The Timothy Dalton of PES games

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.


  1. I’m with you on Timothy Dalton – I’m not a big Bond fan but I reckon he was ahead of his time.
    The Super Star intrigue continues… if it wasn’t for Skyrim continuing to dominate my precious game-time I think I’d have scuttled back for some ML action by now – I’m even starting to miss Shimizu’s whinging!
    This is your blog at its best, not-Greg – making ML irresistable!

  2. Same here, I read a couple of Bond books and Dalton’s portrayal was much more in keeping with the darker tone.

    You write with such enthusiasm that I’m almost rethinking my decision to trade in PES2012… No! I won’t be tricked again!

  3. After some disastrous form on Top Player I’ve started grinding out wins. Just after Christmas I’m 3rd in the table, point off top, in the FA Cup semis and UEFA league last 32. It’s a tough tough season but I might get some silverware. Only after I conquer TP will I go up to Super Star. I’m intrigued by your excellent form though. I find Top Player quite stifling so I might give SS a go. Mid season youth signings were Xavi 75, Seitaridis 80, and Rio Ferdinand 76. I was disappointed to see the regen of Garrincha at only 59 OVR.

  4. Chris—cheers, and it’s exactly what I had in mind when I started this blog: just playing ML all the time, and blogging about it. Next-gen slightly threw a spanner in the works back in ’07, with PES2008 – but incredibly, with PES2012, against all the odds, despite all the game’s many issues, it’s coming to pass. Could this be my first year-round ML campaign of the next-gen era? It’s possible, you know, it’s entirely possible.

  5. Liam—all I’ll say is that the issue that mainly drove you away, the insane dribbling, becomes easier to deal with over time. You develop ways of nullifying it. It comes together. Maybe when PES2012 is dirt-cheap in the bargain bins this summer you’ll be tempted again. This could well be the most insanely deep PES I’ve ever played.

  6. Id be suprised if it wasnt NG.
    I Consider the last 5 months or so to be a ‘learning & bedding in period’ with PES12.
    As strange as it sounds that it shouldn take so long to learn a new game, it really is so deep on so many levels that it has actually taken that long.
    I can easily see myself playing the next 5 months through Master League, unlike yourself im yet to win a title, and a trble on Superstar is going to be hard to come by.

    Hopefully PES12 will keep me plugging away until right up to when the PES13 demo talk starts to appear.
    Im already in season 13 of my ML, so could easily tip the 30 season mark by the end.

  7. Grilled Seabass—one of the many things pulling me through the seasons is the thought of seeing Hagi pop up again in my ML world as a teenage Regen. I almost feel tearful thinking about how happy I’ll be on that day.

    Having not played Top Player myself yet, I’ve got no way of comparing it to Superstar. By Friday’s post I’ll have played a few matches on TP. On Superstar I’ve never really noticed the suffocating über-pressurising that I was kind of thinking would be the norm. It’s definitely there, but it’s definitely not the norm.

  8. Paul—I got through about 40 seasons in PES5, but I was unemployed that year so it’d be hard for me to beat it now. But yes, I think 30 seasons is entirely doable whilst holding down a job and fulfilling all the other commitments of daily life.

    I’ve still got that book to write as well of course. I won’t be able to start the next phase of serious writing until June-ish time. Which is probably for the best as I’ll want to finish with wherever PES2012 takes me.

    Looking back over the past 6 months I see the early shooting experience in ML as potentially disastrous for the game. I really hated it when that was a common experience for me. Odd, it happened a few times this morning (central shooting) but I wasn’t bothered. I can see how it is contextual, most of the time, and if at other times there’s a feel of ‘scoreline management’ about it, I can accept that. As long as it doesn’t happen too much.

  9. NG – Make sure that book is finished for September, so i can take a copy on holiday with me for poolside reading 😉

  10. Can’t agree about Timothy Dalton I’m afraid, thought he was terrible, but then again I thought George Lazenby was good, so that probably makes me some kind Bond Philistine.

    I’ve been chewing over moving up to top player or superstar at the end of the current season. I’m yet to win the league, but I’m second at the moment, and in with a chance. However, I tend to scrape results 1-0 most of the time, and my goals scored stat is pitiful. I may have to stick with professional until I’ve mastered goal scoring a bit more, I seem to be quite good at defence.

