Real life has intervened this week and I have been busy with other things, to the point where I’ve only managed a fitful few matches of PES2014 over the past few mornings.
And I haven’t got time to blog about them in-depth. When I restarted the blog just over a year ago I said there’d be posts like this one, and here it is. All short and pointy.
What I have done is filmed the highlights of my big FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United, and put the sequence to music. One of PES2014’s soundtrack songs is the unlikely 1990s footy anthem Nessun Dorma. I found an interesting soft-rock, English-language version of it.
Yes, I lost the semi 2-1. Damn that Lon Barron – but see his first goal, a typical PES2014 defensive mess-up. It felt as if there was nothing I could do. His second goal was a very nice volley though.
No trophy for me this season, and I’m 99% certain to finish outside the top 4, so there’ll be no Treble chance next season.
I’ll be back Tuesday with a standard-sized post covering the end of Season 9.
…And then two come along at once. I’m talking long-range goals, the golden Wonka tickets of PES2014. They’re not completely unknown, but rare enough that they’re worth commenting on every time they happen. Last week I scored my first one for several seasons and posted it in Friday’s post.
Here is another one, that came in the very next match — a league match against lowly Cardiff City:
It’s from about the same distance as my previous effort. It’s a low, curving shot through a thicket of players — a near-daisycutter. I judge these types of long-rangers as lesser types than the soaring, postage-stamp-corner ones. This isn’t a top-tier long-ranger, in my own judgement, but it’s a long-ranger nonetheless. These goals are so rare in PES2014 that each is more valuable than it would be in any other footy game.
Scholars of PES will note many similarities between the two goals. Most interesting is the way the keeper is once again potentially unsighted.
Which lends weight to my off-the-cuff theorising last time. I mused that perhaps PES2014’s lack of long-rangers might be down to the game taking into account the goalkeeper’s sightedness when deciding whether a long-range shot has a chance of actually going in or not. PES2014 is the type of football game that might do something like that.
Check the keeper’s view in the replay. The ball emerges from the thicket and whistles past him into the net in a split-second.
In other news I finally met up with Bayern Munich n the first knockout game of the Champions League.
Bayern had a star-packed team. Regen Gerrard and Regen Adebayor were in their First XI.
The first leg was at home. I took a shock 1-0 lead — and this was the last time I felt comfortable in the entire tie, home and away. Bayern steamrollered me in the rest of the match and walked away with a 1-3 result to take into the second leg.
Disaster. But my first season in the Champions League in any ML in any PES is always a flop.
At their place in the second leg, I needed to win 3-0, or at least match the same scoreline to take things to extra time.
I huffed and puffed but could not blow their house down. 0-0 it stayed until the 60th minute when I bagged a tidy, well-worked goal with Torres (now starting to knock the goals in and perform very usefully indeed).
But then something happened. The AI reacted as if it really was 1-0 down, rather than still 3-2 up on aggregate with all those away goals.
I couldn’t get a proper touch of the ball after going ahead — until Bayern scored, making it 1-1 on the night. Now I was allowed to pass and tackle again.
This glaring oversight in the AI programming — the way the supercharged AI kicks in even when the AI is ahead in a two-legged match — has existed in PES since the dawn of time. It needs to go.
1-1 it ended. I was out 4-2 on aggregate. So it goes.
In the league, after 29 matches, things are looking grim for my chances of making the Champions League for a second season. Results just haven’t been good enough. And look at Chelsea up there.
I got my mid-season transfer activity all wrong. Failing to replace my reserve keeper was a howler of the first degree. I’ve had to play Dasaev in goal on purple arrows several times already. I have not won any of those matches.
I am still in the FA Cup, though. This could be my first PES2014 trophy. The semi-final against Man Utd is upcoming.
And I’ll be looking out for another long-ranger soon. Now that I know the ‘trick’ — to strike when the keeper seems unsighted — I’ll keep my eye out for the chance.
Yesterday, in reply to a comment on the previous post, I wrote the following:
God how I miss long-range shooting! I do it in PES2014 but it never works.
It was just a normal Thursday morning. I pottered about, did some reading, did some web browsing, sent a couple of emails about things in the news that I’m annoyed about, updated my stamp and coin and Latvian magazine collections, and then decided to play some PES2014.
Little did I know that my world was about to be rocked. ROCKED.
I’m in season 9. My recent poor run continued. I lost a league encounter against Newcastle 2-1, after being 1-0 up for almost the entire match. They got a sucker-punch equaliser in the 85th minute. Then they got a sucker-punch winner in the 90th minute. A dismaying reversal, this match, that saw me sink to 7th position in the table. There is now no chance at all of the title and I’ll do well to finish in the top 4.
Then came the FA Cup quarter final — against Newcastle again. One of those quirks.
I took the lead early again, and got pegged back to 1-1 late on again. The match went to extra time.
Not long after the start of the first period, this happened:
That’s my DMF, David Pizarro, supplying the wonder strike there. A classic PES moment all round, really. Many of my favourite PES long-rangers over the years have come from the ‘DMF hole’ that he pops up in.
