Tag: goal replay

The Volley of Adventure

pes2017-the-burning-wallApproaching mid-season of Season 1 of PES2017. Leicester eliminated me from the FA Cup in what was probably the single greatest match of PES2017 so far and, apart from many excellent matches on PES2014 and PES5 over the past 6 months, my best PES experience for a calendar year or more.

It’s still too early to call PES2017 a success or failure, in my view. Two seasons of Master League, minimum, will decide that.

One thing’s for sure: when this game plays well, this is the best PES since PES2012. When it throws up a duff match, however, I often find it unpleasantly reminiscent of PES2016. So I’m wary in case that becomes the dominant note over time.

the-speed-nerf-2017The Defaults are the worst since PES2013. Look at that Speed profile for the formerly-not-bad Yankov!

I’m happy that Castledine is white now. No, don’t take that out of context. I’m happy Castledine is white now only because he’s so rubbish and it would have been a betrayal of last year’s black, good Castledine. There.

Encouragingly, goals are at a premium, which means that great goals are too. Scarcity breeds value. I’ve only scored two of any note so far. The Hettich long-ranger from Tuesday’s post, and this one here:

Context: I’m 0-1 down at home to Rotherham, and I really want to get back into the match before half-time. I switch to full-on Attack. And what an effective re-introduction of ATT/DEF switching this has been in PES2017, by the way. You can park the bus or sound the trumpets as you please. If you’re not using it, you’re not really playing the game.

I also initiated one of my preset tactics, Attacking Fullbacks. This doesn’t simply push your LB and RB up the park, but right into the box, PES2011-style. Giorza was a star of PES2016, one of the few bright spots individually, and is shaping up to be the same here.

ccfc-3rd-kit-season-1

I’ve got no transfers lined up for the imminent window. I’ll look around when I get there. I’m just enjoying the game, and letting the menus look after themselves for a while. I want to be playing right now.

I have adjusted Training to make sure each player is getting the right focus. And made a retro-ish Coventry 3rd kit using a very handy online tool.

Where is PES2017 with me at the moment? It’s high in my esteem, but I’m watchful. I think that’s how most people feel who felt that PES2016 lacked too much.

I can’t shake off a feeling that Konami have pulled a sleight-of-hand trick regarding the great single-player AI fouls issue. An issue that only exists, remember, because online multiplayers don’t like their button-mashing trance states to be interrupted. The game is accordingly calibrated to observe a very liberal fouling threshold, with the principal side-effect for single-players being that there have been few AI-committed fouls, or none, for a couple of editions now.

Pre-release, I had a theory about what would be done with fouls. I hoped it was a daft theory. My daft theory was that PES2017 would be scripted to give us poor single-players a match with plenty of fouls every once in a while, but that the majority of matches would remain fouls-lite (or even fouls-free) in the style of PES2016.

So far, I really hate to say, everything I’ve seen supports my daft theory.

I think I’ve got a handle on how it works now, and here it is: in a sample of about 6 matches, 1 match will feature a good, high (proper) amount of AI fouls. 4 of the matches will feature a token one or two AI fouls, as per PES2016. And the remaining 1 match will feature no AI fouls at all — literally zero fouls. Even PES2016 would rarely do that.

pes2017-pre-match-formations

We’ll see how things change along with the ever-changing contexts in Master League. But my strong feeling is that this is how things are for me and my playing style. Low-fouls will remain the dominant theme for most matches.

Could I live with that? Yes. Yes, and I’ll consider it a good deal, if the gameplay/ difficulty otherwise holds up. That’s the major worry.

Fouls are something of a personal hobbyhorse for me, perhaps largely because they were such an essential motif in the symphony that was PES5 — the game that was, is, and ever shall be, the greatest football game ever made. I derive all my expectations of what makes a great football game from that template.

Which is a hard burden for the likes of PES2017 to bear. But as many a PES since PES5 proves, I’ve got used to setting expectations to one side if the overall package delivers.

Oh, I’m 4th from bottom of the table, with the worst goal-scoring record in the division. I think it’s safe to say there ain’t gonna be no Season 1 promotion in this one.

Master League 2017

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919111328

PES2017 acquired: check.

