Month: April 2017

A tale of two Coventry Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I’ve won the League, but the Treble is gone. That’s my last chance of getting the Treble on PES2017 gone with it. More on how that happened in a moment.

The big one of the three – the League title – has looked inevitable for most of this season, and so it proved.

I won the league with several matches to spare, as the above picture indicates. And this one:

The table after 33 matches:

Mathematically out of sight. For anybody wondering where Liverpool are, they’re 3rd from bottom and in danger of relegation.

I’m loving this League title, not least because it does seem – with 5 fixtures remaining – as if I will also pull off an Invincibles season, which is no easy feat in any PES and almost constitutes a leg of a Treble in its own right.

Of course I’m tempting fate by being so confident. There are 5 fixtures remaining. We know PES better than that.

Anyway, the Treble came off the rails with elimination from the FA Cup in the semi-final against Chelsea. The match ended 0-0 after extra time. I lost 5-3 on penalties.

This was a terrible match.

Everything that is bad about the new-style of PES gameplay, was on show in this Cup semi.

1000mph load of shite – a frenzied, churning, midfield blizzard of slides and charges and barges and sprinting. The rhythm of this entire match was like a washing machine on its fastest spin cycle.

And guess how many fouls were on the board at the end of 120 minutes – 0 for either side.

I cannot recall a single redeeming passage of gameplay from this match. It was without question the worst single match of PES2017 I have played, and probably the worst single match I’ve ever played on any PES.

Remember when FIFA was rubbish – really rubbish – back in the PS1/PS2 days, and you’d play a few matches of it every year (while waiting for PES to appear), and feel overcome by an almost physical revulsion at the sheer terribleness of the gameplay? That’s how this match made me feel.

It’s not because I lost on penalties and the Treble evaporated before my eyes – that was deflating, I will admit.

The gameplay was objectively bad. There was no question of ‘just put your foot on the ball and slow things down’. Not when the AI blazes into you at 1000mph, and not a single foul is being called.

An awful, awful match, and sadly indicative of the way PES2017 tends to go after a certain time. Most PES2017 matches are somewhere on this spectrum, sadly.

Thankfully these extremely poor matches only come along once in a while – but too often for us old PESheads to feel comfortable that they come along at all. It’s a disgrace that this kind of gameplay can exist in a game with the name PES on it, a total disgrace. Year on year, single-player PES gameplay is being transformed into the image of online multi-player button-mashing. I disapprove of this.

If this is the direction that football gaming is going in – and I think it’s inarguable that it is – then I will want no part of it. If my imminent PES5 months go well, and if PES2018 is an iteration of this whole dismal no-fouls arcade-oriented PES2016/PES2017 thing, then I will have an interesting decision to make come September. We shall see.This time next week I will be playing PES5 as my regular football game. Every time I have that thought, I feel an almost indecent level of excitement. I don’t think I’m tempting fate by saying that not one single match on that game will ever end with the fouls count at 0-0. Not a single one. How peculiar does that sound? And doesn’t it indicate just where we’ve got to in the PES journey in 2017?

The Champions league is still very much ON. I was drawn against the above Generic FC team in the Quarters and blitzed them 8-2 on aggregate. Caen are the opponents in the semi, with either Bayern Munich or Roma in the final.

Here’s a short video of a few goals from my most recent matches. There’s a brief view of my post-match league title celebrations, including an obligatory shot of my in-game avatar David Pleating onto the pitch. Yes, David Pleat is a verb now.

A nice couple of goals from Aduriz in there. When I leave PES2017 behind, I’ll have a few lingering regrets. The game isn’t totally devoid of merit, and I whooped with joy at Aduriz’s acrobatic first goal as much as I have on any PES.

One regret will be missing out on the player development of Aduriz and Ibrahimovic and a few others. This was always one of the core satisfactions of Master League. I will regret not getting to see how their stories turned out.

This Tuesday’s post – the 18th of April 2017 – will be the last post for PES2017. For a PES to last until late April these days is pretty good going, whatever else might be said about it.

Rice and Wrongs

In something of a first for the blog, I have literally not played a moment of any football game since Friday’s post.

