Month: September 2017

Life begins at Master League

Here we go. A very short, sharp post just to say two things. I’ve installed an Option File. I’ve Edited in my usual bespoke Coventry City. I’m about to start Master League. That’s three things. I’m excited and I lost count.

I got the game on Tuesday, which was super-early. It meant I had to wait longer than usual to begin Master League.

I played plenty of matches in Tournament and Champions League Mode and, God help me, offline shiteClub mode. I understand it’s easy to start your very first match on shiteClub with the likes of Suarez, Bale, and Morata playing up front. The future of football gaming, folks.

Today, I shove aside the trivial and get down to serious business.

Option File now installed, it’s time to get underway.

I am starting as a bespoke Coventry City. I had to Edit over one team. I usually Edit over WE United or PES United, and then import them to my chosen Division 2.

I couldn’t find PES United anywhere, but scrolling through the leagues I located WE United in the PAS League, and got to work.

I imported all the kits provided by the blog’s regular commenter, Paul (check out PESFX for plenty more, and to make requests).

Over the course of about 15 minutes I patiently went through each category of settings for WE United, overwriting them with every morsel of info. For my custom banners I picked four of Coventry’s most famous sons (and daughter).

If you don’t have to Google any of them, well done.

Then I discovered that I couldn’t move my newly-created Coventry City from the PAS League into the Championship.

So I reset WE United back to their default settings.

I went over into the Championship, and did everything I’d just done, again. Another 15 minutes.

I had to overwrite one of the existing clubs. Bad luck, Burton Albion. You’re just not established enough as a ‘proper’ team to have made the cut.

And now I’m all set.

I will start this very night. Bit of dinner. Bit of telly. Then Master League. Challenge mode. Professional difficulty.

A long and multiply-winding road ahead, leading who knows where?

One of these days a PES game is going to lead me straight off a cliff-edge (no-fouls, I am looking at you).

Will this be the edition that does it?

Or will it be the edition that redeems not only Master League, but PES as a whole?

I cannot wait to find out. The journey of a thousand miles starts here.

PES2018: 1st Impressions

PES2018 dropped through my letterbox earlier today. The Tuesday of release week. The earliest I have ever got PES.

It’s very welcome, and I hope nobody leans on SimplyGames (or any other early-dispatching retailer) to end the practice. Those of us with jobs and busy lives need these extra bonus days. Getting PES2018 today has made all the difference to my week.

The weather is always exactly the same for me on the day I get PES. Sunny, but cool, with variable, mottled cloud-cover. Chilly enough to wear a jumper, but not for the heating. It never rains on PES day. And it always gets unexpectedly dark while I’m playing my first session. I play long past the time when I should have turned on a light.

My first impressions of PES2018 are very good ones.

I wasn’t blown away by the recent PES2018 Demo, to say the least. In fact, after one session with the full game, I’d say the demo might be the worst demo ever released in the whole series.

It might be worth Konami skipping a PES2019 demo entirely next year, because there is no way the PES2018 Demo represented the quality of the final game.

I updated the game. Straight into my traditional opening fixture, England vs Scotland.

I’ve been playing this as my opening match since ISS days.

I always play the first fixture on Default settings. Regular difficulty (note that: Regular difficulty). 10 minutes. I almost turned off the new secondary ‘shadow cursor’. I decided to leave it for now.

The AI had the audacity to play reasonably well. It didn’t create many chances, but then you wouldn’t expect it to on Regular.

And I had the humiliation to see the first goal scored on PES2018 scored by me, for the AI. An own-goal. Here is that goal, at the end of a 1-minute clip that shows some of what PES2018 does right:

You can see me trying a few PES2017-type things in there, that just don’t work.

R1 seems to have been nerfed, in the sense that it’s now very easy to overrun a dribble – by getting greedy and trying for an extra yard – and lose the ball to a surprisingly tigerish AI defence.

Passes longer than short-range have a greater chance of being intercepted, it seems to me.

It all goes into the cocktail of what makes a football game complex and good, as opposed to routine and average.

There are tons of great ‘special moments’ in the penalty box. Work has clearly been done on the creation of these uncannily realistic events. Lots of goalkeeper additions have been made (although the slow-mo ‘superman’ dives need to go, asap).

Next is another video showing three things:

  • A ‘special moment’ where I overhit a through-ball (with Gary Cahill), and the AI keeper scampers after it, but doesn’t get there, allowing me to slide a cross over. I saw similar things many times.
  • My first proper ‘worked’ goal. PES2018 is very amenable to this kind of play. Time and again I tried to do PES2017-style powerups to create booming shooting chances. Chance-creation like this is more optimal in PES2018 right now. We’ll see what an ML team full of Team Spirit brings, though.
  • And my first long-range Hollywood goal (playing England-Germany, with me in England’s change kit). I’d had a few opportunities like this, but taken them too quick. I let the ball run across Oxlade-Chamberlain before caressing the shoot button. If this is indicative of how long-range shooting in PES2018 works, I will approve.

