I’ve only just started Master League in PES2010. Some people say they never see them, but I see team-coloured nets at every match. Today’s Net of the Day (right) is a very fetching purple number from an away game against one of my invented Division 2 opponents, Engelbert Humperdinck Athletic, or whoever it was.
I loved how the purple nets shimmered under the virtual floodlights. I disliked it when my net sadly rippled, twice. The other team put two goals past me in a very tame defeat. That’s just how the season’s going for me so far. After 9 matches I’d won 1, drawn 4, lost 4. I’d scored 3 goals, conceded 9. I was 4th from bottom (and I’m still there now, many games later).
If this anti-form keeps up—and it’s looking like it will—I’ll consider dropping down to Professional difficulty next season. I’m not too proud. I’ve never been the type of PES player who absolutely has to play on Top Player all the time. I only started out on it because the overall difficulty of PES2010 was a worry.
The full depth of the new Master League is starting to become more apparent as I move through these early weeks. I’ve started to pay attention to, and spend some time with, the many new features. In the first few weeks of the season all I wanted to do was play, really.
Traditionally I have always played PES with a 4-3-3 formation. After a few early matches where I could barely touch the ball I decided to revert, at least temporarily, to a 4-4-2. It can be a conservative formation in PES terms, but conservative is what I need right now. 4-4-2 covers you in every department. It gives you a proper presence in midfield and you still pose a threat up front, especially with a central AMF just behind the strikers. 4-3-3 is pretty lightweight in midfield, and it really needs good strikers to be effective.
I’ll have to pay a lot more attention to formations this year. PES2010 actively penalises you for trying to play players out of position. Due to suspension and low fitness levels my 4-4-2 (right) was lacking a recognised CF for one particular match. In the old days with the Defaults, you could just stick a Burchet or somebody up there and have done with it. The thinking would go: Burchet’s a WF; a WF is a forward player; he’ll do as a CF for this game.
That’s not really an option any more. Playing Burchet at CF will drive his overall rating down to something ridiculously low—from 60 down to 22 in one case, with a proportional impact on his individual stats. And if you persist in trying to play players out of position—trying to play a CMF as an SMF, for example—they’ll acquire an angry face next to their names in the squad list.
I don’t know yet what’ll happen if you still persist after the angry face stage. I learned my lesson early. Now I slavishly spend a little while before every game individually customising my formation. On the left is the altered RWF positioning for Burchet in that same game. It didn’t go well. I got thrashed 0-3.
If all this wasn’t enough, there’s tactical team sliders to play with, and the training options. I’ll try to talk about them in some depth next week.
All of this Master League newness is very exciting, but how’s the football? Pretty decent, actually. The CPU teams play keep-ball and cause me frustration. I finished one match with 35% possession to the CPU’s 65%. Sprint-clamping to pressure the CPU does no good when it’s in the mood to keep the ball.
Schwarz is a disappointment so far. I’ve scored one goal with him, a tap-in, and done precious little else. He’s a Youth in a team of Defaults. It’d actually be wrong if he was already super-Schwarz or anywhere close, but he’s not even fairly-decent-Schwarz at the moment. He’s behind Gutierrez and Ordaz in the pecking order. But he’s ahead of Castolo. Everyone‘s ahead of Castolo.
All through this first week of PES I’ve been awarding it scores out of 10 every day, and keeping a running average. I did the same thing with FIFA10—its final average was 8.42/10. FIFA10 suffered a dip in the scores in the middle of its week 1, but went on to recover well—just as PES2010 has done.
Wednesday was the 7th full day for me and PES2010. It was a great day of continued immersion and progress with Master League. I’m giving PES2010 9/10 for Wednesday, which gives it a grand week 1 average score of… 8.35/10.
Both games experienced a post-day-1 dip for different reasons. FIFA10 suffered because of its shocking Manager Mode issues; PES2010 because of real worries about the game’s difficulty and AI (worries which have only been put on hold by the move to Master League). Both games recovered. Both games are superb in my eyes at the moment.
I could be accused of slyly ramping up the PES2010 scores over the past few days in order to force some parity with FIFA10, but I’m really not that much of a fanboy. In any case, I’m not a reviewer and these are not review-style scores. They’re subjective ratings of how much I’ve enjoyed/not enjoyed the game(s) on any particular day. After I started Master League, I was in a state of football gaming bliss. Hence the raised scores.
I think those are fair scores at the moment. My proper end-of-year review won’t appear until next September, complete with a final score for each game. There’s a long time to go between now and then, and there’s a lot of football to be played.