Month: February 2008

Barcel-owner

It’s well-known in the real-life professional game, by fans, players, and coaches alike, that a former player returning to play against an old club is more likely to score a goal than not score a goal. It’s just the way it works. The former player always scores.

It seems to work that way in PES2008 as well. I’m fully resigned to having my former ace striker Elcherino score against me every time I meet him in another team’s colours.

He’s still with Real Zaragoza at the moment—although the day cannot be far away when I buy him back just to put him on my bench and keep him there. My current House Rules forbid me from playing him in my team. The whole sorry Elcherino saga bubbled up over the Christmas and New Year period, and almost derailed my next-gen PES2008 career permanently. At the moment I’m taking a dim view of next-gen PES2008, but it’s not Elcherino’s or anybody else’s fault really. The game is just too easy. That’s its problem in a nutshell.

I went 0-1 up against Zaragoza (at their ground) and was cruising. Elcherino wasn’t in their starting line-up. He came on in the second half and got their equaliser almost immediately—a simple tap-in from a CPU cutback. I managed to keep him quiet after that, and scored my winner in the dying moments just when I’d resigned myself to a frustrating draw. 1-2 to me. Take that, Elcherino.

Next were one of the division pace-setters—Inter Milan, the wet dream-team of many an online PES2008 player. This one was a draw, 2-2. I was 2-0 up and comfortable with it, but started to get a little over-enthusiastic in my tackling as I tried to keep it that way. I had Matuzalem sent off, and Inter got it back to 2-1. Then I had Jackson sent off and they got it back to 2-2. I had several chances to score more goals myself but missed them all.

After Inter Milan, I had to play Barcelona. It was the game I’d been waiting for all season.

This screen was not what I wanted to see before the game:

mathieu-calledup.jpg

What great timing. It’s only the biggest game of my season so far. Thanks, France.

(Incidentally, looking at that screenshot, it strikes me that for all the Internet chatter about greengrocer’s apostrophes and whatnot, a good case could be made for the exclamation mark being the single most overused and abused punctuation mark in the English language! They seem to be scattered everywhere!!)

I decided to just get on and do without Mathieu—no great loss, really, as he’s still not yet the triple-A player I knew in PES5 and PES6. Pjinatnigh came in at DMF. The remainder of my team was mostly fit and in form.

Melengue got the first goal—a sort of wonder dribble, but he only beat two Barcelona players before scoring, so it doesn’t really count. (A true wonder dribble, which can be accomplished in every single game in next-gen PES2008, sees the player ghosting past almost the entire opposition.)

Caracciolo got me another goal in the second half. Here it is:

And that’s how it finished. Singers FC 2-0 Barcelona. I am dumbfounded to be top of the league after 12 games.

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Bourbon, straight. Leave the bottle.

As ever, Sunday is other football game day on PES Chronicles. Except… apart from a token few matches on next-gen FIFA08, I haven’t really played any other football games this week.

I’m currently going through a dark time with next-gen PES2008. It turns out that my draconian House Rules (well, I think they’re draconian) might not be tough enough. Once again I find myself more or less going through the motions in far too many games. This might be down to me being very busy with other stuff away from PES over the past week or so. I’ve got a few days off work next week so I’ll see how the leisure time affects my play.

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Dagenham & Redbridge are near the top of Coca Cola League 2 in my second next-gen FIFA08 manager mode career. Playing this game so infrequently nowadays means that I’m struggling to do anything except draw 0-0 or 1-1. My previous two games were both 0-0, then it looked like the last game of the session was going to end 1-1. Not good enough really, and it was all going to cost me in the end. If I slipped down to fourth place and missed out on promotion I’d probably quit the entire manager mode career and go back to my Coventry City galacticos.

Ah, but in the last minute of stoppage time, Huckerby popped up in the box:

A fine looping header over the keeper. I know that I keep saying it about FIFA08, but this goal was another rarity. Most of my headers fly past the post or over the bar for no apparent reason. Did the game want me to score that goal? Are football video gamers amongst the most paranoid people on earth?

Apart from these three games on FIFA08, I haven’t touched any other football game.

I’m still waiting to get a new PC on which to play Football Manager 2008. That’ll be sometime in the summer.

I’ve still to play LMA Manager 2007 on the Xbox360. Maybe I’ll give that a whirl sometime this week.

