Month: October 2016

Thank God It’s Friday

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161011192639

I’ve started to turn the corner with PES2017 on Professional difficulty. I’ve got to grips with some of the game’s core mechanics now. I’m no longer trying to hold onto the ball for so long and losing it unnecessarily (the game strongly reminds me of PES2011 in this respect). I’m also scoring more freely, as I’ll discuss.

At the time you’re reading this, I’ll still be on Professional, but I don’t think it’ll be long before I make the step up to Top Player.

Compared to Tuesday’s table, where I was in the bottom quarter of the league and had scored only 4 goals, today’s table shows a remarkable upturn:

pes2017-season-2-after-20Up to 10th, just 8 points off the playoffs with over half the season remaining. As ever in Master League, if I stay in-form the teams above me will kindly get out of my way. They’ll part like the Red Sea for Moses.

If I stay on Professional I believe promotion would be a near-formality. I’m still getting unexpected, puzzling draws and the odd defeat, but the needle is pointing firmly in only one direction now.

Back in the first transfer window of season 1 I picked up a striker called F FRIDAY. I found him in a random search. Or was he a Scout recommendation? I can’t remember. Whatever, he has so far done nothing for me. One or two goals here or there.

Now… Well….

As today’s first mini-compilation of PES2017 goals shows, Friday is the striker that every Master League player dreams of having.

Friday is the man of the moment. Talk about the black Schwarz? It’s not Lobato. Not yet, not for me. Maybe never.

FRIDAY is the black Schwarz! The first and last goals are from Castledine and Rice respectively, but the ones in-between are all Friday goals.

And check the last goal, from Rice – that’s my Moment of PES2017 so far. 1-1, 90th minute, a last breakaway. Rice with the classic Pro Evo moment. I was shrieking like a girl.

I described Rice in comments the other day as this edition’s Coynborough, and so he is proving. Consistently playing above his stats, sometimes in trouble, sometimes puzzlingly down-arrowed for no good reason. An enigma. I have not lined up a transfer deal for Rice and I don’t believe I will. He’ll be with me until the end now.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161012121809

This upturn of fortunes has also highlighted a serious mistake I’ve made in the transfer market.

Before things started going well, things were not going well, and I started to think about changing personnel.

Lining up upcoming transfer window dealings, I agreed to sell my then-anonymous striker F FRIDAY.

Come January, he’ll be off to his new club – along with a few too many other players, I’m sorry to say. I did go a bit overboard, which will have consequences for my Team Spirit now that I’ve finally started to have some.

But the biggest loss of the bunch will be Friday. I accepted an offer while he was bad. That big, strong, bustling, thunder-booted striker you see scoring for fun up there, will soon be leaving my team. It’s one of my biggest ML howlers ever.

I’m already making tentative plans to buy him back. It’ll be humiliating, but necessary. Will he come, though?

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161012124751

This is the great weakness of the new Master League, in my view. It’s too easy and too tempting to have a high turnover of playing staff.

New signing(s) not working out? Just trade him/them in at the next window for better one(s). Not a problem at all.

Master League feels as if it’s configured for a three- or four-season length. It’s obvious what they want us to do. They want us playing shiteClub and paying cash for the pleasure of exercising our finger muscles by the incessant squeezing of those famous double-sprint-pressure buttons.

A regular commenter, Paul, has been supplying bespoke Coventry City kits to me for some years. He has come through again with a wonderful 2016 take on one of Coventry City’s classic kits from bygone days. Above left you can see his Sky Blue effort. I’ve made a homebrew adjustment to create an Away version of it, above-right. As of Season 3 these two kits will be my first-choice Home and Away strips. Cheers, Paul.

Until November of season 2, I’d never had a single player in the Team Of The Month. Not one.

Now:

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161011192559

6 of them are mine, reflecting a wonderful month.

The spread of where I’ve got players shows where my weaknesses lie: in central defence and on the right side.

My current right-sided midfielder, Gauld, isn’t springing to life the way the others are. I’d like to keep and nurture him, so I’ve declined a few purchase offers and put him up for loan instead. PES2017 makes it easy to take the option of cashing in and buying someone else. Must. Resist. Master League historically is about nurturing young talent and being patient. Lesson learned from the Friday fiasco.

Rivals Schmivals

11 matches into the start of Season 2, and this is the current league table:

pes2017-season-2-table-after-11If that’s not slightly shocking, you’ve probably not looked at the goals-scored column: 4 goals scored in 11 matches. Worst in the division.

I love this pain. This is why ISS/PES, and Master League, have lasted with me for 20 years. I’m a poor enough player that scenarios like the one currently playing out are the norm for me. PES2017 is still holding up for me, despite its lingering niggles (of which more below).