  11. Paul—I’m aiming for August, and this time I believe I’ll hit my deadline. Whether the book is any good or not, though…

  12. Filbert—I won’t go into why The Living Daylights was such a great Bond film, and why, in the context of following Roger Moore, Dalton was such a refreshing change of pace and style… I’m not that into Bond really, it was just a handy comparison. And I liked Lazenby too. OHMSS had the greatest (shock) ending to a Bond film ever. Mmmmm, Diana Rigg…

    If you haven’t already, try playing with three advanced AMFs behind a front two, and just try passes to feet for turn-and-shoot goals, and little through-balls, and the goals will come.

  13. Hagi is retiring this season in my ML. When the time comes I won’t reveal if he’s any good or not…

  14. Extended my difficulty level experiment last night.
    Loaded up my ML save and my next match was against Liverpool, theyre probably the best team in the game in my ML world,constantly winning the FA CUp and league and there or thereabouts in the Champions League.
    They have Drogba and Carroll up front. Deadly.
    So was a good team to test the levels against.

    Played on Superstar, whether I just had a bad game or not I dont know but I lost 4-0, was never at the races, id have had to be a cyborg to win that game.
    Every pass cut out, as soon as i got near the ball they punced on me, out ran me, out tackled me and Carroll and Drogba punished me.
    So reloaded and played again on Top Player.

    I drew 1-1, much more even game, although I did notice that the ‘Park the bus’ syndrome was more noticeable on Top player than superstar, and I was given an extra millisec on the ball compared to Superstar, but was still very aggressive in terms of pressure.
    I played a further 5 matches of my ML on Top Player, Losing one, drawing one and winning 3, including an epic FA Cup quarter final against Boca Jnrs which ended 4-4 after ET, and I eventually won 7-6 bon sudden death pens. Great Game.

    Im undecided at the moment between what level to stick with, Top Player or Superstar, Superstar feels more fluid and balanced and less pressurising on the whole, but the top teams really are unplayable. Whereas on Top Player, I can hold my own against the top teams but gameplay in general isnt as realistic and fluid as on Superstar.

    Decisions decisions, i need to find one happy medium and quick.

  15. Grilled Seabass—Hagi’s probably the best and most consistent long-range shooter I’ve played with yet in PES2012, and his all-round passing and link-up play is superb too. He declined quite quickly after he hit 31 or 32 for me, so I imagine he’ll be priceless as a young player and then throughout his twenties. For me, the prospect on its own is almost worth playing on in PES2012 for, even without every other good reason. Bugger’s now 38 in my ML world, an 82OVR reserve AMF at Inter, and not retiring.

    EDIT: Just checked his player info and he is retiring this season. The sweetest words. As Dale Winton might say: Bring on the Hagi!

  16. Paul—I’m just starting to see the formidable side of Superstar now, but I’ve yet to take a proper mauling from the AI. I’ve had a few niggly single-goal defeats where I’ve created loads of chances but felt like I wasn’t allowed to score—ahhh, the old PES paranoia.

    But overall I’m living with Superstar and even dominating matches against lesser teams (this is really noticeable on Superstar).

    Probably my different experience reflects the players I’ve got in my squad, whose average OVR is still very high even after some winnowing post-season last time.

    You’ll probably find the same as you gather more and more top players, i.e. that having the better players adjusts the scale of the difficulty levels.

    Right now I’m very happy on Superstar and haven’t yet got round to trying Top Player, although I will at some point over the weekend. Exciting times.

  17. I’m on a great run in my ML – seven wins on the trot and within three points of Villa at almost the halfway point of the season. I have Man Utd, Villa and Southampton before the winter break so that could be all-telling.

    I hate to mention the unmentionable website, but has anyone else seen the little mention of “gameplay improvements” in the PES 2012 DLC coming on Friday? Typical Konami give no details which will no doubt mean the forums will be buzzing over the weekend.

  18. John—before the PES2013 trailer, Konami said there was going to be in-game footage, which was wrongly interpreted as meaning gameplay footage. Now before this PES2012 ‘update’ (which is not being described as a patch), Konami talk about making the playing experience smoother. That could just mean making the menus load a bit faster. It’s going to be another placebo-rific weekend on the forums…

    It sounds as if your Villa is much like mine, in which case, I sympathise. Have your Villa got Delfouneso? He’s a nightmare in my ML world.

