The Unforgotten Man

Last time I was reminiscing about Hagi the First and his best-ever free kick in PES. It’s still the best free kick I’ve ever scored in PES—but this new 35-yard effort from a semi-forgotten man, John Barnes, runs it very close indeed:

That moment, and a few other stellar performances, have put John Barnes firmly back on my radar.

Could the ageing Barnes (32) be responding to the competition of Vicente, Hagi, Ribery, and Reyes? One of them will take his place in the seasons to come. But not just yet.

That came in a 4-2 away victory over Norwich. It was 0-0 at the time and they were parking the bus. This goal from nowhere, just before half-time, drew them out and set up a Barnes-storming (sorry) second half with lots of open play and goals. It was a game-changing strike indeed.

I’m very generous with the power on these long free kicks—80-90%, which always seems wrong but is actually right—and then I hold Triangle for even more power, or extra curl (or extra placebo*, or whatever).

[*nb: I know that holding Triangle during free kicks isn’t a placebo, that it’s in the manual and everything. It’s just a joke.]

I’m probably going to finish outside the top 4 in the table for the first time in many seasons. I was making up ground and had got within 4 points of 4th place. Then a run of bad results knocked me back again.

The Champions-elect, Arsenal, came to play me at home. I lost 1-2, in a game that I could and should have got something out of. It’s these marginal defeats that have cost me dear this season, not the occasional thumpings.

And I’m out of the Champions League at the first knockout stage.

I was 2-1 down to Barcelona after the first leg at my place. I gave it my best shot at Barca in the second leg, but lost by the same scoreline: 2-1. They played exactly as you would think Barca on top difficulty should play. Simply irresistible.

I did well to get that one goal, really. I was 2-0 down (4-1 on aggregate) at the time, so it really was just a consolation. I brought some of the youngsters on for the experience.

Everybody’s favourite hair-transplantee, 18-year-old Wayne Rooney, got a blaster from 25 yards to score his first ever goal for my club:

Defeat was still bitter. My thirteenth season in total, and my second playing on Superstar difficulty, will now definitely end without any silverware.

With the players I’ve got I would have had a Treble by now on Professional difficulty, I’m pretty certain. I can’t speak for Top Player.

All that remains is to play as well as possible in the last stretch of the League and aim to finish as high as possible. Hopefully I can benefit from the game’s generosity and sneak into a Champions League pre-tournament qualifier. I’d really like that. And I’ll have to tighten up at the back next season if I’m ever going to get that coveted first trophy on Superstar.


  1. Superstar is difficult in a different way to top player mate. I find playing in top player, the ai are super defensive. In superstar teams will put you to the sword. I am just finished my 4th season and it ended with an unreal double. I beat real Madrid in the champions league. Fairly handy too. I was shocked. I played extremely well mind, and just held on at end. My fa cup win was so dramatic that it will go down as one of the best matches I have ever played in PES. One of those magic moment that seems lost on some players

  2. talk us through it then Barry, maybe with some videos!!

  3. Barry—a stylish cup double in your 4th season on Superstar—you must be a great player (I love saying that to people!), so it’s a measure of how challenging Superstar is that you respect it so. I always remember it being a tradition that a certain class of PES player would have conquered Top Player/6* difficulty by the end of October. Credit to Konami for punching through that ceiling at last (even if the CPU often cheats its cheating little head off to do it).

    At this stage I don’t think PES2012 is going to get he community-wide respect it deserves. In fact, I think the stry of PES2012’s fate in the PESverse illustrates how much general gaming conditions have changed since the mid-2000s. Many PES fans now come to PES expecting to be disappointed, and less willing to spend time winkling out its qualities. Expectations and patience have altered. Before, it’d be perfectly normal to spend 20-40 hours playing a PES game before ‘getting it’. Nowadays, 10 hours (if that).

  4. Love that free kick N-G. I’d forgotten all about the old triangle after square shot. Do you add curl too?

    Actually, I’d love to hear more about everyone’s free kick techniques from short and long range. It’s been an age since I scored from one.