Here’s a typical run of results in this period, starting with a hilariously one-sided visit from top-flight Fulham:

season-2-early-run-of-bad-results-and-no-goals

I was lucky to get nil in that Cup game. I remind the reader that I remain on Professional difficulty. With my first-choice XI, Team Spirit is 81. Even with changes to the team, I’m never below 70. So it’s not that.

It’s almost safe to say I won’t be going up to the Premier League in Season 2. I say ‘almost’ because it’s always possible that I could experience the required click, and then surge up the table. We all know that the ML league table is very kind to human teams on a surge.

I’m getting annoyed about fouls again. For a while there, I thought fouls were all right in PES2017. But fouls are not all right in PES2017, and it matters.

I had a golden period at the end of Season 1 where the free kicks count was averaging 3-3 per match.

That was still risibly low compared to the great PES games of the past, and nowhere near the level required to make PES2017 the properly serious football game that it wants to be and should be allowed to be.

But I was willing to accept the 3-3 sort of level as a decent compromise with those fuckers online whose fatuous, un-PESlike demands for continuous, flowing, ‘fun’-filled play have created this entire issue. (If you’re one of those fuckers, I am sorry. No, I really am.)

rivals-schmivals

The issue has crystallised anew for me after I noticed something very odd about Rivals matches in PES2017. I believe they are deliberately coded to permit as much foul play as possible.

I thought it was a quirk of my playing style, but having played several Rivals matches since the start of PES2017 and experienced the same stupid fast frenetic gameplay in all of them, I’m ready to call it: Rivals matches in PES2017 are broken.

Here’s the post-match screen for Coventry vs Birmingham:

pes2017-rivals-1

0-0 there. Not even an offside. Even these days, that’s pretty rare.

The Villa came along soon enough. I set out in this one to play as dirty as possible myself, sliding and chopping and hacking at every opportunity:

pes2017-rivals-2

0-3 this time. I was never fouled once (well, I was, approximately 10 times, but none of them were given). I managed to concede three fouls, but only because I tried really, really hard.

Had I played my usual game this one would’ve ended 0-0 on the fouls front too, I’m sure. Maybe 0-1 at most.

I believe I know what’s happened. PES Productions decided that Rivals matches should feature the kind of referee of whom football pundits would say: ‘he has to show some common sense there’, i.e. be as lenient as possible in order to permit a flowing, fast, crazy derby feel to the match.

This is disappointing to me.

Somebody at PES Productions clearly thinks that Pro Evolution Soccer’s gameplay shines best when it flows without interruption, and at great speed. The curious thing about that belief is that the exact opposite is in fact the case. Pro Evolution Soccer is at its absolute worst when the game flows fast and furious and there’s not a foul in sight.

PES2017 is at its least attractive when it’s in no-fouls, continuous-play mode.

So the Rivals matches, for me at least, are the absolute worst matches that PES2017 has to offer.

I don’t finish them with the desired effect that PES Productions undoubtedly wish to achieve. I’m not wiping sweat from my brow and going ‘Whoo! What a great match!’ Instead, I sigh and think ‘Thank God that’s over with. That was one of the most tedious matches of PES I have ever played. Everybody at PES Productions should be ashamed of themselves for spoiling what is an otherwise great game with these regular detours into PES2016-style crazytown.’

I really do say that, out loud.

Low-BATT-oh? Luh-BATT-oo? Low-BART-oh? Luh-BART-oo?

pes2017-end-season-1

I have high hopes that PES2017 could be the PES we’ve been waiting for, collectively, since at least PES2011, and arguably since the hallowed PS2 days themselves. (I would offer up the patched PES2014 as a strong candidate to be PES’s Golden Child, but I won’t get into that sticky nest of vipers’ eggs here.)

PES2016 wasn’t terrible, but it was the most un-PESlike PES game since PES2008, or arguably ever. It was a definite sideways step for the series that left me deeply mistrustful of where the people who make PES wish to take it. I’m still very mistrustful, even now, but it’s time to say that I think PES2017 is so far proving a wonderful surprise. I’m very hopeful of what it means for the football gaming year ahead.

Problems remain, but there are always problems. The greatest PES game ever made (PES5), and the greatest football game ever made (PES5 again), and what is surely the greatest computer game ever made (that’ll be PES5 again) – had its own parcel of problems. Nothing at all is perfect.

pes2017-season-1-final-table

I got to the end of Season 1 with a goals-scored record of just 23 in 46. That’s exactly 0.5 per match. I haven’t had a Season 1 like it since the old days of Ordaz & co.

pes2017-season-2-mfp

I nominated Rice as my next My Favourite Player. I picked Hettich last year and promptly sold him, so we’ll see what happens to Rice now. The poor man’s Joey Barton, I off-handedly called him a few weeks ago…

The actual Joey Barton appeared in my Youths as a 70-rated 16-year-old. I passed him over in favour of the irresistible Lobato. Yes, I have finally taken a good hearty swig of the Lobato Kool Aid.

got-lobato

Jut a few matches of Season 2 played and he’s done nothing yet. His stamina levels are atrocious and he hasn’t finished a match. Everybody is saying that PES2017 is a very cross/header/big man-friendly PES, but I’ve yet to find that.