    (I should add for any newcomers to the blog, who might be puzzled at your reference to a ‘website that must not be mentioned’: it’s WENB. The only reason I discourage all mention of WENB, is that I know from long experience there are some lurkers just aching to turn everything into a WENB-bashing rant, which I find tiresome, circular in its very nature, and not what the blog’s about, so it’s verboten. Just this passing remark of mine here will generate at least 1 attempted comment about WENB, probably including the words ‘sucking’ and ‘cock’ (seriously), which will be held for moderation—permanently. WENB-related discussions belong on other websites.)

  19. Talking of anticipating regens, I managed to sign a 17yr old, Xabi Alonso last night, no signing fee and only £500,000 a year salary, he’s 72OVR already, has the ‘pinpoint pass’ skill and in his debut 2 games has already .scored and looked solid at the DM position

  20. Paul—as soon as Regen Hagi pops up in mine, I’m changing the team’s name to Hagi United, quitting my job, and playing PES2012 for 8 hours a day.

  21. NG – Yeah Villa are one of the teams I dread – along with Man U, Chelsea and Liverpool. I do feel ready for them this time though. This of course will herald a return on here tomorrow licking my wounds after a horrible defeat.

    What I am finding is that I’m scoring a lot from corners now. I’m not doing anything differnent but just have the right personel to make the most of set pieces. My centre-back(Stefan Savic) scored six in ten matches and was my top scorer at one point.

  22. John—did you ever nail the turn-and-shoot method of goal-scoring? It’s a legitimate approach in PES2012, and a rich source of ‘bread and butter’ goals.

    From corners, I often like to bring a player across for the short one now. The CPU players can’t follow past the 10-yard mark, and I like to get a cross in with the second player. I’ve been playing Carraciolo a lot this season and he’s great from corners and short-corner crosses.

  23. I like to use the RS off the ball run method for corners, proves very useful if you have a tall player in the box.
    Also manually taking corners, aim just past the penalty spot, hold L1 press the LS up and power up to just a tad over halfway, thenpush the LS towards the goal for a fizzed in dipping curling cross, defenders and GK’s struggle to deal with them.

    NG – could I sense a Hagi PES 12 T-shirt in the making??? 😉

  24. Glad your Hagi will reincarnate soon, I hope he’s not a disappointment! My dream regen was Riquelme, he’s been around for 5 years now and I can’t prise him away from AC Milan who are ranked 2nd. It’s hugely frustrating. He’s my favourite player of all time and I’ve never had him in ML!

  25. Paul—oh, whenever I take a direct-kick corner, I always use the right stick control for players in the box. It’s part of the enjoyment of having a corner, trying to get your player across the superglued defenders.

    Re. Hagi and the possibility of a t-shirt… I think some commemorative trinket will have to be purchased to mark this Master League year, which is rapidly approaching classic status. I never actually wore the Capuano t-short from PES2010, which is still in the wardrobe. I’m thinking something more useable for PES2012. A mug with my own design on, something like that. We’ll have to see which player makes it onto the mug (or whatever it is), or if indeed it’s just a general ML one.

  26. Grilled Seabass—just keep trying for your Riquelme, over and over, however many times it takes. What reason does your scout give? If it’s the ‘hard to sign a first-teamer’ reason, just keep trying. You might get lucky and bid while he’s injured or suspended. I think that’s how I got Farinos.

  27. Ive been trying to sign Farinos and Heycory continuously for three years, I always get ‘perseverance is the key to this deal’ for them… Riquelme I’ve been trying for five years continuously, but in his case he doesn’t want to take a step down. A long wait I think.
    Re custom memorabilia for this year, how about some Hagi underpants?

  28. Well I am a Bond buff and have to say Dalton was my favourite and was hugely unlucky – Liv Day was great, Licence to Kill was a dog of a script, the franchise was starting to look tired and their original choice of Brosnan was free from Remington Steele – Dalton never stood a fair chance. I really liked his steelier side, not adverse to killing and with a slightly aloof streak, especially after Moore’s ‘Alan Whicker with a gun’ later safari suit efforts.

    Anyhoo – been following the ‘how deep is PES2012’ conversation with interest. Think I’ve mentioned before I used to review games for a website. Publishers would usually send 5/6 at a time and expect a review within the week. I never got PES/Fifa but I did get things like Disagea – how the hell can you accurately review that and 4 other games in a week?! My point is that fair judgement is virtually impossible, all you can offer is a summary of what’s new, how it feels and first impressions, not necessarily what you feel eventually. A lot of the time I had to talk about endings I’d never even achieved due to time. The phrase ‘I won’t spoil it by telling you..’ covered a million brief playtests. I dare say some folks have pre-release copies a lot longer but still we’re 6 months in and changing our minds and uncovering new experiences. I squirm now at some of the things I raved about and feel bad about stuff I panned that was actually much better as I got better. PES2012 seems to fall deeply into that last category but how many folk have bothered playing this far. Maybe it is destined to go down as the unfairly maligned year.

