Season 12 is well underway in my Master League career, in what I currently believe is the best PES since PES5. Better than PES6(PS2 and 360). Better than PES2010. One of the best football games ever made. This is insanity to many. I know. Just a month or two ago, I’d have been shaking my head in disbelief too. But there you have it.
For the record, I also believe that Timothy Dalton was a great James Bond, that Windows Vista was OK, and that Lexx was the best science fiction TV show of the recent era. Make of it all what you will.
I might even end up thinking PES2012 is better than PES5, but let’s not get carried away just yet. There are still 6 (SIX) whole calendar months of PES2012 left to go. A fact that seems to be lost on much of the PESverse at the moment, if the forums are any guide, but I won’t get into that now.
In PES2012 I’ve gone up a few difficulties to Superstar as an experiment. Still not decided whether it’s permanent, although it probably is.
My initial findings, that the AI on Superstar plays a more open, realistic game of football, is still holding up. But only just.
I came up against Liverpool, in recent seasons a very easy team to play against—on Professional. This time, things were different. I got properly schooled. I was 2-0 down inside the first few minutes. Somehow I clawed it back to 2-2 by half-time, completely undeserved. But that’s football.
After half-time, things went up a gear. Andy Carroll was back to his devastating best. The high-tempo, constant CPU pressure that I feared encountering on Superstar had finally arrived.
I’d got used, on Professional, to having some time to hold the ball, check back, lay off a pass, and build up quite slowly. In this match, that wasn’t allowed. The second or two that I wanted to take was brutally cut short, time and again.
I was 4-2 down pretty soon. I got a late goal back to make the final score 4-3 but in truth that was totally flattering. I didn’t deserve anything.
It was my first defeat on Superstar, and a very intriguing one. The CPU played in this match just as I’d expected the Superstar AI to play beforehand. Would that be carried over into the next game—Newcastle away? I hoped not.
No, thankfully. The game had recovered its sanity. I think the high-tempo pressing stuff might be reserved for the top teams.
Newcastle were still a tough proposition, but the insane pressing was gone. I eked out a hard-fought 2-0 win, where I scored first and then withstood pressure, getting my second goal on the counter-attack.
Here was the pick of the goals—a lovely ‘reverse wedge’ from John Barnes, who doesn’t get many:
Next up was game 2 of my Champions League group stage. I’d had a tough draw, pretty much the Group of Death.
I beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the opening match, away. At home now against Bayern, I fancied my chances.
Superstar had other ideas. Bayern were immense! I spent the first half hour completely under siege at my end of the pitch, like nothing I’d ever encountered before in PES2012. I loved it. Being pinned back didn’t often feel very cheaty or artificial, and when it did… well, it’s Superstar, I could tell myself.
And most realistically of all, totally against the run of play, I broke away and scored with my only effort on goal. Forlan latched ont0 a cheeky through-ball, and I side-footed it past the Bayern keeper.
Heh. Take that, Superstar,
Ah, but Bayern’s pressure kept up. In the second half, I soon conceded. The match ended 1-1, which under the circumstances I was happy with.
Superstar still gets a huge thumbs-up from me. The past few sessions have seen some pretty amazing football, some of the best I’ve had on PES2012.
I’ll still be testing out Top Player soon, if only because I’ll feel incomplete if I skip it completely this year. Ultimately, I’ll settle down on the difficulty that most closely gives me the football game I want to play.