-product. It’s baked in. A football game is good or bad to the same degree that it gets the balance right or wrong. PES2014 sometimes feels as if it gets it wrong, but on the whole it gets it right.

The bald truth about the Keane clip above is that I pressed the damn button too early. I have no right to mewl and puke about the game deciding to ignore me and do a knee-trap first instead. This is the truth that a large number of PES gamers have seemingly forgotten. A certain degree of contextual unresponsiveness is an essential part of the footy game designer’s toolkit. Just as braking distances and turning circles in a sim-oriented racing game would be. And that’s all I have to say about that. Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.

Cyrano de Bergkamp

Cyrano de Bergkamp

Bit of a filler post today, for obvious reasons, and probably on Friday too. Next Tuesday’s post will be a ruminative look back over my shoulder at FIFA15, and then next Friday I’ll get to PES2015. I’ll be giving the two games ‘final scores out of 10’ and everything – just to further confuse any readers who might still think that I think I’m some kind of proper games blogger-cum-journalist type, with all that objectivity and consistency and fairness crap to consider.

I’ve been playing some PES5. I’m always in the state of playing some PES5. Even when I’m not playing PES5 – and there are whole months, sometimes, when I’m technically not playing PES5 – I’m always playing PES5 somewhere in my soul.

PES5. That’s Pro Evolution Soccer 5. The greatest football game ever made.

Note that ‘best’ and ‘greatest’ are not interchangable terms when it comes to football gaming. But I do also think it’s the best football game ever made, so there.

I’m still playing PES5. I’m always playing PES5. Off and on.

Nowadays it’s on PC rather than PS2, and with an Xbox for Windows pad in my hand rather than the wired DualShock2 that saw me through the PS2 years.

Here’s what playing PES5 in the year 2015 looks like for me:

The above clip features a defining PES5 moment: Mathieu in the DMF hole, pinging one in from distance.

I do usually play full-screen on that 24″ monitor plugged into my laptop PC. The laptop is a mid-spec machine by today’s standards but it easily plays anything from ten years ago, as PES5 now is.

I’ve got a Master League save going on it that I’ve been playing for a few years now. Here’s the current table in Division 1:

PES5 League Table

I think I’m in season 7 or so of this career that I started a long time ago in a nostalgia-tinged galaxy far far away.

PES5 First XI

My squad is pretty mature. I’ve only got a few Defaults left. The rest of the squad has lots of Regens of the likes of Costacurta and Bergkamp, whose facial shape is one of PES’s somewhat exaggerated ones.

The standard of the gameplay is staggeringly high. Every time I play PES5 I wonder why I don’t just play this all the time, and let the next-gen histrionics worry about themselves.

Every time I play I understand why the legacy of the PS2 era is such an albatross around Konami’s neck, and why we all keep harking back to it with such monomaniacal regularity.

The scale of what PES achieved between PES2 and PES6* cannot be overstated, but I’ll have a go. The PS2 PES games, whether you liked them or not, are to football gaming what the Complete Works of Shakespeare, whether you like them or not, are to Western culture. (*I leave out PES1 only because I never played it.)

You don’t just shrug off that legacy, that scale of tradition, that precedent, as if it never happened. We as football gamers live in the colossal shadow of something very much like perfection. Subsequent reality has always struggled to match that perceived perfection, and that’s tough for everyone to deal with.

But yes, PES5. Three matches yesterday afternoon, including that eventual victory over Man Utd. I might not play it again until next spring, but knowing it’s there is like having a classic book on the shelf that you know you can pick up whenever you like. Essential.

Huh? What was that noise?

PES2015 Extra Time Continues

And so we come to the final post for the month of August, with September and PES2016 just over the top of the next hill. It’s not going to be long now. Two weeks plus change.

I enjoyed a daring interlude earlier this week when I gave a whole day to PES2014. I had great fun installing, updating, and Option File-ing it on PC, and then the gameplay was, frankly, a revelation. The game handles and plays well, featuring many agreeable elements that we may never see again in PES. We probably need to look back through PES2015-tinted spectacles to really appreciate what they were trying to do with PES2014 and how close they came to succeeding.

It’s not just PES/FIFA that can’t be played at the same time. Different editions of PES too.

Nobody has ever played two different football games concurrently to any great depth. I’d be very interested to hear of somebody who, for example, played PES one day and FIFA the next day, and cycled back and forth like that for any length of time, and managed to play both games seriously. It simply can’t happen.

Ditto two PES games. So my experiments with other PES games this year haven’t been very extensive. A bit of PES2013, a bit of PES5 (as ever), a bit of PES2014, and I’m done.

At this time of year I’m always possessed by curiosity as to how past PES games will feel after they’ve spent another year in football game Valhalla. Time catches up with them all – all the past football games – in an advancing wave of obsolescence from the past to the present. This time last year, for example, I would have said PES2 was still playable. I wouldn’t say that today. PES3 is barely hanging onto playable status. Will this pressure front ever reach PES5? I shudder to think of that day dawning.

Season 15 is not going to be a thing on PES2015. I had thought there was a chance of making it to mid-season. I doubt I’ll even make it to Fixture 10 in the league campaign, never mind mid-season. A certain other blockbuster of a game is due to arrive soon. I will be giving every minute of my gaming time, bar the odd hour or two of football gaming, to that.

For now, PES2015 Reloaded continues.

Another couple of matches, and here are a couple of goals from Lionel Messi, a player I’ve had in this career for only for the second time in my entire lifetime of Master League.

The first time I had Messi was in PES6(360), where he was a wonderful player in a very good intermediary PES that bridged the gap between two generations. The second time is here on PES2015, where he is a wonderful player in a very good intermediary PES that bridged the gap between two generations…

Here are the two goals – neither of them really special, but the manner of the second goal’s arrival was interesting for two reasons that I’ll get to:

The first one is a bog-standard goal of the sort that you barely even notice yourself scoring after a while. The second, though, came from a first-time cross, and was a header from Messi.

Goals from crosses like that are rare in PES2015. The cross itself, delivered by my RMF, the Youth Bellarabi, was lovely: he wraps his foot around the ball and delivers a perfect in-swinger right on Messi’s bonce. Messi (rather unrealistically, but what the hell) outjumps the defender to nod the ball down and up into the net.

A remarkable goal that I enjoyed scoring, and then watching again at my leisure before continuing with the match. If I’d scored that goal online, I’d have been lucky to see half a second of the replay.

And the goal also reminded me of a previous, very similar moment on PES2015. Remember this from a month ago?

That Messi miss, in an almost identical scenario, cost me my last shot at the Treble in my last proper, real season of Master League on PES2015.

I’m not the sort of computer game player who throws controllers. Is that even a real thing? Does anybody actually throw controllers? Or is it like hiding behind the sofa from Doctor Who?

I’m not the sort of Master League player who blames players and holds an irrational grudge against them thereafter.

But you know what – all things considered, I don’t think I’ll be looking for Messi when the time comes in PES2016.