Exhibition/Tournament ‘getting-to-know-you’ matches played: check.

Sumptuous Option File installed: check.

Master League: commence.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919003033

First, I put the finishing touches to my hybrid Option File installation. No matter how fiddly and frustrating this might be, figuring it out and then finishing it is always a strangely satisfying task.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919003848

Then I edited PES United into Coventry City. I’m not impressed with either of the 2016-17 kits. There’s a grand tradition in particular of terrible Coventry City away kits. 2016-17’s away kit is one of the worst.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919110156

There were other odds and ends I could have added, but didn’t. The Portuguese League. Celtic and Rangers.

Without wasting any more time, I got going. You can spend so much time setting up that it creates a peculiar sort of anxiety about whether you’re truly ready to begin. Down the years I’ve always leapt into Master League with the paint still drying on the figurative walls. The experience is usually all the better for it.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919105008

How considerate of the PES2017 makers to make the Default formation exactly the same 4-2-2-2 formation that I use. The only difference being that instead of two DMFs I like one CMF and one DMF.

I offloaded a load of players whose names I don’t remember now. I bought two players – a goalkeeper, STRAKOSHA (68OVR), very solid so far; and a LB/AMF, BABANCO (72OVR), both on free transfers. I’m eyeing the wages/salary budgets with caution, remembering financial brushes with disaster in many a Master League of years past.

I poked around in all the new parts of Master League. I don’t think the various innovations that surfaced last year realised their full potential. Perhaps they were hitched to a football game in PES2016 that didn’t really do them justice. There wasn’t much incentive to toil through the menus to expand the margins of performance when just about every single player was a high performer.

It’s too early for me to say anything more about PES2017’s Training except to welcome it back and acknowledge that I know it’s there. We shall see what it actually does in practice. I like the look of the position retraining, needless to say.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919114107

Since when has Castledine been white? I’m calling this Casteldinegate.

This is quietly one of the biggest scandals ever to engulf a computer game, and precisely no one will care about it but me.

Castledine in PES2017 is the latter-day avatar of the Castello-Castolo-Cinalton-Castledine entity.

Whatever you think about The Myth Of Castolo, there’s no denying that he has – and deserves – the status of ‘iconic’. One thing each instance of this Eternal Champion has had in common is that they’ve all been black. I’m not going to be laying down in the middle of an airport runway in protest, but the whitening of Castledine seems a strange, pointless, self-defeating move. Castolo is as famous and celebrated as Master League itself. He’s locked deep into the lore. Why is he suddenly not black anymore? Could it be an oversight type of mistake?

Coutinho(CF) and Arcas(SS) are good enough for my front two. Will they match up to last year’s stellar pairing that bore those names? Do I want them to be as good as last year’s?

NO, is the short answer to that question. I do not want any echo of PES2016 in this game at all. PES2017 will stand or fall according to how unlike PES2016 it is. (I’ll say again that I don’t think PES2016 was a bad football game. It was a good game of computer football. But it was definitely a bad Pro Evolution Soccer game. There’s a difference, and it’s a telling one.)

Straight into the action, and I opened with a creditable 0-0 draw against Reading. Chances were very few and far between. I still find myself automatically trying to use last year’s routes to goal, which are happily blocked off.

Classic Players ON

The only real blot on PES2017’s landscape right now is that I don’t find there are as many fouls and free kicks in Master League as there were in Exhibition and Tournament games. Which is a staggeringly stupid thing to happen, if you ask me. I believe that as my team improves, and as the seasons roll by and stakes increase, fouls and free kicks will naturally occur, as they occurred in other modes.

But still… I will remain worried until I start to see the fouls in Master League. Konami is perfectly capable of pushing out a PES game with what it thinks is a crowd-pleasing absence of fouls in the most popular mode(s).

It’s significant that we’ve yet to hear much by way of moaning from the online players. If they were having fouls in the quantity that they should be having them, we’d have heard the wailing from within a soundproof room at the bottom of the ocean. But there’s a strange silence. Which indicates to me that there are still few fouls online.