  29. Grilled Seabass—what, Alan Partridge-style pants with Hagi perched right on the groinal area?! I think I’ll stick with the mug idea. Maybe a badge. Anyway, Hagi’s nowhere near being a Capuano-type figure for me in PES2012 just yet. PES2012 itself as a whole is currently the front-runner to get branded on some memorabilia. I had a few good seasons with Hagi when I got him first time around, but he declined sharply. I’m very intrigued to see what he’ll become if I can get him at 17.

  30. uncle turf—I have to confess that I’ve never watched a Brosnan Bond film all the way through. I don’t know why. Just never worked out that way.

    What strikes me about PES2012 is just how easy it would have been for me to walk away from it several times within the first few months, never mind that time I tried to ‘go play FIFA’. I wonder how many diehard PES veterans of years ago have walked away from the game without realising what they’ve abandoned.

  31. NG006 – poor form, although all of the Brosnan’s are flawed, a few too many one liners, silly cameos and effects that look cheap. That said my favourite Bond film of them all is The Spy Who Loved Me which takes double entendre, gimmicks and laughable action shots to extreme. Given that pre-credit sequence though they could have shown a blank screen for the next 2 hours and I’d have still been hooked.

  32. Finally began my ML, and I signed Chigrat as a first transfer. I was wondering: if you own a player when they retire (ex. Chigrat), will they appear in your Youth team the next season, or will they become free agents? On another note, seems like Superstar is proving its stuff for you and several other people, might give it a spin.

  33. Had a few games on professional last night, found it harder than Superstar.
    Im going to stop faffing about now and stick to Super star for the rest of my ML campaign.
    My team has an average OVR of 83, so not world beaters all over the pitch by any means and yet im 4th in the Prem and in the Champs League last 16 and got to the quarters of the FA Cup so not too bad going i dont think.

  34. uncle turf—not really a conscious decision not to watch a Brosnan Bond, it’s just that his era roughly coincided with a time in my life where I watch a lot fewer films of any kind. I tend to watch TV, rarely anything longer than an hour in length. The bits of Brosnan I have seen don’t intrigue me either, I have to say. He really does run like a girl.

  35. Rillatoni—yes, your Chigrat should pop up again in your Youths. So far the only two players who’ve retired in my team have reappeared as Youths a season or two later. Twigg and, I think, El Moubarki.

  36. Paul—if anything I’m a little concerned about Superstar not being hard enough. You’re quite right about Professional seeming harder. I had a quick match on it yesterday and found it quite suffocating to play. Getting back to Superstar was almost a relief.

    I think we should view the difficulties not necessarily as escalating in baseline difficulty, but in the manner in which they choose to present difficulty, if that makes sense.

    So Superstar will be harder than the others in one sense (more clinical CPU passing, and a slightly better possession game, from what I’ve seen), but it’s noticeably freer and easier in another sense, i.e. letting you get at the CPU goal a bit easier. My shots on goal have gone up on Superstar because the CPU defends a bit looser and higher up the pitch.

    In the long term, there’s always the option to go back to Professional/Top Player of course, which I like to know. Makes me feel secure that I’ll always have a game to play here if I want it.

  37. Good way of putting it, over the last few days ive sufficiently tested Professional/Top Player and Superstar and Superstar is definitely the most fluid, pleasing level to play on.
    As i was testing the levels within my ML as its the only proper way to gauge them, I played the Champs league first knockout round first leg on Top Player, and lost 3-0, so now have a mammoth task in the 2nd leg, as i NEVER reload/replay a legitimate match.
    Pep Guardiola quits Barca – bit of a shock!!!

  38. Paul—I had some things to do this morning and have only just got round to starting up the game… and there is the latest patch asking to be installed. It’s ver. 1.06, in line with the Japanese WE patches we haven’t had. I declined—I’m not brave enough right now, and just want to play without trying to feel whatever Konami have changed (if anything).