That’s a break from football gaming of 4 whole days.

Which might be the longest single period without any football gaming since I discovered football gaming. It feels a mite peculiar.

It was also unavoidable. A perfect storm of work-and-life things combined to make it not possible to do more than glance at the PS4 and emit a sigh of regret for my carefree, leisure-filled 30s.

I considered skipping today’s post, but decided not to break my streak. This post to say ‘no proper post today’ is better than no post at all.

And digging down into my YouTube channel, I find a goal from the start of the current season (Season 10, my last) that I uploaded but forgot to post at the time.

It’s from the end of the Community Shield match. One of PES2017’s key Defaults, J RICE, nets a nostalgia-tinged goal that sealed a 2-0 win. Classic PES feel, in off the post:

Classic Rice, as I’m sure all my fellow Rice fans will agree. Him and Jarvis were my only two lasting Defaults this year. Even Castledine didn’t make it.

I will return on Friday with an update on Season 10 – my very last on PES2017’s Master League.

Just past January, remember. Runaway leaders at the top of the table, on course for the Treble (or Quadruple if the Community Shield counts).

I am UNBEATEN so far in all competitions. Which brings its own set of problems.

I am battling the anti-Invincibles script in every league match. It’s exhausting trying to cope and eke out a goal against an AI that plays in supercharged mode from the outset and all the way through – but I am enjoying it.

And PES5 is just around the corner now. It’s coming.

An actual screenshot from a recent test-run (sepia-tinged by me):

The Greatest Football Game Ever Made could be making its appearance as soon as Friday April 21st, depending on how quickly I complete the remaining fixtures in PES2017’s Season 10. And how work and life treats me, of course.

The Invincible Treble is ON

Season 10 of Master League in PES2017 – my final season – has reached the 2/3rds stage. After 27 matches in the League I remain unbeaten in all competitions.

Here is the table:

14 points clear with 11 fixtures remaining. This is an unusual lead to have, given the various scripts that operate to ensure this kind of runaway lead tends not to happen. I suspect the script that boosted Leicester this season (and, briefly, Hull) has acted as a spanner in the works of the other scripts, in some fashion. But I don’t know. It’s just guesswork based on long observation over all the years of how Master Leagues tend to work.

But the League is more or less in the bag. I don’t think I’m tempting fate by saying that.

My objective for this season was the Treble. That’s the League, the FA Cup, and the Champions League. The classic. I haven’t done it in PES for some years now.

My next goal is to remain unbeaten across 90 minutes in all competitions – that includes individual legs of my upcoming knockout ties in the Champions League.

It’s not been as straightforward as it might seem, remaining unbeaten. I’ve come close twice to losing the record in recent sessions. First against Watford, away, when they pummelled me straight from kick-off, maintained the pressure for 15 in-game minutes, and took a cheeky 1-0 lead. I pulled that one back eventually and was glad of the 1-1.

Next came Man Utd, away, in a 6-pointer. They also flew at me straight from kick-off, also kept it going for the opening of the match, and also took a 1-0 lead (I started to suspect a script by this point).

It seemed this match was the one that would undo me. I just could not get anything going up front.

But quite late on, my star man of PES2017, Palacio, popped up with a classic turn-and-shoot style goal. Here it is:

That had me puffing out my cheeks in relief. Having come this close to an Invincibles season, I do not want to blow it.

And yes, after my howler on PES2016 last year, when I unwittingly played a Treble-winning season on Top Player, I have checked and rechecked that I am on Superstar this time. I am.

After that Manchester United match, I found myself gazing at the post-match stats with a familiar gust of despair wafting through me. Take a look:

Setting aside Man Utd’s underwhelming attacking performance, which is bad enough for a top team on the top difficulty levels, it’s the fouls and free kicks stat that depresses me.

About half of all matches I play in PES2017 finish with zero fouls and free kicks to my name. It’s really not good enough. I might have mentioned it once or twice before. It’s worth mentioning again.

This match was a supposedly full-blooded encounter. For most of its duration I was desperately chasing a goal to save my skin. Imagine the aggression with which I did so. And yet not only was I never fouled – I only managed to commit 2 fouls myself.

