Month: December 2019

The Ghost of Christmas PES

I still like PES2020. Somehow.

It’s very much a 7.5 out of 10 sort of like, but it’s still a like.

Despite the uncomfortable fact that the team that makes PES nowadays doesn’t want me to like it anymore. What they want is to get me inside their casino, pulling their slot machine handles.

I like PES2020 despite the lack of great goals, and so much else. Here, for example, are the best two goals from my last 3 (THREE) full sessions, comprising approximately 12 (TWELVE) matches:

Good goals, yes, and each of them was contextually important, but neither of them are anything special in the greater scheme of things.

Fouls. Jesus H Christ born in a manger, fouls. I’m currently in one of those phases of PES2020 where I’m constantly being nudged and barged off the ball. They’re all challenges that even the most cowardly real-life referee would not hesitate to call as a foul, every single time. And fouls feeds into so much else. The integrity of the football on show in PES2020 is one of the least, uh, integral takes on it we’ve ever seen. Has there been a worse PES in terms of fouls?Superstar doesn’t help here. As an average player, I have to make the most of the few opportunities that come my way, and it is therefore most frustrating to see a promising move ended by a blatant foul that the AI is allowed to get away with.

Superstar’s time is limited. In fact, it might already be over by the time you read this. My next post after today will be a week Friday. By then I will be either a full-on convert to PA0, or not.

Here is the first minute of my first match back on PA0, just taken this morning – see me spray the ball around with confidence and create openings. Top Player:

There is more excitement and more football on show here in 60 seconds than in almost an entire session of PA1/Superstar.

So yes, all in all, PES2020 is lagging behind at this stage of its life. Last Christmas, I gave PES2019 my heart.

Season 8 of PES2020 is still on course to be my final season on the PS4. The PC platform is where I will get my PES kicks for most of the year 2020 itself – and who knows, perhaps beyond. The fiddliness of the PC platform is one of its attractions for me. I’ve always enjoyed messing about with computers. I’ve also enjoyed the convenience of console gaming. Best of both worlds for me.

My next post will be on Friday 3rd January 2020. It only remains to wish all readers, of every vintage, a happy Humbugmas and a prosperous, albeit imaginary New Year.

Unlimited Kompany

I am sticking to my stated aim of ‘completing’ this Master League with Youths, Regens. Defaults, and Journeymen. I haven’t brought in a £100m+ player yet, and I don’t believe I ever will.

Season 8 is underway. To mark the occasion I dipped into the impressive category of ‘young big-name Regens who have been in my Youths for several seasons, but not quite looked good enough until now, and whom I want to snap up before they enter the Free Agent pool’. In every recent edition of PES, that’s a shockingly long list of players.

Step forward the ultimate PES defender, a currently 20-year-old V KOMPANY.

Hands up who else had him when nobody knew who he was in PES5. Almost every single person reading this can put down their hands now. People who did not play PES5, and/or did not have Kompany in their PES5 team, know exactly what they need to do if they ever get their hands on a working time machine.

After winning the Europa League at the end of last season, I played the Supercup match vs PSG. And got thumped 3-1. It was a proper hammering. PSG were the most powerful side I have yet faced in PES2020. My goal was only a 90th minute consolation.

I got to the start of the season and immediately checked to see who was in my Champions League group. PSG are there. Along with AC Milan and one other whose name I forget right now. I never claimed to be the most detail-focused PES blogger.

In the league I’ve played 4, won 2, drew 1, and lost 1. Season 8 might well be my final season on the PS4, so I’ve got a special interest in doing well in the league.

Away to Tottenham I was 1-0 up for most of the match and it looked like all 3 points were mine heading into injury time.

Then Tottenham scored a 95th-minute equaliser that almost broken my heart and mind at the same time.

If it wasn’t for that  goal, Tottenham wouldn’t be top and I’d be 2nd in this table:I have no goals worth showing in this post once more.

Unless something remarkable happens in the PC modding world, PES2020 will be remembered as the edition with arguably the least satisfying goals in PES history.

99% of all PES2020 goals are of the ‘work the ball into the box and sidefoot or scramble it home’ variety. Which can be satisfying in terms of context, but as self-contained visual spectacles the goals are ordinary in the extreme.

Making long-range efforts such a low-% chance of success that they’re really not worth the attempt, is one of several terrible decisions that PES Productions have made to achieve their multiplayer balancing act. With every year that goes by, we are more and more marginalised as single-players.

MY CHRISTMAS HUMBUG SCHEDULE

The local world is about to have its mid-winter festival. People string up bright lights, decorate trees, exchange gifts, and eat and drink and get merry. The days start getting longer. HUMBUG.

I will be here on Tuesday – Christmas Eve – with a regular post.

But then I’ll skip the following two posts and not be back until Friday January 3rd 2020.

Snatch, score, repeat

Season 7 has ended with one of the most peculiar matches I’ve yet played on PES2020 – the Europa League Final.

I said last time that I would be making this competition my top priority for the season, and I duly delivered. A really tough semi-final against Arsenal almost went to extra time (and I think it would’ve been penalties), but from a corner I snatched one of the scruffiest goals of the season to clinch the win and my berth in the final.

My opponents were Celta Vigo. What an extraordinary match.

Here is the full match, from start to finish, for those who like to watch them:

You can see me at the end going to the menu to check that the game is still on Superstar difficulty. It is.

Why was I checking?

Because of the insane passage of play early in the second half that saw me go from 0-1 down to 4-1 up thanks to the strangest AI glitchfest I’ve yet seen on the game.