  5. I probably score at least 50-60% of all free kicks i get, and get at least 75% of all of them on target.
    The main method i use is for FK’s up to 20 yards out, i hold down on the LS, power up to half way, and press and hold X before the ball is struck, this produces a more floaty dipping FK, but due to its ‘softer’ nature, its very hard to get any curl on it.

    Then theres the ‘standard’ FK – 20 to 30 yards out. Whereby you can aim slightly off centre, power up, again to half way or just a tad over, and then press diagonnaly up right or up left to apply curl in either direction.
    For more of of a floated FK from this distance you can also hold X before the ball is struck.

    30 + yards – power up to between half way and 3/4’s power, press up/left or up/right then press and hold triangle for a more powerful free kick, or even hold the LS Up whilst powering up, then apply your curl, and triangle for a rasping shot.

  6. Grilled Seabass

    Paul – exactly the same as my technique, but I only score about 10%, i always mess up the power.
    nG – a season like that is healthy IMO, helps break the monotony of winning. Or so I told myself when I did the same.

  7. John—Paul’s already supplied a great FK overview. I’ve only scored about 4 free kicks in all my time on the game. The ones I’ve got, though, have all come about through aiming a long way to the side of where I want it to go and then using the left stick to bend the ball. I.e. for the Barnes FK, I aimed about 3 yards to the left of the goal, blasted it at 85% power, pressed Triangle, and turned the stick to the right (from 12 to 3 o’clock). For the much-linked-to Hagi free kick, I aimed at the keeper and bent it towards the post using the same method.

    Get yourself on the training pitch to practice. I should do the same. I should score many more than I do, as the FK mechanic is quite user-friendly this year. Goals can change games and a free kick can get a goal in games that seem otherwise to be locked down. As in the Barnes FK case. It’d been pretty grim and tight until then, but suddenly Norwich had to come out.

  8. Paul—great tips there, and that’s a very good success rate.

    I’ve tried that close-range weak free kick many times, but forgot all about the X button. They way I’ve been doing it, I’ve been putting it over even with minimal power. To the extent that I’ve tended to favour lay-off free kicks and a blast from my hardest shooter (think I’ve got just 1 of them).

  9. Grilled Seabass—I am actually happy that I’ve had this type of season. When (or should I say if) I do win a Treble on Superstar, part of me will be disappointed that I stil haven’t got it left to do. Of course I still want to win the trophies and get to that Treble milestone, but I’m not anxious for the magic spell to come to an end.

  10. Thanks for the free kick advice guys. They’re all techniques I’ve used in various PES games but when you in that moment with the wall in front of you, it’s often hard to remember which technique is relevant and even which are not even for this game. I’ll have a practice tonight.

  11. I just want to win all the trophies – whether it be all in the same season or over ten. So far I’ve got the Europa League trophy in my cabinet but that’s it. I may never get them all at this rate – not playing Super Star at least.

  12. NG – try the X press during FK’s,. its vital for getting those short rangers up and over the wall and keeping it on target.
    I always find optimal power is 50-60% too, whether its from 35 yards or 18 yards, it adjusts accordingly.

    I was losing 1-0 in a match and hadnt created a thing. it was the 84th min and i got a FK 20 yards out. Meriem stepped up and floated one over and in, 1-1.

    The CPU, was a top four team, so obviously wanted the win, pushed on for a winner which gave me a bit more space, to earn another free kick, this time 25 yards out, up stepped Meriem, and curled his 2nd into the corner for a 2-1 win.

    One of the best PES wins ever for me due to the circumstances and it was from there that i nailed the FK method.

  13. John—the Treble has been an enduring feature of ML for me since PES3, I think it was. I’ve won all the trophies except the Europa League (might get another chance next season, depending on how this one finishes). But I really, really want the main three in one season. And all 5 possible trophies in one seasons—a Quintuple—would be vey special indeed. I managed that back on PES2010, but that was a whole order of difficulty lesser than PES2012.

  14. Paul—I will be giving that a good go, yes. With goals so relatively hard to come by this season I need to make the most of every opportunity. I’m traditionally so bad at free kicks.