Things have to change in PES. This has to change. This cannot continue. If it doesn’t change, the game will disappear into the black hole of online ‘fun’ and frivolity. Perhaps it’s already there.

Onward. Just a few more sessions, comparatively speaking, and PES2017 will sail off into history.

The Champions League resumes imminently, with January safely out of the way (I didn’t buy any new players – no need for them).

I estimate another 2-3 posts before the Greatest Football Game Ever Made appears on the blog for the first time as my main football game.

Until that time comes, though, I want to do PES2017 justice with as rousing a send-off as possible.

An Invincible Treble. I want this.

Yippee Payet

Into January in Season 10 of PES2017, my last season on PES2017. Still closing in on the Treble. Still unbeaten — in all competitions. I’m having a memorable final season.

That image above was picked for its weirdness. An extreme close-up on the side of a West Ham player’s shorts, with one of my players a blur in the distance? How did the game choose that? Play long enough on any football game and you will usually end up seeing oddities and wonders — of which more at the end of this post

I feel quite well-disposed toward PES2017 at the moment. Perhaps this is helped by the arrival of springlike weather over the past few days. There’s something about laying back, the window cracked open for the first time since September, the room seeming so unnaturally bright, the radio on in the background, just relaxing with Pro Evo.

I’m suddenly feeling quite well-disposed to my ML team. Maybe my awareness that this is their final season is bringing sentimentality to the surface. But I think it’s more because this really is a better PES than last year’s.

I’d struggle right now to name many, if any, of my PES2016 ML team, but I’m quietly sure I’ll recall PES2017’s crew — the likes of Halilovic, and Palacio, and others — for a long time to come.

Since at least PES2015, PES’s famous sense of player individuality has been sacrificed in the name of online-focused ‘balancing’. There’s no question about that in my mind.

But just enough of the ghost of individuality remains for us to sometimes experience that uncanny sense of controlling more than just a bindle of pixels and coding.

The emergence of another individual, Regen Dmitri Payet, has helped. It also helps that the commentary team pronounces his name correctly as ‘Pie-yay’, instead of the cringesomely ignorant ‘Pie-yet’. If I was a continental European I’d be bloody delighted about Brexit. (Please don’t mock-innocently ask me about Paris/Paree in comments.)

Anyway, Regen Payet’s crossing and all-round silky skills on the ball are noticeable and pleasing to behold. Payet this season has played a large part in driving my rise to this position in the league:

Clear by 6 points. Still unbeaten.

I’ve got a great chance of a Treble and an Invincibles season, which I have never done before on any PES. This is my entire life now.

The Champions League Group ended with me winning 6 out of 6 and scoring a hatful in the process:

I’m also still in the FA Cup, having sailed past Watford 4-0 in a game that featured the first star performance from my new signing, striker C BACCA.

I just can’t think of a nickname for C BACCA. It’s driving me mad trying to rack my brains to come up with a nickname for C BACCA. I think I’ll have to call C BACCA something else as an interim nickname — Clive, or something like that.

Has PES2017 rolled over to have its tummy tickled? Not likely.

Only about 1 in 5 matches is anything like straightforward. I’m working hard for 80% of my results.

With all this fine feeling going on, what chance of a Season 11?

Not zero chance, but not a great chance either. I feel right now that I will win big this season, and thus could part from PES2017 on amicable terms, and take away many more good memories of the game than bad memories.

If I played a Season 11 I’d just be inviting the nitpick fairy back to stay, and postponing something I’m impatient to do right now — and that’s PES5.

So this is 99% certain going to be the last season on PES2017.

To end with, another one of those oddities I mentioned at the start.

Some months ago, in that week when two ‘scorpion-kick’ goals were scored in quick succession in so-called real-life football, I mused that this meant the PES devs were sure to add them as a possible animation in PES2018.

Well, I saw an attempt in PES2017 just yesterday morning —

Yes, it would have been better if the attempt had actually succeeded, but it just shows that PES, no matter how diluted and compromised in the name of the false online gods, retains the capacity to impress with novelty. Even after nine-and-a-half seasons and several hundred matches.