I know the score. I always love the first session with any football game, PES or otherwise. New football game = joy to the world. That’s never not been the case with me. So I’m not counting future chickens – just relishing what I have now.

Here are the stats post-match for Game 1 – this went to EXTRA TIME and then penalties, I should stress:

Yes, a couple of fouls, and just as important, I was able to foul the AI. Massive improvement from the demo – and that held up across all 6-or-so matches I played.

And I moved onto something new pretty soon – 11-minute matches!

I just wanted that extra 30 seconds per half to experience the gameplay style. Build-up, patience. Bombing it forward, PES2016/17-style, wasn’t often working out for me. I might go up to 12 mins.

It’s difficult to convey in words how different the full game feels from the demo – how much better. And also how different the core gameplay feels, right now, from PES2017 and its immediate (accursed) predecessor.

I moved up to Professional soon enough, played Germany, won one, and lost the next one:

The AI scored two good goals here that I captured but haven’t got time to post here – a near-post flicked-in header was one of them.

So that’s Session 1 of Day 1. A great PES day, personally speaking, not least because the bouncy, energised feeling is the most difference between a demo and a full game that I can remember.

PES2018 is not the PES2017 clone that the demo made us believe it is. That’s for sure.

What PES game is it like? Superficially, yes, it is part of the same family of PESes that began with PES2014. That’s the game it’s the spiritual successor of, but I was reminded more of the general experience I had with another, much older PES.

I remember PES6 (not my favourite PES, but undoubtedly a classic) feeling similarly bewildering at first, and I remember unexpectedly losing and struggling on lower difficulty levels in that game.

I remember the day I got PES6 – it was a cool, cloudy, sunny day just like this one.

I’m tempted to start Master League right here, right now, today, but I will restrain myself. Until tomorrow at least.

I’ll definitely have started ML by Friday’s post.

PES2018 is here

Thanks be to SimplyGames. Here’s hoping they’re not firmly sat on before next year. This is the earliest I’ve ever got hold of PES in any release week of any year. The Wednesday was my previous record.

I never anticipated getting the game today. I have to go out and do something right now. Aaargh….

I will return in a couple of hours and spend the afternoon playing. A 1st Impressions post will appear around 7-8pm tonight. Always interested to hear everybody’s 1st impressions too, of course.

Pre-release week part 2

Not a single moment of football gaming for me since Monday’s decent session with the PES2018 Demo . My next footy gaming will probably be PES2018 itself next week.

As release day approaches, I always get the jitters, and they always start getting worse at this precise juncture, when early copies start to arrive. I keep an interested eye on the forums and websites that report all the news and impressions. I soak up the general way the new PES is being received – always with excitement, as is only right, and always with enthusiasm. There really is nothing like release week, and the first week or two after.

What if the new PES isn’t very good, or outright bad? The latter has never happened. Even the worst PES editions have delivered value greater than the amount of currency spent on them.

PES2008(PS3) and PES2016 are the two worst PES games in the entire series, in my view. PES2008(PS3) just edges it as the worst. But even these editions have their ardent admirers. So I’m not claiming to be some objective measurer of worth in PES terms. I know what I personally like and what I personally don’t like, and I measure my PES experiences in those terms. Likes and dislikes will be individual to us all, with some points of overlap, but on the whole, we each have our own PES ‘fingerprint’.

For me, PES2008 and PES2016 were terrible. PES2014, for most of its year of life, was in the same bracket – but now I regard PES2014 as one of the greatest ever PESes, that will never get the credit it deserves. PES2014 could have changed the course of footy gaming history, had it only been finished on release. Many PES gamers recall ’14 with a superstitious shudder and will never change their opinion of it. That’s just how it goes.

I fret that PES2018 will be a million-mile-an-hour, high-octane, online-oriented arcade offering. It seems likely from early impressions and screens that recent years’ tendency to eliminate stoppages in play and maximise ‘flow’ [vomit], has been accelerated to the max in PES2018. An entire layer of football gaming might be missing from PES2018. Its PR team might make noises about passing concerns on to the development team, but nothing will happen. The die is cast.

The truth of the matter is that PES is not made with middle-aged men in mind. 15 years ago, yes, I was right on the demographic. And the gaming landscape was very different. Online existed, but it was a minority interest. The game back then was made with offline single-player experience firmly in the foreground.

All that has changed. My impression of Konami’s PR in recent years is that they’re irritated by single-players ‘moaning’ about the progressive dismantling of their preferred gameplay.

I’ll stop that line of thought now. Release week is at hand. There’s a full year stretching ahead for me to whine about fouls etc.

And who knows. PES2018 might pleasantly surprise us single-player gamers out of the box, or after a patch. We’ll see.

Release week is at hand! PES Chronicles will be down for Maintenance for a couple of hours on the evening of Monday 11th September. A new skin, that’s all. Not much different from the current one, probably.

And then we will have at it.