Category: online

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?

A season too far?

Castledine speaks PES2016Season 8 is well underway. I’m still turning down silly money offers for the Player of PES2016, and he still seems to be OK with that.

This is definitely my final season on PES2016. What I wanted from Season 8 was to really milk the game for its last drops of sustenance using Unassisted Passing.

I believe I have done that now. At the time of writing I’ve already played up to Matchday 25. (In Tuesday’s post I’d only played to Matchday 5, but that post was actually written a week ago. I wanted to clear the decks for a weekend of Metal Gear Solid, and I delivered on my own promise to myself, so at least one of my multiple and feuding personalities was satisfied…)

Here’s the table after 25:

PES2016 Season 8 after 25

Now, that table tells the story in a nutshell of life on Superstar for me and also life with Unassisted Passing. Lots of draws. Not quite as many goals.

This is reflected in my results for the month of November:

Season 8 a run of results

The matches are fairly absorbing. One pleasing aspect  of gameplay that Unassisted Passing seems to have unlocked is indicated by that 4-0 thumping of Leeds. You’re able to punish weaker teams by using better passing. That might just be me wishing for PES2016 to prove itself PES-like. But it’s the definite feeling I get.

Unassisted passing isn’t manual passing — it’s still stats-based, just unassisted, meaning the game doesn’t help you with guidance if you get it slightly wrong, as it does on other settings. In that sense it’s arguably the only ‘true’ way to play a football game and tease the individuality out of players.

I had hoped that Casteldine and Reyes and Rosicky and so on would distinguish themselves with Unassisted Passing. Sadly, I have yet to find that to be the case. The players are all still much of a muchness, except I have to concentrate on my aiming a bit more.

I breezed through my Champions League group. 10 goals scored, none conceded. Defending in PES2016 really is easier than it should be:

PES2016 season 8 CL final group table

And why’s that? Why is defending easier than it should be in PES2016? Because of no-fouls football, of course.

In PES2016 you can pretty much keep that finger on R1 all the time, and complement it with as much hacking, sliding, and barging as you like. In fact, this aggression-max approach is exactly the way everybody plays PES2016. You might as well play with maximum speed and violence when you’ll be unlucky to concede a foul, never mind receive a card of any colour.

This aspect of PES2016 is total, unmitigated garbage. No-fouls football is the fundamental issue with this game. There are no excuses that stand up to any kind of rational scrutiny. New engine my arse. No-fouls football is blatantly deliberate, blatantly for myClub’s sake, and blatantly the way things will be from now on. PES2017 will be the same, just wait and see.

I manage to sort of forget about PES2016’s no-fouls football for much of the time. But then I’ll get a match with no free kicks of any kind for either side, and I’m amazed how I could have taken PES2016 seriously enough to play it for 8 Master League seasons. But here I am.

PES2016 season 8 January TotMRosicky is emerging as one of my most important players. He has another great long-ranger in the compilation at the end of the post. Giorza, my other great Default, just keeps going and going at right-back.

I promoted ALONSO and CASILLAS from the Youths, and bought S GERRARD once more. I’m only going to have half a season with them.

My last ever PES2016 squad picture:

PES2016 season 8 January squadToni is my first 90-rated player in the game. One thing PES2016 gets almost right is the scaling of the player ratings.

I say almost right because too often, player ratings and core stats seem to be meaningless in PES2016. Or at most, barely perceptible.

Ribery has now played for me for half a season. He handles just like Gotze, Sterling, Rosicky, and many others before him.

And every single player without exception is able to perform geometrically perfect slide-tackles.

So PES2016 is the least individuality-oriented PES there has ever been. Much like FIFA, you have several distinct player types – big centre-forwards; nimble midfield dribblers; stout centre-halves; etc. – and the individuals are simply representatives of the types.

Some highlights (not all of them goals) from the opening half of Season 8, set to music and fiddled about with in Share Factory:

LOL why u do dis

Hurrah for Chronica

My MyClub experiment has come and gone. I have got over whatever mania persuaded me that I might be able to play and enjoy myself online. I’m back playing offline now, mostly.

I love the MyClub mode itself – a very nice take on Ultimate Team and Master League. I’ve actually built up a lot of affection for my poor, battered team over the last week or two.

Somehow, in the blizzard of sprint-clamping, pressure-abusing monsters who lurk online (sorry, people, but monsters are what you are), I hung on and got a few wins and draws, and got promoted from the bottom Division 12 to the next-bottom Division 11.

And there I’ll stay, for there’ll be no more now.

MyClub promoted

I’ve discovered yet again what I already knew: that football gaming online is shit.

It’s pure shit.

It really is shit. Not to put too fine a point on it, online football gaming is fucking garbage. I hate it. I absolutely despise it. My loathing for online football gaming has reached a new level of disgust. I merely disliked it before. I absolutely despise it now.

Oh, to be fair, it’s not a complete waste of time. There are flashes of interest. There are sparkles of light down in the stinking muck.

On the whole, though, no. Just no. Never gonna happen.

The game online simply isn’t the game I’ve been playing and loving for more than twenty years now.

