Category: FIFA12

Boots the Chemist

With much regret, I have allowed FIFA12 to slip away into the night. Right game, wrong time for me. Maybe if PES2013 was an October game after all, things would be different. But PES2013 is, like, next week. There’s no space for FIFA12 to take root.

In truth, there is a certain sterility to FIFA12’s overall gameplay, sometimes, that does not appeal to me.

I do only feel it from time to time. But when I do feel it, it’s like a sudden chilling wind on a pleasant sunny day. With the time factor, it’s enough to give me that little extra push away. I’ll only ever come back to FIFA12 now, I suspect, if PES2013 turns out to be a dog for whatever reason. And even then I’d probably go for FIFA13—or (more likely) back to a previous PES.

Over the past few days I’ve played several sessions on PES6(360) and PES2010(PS3).

I’ve been playing the same PES6(360) save for a few weeks every summer since 2009. Alas, this is the first year when the game seems to have dropped below my threshold of playability.

Oh, it’s all still there. PES6(360) still has all the magic of great PES gameplay that I saw before. If there was nothing else for me to play, I’d play this game for a good long while. As is (I hope) well known, PES6 on the Xbox360 was a totally different game from PES6 on the PS2/Xbox/PC. I liked PES6 on the PS2, but never loved it, and in fact would pinpoint it as the start of PES’s decline from its unassailable heights. Controversial I know, but it’s what I felt all through that year.

PES6 on the 360, on the other hand, plays a different game. It’s just a shame it’s hampered by some extremely shoddy packaging. You can’t change team names in Master League. You can’t even save goals to hard drive (even though the button to do so is displayed right there on-screen).

It’s gameplay that makes and breaks football games, and PES6(360)’s is pretty darn awesome. For me now, though, it’s just a bit too fast and scrappy. The camera angles feel hampered. There’s a peculiar jumpiness about transitions between play and cutscenes. It feels very much like a last-gen game now.

I have much better feelings about PES2010 on the PS3, which I have played two longer-than-planned sessions on—yesterday morning and just now, this morning (Monday). In fact I have that session on Pause while I put the finishing touches to this post. I’m going back to play it right now.

My old Master League save—the one with Sazi and Capuano and co.; the one I made this movie in celebration of—still exists, but alas, one of my final acts with PES2010, back in 2010, was to install a new patch that mucked up all the teams and leagues.

But at some point back then I installed an amazing patch and started a save with Coventry City in a very slick-looking nPower Championship. I have continued that save over the past few sessions.

PES2010: great shooting. That’s the first thing to say. Second thing to say: that slow player turning animation! It was hated and loved in equal measure by many. I approve. You have to be so careful with your passing and possession and forward-thinking. Spoiled by PES2011 and PES2012, you think you’ve got time to hold the ball and turn inside the approaching defender, but no, he’s taken the ball off you while your player is still in mid-turn.

I like it. It forces a more careful approach amongst the rather dizzying speed of the game overall.

And I also like seeing a PES AI passing the ball sideways and backwards before launching an attack.

All in all, PES2010 still gets a huge thumbs-up from me. Before PES2012 sprang into life for me (not until February of this year), PES2010 was the highpoint of next-gen PES for me, full stop. I’m glad that it’s not too hard to remind myself why that was.

Here are two goals scored in this morning’s session. The first from Isaac Osbourne, a typical PES2010 one-timer, ice hockey-style. The second with Aron Gunnarsson—after a switch of play from wing to wing, I found myself in space, and went for it. A delicious top-corner PES2010 goal. If scoring goals like that makes me shallow, then so be it.

After PES6(360) and PES2010(PS3), it should be the turn of PES5 and WE9LE on the PC. I will try to check in with them before Wednesday’s post. But who knows, I might still be playing PES2010.

Fill yer boots

I’d heard the chatter, but I really didn’t think an early release for PES2013 was going to happen. The news, when it came, sent me finally to place my preorder. I dithered over whether to go for a PS3 or 360 copy. The PlayStation controller and environment is my tradition, but the game looks tons better and loads much faster on the 360.

In the end, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face the thought of a Master League on a new console with a new controller. I stuck with the PS3.

Chalk it up to the innate conservatism of gamers. Just look at the magic boots fiasco. (The fiasco, of course, being the reaction to the magic boots—and indeed the very phrase ‘magic boots’—rather than the magic boots themselves.)

So I went for the PS3 version. From ShopTo. I’m hopeful, as ever, of delivery the day before the official release date. All being well, this time in a fortnight I’ll be posting the story of my first day with PES2013. I’ve put my holiday request in at work and am waiting to hear. I’ve got a chance of the whole week off.

The imminence of PES2013 changes my calculus in regard to FIFA.