    In your second leg, just focus on getting one goal, not three, and then the second goal… It’ll be a tall order and you’re unlikely to do it, so just do it.

  39. Seeing as I’m at a suitable point in my ML (exactly half way in season 9) I’m going to make the jump from pro to superstar given the feedback on here.

    I lost 2-1 to Man Utd last night (they scored two ridiculous goals) and got a decent 0-0 away result at top-of-the-table Villa. My aim to qualify for the Champions League is very much on.

    Oh, and on that lovely Jan 1 window, I signed a teenage Eto’o and Riquelme! The latter of which is going straight into my starting 11 as AMF.

  40. NG – some PC users on forums who managed to get patch 1.06 last night have detailed a few things the patch changes, but like you i want a few games on the current ver before i update so i can make more of a distinguished compariosn, besides I want to garner feedback before i make the plunge.
    Id be distraught if it was a bad experience and i was faced with having to either use 1.06 or 1.00 !!!

  41. John—I recommend playing at least one Ex. game beforehand, not that it’s really indicative but at least you get the first one out of the way and can go into your first ML Superstar game knowing you’ve already had a taster, and have some idea of what to expect.

    Grilled Seabass is going to go mad when he hears about your Riquelme 🙂 If that happens to me and Regen Hagi when the time comes, I don’t know what I’ll do.

  42. Paul – I think that’s very wise. I too am waiting for the general feedback before taking the 1.06 plunge.

    With all the positve comments about the game on here of late, wouldn’t it just be typical for Konami to stick out a dodgy update that ruins the experience?

  43. Sorry Grilled Seabass! Riquelme came pretty cheap too! Brighton is a nice place to live – maybe that swung it!

    My Seagulls did get turned down by Seedorf though.

  44. Paul—I was watching the forums last night and I saw a lot of people who clearly haven’t played PES2012 much (if at all) recently, all trying to cram a few matches in so that they’ll be able to tell us what’s changed after the patch. What do you think the chances are that they’ll think the game’s quite good, on 1.03 and on 1.06? And that they’ll see all kinds of changes that were there all along? Pretty good chance of that happening, I’d say.

    I’m waiting until I see a good long report from somebody who’s played every day or near enough for months.

  45. John – It would go with Konami’s recent track record to completely ruin things but as of late ive noticed a more focused professional approach from them so lets hope theyre learning.
    Im still bemused by the complete lack of any details as to what the patch will address.

    Its just “update the game, it will make it better” style approach, strange.

    I got Seedorf in My youths too, signed him up right away, hes now in the 80’s OVR and a solid player but faces stiff competition in his position from 3 or 4 other very good AMF’s so he doesnt play as much as he should. I may look to loan him out.

    Im looking forward to the day when a regen 16yr old Hagi pops up for you NG, im imagining all kinds of wonderful pun-tastic Post headlines!

    “You can Never Hagi Nuff!!” ???

    taxi ……….

  46. Paul—I’m already assembling the Hagi-related punning post titles, don’t worry. It’s the goals he scores that thrill me more than anything. So far in PES2012 only Hagi has been able to get the true long-rangers that I crave. And of course, remember that free-kick. Bring on the Hagi…

    Getting annoyed already with the inevitable post-patch nonsense on the forums. Strange thing, after declining the update this morning, I was in the middle of my first match when the screen went blank and I was offered the update again. I declined again, and was taken back to the match. That’s the first time I’ve had a mid-game interruption for a game update on the PS3.

  47. Sigh… It seems that Riquelme will be the one that got away for me this year. Last year it was Veron.
    John, cherish him.

  48. General jist from what i can make oyt is that the patch offers a bit more response in-game, dribbling movements are tighter, more responsive, the ball falls a little heavier and the CPU AI has been tweaked.
    Of course only way to tell is to update and play, but id be miffed if that in-game notificaion interruption is frequent.

  49. Grilled Seabass—all you can do re. Riquelme is keep your bids in all the time. Get into the habit that as soon as one bid’s rejected, you put in the next. You never know what arcane condition in the bowels of PES2012 you might trigger. You can’t win the raffle without buying a ticket. That’s how I got Farinos after almost giving up hope.

  50. Paul—I have strong doubts that the patch is anything at all to do with gameplay. You know how different PES2012 can be from session to session. At some point curiosity will get the better of me and I will update, and like I always say: if the changes are that obvious, then, as a daily player for months now, I should notice them, right? Heh. We’ll see…

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