  15. All – an alternative method for free kicks:
    – Take control of a striker using the right stick and move them toward the goal, the defender will follow until you go too far and leave you in an offside position. At this point pass the freekick to the striker but move back toward the taker so when the ball is played you are onside, unmarked and in a 1-on-1 situation…

  16. I don’t use any of those techniques. I like to use Jaric with the defaults and exploit his natural left foot curl to aim so it bends towards the posts. If it’s close in I press down on the arrow buttons and power about a third (has to be really close otherwise it just dribbles over), these tend to sneak in the bottom corner or through the keepers dive. If it’s further away I press up on the arrows – get the power too strong though and it sails over.

  17. That works a treat paul, i use it myself quite a bit. Get it to feet then use not gregs turn and shoot method. I find that with any setpiece the cpu defenders just mirror the movements of whatever player you are controlling. After a bit of practice you can make cpu defenders bumble into each other leaving space for you to exploit. Try it from corners, just slowly circle around the box and watch your cpu marker copy your movement albeit with a slight delay, then steer him into his team mates giving you that vital half yard! From freekicks you can use the van nistelroy method 🙂 Its all timing guys

  18. Pete—cheers for a great tip, I love the dirty tricks personally. Remember the Riquelme FK in 1998, Arg vs Eng?

  19. leroy getz—I’m flattered you associate the turn-and-shoot with me, but I was only passing it on, I didn’t discover it. It’s a bit like how we in the UK call a certain crowd wave a ‘Mexican Wave’ because the first time we saw it was in the 1986 Mexico World Cup, but it had been doing the rounds of US College Football for years before that. I go way back, and remember the newspapers and TV post-1986 ticking us all off for calling it the Mexican Wave—but that’s its name in the UK, now and forevermore. Just as the turn-and-shoot is mine in some readers’ minds! Heh.

  20. Grilled Seabass

    His Greatness Riquelme took a great free-kick the other day that was a fairly sly training-ground maneuver. First goal in this clip –
    He also made another great assist and scored a brilliant goal in this game.

    It reminds – sometimes on corners – just to mix things up – I play it in hard and low toward the penalty spot. Sometimes it catches the defence out and you can get a free hit towards goal.

  21. Turn and shoot on Super Star with Ribeiro, Guttierez, Zarate, Heeders, Ordaz in first season is more ‘turn and poke the ball 5 yards flailing at it as the defender walks off with it.’

  22. Grilled Seabass—the last few days I’ve been trying a new corner routine—right-stick select a player up near the halfway line and send the ball to him. Half the time the CPU smothers any chance of a shot, but the other half of the time, you get the ball and can shoot. I’m still trying for the perfect long-range Scholes-type goal of my dreams from a corner.

  23. uncle turf—the R1 tap to make space during turn-and-shoot is pretty crucial, but since I moved up to Superstar I’ve found the R1 tap to knock the ball slightly out of your feet to be profoundly nerfed. Resulting in the weak-ass, smothered shots. Perhaps this simulates the extra presence of defenders and contextually affects your players’ ability to knock the ball out of feet and spring onto it for the shot.

  24. NG – I think the starting ability of the defaults is just too poor to know. My one on one scoring has just died a death, no chip ability, hitting straight at keeper, if I didn’t know better I’d be asking if you were all mad the way you talk up the game! If I can only get Ettori to sign I am confident about next season though. I need to add a few players from the youth team but my defence isn’t shabby and got a really useful Oscar and Zarate. The handy thing about my approach is that you will all know the players I refer to.

  25. uncle turf—I’ve still only had about 3 pens in this whole mammoth 14-season career. They seem to come when you’re making quick movements in the box and the CPU grazes you for one of those ‘nothing-fouls’, but blatant trips and hacks-from-behind are waved away. There’ll be nothing unusual if you don’t get a single penalty throughout your whole Default phase.

    You’re going through the slog phase now that I regard as ‘October penance’ every year, but would never go out of my way to seek again. In the unlikely event that I start another career on PES2012, it’ll be with an original squad. I’ve done my time with Xechinto & co. and have no desire to see them again until this coming October.

    Oscar, the great hope of an early-stage ML career. How’s Camacho looking?