For the first time in about 6 years, I won’t be getting the new FIFA game on day 1. Doubtless this was part of Konami’s strategy too.

How many of us who have commonly bought FIFA, whilst waiting for PES a few weeks later, will now not do so this year?

I know I won’t, and that’s a certainty. In many ways I’m a ‘crazy cat lady’ hoarder of games, but I know I simply won’t play FIFA13 straightaway, so it’s not getting bought and that’s that. I hope PES2013 keeps me going for so long that it’ll actually be 2013 before I feel the need to get a copy of FIFA13.

I know I’ll want to pick it up at some point. I’m a football game fan, and I’m an admirer of the next-gen FIFA project.

I’m really getting into my Career Mode on FIFA12. I feel that I’m starting to put down roots in my current save, playing as Coventry City in the Championship. The tendrils of immersion are attaching themselves. I spent ten minutes looking at new strikers this morning. PE6(360) and PES2010 so far haven’t had a look-in, which is a sign that FIFA12 is claiming me.

I continue to love the general gameplay. It’s sturdy and maddening and delightful and difficult in all sorts of ways.

And it’s yet another sign of making a home with a football game that FIFA12’s scripting—blatant and obvious and undeniable, IMO—is starting to make me rage and quiver.

It’s a very simple thing that FIFA12 does. The game fires up a ‘ball recovery script’ when required. Your passing is subtly undermined. The CPU players suddenly become a good deal better at dribbling. It’s nothing very blatant at first, but cumulatively over the course of several matches, it cannot be missed.

It always comes along when I’m winning the game by one goal. The only way to stop the ball recovery script firing is to play keep-ball at the back, indefinitely. I tend not to do that, and try to play normally.

And then it really doesn’t matter how good my passing is. At some point one of the passes—usually a straightforward one, played a few virtual yards to a teammate in loads of space—will be mysteriously angled towards an opposition player.

In general, though, the fabled ‘just one more game’ factor is there. I’m not madly in love with Career Mode, but it’s come on a long, long way since the awful days of Manager Mode.

But if I’m smart, I won’t play another match on FIFA12. It’s not going anywhere. It cannot last. PES2013 and Master League are within touching distance.

I might pre-emptively abandon FIFA12 right now in preparation. It might just be kinder in the long run.

A boot a boy

FIFA12. Master League. PES2013. Career Mode. Dwarf Fortress. Civilization V. Book VI of David Weber’s Honor Harrington Series. Boots. Release date. Boots. The Avengers movie (does Jeremy Renner have to be in everything now?). More boots. Dwarf Fortress. The end of summer. Wanting to play Dark Souls but wondering if I’ll have the time before PES2013. Career Mode. Boots…

Well, here is the game that’s dominating my time. It don’t look much, but I’m being totally serious when I call it most likely the greatest non-PES game ever.

Greater than Civ. Greater than Metal Gear. Greater than Final Fantasy.

I started playing Dwarf Fortress a couple of years ago. I’m still a novice. I started playing with a graphical tileset. Back in 2010, that was a tricky prospect for a Mac user. Recently I switched to the plain vanilla ASCII game as seen above, and took to it almost immediately. The DF community provides a lot of support for Mac users, but it’s still best to be able to just download the latest version of the game from its creator’s website, and start playing immediately.

I’ve spent about 25 hours all told on my current fort. The screen above is just the entrance, of course.

So that’s been my #1 gaming activity of the past few weeks.

I’ve also been playing FIFA12 again, really for the first time since almost a year ago. Pretty soon the lure of PES6(360)–and possibly PES2010 as well—will prove too strong. I’ve delayed looking in on my old PES6(360) save in case I never want to come back to FIFA12.

That might not be an issue, though, as I feel myself getting pulled into Career Mode for the first time since… forever, really.

Here’s the table at the current point in Season 3

This is a continuation of a save I started back in February when I last tried to play FIFA12, but did so while leaving unfinished business behind me with PES2012. Lesson learned there.

I’m 3rd in the table, as can be seen. I’m very happy with the gameplay. I’ve bumped the speed from Slow up to Normal. There are often long stretches of time when I’m slowly passing the ball around in midfield, looking for openings, with things moving at walking pace. This is very refreshing after PES2012’s often hectic atmosphere.

One thing that has disappointed me so far on my return to FIFA12 is the scripting. Yes, yes, yes, I know that EA hotly deny the existence of any such thing. So I’m not sure about this, but it’s very strange how predictably the ball is taken away from my team after I take the lead. Suddenly the pinpoint passing goes out of the window and the ball is mysteriously guided back to the CPU players. It’s a definite change in how the game handles and it’s always after I’ve taken a lead. Never before. Funny, that.