35 yards? Probably closer to 30 virtual yards, but I’m going to consider it 35 yards.
So why did this one go in when so many don’t? As a long-range aficionado, the almost complete lack of them in PES2014 is a source of lingering disappointment.
Granted, goals like the above, in real-life football, come along perhaps once or twice per season, per team. Seriously — they really are rarities. So the makers of PES2014 perhaps wanted to reflect that.
The Newcastle keeper wearing a kit almost identical to my team’s kit is an added quirk here. I filmed the view of the goal from the keeper’s point of view, to assess whether the game is representing him as being unsighted. The keeper seems to have line-of-sight on Pizarro at the moment of impact. The amount of other bodies in the way, obscuring the flight of the ball, could be said to confuse him, though.
But I’m sceptical that the programming rabbithole really runs that deep. My belief is that long-range goals in PES2014 are simply hard-coded to miss or be saved 99% of the time. But I’m prepared to prove myself wrong, and would love to do so.
We do need a steady supply of long-range spectacular goals in a football game. We need at least the possibility of them having a reasonable chance of going in. Not too many. Roughly 1 per 5-10 matches would be a good rate of return. In PES2014, it seems to be 1 per 100+ matches.
Long-range goals are the one concession to computer-gameyness that I think is essential. I thought PES2015 and PES2016 got the balance exactly right here. No-fouls ‘flowing’ gameplay, on the other hand, is one of the most disgraceful decisions that footy game developers have ever made (and let’s not kid ourselves: no-fouls — in PES and in FIFA — is a consciously implemented decision, not a ‘problem with the engine’ or anything like that).
The impressive spectacle of a long-range goal like the above — that wonderful, swooping trajectory; the keeper’s belated scramble and helpless clawing at the air as the ball whooshes by; the satisfying ripple of the net — is matched by the quality of my hands-on experience, playing the game. They really do create special moments for me. I watched the video on my phone several times on my way to work, and caught myself chortling.
Scarcity generates value. It’s a marker of just how scarce these goals are in PES2014, that the occurrence of one makes me do a special post about it.
From last post to this post, I have played precisely two games of digital football. This was due to a busy working weekend combined with real non-PES life (let’s pretend there is such a thing). It seemed at one point that I wouldn’t get any footy gaming in at all. Then today’s post would have had to be some kind of clips show. But at the last minute I played a couple of matches. They were grand.
I played at home, in the league, first against Manchester City and then against Everton.
At the time of PES2014’s release, Manchester City were perhaps the premier Premier League team. Chelsea are also great in PES2014, but Manchester City are just ahead of them on the whole ‘scripted toughness’ stakes. Matches against them feel impossible to win.
Yes, yes, I know if we knuckle down and concentrate and work hard there’s no such thing as an uwinnable match in Pro Evo. We all know that’s true. But, at the same time, in a peculiar fashion, we all know that it isn’t true. We all know that the game often really is out to get us.
And so it proved versus Manchester City. A truly wretched performance in front of goal from me. Torres still firing blanks. Keane on a blue arrow and with rapidly fading Heart. And my keeper, Dasaev,was between the posts whilst on a purple arrow. Why was he even playing?
Because I only have one keeper in my entire squad. That’s why. I made a blunder during the transfer window that I didn’t realise I’d made until I fired up the game before this match. A few sessions ago I accepted a decent bid for my reserve keeper, planning to replace him from the Youths before the window closed, but forgot to do this. And now here I am embarked on a crucial second half of season 9 — still in three competitions, remember — with just one keeper.
This is an error I have never committed before in any Master League. I’m always scrupulous about having two keepers on the books. Oops.
We’ll see how the season pans out. Chances are nothing bad will happen. But I don’t have the option of resting him. Inevitably, I will have to play him on blue and purple arrows, with and without Heart. how will it affect results? Time will tell, Perhaps time is already telling. I can’t seem to keep clean sheets.
I lost the Man City game 0-1, creating very few chances on goal. All of them were half-chances, suggestions of chances, rather than clear-cut ones.
Everton were next, and this time I played a lot better. Torres finally broke his duck. Keane got on the scoresheet for the first time in yonks. And one of my Youth promotees, Serrano, got himself a neat first-time tuck-away late on. I conceded a goal at one point too. I’m officially worried about that keeper position.
I’m fretful about a relative lack of video content on the blog during my retro PS3 period. So I recorded the highlights package that the game presents at the end.
The following video lasts 1 minute and 47 seconds. It features four completely ordinary goals from a match that meant more or less nothing in Season 9 of my Master League career. If you watch this all the way through, you really are a hardcore reader of PES Chronicles:
That’s a slightly better version of one of PES2014’s signature songs.
And one oddity: the replay of the blocked first-time shot at 01:08. Why does the game earmark that mundane moment as highlights-worthy? Could it be because the outcome of the shot had been worked out at the moment of impact, and the shot was destined to be highlights-worthy, and was flagged up for the post-match highlights reel — but the Everton player unexpectedly (from the game engine’s point of view) happened to get in the way? I think something like that has to be the case.