Here’s a version cued up from the start of the second half. Here I am already 0-1 down after the AI scored late in the first half (a typical bullshit Superstar goal, by the by, in which my buttons were oddly ineffective).

All the major action starts straightaway in this one.

I was very pleased with my first goal, and a few others, where I showed a quality quite rare for me in front of goal: Composure. I’ve been working on that. In the case of my first goal, my standard operating proecdeure is to go for the shot from the wide angle, a curler around the keeper into the opposite top corner. Or simply a blast straight at the keeper. My Regen Lallana is the man on the ball. Lallana is a great wide AMF for me so far, by the way – like a young Castledine.

But in this case, sensing that I needed the equaliser more than I needed a low-% chance of a Hollywood finish with a Youth Regen, I elected to do the cutback. Not Given, if you’re out there somewhere, please forgive me.

And that’s when the craziness started. As you can see I went on to romp to a 5-1 victory thanks to some very generous repeated dopiness from the AI. It was astonishing how many times it let me pinch the ball from its kickoffs, and in other instances throughout the match as well.

Three goals came along in short order to make it 4-1 to me. And then quite late on I got a 5th thanks to another AI howler of the highest magnitude. Here is that 5th goal, cued up. The AI kicks the ball against its own player and I’m in again:

All in all, definitely the oddest match I’ve yet played on PES2020.

I think this can only be a poorly-executed plan on the devs’ part, rather than the random cock-up it seems to be.

Other people have had similar outcomes in similar circumstances – including regular commenter Paul, whose own Season 7 Europa League final followed a similar pattern to mine.Champions League football next season means I could, in theory, make that my last season on the PS4.

If I win one of the League or the Champions League, I think the siren call of the PC platform will be irresistible. Do you fancy an OG Default ML in a bizarre made-up land, with Loftus Road  or Ewood Park as my home ground, and all the swooshy Sky Sports graphics? I bloody do.

But that’s for the notional future. For the now, these were the post-match stats:

It can’t really be explained by Celta simply being poor opposition. We all know that the Stokes and Brightons of this game are usually tougher to deal with than the Barcas.

Something else was going on in this match. I’m going to put this on the pile marked Things They’ve Done To Make People Spend Less Time In Single-Player.

I theorise that there was some special ‘limiter’ working on the AI that has been ham-fistedly implemented by the development team. They might have made it so that their ideal snowflake future-online-player only has to battle to get to these finals. Once there, the AI melts like ice in spring.

Which isn’t very far away from us now, you know. After Sunday’s solstice, the days will start getting lighter again by a few minutes every day, and from around mid-January the forums will be calling for PES2021 news. Everyone who played the demo for 50 hours thinks PES2020 has been out for 6 months. This year the main focus of anxiety will be whether PES2021 will make it to the new consoles.

Things ended in the League more or less where I thought they would. My form in the closing 10 matches was pretty close to top-four standard, so if I can carry that form through to Season 8, I’ll be in the chasing pack at least.More goals needed, as ever. Less than 1 per match is awful.

A successful Season 7, then. I achieved exactly what I wanted: a trophy on the sideboard, and a Champions League slot, all in one.

Yes, the final was a strange gift from the gods. But you can only beat the opposition that’s put in front of you. Superstar on PES2020 is so often a solid brick wall that I was more than happy to take the gift and run away with the shiny trophy.

Camera Lobscura

I have ended up staying on Superstar here at this 2/3rds stage of Season 7. I am committed now to staying on Superstar until the end, regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen.

My only alternative to this would be PA0 on Top Player or Professional. All things considered I need to see this PS4 career through on my traditional settings before I head off into the great unknown. That will be a platform switch in the year 2020 from console to PC.

In the past I have dabbled with FIFA for odd weeks – and sometimes months – and I often do speak about other games. But the core action of the blog is PES and I have never dabbled with the PC platform and the modding possibilities thereof. When it happens there should be something different on this blog for the first time ever.

It might be weeks before I find the exact configuration of cosmetic and gameplay mods that I like. It’ll be ‘fun’ for me and hopefully for readers, but the point is that it’ll be different from where I am now. I’ll be straying off the well-beaten path. So I want to walk the well-beaten path in the form of my current PS4 ML, one last time. Superstar. PA1. Let’s see what happens.

I had been struggling, and it’s still tough, but a change of camera angle seems to have helped.

Since the PES2020 demo popped out last August I’ve been playing with some variant of its Stadium camera more or less continuously. As in, 99.5% of the time.

Stadium Camera looks great in aesthetic terms, and it plays great when things are going well. But I find that the switch back to a standard (post-PS2 standard, at least) side-on Wide camera has helped enormously in enabling me to see space and judge how best to build attacks. I won the first game 4-0, albeit with the help of two AI own-goals (see video).

Also in this video is a nice little run I went on with my RB, Dani Alves, that almost ended in a fine goal. I include it in this clip to show just how the side-on view reveals/encourages this kind of run into open spaces. And I even dribbled around a defender as well!

There are a few other examples of apparent increased space in the Wide camera angle. Apparent being the operative word. Those spaces are there regardless of the camera angle used. It’s seeing and sensing the spaces that count.

None of those goals are anything special in their own right. They’re standard PES2020-type goals. Great in context, but decidedly average as standalone spectacles.

In the league table of ‘PES Editions with great goals’, PES2020 is second from bottom. (PES2014 is bottom.)

The move to the side-on camera has seen me move back up the table a few places, but I doubt I’ll get anywhere near the top 6.

If I qualify for any European trophies next season it’ll have to be via the one I’m currently in – the Europa League.

The next knockout round is up soon and I will be giving it top priority. It would be superb to be in the Champions League for Season 8.