Thanks to this scripting—if scripting it be—I’ve lost and drawn some matches I really shouldn’t have. Which is of course the whole point of having scripted CPU-dominated passages of play in a football computer game. To limit the human player, keep him keen, keep him wanting more.

In FIFA as in PES, the way to nullify scripting is to either keep the ball with ultra-conservative passing around at the back—or to score more than one goal, which tends to knock the wind out of the opposition.

I’m working on my goal-scoring, It’s still on the low side. My main enjoyment from FIFA12 right now springs from the rest of the game. It’s hard to create a chance. But I’m getting there, slowly, day by day.

And you know what? Ask me what colour the players’ boots are, and I wouldn’t have a clue.

Pro Evolution Correctness


Oh, the item customisation system sounds rather silly. It’s definitely a swing away from the direction I would have liked Master League to take.

But I have no doubt at all that the system will ‘work’ by its own standard. The game won’t be unbalanced.

Over the weekend, a kind of orthodoxy sprang into existence on the main PES online forums. There was a Right Belief and a Wrong Belief.

I found myself siding with the Wrong Believers. And I still am on that side, really.

Here are the two big worries, and why I think neither of them is a real worry:

1) Via the magic of magic boots, your own average players will soon be unrealistic Supermen. No. Won’t happen. I’d put real money on this one. Master League is all about long-term play, which requires BALANCE. There will be no combination of items that could turn a 65OVR player into the equivalent of a 90OVR player overnight. If that does happen, I’m out.

2) Via the magic of magic boots, the CPU players will soon be unrealistic Supermen. Because, of course, while you’re pissing about with boots and assorted trinkets, so is every other team in the Master League.

But this concern is the weakest concern of all. Anybody who has played Master League knows that, uh, Stephen Ireland (or fill in your own name here) doesn’t need +4 Football Boots of Glee to play like Maradona. The CPU-controlled Titus Bramble doesn’t need a +5 Armband of Destiny to play like Beckenbauer. The supposedly average CPU players all play like Supermen anyway.

So I’ve dismissed concern number 2 from my mind completely. It’s not even a minor worry for me.

If anything, I’d like to see Konami produce an AI that doesn’t rely on boosting its players to absurd degrees, but that’s a long-term issue with PES, not something that’s just arisen.

Another worry is that this new system destroys all sense of Master League as a sober simulation. Now there I do have a lot of sympathy. But the item system continues a PES tradition of quirkiness, rather than branching crazily off into it.

I thought PES2010’s Master League was the best ever. It was the most fully-rounded and satisfying system of Training and player development that ML had ever known. I’m still utterly baffled as to why it wasn’t kept as the template.

We’ve had to put up with some ridiculous, tiresome shit in Master League over the years. Who remembers PES2009’s Giant Arrow in the transfer screen?! And a whole host of other niggles that, taken together, would topple almost any other game mode in any other game.

Gameplay is fundamental, the saying goes. So far I haven’t heard anything that makes me fear for PES2013’s Master League gameplay.

If I can put up with PES2012’s shitty Master League (was training even a notable feature for anyone in that game?), I can live with PES2013’s system.

So I stand by the sentiment expressed, in meme fashion, by the late Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf at the top of the post.

Master League in PES2013 will be fine. A bit silly, as it so often is, but fine.


I’m still enjoying my rest after 18 seasons on Master League in PES2012.

I had a nice steady weekend on FIFA12. Great gameplay, and how wonderful to see your keeper gather the ball and throw it out instantly to a player.

I’m in season 3 of Career Mode, playing on Professional, using semi-assisted controls for everything. (Whenever I play FIFA12, people often ask me what my slider settings are. I don’t know what they are. I’ve fiddled and forgotten. I’ll keep an eye out next time, if I remember.)

The genius of next-gen FIFA is that it often out-PESes PES by making you work for openings, and rewards you with a proportionate feeling of satsfiaction when the move comes off. Ordinary goals are transformed into very special goals—as in the replay above. That goal felt as good as a 30-yard rocket.

Call it the first flush of (re)discovered love, but FIFA12 makes you pass the ball and craft chances much more extensively than PES2012.

I’m playing 10-minute matches on FIFA12, as on PES2012, but the matches feel shorter due to having to play the ball around a lot more.

A whole half might go by that consists of me mainly passing the ball around, looking for a way to craft a shooting chance. Actual shooting chances might number one, or two.

It’s interesting and engrossing in a very different way. I’m enjoying it—even if I do remain rather disengaged with my team and with Career Mode, sadly.

But the gameplay is very moreish. I’m happy with it, and with my gaming life in general at the moment.

So, all things considered, I might be the only remaining satisfied football gamer in Christendom.