I know what I did this summer

Since wrapping up season 15 of Master League on Monday evening just gone, I have not played any PES2012. Not even a sneaky game here or there. Not even a few matches on the rather-good PSP version of PES2012 that I have for the Vita (and should really play more of). I’m enjoying the break.

In my down-time, I have turned to FIFA12, Football Manager 2010—and also one other game that I’ve waited a crazily long time to be able to play…

I’ve spent most of the past 5 days playing Civilization V: Gods & Kings, on OnLive.

OnLive is a service that streams games from high-end remote computers to your screen down your (phat) internet connection. You have to see the service in action to believe how well it works.

Readers with long memories might remember me going nuts for the release of Civilization V back in 2010. Sadly, the game was a poor effort—‘the PES2008 of Civilization’, I called it. The game barely ran on either my middle-spec 2009 iMac or a little gaming PC that I have on the side.

This week’s new expansion pack snagged my attention, but I still faced the problem of running the game on my hardware.

OnLive ran a deal last weekend where you got Civ V and the new expansion for a combined twenty quid. I was straight in there. It was my first real-money purchase from OnLive. It probably won’t be my last.

I have sunk a combined 10 hours into Civ V over the past few days.

At the top of the post is a screenshot of my army (the green units) massing south of the Roman border prior to me launching an invasion in the early Renaissance period. We’d been at war, on and off, for most of the game so far. I had always been on the defensive. It was time for some payback.

Check out the lustrous sheen on the water on the right side of the screen. It makes me smile. I’m really enjoying playing Civilization V at maximum graphical settings on a 2009 iMac, via OnLive. The graphics get blurry sometimes, but these are fleeting moments you hardly notice after a while. 95% of the time, it really as if you’re playing the game on a high-end gaming rig—which in fact you are, only it’s via the Internet.

A few turns after the above screenshot, I captured Rome itself—but I had used up most of my army on the operation (it’s always tricky to take a capital in Civ V).

So I couldn’t defend my new acquisition. The next screenshot shows my newly-taken Rome surrounded by vengeful Roman units.

I was desperately moving up reinforcements, but they wouldn’t be in time. The very next turn, I lost Rome back to the Romans. I’ve since been pushed back on the defensive, but managed to secure a 10-turn ceasefire. I’m desperately building more units, and so are they…

For my first assault I should have used an army twice the size. But this is my first ever full game of Civilization V and I’m still learning. Absolutely loving it, needless to say. And a big thumbs-up, once again, to OnLive, without which none of this would be possible.

The other game I’m playing a lot of right now is Football Manager 2010.

I got this game when it came out nearly two years ago. I played a couple of seasons as Coventry City. I got them into the Premier, then had a rocky start to season 3 in the top flight and didn’t play for a week or two—often the death knell for me and games. There’s a certain momentum that cannot be allowed to falter. If it goes, the game goes with it.

That was about 18 months ago. Recently, having finally bought FM2012, I idly started up FM2010 prior to uninstalling it, and looked in on my old save out of curiosity—and here I am, playing at least one match every evening without fail, and immersed like never before. FM2012 will still be there when I’m ready for it.

After the rigours of 15 seasons on PES2012, there’s something very relaxing about just setting up your team, choosing the tactics, and sitting back and watching them play in Football Manager.

I’ve tried introducing the series to a lad at work who’s never heard of the series before. It’s surprisingly difficult to explain what you do in a footy management sim, and just how compelling it is.

I’ve made some shockingly bad purchases, a tradition for me in this series. Chris Eagles from Burnley for £6m was a new low-point. I don’t know what I was thinking. He stayed on the FM equivalent of a purple arrow for his whole time with me. I got rid of him mid-season for a knock-down £4m.

With that cash I bought Marek Matejovsky from Reading, and Peter Niemeyer from Celtic.

By far my best signing was Damien Plessis from Liverpool’s reserves. A solid DMF and all-round Vieira-like clone, he saved me from relegation in the end.

I’m very proud of how Rodrigo Possebon is coming along. I snapped him up for £1m from Man Utd’s reserves back in season 1, in the Championship, and he’s now worth £3.5m. He has his own custom training schedule. I’m terrified he’ll want to leave if we don’t start winning things, or at least doing well.

