Month: January 2009

Oh Dear Diary

What else is a blog but a public diary? It’s like a private journal that anybody can read. This blog is—or should be—a daily record of my ups and downs, ins and outs, good times and bad, in the halls of Pro Evolution Soccer. So here we go, warts and all.

PES2009 and I are going through a bad spell at the moment. Today’s post is the final one of this week. I’m skipping tomorrow’s post (Saturday) due to a combination of sheer idleness and—temporarily, one hopes—a mounting sense of disgust.

No, it’s nothing to do with ‘scripting’. That’s one of my favourite topics on the blog, and one of my biggest bugbears with the whole PES franchise over the past four years. I do talk about scripting a lot, but that’s moot today. I’m not worried about scripting at the moment.

I’m in the doldrums. I’m starting to lose interest in playing PES2009. I have no motivation. In truth, for the last few sessions I have only played for the blog’s sake, to have something to write about. Back when I started PES Chronicles that’s something I swore would never happen. Well, it’s happened.

Could this be the beginning of the end for me and PES2009? I don’t think it’ll come to that, but never say never as they say. It could come to that—I could abandon PES2009 in the future. There’s no point pretending it’s not possible. There are various faults with PES2009 that have only really come to vex me after all these many hours’ play. My in-game Track Record shows that I have now played for 165 hours. That’s a lot of time to spend with any game. And we all know what familiarity breeds.

I’ve discovered and pretty much mastered the PES2009 equivalent of PES2008’s notorious wonder dribble. The ‘wonder dribble’ was my name for the way PES2008 (next-gen) simply let you dribble all over the pitch and score a goal with any player of above-average ability, on the supposedly hardest difficulty setting.

That wonder dribble has been taken out of PES2009, but it has its own version, and it’s just as dispiriting. The zig-zag dribble, I call it.

The zig-zag dribble does exactly what it says on the tin. Whilst running at a CPU player, just change direction 45 degrees. The CPU player will be left floundering. Then, when necessary, change back—and so on, thus zig-zagging your way through to goal.

It’s not 100% effective, as the wonder dribble virtually was. You need good timing to perform the zig-zag dribble, and a player with a nice burst of pace on him. But the fact is that it is possible. It’s usually worth roughly one goal per game, and a hatful of good chances.

I feel disenchanted and disillusioned with the whole football game scene, really. I haven’t even looked at FIFA09 for a month now. I haven’t loaded up my Football Manager 2008 save for a week or two. PES2009 is crumbling to dust before my eyes.

I think I know what started this off. Over Christmas I played Mirror’s Edge, and it’s given me back an appetite for playing other games. Proper games. Games that aren’t football games. I want to go and play Uncharted and Lost Odyssey and Valkyria Chronicles and Monster Hunter Freedom 2 and Fallout 3 and Ninja Gaiden 2 and… many more. They call me. So I think that I will go and play them.

For the record, I’ve won a few matches in my Treble campaign. Then I lost to Palermo, as shown by the screenshot (with some wonderfully twee Japanglish phrasing). Then I won a few more. I’m still top of the League and still in both Cups. The Treble is still very much on. At some point I will drag myself out of this mental slump and take that Treble. I should be back on Monday to resume the ‘fight’…

twee-japanglish

Marathon Man

Going for the Treble is a test of endurance as much as anything else. In gameplay terms, strictly speaking, it isn’t as tough as it used to be. Here and now in PES2009, this is the first season where I could win the Treble, and I think that I will. As long as I don’t lose focus and make silly mistakes in a big match, I know that the Treble is mine. It was not always so. There was a time in PES when Master League Trebles were rare, and when won they were the stuff of personal legend. But I’m getting well ahead of myself here. I’ve won nothing yet…

The League can be the trickiest component of the Treble. I’ve spent most of this season yo-yoing between top place and the places below. I’ve dropped as far down as 5th. But I’ve never been more than a win away from going back to 1st. Currently I’m winning a bit more consistently than before. I’m back on top of the table and I look like staying there. Again, I hope I’m not tempting fate.

In the first knockout tie of the European Cup I was drawn against Narangja. They had a pretty decent team, with Regen Henry and Regen Figo up front. Both are in their early 20s. I keep having to remind myself that this is my 11th season in this career. I’m already well into the first generation of Regen players. I might have to go shopping in the next transfer window. Figo in particular would be a great acquisition. Gambino is getting older and looking past his best. Figo and Nedved would be a superb AMF partnership for me. I’m not so bothered about Henry. I’ve never been really impressed with him in PES, but that’s probably just me.

I beat Narangja 3-0 at home. In the away leg I expected a much tougher match, and got it. They won it 1-0 but of course I was safely through. I hate to lose a match even when it doesn’t really matter. I tried my utmost to at least get a draw out of it, but it was just one of those matches.