  26. Camacho – 18yrold, 64Ovr, ‘peak early’, £139,000. All D rating. I see no reason to buy him as I am using Irjescu and Oscar as my holding MF and Ettori/Maqualao as my more attacking ones. If Ettori won’t sign (and he’s just been sent off so mising the last 3 matches!) then I may be forced to recruit youth I don’t want just to make up the numbers. Thanks to suspensions and injuries I have been unable to field a full bench at times this year.

  27. uncle turf—not enough players for a full bench is very rare in ML, think I’ve had it maybe once on old-school ML when running on a very, very tight budget and no wins in season 2 or so.

    Shame about Camacho, it sounds as if yours is just another middling one. I’ve not heard of a great Camacho this year, but nobody I’m aware of is carrying out your little experiment either. If you end up getting him and keeping him for his whole career, I wonder if he’ll be an average 75OVR-ish player by his mid-20s like mine was?

    I remember somebody doing a similar concept ML to yours and their Oscar ending up a player of the year type, every year.

  28. End of season 1;
    w6 d7 L21 34goals scored says it all
    10 red cards 46 yellows – has felt very harsh
    Top scorer; Ribeiro 12, Top assist; Shimizu 10. (Next best – Heeders on 6 goals, Ribeiro on 4 assists – a real struggle for chances.)
    Best average; Elegost 6.1 in 11 games (only used for suspensions/injuries) the regular 11 were 5.7-5.9ish.
    Bright spots; Schmidt at SW, Maqualao’s development, ditto Shimizu, Zarate looks a prospect and makes good runs, Oscar in CMF.
    Low lights; Ettori likely not to re-sign, lack of competitive GK, conceding early too often and chasing the game (and getting whacked), Cotsload’s 20 week injury, Ribeiro’s head being much less effective, those red cards.
    Notes; no penalties (he got 2, both in same game), only 1 chairman instruction (to play a player I’d just agreed to sell), the obvious bias towards time added on (beyond the official +) when CPU attacking – 3 corners after the time was up for example. Bloody cheat.

  29. Uncle Turf / NG – I’ve had Camacho in my first 11 since game one, 3 and a half seasons in and he is 84 OVR and still rising at a decent rate.

    If I were you I would choose him ahead the other midfield defaults in the long run, sold Maqualao in pre season this season @ 72 OVR not really going anywhere and Irjescu started declining before I sold him in season 2.

  30. And my Zarate is currently 73 though would be higher if he played more regularly, he is a great player let down by his poor shooting power.

  31. Well just recvd bid for Elegost, listed guttierez and VD Berg and only got one keeper now so going to have to raid the youth team. Not too much of an issue as the 1 year contracts make them easy to get shot of.

  32. and Ettori has signed for Southampton… I’m in deep trouble. This year’s youth intake needs to be decent.

  33. NG- Not really related to the post but I’m coming to the end of 12 days off work and I’ve spent quite a bit of it looking at the history of your blog, mostly 2010 as it’s what I’m playing, but I’ve just been looking at your PES 08 blogs up to where you won the treble and were about to restart with a super league. Do you remember them days? None of the screen shots load up properly but the videos still do, I don’t remember 08 much myself, but am off to CEX tomorrow to pick it up for £1.50, as well as 09 for £2.50.
    The thing that strikes me the most is that you were posting 2 or 3 times a day at the time! I’m guessing you weren’t working full time?

  34. just got back into pes 2012 after a good couple of months of no pes at all and im loving the game. just got passed the group stages of europa league and finished first. i think im still on regualr difficulty but am only in my 3rd season i believe. have a squad size of under 20. i get 1 mill for every home game so hoping to get som great players. when the season is over i will go to prefessional no matter what. personally with the way the pes players moan about not being picked i love having a small squad. i wounder how the defense is going to be in professional. hopfully i win the europa laegue and can get some high profile players.

  35. uncle turf—well I’d say 12 goals with any striker on Superstar with the Defaults is pretty good going. I think if you go on seeing your new career in the light of what ‘should’ be happening based on your previous career(s) – particularly the first one – you’re setting yourself up for even more frustration than will be coming your way regardless. I think your red/yellow cards situation is definitely down to a too-aggressive play-style combined with a switch-up to Superstar and the abysmal Default players. Looking around the forums, and also in my own experience, excessively harsh red/yellow cards are not a ‘thing’ at all with PES2012.