There’s a lot at stake here. Fouls and free kicks enhance a football game’s gameplay, rather than diminishing it. They enforce a kind of seriousness that used to set PES apart from the herd. They need to start happening, in numbers, and soon, or the fabric of the gameplay that looked and felt so good in Exhibition and Tournament, will be fatally undermined.

PES2017 feels very much as if it’s the series’ last chance to hang onto itself, if that makes sense. i don’t want Pro Evo to disappear down the fast-flowing-arcade-fun-bullshit drain that it’s been circling for a year or two. It might already be too late to stop that happening. On the PES forums lately, I hate how PES is occasionally referred to, in passing, as the game that ‘was always fun’.

No, it definitely wasn’t. And I can prove it too.

Hop into the nearest DeLorean. Go back to 2004 or so. Ask the average FIFA fan of the year 2004 if he thinks PES is fun. A scornful laugh will be your answer. FIFA players back then hated PES – because it wasn’t fun. PES was hard work to them. Then double-check this finding by asking the average PES fan, in 2004, if he thinks PES is fun. A scornful laugh will be your answer. We loved PES because it was a lot more than ‘just’ fun. A whole lot more. This paragraph contains the most truth about PES that I know how to express. I’m scared about how easily it’s starting to be forgotten.

This post has turned out to be a lot more hand-wringy and ‘State of PES’ than intended. This is because there is potential in PES2017. Big potential. If this game flowers as it might, PES might just have saved itself from the fast-flowing-arcade-fun-bullshit drain that I mentioned.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919184053Table. A nice spread of results.

I knocked Brighton and Hove Albion out of the Cup with this fine goal, which I’m thinking of as my first long-ranger of 2017:

Hettich with the strike. Hettich has always been the poor man’s Irjescu.

I’ve scored a pleasant range of other goals as well, all bread and butter types. No worries there.

You get a feel for how sturdy a football game is pretty quickly, and my feeling is that this AI, defensively at least, is a decent one. Up front, things are also encouraging.

So Master League 2017 is up and running. As Peter Drury remarks in his opening day spiel, a rollercoaster is getting underway.

Beyond Good and Evo Knievel

The PES2017 phoney war continues. Some people on the forums are playing the demo so much that they’ve imperceptibly started referring to the demo as PES2017, instead of as the PES2017 demo. Happens every year, of course.

I’ve deleted the PES2017 demo from my PS4. I’ve decided to avoid touching any PES game until I get PES2017 on the 14th now (ShopTo and Royal Mail willing).

The blog’s annual makeover might go live this Friday, or more likely next Tuesday. Nothing too major this year – a new splash of paint, and I might move this column from the left of the three, to the middle of the three. I know. This is exactly how Evel Knievel must have felt before every jump.

Sadly, I might not have time for the compilation talky vid. I could cobble it together in the time available, but it’d be rubbish. This is an idea that might be banished to the same nether region inhabited by my once-mooted book version of PES Chronicles.

A FIFA16 compilation video (with a controversial moment), and I’m done today.

Here’s the video – two interesting goals, a penalty won (take note, Pro Evolution Soccer), and a goal given by the simulated goalline technology where I don’t think the ball was really all the way over the line:

I think the game gives that goal wrongly. I see pixels overhanging the white line, I really do.  Only a few, but they’re there.

You might say that the goal would be given by any human adjudication. I wouldn’t give it. The whole of the ball has to be over the whole of the line. The naked eye might say ‘goal’, but I don’t believe a computer eye should do so. There are pixels, damn it.

I enjoyed the moment when Rashford won me the penalty. That’s approximately the 12th penalty I’ve been awarded in FIFA16’s Career Mode in just over two-and-a-half seasons. Are you watching, Pro Evolution Soccer?

The two goals that start the mini-compilation are each interesting. The first one – the placed, looping shot from the corner of the box – is the type of goal that FIFA critics always say is common as muck in FIFA, but it really isn’t (not for me).

The second goal takes a wicked deflection off a defender’s shin and leaves the AI goalie helpless.

I’m really liking these unexpected twilight FIFA16 sessions I’m having here at the close of the footy game year.