I also grabbed Stewart Downing from the Youths. This is a PES where the killer pass is paramount, more than ever. Creative Playmakers are in.

I love PES2017’s twin nerfs: the speed nerf and the distance-shooting nerf. I want to get a long-ranger eventually, and believe I will. The forums are saying it has to be with a player with Shooting Power stat greater than 80.

The twin nerfs combine to produce a heavy, thoughtful game that is very much to my taste. PES2016’s lighter-than-air, 100mph, frantic style is a receding memory.

I’ll say again that it’s a bloody shame that high-fouls matches aren’t the norm in PES2017. Maybe 1 match in 5, I’ll get more than a token few fouls per side. It’s a shame because the high-fouls matches are by far the highest quality matches that PES2017 has to offer.

pes2017-season-2-squad

My squad still isn’t great, but I don’t necessarily want them to be.

With the very generous finances provided at the end of the season/start of the next, I probably could have done a bit better.

As well as Lobato and Downing, I got Speroni to be a reserve GK from the Youths.

Bielek(CB) and Brugman(DMF) both came on free transfers.

I was very tempted to cash in on Yankov, but decided to wait and see. I’m happy starting Season 2 on Professional difficulty with this squad. I don’t play PES to ‘beat the game’ as they say. I enjoy ‘beating the game’ when it happens. But not too quickly.

PES2017 is coming into its own. With some more time to play coming up, I intend to see exactly what it’s made of.

And for the record, I say Luh-BART-oh.

Fouling the pavement

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161003121520

That’s my team in the brown kit up there. This match was one of PES2017’s Season 1 classics –a tight 0-0 all the way, until I fashioned a goal in the 75th minute with an incisive passing move that somehow cut through the stubborn CPU defence like a hot knife through butter.

As the blurb above states, Castledine did indeed lay on the killer pass for my loanee, Zozulya, to slide the ball home from 8 yards. A match that was as good as any I’ve played on PES in many a year.

A large part of the reason for this was the fouls count: 5-5. It’s nowhere near that in every match, but it bloody well should be. You really notice the drop in the quality of gameplay when you get a match with few fouls (or none), as most matches still are. Why won’t they just give us single-players the frequent fouls we want and need to make the game great? A fouls count in the area of 8-8 (i.e. PES5 levels) wouldn’t be too much.

So that’s my new 4th Strip on show up there – the brown one.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161003110653

I had intended to make a 2016-17 version of CCFC’s celebrated 1970s ‘excrement kit’, but I’m not a graphic artist of any description and settled for a kind of warm diarrhoea with sky blue piping. I boobed by choosing different shades of sky blue for the shoulder patterning and the side-stripes.

I’ve still not finished Season 1 of my Master League on PES2017.

Real life is getting in the way of my football gaming, which is highly irritating. Won’t be long though before I’m fully back up to speed.

I’m about 4 matches from the end of the season. I’m about 3rd from bottom. Still on Professional difficulty, still on -1 game speed, still on Level 1 passing and Basic shooting.

I’m having really great games. I mean it – this PES could be the best one in years. What a shame the PES franchise continues to be held back by the leaden deadweight of online gaming.

Player individuality is terrible in PES2017. There are far too many matches with no fouls. We have to put up with both of those things because of the habits and expectations of 99.99% of online football gamers.

PES2017 is a pretty good football game even with those aggravating features. Imagine how bloody brilliant PES2017 would be if they weren’t there? If there was enhanced individuality, and plenty of fouls in every single match?

PES2017 is close to greatness, but will be denied true greatness in the long run because of the need to appease online football gamers who must actually want their completely shit online football gaming to be as completely shit as possible. There’s no other reason I can think of.

I don’t mind something being shit as long as I don’t have to suffer because of it. Online footy gaming is shit, and it’s spreading its shittiness to the single-player side of the divide. Shit is seeping through the cracks, overflowing the gutters, and running in thick rivulets down the walls. And it’s already much too late to do anything about it.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20161003110922

I had another burning wall for a hyped-up meeting with Birmingham. It ended 0-0 with the fouls count 1-1. So much for the alleged fire and thunder of Rivals matches, eh?

Many players have never seen a single burning wall. This is my second one of this year, and I saw about five of them last year. They’re like the new £5 note. You get your first one and you’re amazed by it. And then you’ve had six by the end of the week and you’re all like, so what?