  36. Pete—I remember my Camacho peaking at 82 OVR very briefly. I thought I had another old-school PES-type Camacho on my hands and was all set to rejoice. But he went down to mid-70s pretty fast.

  37. Mike—I remember those days very well. Looking back now, I got quite far with that second career (Singers FC!) before quitting PES2008. I used to post every day, and yes, sometimes two or three times per day—although that was pretty rare. I had a full time job but with considerably fewer duties, and lots of nights. Lots of time at work to sit on the internet typing away.

    I’m puzzled as to why the images aren’t loading on those old posts. Will look into it, cheers for the heads-up.

    I played PES2008(PS3) again quite recently for purposes of the book. I found nothing to like in the game.

  38. ali—don’t be in a rush to go up a difficulty level. This isn’t like traditional PES where you can expect to smoothly move up the difficulties without trouble—just play on the level that gives you the best game, is my advice. Don’t be in a rush to get to Top Player/Superstar. This is a PES to be sipped like a fine wine, not guzzled like cheap lager!

    I think this is the PES year where I finally win the Europa League. I’m finishing outside the CL spots quite regularly for the first time ever.

  39. NG – the experiment might be ending soon…I’ve never had this before in any of my PES games so don’t know how far I am from the end but I’ve had 2 warnings that the Chairman is openly criticising my running of the club. If he would give me a ‘mission’ I could boost my standing but 1 in the whole season has proved possibly fatal.

    If I get the bullet I can’t see myself restarting under these self imposed conditions but I would definitely take a lot of aspects – like not buying anyone 1st season as I don’t see you’d ever get promoted anyway, so just getting frees at the end of the year.

  40. I played around 15 Games on FIFA over the weekend, as my little ‘rest away from PES’ experiment.
    Really enjoyed the games, but couldnt help musing over the plus and negatives points vs PES whilst playing.

  41. uncle turf—I get the feeling you think you’re being hard-done-by on a number of fronts in your current career, and that you maybe feel you’ve run into bugs/glitches/whatever that have cost you, but you’re not and you haven’t. I and many others went through the Chairman ritual first time through. Your red and yellow cards are your own doing. You’re on Superstar with the Defaults. Remember me vowing I’d never play with them again this year, and based on the negative experience doubted whether I would in PES2013? Well, that’s why. Just a horrible, thankless slog, scrambling for scraps in gameplay that is nothing like the joy of playing with better players.

  42. Paul—so what pluses and minuses did you come across? I haven’t played FIFA12 at all since February now, but will get back to it at some point. Don’t want to break the PES spell.

  43. I traded in Fifa in the end as I couldn’t stand the “plus and minus” debate that was raging in my head every time I played it. It is a good game but – as others have stated on here – it just doesn’t have that connection that a PES ML has.

    I don’t play on line or anything so that’s not a factor. In fact this September/October I am going to deliberately avoid Fifa 13 (even the demo) because I do not have time in my life for another to and fro between the games. PES 2013 will only have to be a bit better the 2012 to hold my attention. And when and if it doesn’t, I’ll pick Fifa 13 up on the cheap well after release date. There – that’s in writing now. Eek!

    Meanwhile on my ML – season 10 on Super Star – I’m somehow keeping up with Man City at the top of the Prem with a record of 10 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat. I only need one more win to get through to the second phase of the Champions League and am still in the cup.

    Oh, lastly, as the that nasty chairman – I was still being threatened with the sack in season eight. He loves me now though accept when I refuse to accept his interfering in team selection. Grrr!

  44. Well I hadnt played Fifa since early Jan so i’ll summise what i thought below, I realise most peole here have played FIFA 12 and PES12 so hope it doesnt sound like im trying to ‘review’ each game, just commenting on my thoughts whilst playing.