FIFA16 abounds in interesting moments. Crafting moments of interest and delight was how PES made its formidable name and reputation over so many iterations of excellence back on the PS2. FIFA isn’t anywhere near reaching that stature, and may never be, but perhaps what it is is enough for these days.

Daylight Ribery

Business is concluded with the PES2017 demo. As ever, many PES followers will play it multiple times per day between now and full release, an overkill practice that always leaves me feeling bemused. I played the standard 15-odd matches on it and now I’m done. I want to play PES2017. Demos are for Christmas, not for life.

My one-paragraph end-of-demo review goes like this:

Encouraging signs of a renaissance of ‘True-PES’ spirit. But I only had one match with more than a token 1 or 2 fouls. The secondary pressure button seems overpowered. As do sliding tackles, still. Individuality may be slightly better. 8/10 for a very good demo.

My appetite for the full game is now considerably whetted. It seems peculiar to think that two weeks tomorrow (ShopTo and Royal Mail willing), I’ll be snapping a picture of my thumb on the PES2017 box. How does time happen? Does time happen…?

In the meantime, I have been playing a few things. Some PES5. Some PES2014. Some PES2016. Some FIFA16.

I’m no longer really enjoying myself, doing all this flibbertigibbet, flippity-flappity, fannying around, hopping from game to game. I don’t know how people who always do it, do it. I’ve always been a deep-sea diver type of gamer. Not a water-skier.

I need a daily continuous grind. I need to inhabit a single football game and explore its mechanics and become familiar with it over time.

I have been playing some of my old Master League save on PES2016 over the past couple of mornings. Time is at a premium for me just lately and I find that a couple of quick matches of PES2016 nicely fills the gap.

And I’ve been playing with MANUAL passing. (Unassisted passing, properly called.) I have dabbled with it before, on and off, ever since it became an option in PES. Never for long, usually. I never can shake the feeling that this whole passing-assistance malarkey is simply un-PES.

Like many PES players, I remember the PS2 days with fondness. Perhaps too much fondness.

Passing back then, in the Nirvana that was PS2 PES, wasn’t something that had to be thought about or deliberated over. Like PES itself, it just was. The individual players’ stats were the only damn passing assistance settings we ever needed.

Times have changed. I’m giving Unassisted passing a decent chance now. I like it. It’s more of a difficulty modifier than an individuality-enhancer, though. As ever in postmodern PES, I don’t perceive any great individuality in the players. I’m just as good or bad at Unassisted passing with a lumbering CB as with a skilful AMF.

Here’s a heroic comeback against Burnley. Playing at home, in a rare daytime match, I’m 1-3 down with less than a quarter of an hour to play.

I don’t like that sliding tackle at 0:12 that wins me the ball back. It’s just so bloody routine in PES2016 — and in PES2017, too, it appears.

Ribery’s run and thumping strike into the far top corner could have come from pretty much any midfielder in the game.

When I scored it, my dominant thought was just: ‘I’ve scored!’ And I was happy. In the context of the match it was a big goal that set up an exciting finish.

But it struck me that I didn’t care about scoring with Ribery.

The goal added nothing to any sense of renown he has with me – he has no renown in my Master League. He’s just another player, one of many such.

Ten years ago, after scoring a goal like that I’d have thought something like: ‘Good old Ribery!’ And I would have celebrated the addition of more renown to a huge player in my Master League team.

Ten years ago, a player like Ribery would have taken an exalted place within my personal PES folklore, forever.

Those days are long gone – and that change, in a nutshell, defines just how much PES has changed.

Yes, I’m saying ‘It’s not me, it’s you’.

My biggest wish for PES2017 isn’t really for more fouls. No, it’s more for that old Master League feeling to return. That feeling when you had to scrimp and save for a whole season to get just one good player, a player who could make all the difference. That feeling when getting a player like Ribery would be akin to the arrival of a saviour. Instead of just another silky-smooth Johnny AMF bundle of pixels.

Casteldine’s lucky free kick made me smile. And despite the severely diluted Master League, I felt something about this match. I spent 8+ seasons on PES2016, remember. That’s not something that just happens out of a sense of obligation or habit. PES2016 does have merits. Its demerits are numerous enough to create an imbalanced game, but perhaps PES2017 will get the balance right.

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