Sensible Soccer might as well not exist for me. It was the most pointless £7 (or whatever it was) that I’ve ever spent on a game. I’m sure Sensi is a lot of fun for its dedicated fans, but as I said a few weeks ago I missed out on the game the first time around—in the mid-90s—and it’s possibly too late for me to get into it now. I will definitely give it another try for at least a couple of continuous hours. (So far I’ve only managed short bursts of twenty minutes here, half an hour there.) That will be the last test. Sensible Soccer is drinking in the Last Chance Saloon. At least it won’t be short of company at the bar…

Maybe I’ll finally lose my patience with next-gen PES2008 and admit defeat and just get the vastly superior (it now seems clear) PS2 version. I know that at least one reader of this blog will be nodding and thinking I told him so…

Melengue must go

One of my players may have to go. When the mid-season negotiations come along, I may have to exchange him for another player, or even release him.

I’m talking about my talented left-sided AMF, Melengue. (Actually he’s right-footed, but can play on either side.) Of late I have started to go on wonder dribbles with him. What is a wonder dribble? This is a wonder dribble:

That’s a goal I scored with my right-back, Guimaraes, in my last Master League career.

People who have not played PES2008 on the PS3 (or on the Xbox360 or PC) have a hard time believing that goals like the above were scored on Top Player difficulty. They look like goals scored on Beginner difficulty in old-gen PES.

But no: they’re scored on Top Player, and they’re easy to do in every game, against any opposition, with almost any player if you’re determined enough. This is precisely why so many of us are down on next-gen PES2008. You have to see it and experience it for yourself to (dis)believe it. (How could they ever have thought it would pass muster? Curse you, Seabass.)

By my own House Rules I am not allowed to have any players who are—or who might become—routine wonder dribblers in the Guimaraes/Elcherino mode. Most players can do the wonder dribble, but with a certain type of player (far too many) it’s effortless to do the wonder dribble.

And Melengue looks as if he’s turning into a wonder dribbler.

He scored my winner in a 0-1 victory at Liverpool. It was a bit of a wonder dribble, beating two men on the wing, cutting inside and beating two more, and slotting the ball home with insulting ease. In any PES before PES2008, scoring a goal like that would have had me off my seat and running around the room, screaming like a lunatic. Really. But in next-gen PES2008, such goals are as common as muck. I barely twitched an eyelid and I didn’t even watch the replay.

Melengue was unfit for the next game against top-of-the-table Man Utd. This one ended 2-2, a result I was happy with after going behind twice. I had Matuzalem sent off late on. That was my first red card this season.

Melengue was back against Newcastle, and again scored the winner in a 1-0 victory—and again it was a wonder dribble.

People can say: don’t use the wonder dribble. But with the player on the park and the ball at his feet, where is the line to be drawn? Are one-twos to be banned as well, because of the ease with which they can scythe open a CPU defence at certain times?

For me, the only way to deny myself the use of the wonder dribble is not to play with those players who can do it easily. This is an alarming number of players—who has ever heard of Melengue?!

I’ll be keeping a careful eye on him. If he keeps it up, I’ll bench him and then get rid of him in the mid-season negotiations.

“Header too…”

I’ve made a pretty good start here in Superleague Division 1, considering that I’m running under several self-imposed rules designed to make this game—the easiest-ever PES—a bit more difficult, at least for a time.

Game 4 of the season was against AC Milan. I worked off some of the bad feeling from my game against Real Madrid with a relatively straightforward 2-0 win.

The best of my goals was from Rasnic. The enigmatic AMF seems to pick and choose his games to play well, but always delivers the goods when he does—

—I like this goal because it’s a pretty rare example (for me) of a first-time snapshot on the turn.

Next-gen PES2008 has a built-in pause when human players receive the ball in and around the edge of the box. The pause only lasts for a split-second but it’s definitely there. It’s most noticeable when receiving the ball in a good position to shoot from long distance. The game enforces a slight delay before letting you try the shot. This pause usually makes quick turns and first-time snapshots like the Rasnic one above pretty difficult or actually impossible—the CPU players swarm all over you before you have a chance to shoot. (I’m going to be talking about that pause a lot over the next week.)

Another thing that I’ve just noticed is a very strange line of commentary from John Champion that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Occasionally when you have a headed shot, he’ll say something like “Header too!” Or is it “Header two”? Or “Header to”? Whichever one it is, it is complete nonsense. Unless I’m drastically mishearing the line. Which I might be.

I must have heard the line a couple of hundred times by now, but it was only this morning that I thought, hang on, “Header too”? What the hell?

Perhaps the controversy raging in my mind put me off my stride a little. I lost my next game against Espanyol 2-1. It was not a good game. Thankfully I returned to form in the next game, which ended Atletico Madrid 0-3 Singers FC.

That was more like it, and keeps me in amongst the big boys at the top of the table. All in all I’ve got to be very happy with the opening of this season.

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