    Played a mix of friendlies and also Career mode matches.
    I had mapped the FIFA controls to mirror PES so the transition was quite easy.
    I imediately noticed that you have to play FIFA in a more structured way, ie, the same kind of build up time and time again, I also noticed the players are much more responsive than PES.
    It felt like I was controlling the players and fighting against the CPU to win the ball, whereas playing PES feels like im fighting to control my players as well as fighting to win the ball.
    It was nice to not have any whiney players or such like after every game, so gameplay experience outside of the actual match itself felt more fluid.
    On the whole most matches in FIFA felt enjoyable, with no noticeable ‘scripting’ from the CPU, not once did i find myself ‘locked’ on rails to a path and unable to control a ball, or did i struggle to select a player more appropriately positioned, but on the flipside, I found FIFA players suffered from ‘Glue feet’ -As in every player whether it was Rooney, Iniesta, Bramble or Crouch controlled the ball with magnetic glue like ability, which isnt very realistic.

    I left it a good 4 or 5 hrs then continued playing my PES ML late the same night, immediately noticed the game felt more ‘free’ in that build up play was varied every match and you could try lots of different moves to work the ball into space.
    Also PES just felt more ‘magic’ for want of a better word.
    but the control and lack of response around some players, even top players in PES started to show immediately, as did the ridiculous at times scripting.
    It only took 4 mins of the first half for PES to piss me off again.

    Overall I really enjoyed my FIFA matches, the fluidity and the control but certain aspects of it were unrealistic and too ‘samey’.
    It also didnt grip me in too much.
    PES feels immersive, gripping and variety of gameplay is alot more abundant, mainly down to the far superior AI of the PES players compared to FIFA.
    But PES feels alot more on rails which is restrictive and frustrating in comparison.

    Game play is key as they say though, so PES just felt alot better to me.

  45. NG – no, not at all, not in terms of scripting/gameplay, etc – I don’t think I’ve had a lot of luck with some aspects – injuries have been horrible and losing Ettori was a major blow – but I know how hard it is – took me 3 seasons to get promoted on Professional. No bitterness here, just greater understanding of where to direct focus.
    Anyway, it’s over in terms of purity – 4 games into the new season and I stand 0,0,4 – 2 goals scored, 11 against, can’t field a full bench due to injuries (I thought having a smaller squad would avoid this). Chairman approval has hit 6% and I have no prospect of winning as teamwork has hit an all time low (this must be linked to winning as these guys have been together for 38 matches and have regular strategy training?) I’m dominating possession in games but default keepers are just a liability and the final pass is always wayward (possibly teamwork as technique skills are 77ovr?)

    One thing I can’t do though is the way you move up and down levels mid career – doesn’t feel right to me. So I am going to carry on but give myself a bit more wiggle room and try and sign a few out of contracts. No spending as it’s all invested in youth but I desperately need a keeper and quality up front. I feel like Steve Kean pretending all will be ok…

  46. John—going back through all the years I’ve always at least sampled FIFA in September prior to PES being released in October. After FIFA99 I never bought a FIFA game until FIFA06, relying totally on the demo discs that used to come with Official PlayStation Magazines (for PS1 & PS2) to confirm that FIFAs 2000-2005 weren’t worth bothering with. Since FIFA06, FIFA has improved year on year, with just one duff year IMO (FIFA11). I’ll be getting FIFA13, probably unwisely as (all being well with PES2013) it will suffer the fate of FIFA12, which is undeserved really. But yes, only one football game at a time. It’s the way it has to be.

  47. Paul—thanks for that, it’s good to hear about the positives of FIFA12, but if anything it makes me more determined not to break the magic spell of PES2012 right now. Or maybe I should just have a look… I don’t know. I’ll see!

  48. uncle turf—oooh, sounds like you’ll be sacked soon enough. Are you keeping a backup save, or is it total Ironman rules, and Game Over if sacked?

    Teamwork and morale are inextricably linked, and morale is related to winning and performances. I think one of the training categories (Strategy?) can help boost Teamwork, whatever’s happening with morale. Maybe focus on that and Conditioning, and no other categories, for a few weeks of training.

  49. NG – I like the sound of ‘Ironman’ rules, but reality is a bit more ‘Idiot’ rules. Have tried strategy training but I’ve always found this to be the 2 steps forward, 8 steps back category. Seems to kill other stats whilst only inching up itself. Like you I won’t reboot a previous save point so if I’m an early season casualty I….start again. And I’ll go ‘Ironman-lite’ with out of contracts allowed.

    If I didn’t do this I’d only be paying people to whip me and tell me I’m worthless…

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