Back in the League I beat Genoa 5-0 with a classic performance from Prieto. He got a hat-trick. All three of his goals were proper DMF sizzlers from 25 yards. After scoring lots of goals in one match the game traditionally tightens up in the next. And so it proved. West Ham were the opponents, and they inflicted my first defeat in several matches. 1-2 to them was the final score, and I was not happy with their winning goal. It was 1-1 until the 85th minute and I was settling for the draw, when I made what I thought was a perfect tackle in the box. The referee gave them a penalty and that was that. Still, never mind. I remain top of the table—the other teams below me all lost or drew their matches. It’s a funny old game…

It’s Toni make-believe

I’ve allowed another mid-season negotiation to pass without getting any new players. I did have a token look around in the first week. I put in a ridiculously high bid for a top striker called Gibson, but he declined my extremely generous offer. To hell with him anyway.

I think I’ve got enough great players already. This squad is more than good enough to complete the Treble. If anything I’ve got a few too many players. I’ve certainly got too many attacking players. This is par for the course in a Master League squad, in my experience. I always end up with a rather top-heavy array of talent. I’ve started to find PES2009 rather easy (he said, tempting Fate again). I could probably afford to lose half my squad and still win the Treble.

The one disappointing player in my squad at the moment is Toni. He’s still a young player and still way, way below his potential. I know from playing with Italy in the PES2009 demo that Toni can be a great striker to play with in this game. But at the moment he’s not great—he’s not even slightly good. Can I really be bothered waiting for him to hit 25—or 30? I don’t know if I can. I might trade, sell, or loan him at the end of this season.

A little run of draws in Europe saw me needing to win my last group match to be sure of qualifying. Fiorentina were my opponents. They were 3rd in the group table behind me. A win for them would eliminate me from the competition. The match was tight and nervy, as befit the occasion. They scored in the 60th minute. As things stood I was going out and the Treble attempt had failed at the first time of asking. I had a horrible, certain feeling that this was how it was going to go. But you can be your own worst enemy in PES when you start thinking like that. I dug deep and came back to win 2-1, and qualified in 1st position—bonus.

2018-final-euro-table

In the League things are just as topsy-turvy. So many teams are up near the top, tussling for the title. 2 points separated the top five teams at one stage. I keep going up to the top, then dropping a place or two, then going back up again. My goals scored record is once again poor, after being pretty good last season.

2018-table-after-20

A good run of wins came to an end with a shocking reversal against Sunderland. I was 2-0 up and cruising. Then—something just happened. I still can’t decide if I was simply careless, or if PES2009 itself just decided enough was enough, or what. In the second half Sunderland scored three soft goals out of nothing, totally against the run of play (an understatement), and I lost the match 2-3. Gobsmacked. I’m still top of the table, but if I am going to do the Treble this season I’m doing it the long, hard way.

Pretty curls make raves

Season 2018 has picked up pace in my Master League career on PES2009. I’m aiming for a Treble this season and I’ve finally got to the first batch of European Cup group fixtures. This is always a landmark moment in an ML career. I was happy and—yes—proud to take to the virtual field against the mighty Barcelona in my first match.

The only drawback is that a Division 1 season already feels like a long season, and these group games only make it seem all the longer. At least I qualified directly for the main group stage. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to go through the arduous pre-qualification sequence of games at the start of the season. I’d almost rather not play in Europe at all than have two games per week for the first six weeks of the season. 

I need to start focusing on the league. Erratic concentration in some bread-and-butter matches has seen me drop out of the top 3 for the first time this season. I’m currently hanging in 6th spot, but only 2 points off the #1 position. I think I’ll win the League again. As long as I don’t get careless in the Cups, I think I’ll win the Treble too. (Alas, PES2009 has started to seem a little easy to me over the past few days. This is something I’ll talk more about over the next few days.)

It’s not often I get all excited about one of my own goals. In truth, 95% of the clips I’ve posted on this blog are little better than average. There are probably only a handful of clips that genuinely made me go wow when I watched them back. This is one of them. It came in a tight league match against  AC Milan. Nedved, one of my best Regens, has been quietly turning into a midfield megastar, and this game saw him score an amazing goal. Confronted with a Milan defender just outside the box, I decided to try to shoot around him, aiming for the far corner. One of the best features of PES shooting has always been the way certain players with sufficient technique can ‘chop’ at the ball. Cue Nedved:

My favourite part of the goal is the few moments when the ball curls so extravagantly that it disappears from view.

beat-barca-in-euro

In Europe I’m undefeated, but could still do better. I beat Barcelona 2-0 with a professional performance, grabbing my goals and keeping it tight at the back. I drew my next two games. First it was 0-0 against Galatasaray, a result I was quite happy with overall given that they’ve been one of my bogey teams in PES over the past few years. And then it was 1-1 against Fiorentina, who looked great in their violet kits as usual. (Is Fiorentina’s the best-looking kit in all of football? I think so.)

And so after these 3 opening group games the position is thus –

2018-euros-after3

Could be better, could be worse. I’ll have to be careful not to let qualification slip through my fingers.

Back in the League I beat Villa 3-0 (heh) and concentrated really hard to grind out a couple of 1-0s. Then I went 0-2 down to Genoa before coming back to draw 2-2 through sheer force of will. I feel as if I’ve played most of the season by now, but it isn’t even half over yet.