We avoided relegation in our first top flight season, and the board is pleased. You can just about see us there in blue text in 14th place. Yes, that is Liverpool finishing in 11th just above us.

Staying up was the main target. I’m going to have a massive clearout and buy some quality players.

Oh, and I discovered a Football Manager blog that’s a bit like this one. Yet Another Football Manager Blog features a scary amount of immersion. Its author treats the game and his team as if they’re real.

I have also played some FIFA12. An Exhibition game to get me back in the swing, and then four matches in my Career Mode save.

Loved them all. FIFA12’s passing system is utterly compelling and almost a game in itself. You think your teammate is available, but he’s not…

More about FIFA12 on Monday. It deserves a post of its own. It’s really fascinating to play and enjoy another football game after so long on PES2012.

And don’t worry—PES2012, and Season 16 of Master League, will be back on Wednesday.

Updated: 29th June 2012 — 11:35


  1. NG – I still think PES12 is the best PES ive ever played, when it plays ‘normally’
    When Barnsley can ping pong 1st time touch the ball around my defenders and fire off laser guided shots, and produce messi style dribbles round half my team, then i dont consider it playing ‘normally’.

    I’ll see how this season pans out before i make my decision, there is just far too much ‘swing’ in how the game plays, im all for varying the sessions to increase longevity, but to this degree, its ridiculous and unrealistic.

  2. Uncle turf- your right, it seems like an impossible uphill battle. You mentioned something before about my reloading not being fair. It is something i have done to try and balance’s the odds a little bit and even though i have Rooney, Pato, Higuian and Pepe it will take 5-6 seasons before they become as good as there real life counterparts. I think the only other players from my youth team that have come good have been Camacho 87ovr, Guegan Rb 78ovr, Duffy 84, Zarrate DC 80ovr-when he learns SC i’m sure his ovr will go up. and of course Irjescu 79 ovr. They have all improved on average 5points a season I can almost field a team of all 80+players now, CB’s at 75-79, but i need a team of 90+ if i’m going to get anywhere in europe. Apart from my deffence i think all my midfield players and attackers will reach 90 within a few seasons.

    I’m about to reach Jan season 5 and I have some cash to splash so i will be on the look out for a 85+ cb on the free list and maybe a GK.

  3. Paul/NG- can you really consider it the best with the shooting machanqics it has? No doubt it plays a great game when it wants to but I think it has to be the least satisfying shooting ever. I’m also not a big fan of the passing either I think last years passing was spot on and the variations in scoring goals was unbelievable. I love 2012 but I find it a little repetive, the way the AI attacks doesn’t vary much from team to team.

    What I’m trying to say is this year nothing surprises me anymore I kind of know what’s going to happen next all the time. Personally I enjoyed 2010 and 2011 a bit more.

  4. Max – I didnt play PES10 enough to pass judgment on it. PES11 was a great game but the stumble, elephant touch were massive bugs, and the AI wasnt great. Also the catch up bug more or less killed the game.

    PES12 has kept me engrossed for more ML seasons than any other PES game. So id say its ‘My’ best PES game to date.
    I went back and played the fabled PES5 and 6 the other night, great games for their days but compared to todays games, theyre piss poor.

  5. Max—PES2011 was a miss for me—hated the stumble mechanic among other things. So perhaps 12 is getting some of the love I missed out on giving to 11.

    As for the shooting mechanic in 12, yes, I still hate it but after months of going on about it and seeing PES2012 by its standard, I’ve got a host of better players now and the problem is mitigated somewhat. Shooting cannot be left the same for PES2013 though. I love shooting too and PES2012 isn’t the most satisfying ever in that regard.

  6. NG- they say it’s all going manual which should sort it out so to compensate they will prob make the keepecanal a lot better which can only be good news. I can however see people complaining that the keepers will be to good or useless lets hope konami get the balence right!

  7. Max—whenever I hear a PES2013 previewer say how good the shooting is now, I wonder just what Konami will do to make sure scorelines stay low. It is certain that they will do something. Like yourself I wonder if it’ll be super-keepers, or something else.

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