Here’s me scoring my winner against an online opponent – I’m the team in the Atletico Madrid strip. I had to be really quick to save this replay. There’s a tradition online of not letting anyone watch more than half a second of any replay, as you can see with the rapid fade-to-black at the end:

He was a decent opponent, as they come. Most online opponents sprint-pressurise 99% of the time. He only sprint-pressurised 98% of the time. I’ve never played any opponent who didn’t sprint-pressurise less than 98% of the time.

Every single player you meet online plays in exactly the same way.

Maximum pressure, all the time.

Direct passing, all the time.

If they’ve got Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic or some other superman (and nearly everyone has), their sole tactic is getting the ball to them and running directly at your goal straight down the middle of the pitch.

(Sometimes they do pass it around at the back, but it tends to happen when they’re already 5-0 up and you can sort of tell that they’re passing the ball around satirically, rubbing my face in the sheer ineffectiveness of trying to play football online.)

Why do they do this? Because it works. Simple, really. It works – it creates chances, it gets goals. Pressure-abusing combined with direct run-and-gun attacking is the optimal way to play online football. So that’s what has to happen. Nobody’s really being evil. They’re just doing what works.

The TS Problem

It’s absolutely terrible. It’s a travesty of the magisterial-by-comparison, sedate, thoughtful game that is played offline.

It’s interesting for a while. I’ve certainly found it interesting these past couple of weeks. But the interest has now waned.

Playing essentially the same damn match against essentially the same damn opponent over and over again is just what happens when you play online. I’d be very interested to hear any arguments to the contrary when it’s so easily demonstrable as the case. It needs to be shouted: EVERY ONLINE PLAYER PLAYS EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE ONE YOU PLAYED BEFORE. The exceptions are so rare (and the differences so minor) that they’re not worth considering.

I’m glad I’ve had this time. From now on, when I see a football gaming formumite holding forth about how supposedly one-dimensional the offline game against the AI is, compared to the joys of online, I’m going to laugh out loud – I might even ROFLMAO – instead of secretly wondering if he’s right.

He’s definitely not right. Online football is the one-dimensional game. In fact, calling it one-dimensional is probably overstating its complexity. Zero-dimensionality is the order of the day online. Online football gaming is more like Pong than PES.

my MyClub peak

One simple tweak would make everything better and solve the problems at a stroke. Two tweaks. First, a proper draining stamina model that would make it impossible to sprint-pressure the whole damn match. Second, a rigorous fouling system, akin to that last seen in PES5 (*genuflects and makes sign of the cross*), would provide a further death-blow to the reckless, video-gamey pressuring and tackling that goes on.

Neither of those things will ever happen. Market forces. Kids. What people have got used to. Et cetera.

And that, my friends, is why online football gaming is bullshit. Pure, unadulterated, horse manure. I know many reading this will be aficionados of the online game, and have great affection for it and for the times they’ve had, and in all honesty I have seen its potential greatness in scattered flashes.

But, oh dear. That pressure? That directness. That bulldozing star player? You call that football? Really?

Of course you don’t. Footy gaming online is really just an online computer game loosely based on football. It’s got more in common with Rocket League or Speedball 2100 than the Pro Evolution Soccer I’ve been playing and enjoying, against the AI, for all these years.

Offline, even the worst match against the most plodding and predictable AI is an order of magnitude better as a football game than even the best online game.

And I think I’ve bludgeoned my point home enough now. Online football gaming, it was nice getting to know you again. But you’ve worn out your welcome. Goodbye.


This time next week we’ll have played PES2016, or the demo version of it at least. I’m looking forward to it with my appetite well and truly whetted by the MyClub experiment. I tell you, playing online has reignited my fire in a big way.

Which only leaves the question of what to blog about on Tuesday. You know, I think it’s time to blow the dust off PES5…

Smells Like Team Spirit

A proper shellacking in MyClub

Well that hurt.

Easily my heaviest-ever defeat in any football game in any mode, ever. At half-time it was 0-8, so I did well to limit the damage in the second half and even grabbed a cheeky consolation goal with my one flowing move of the match.

It was an unexpected setback in my MyClub journey, as immediately prior to this match, I’d WON my first match.

It was a solid 1-0 win against a player rather like myself — a patient passer and mover. Judging by his username, which ended in 1965, he was an oldie like me. Perhaps that says a lot.

Then I met the player above: a 100% sprint-pressurer, and down-the-middle run-and-gunner. He blew me away completely. I can’t even pretend that I had given up after 7 or 8 goals. I was playing and defending all the way. Nothing was working.

Every single one of his goals was scored inside the penalty box, needless to say. He never even tried shooting from outside, not even when he was a million goals up. This lack of shooting from distance disappoints me more than anything else online.

But MyClub is a really good mode. I cannot ever see myself liking the way people play it online, but the supporting infrastructure is interesting and worth getting to know. I was never convinced by Master League Online and mostly ignored it bar a token few matches every year, but MyClub seems to fill in the blanks.

Success is all about the Team Spirit. Look at this side-by-side comparison of my average online opponent (the team on the left) and my own Best XI (on the right) — arrayed in an attacking 4-3-3 in this instance, as opposed to my usual 4-2-2-2:

Team Spirit Them And Me

I’m on a measly 62 TS, and that’s with everything tweaked and tuned to the best of my ability. It’s suicidal to head online with anything less than 80, from what I can gather, and 90 is considered optimal.

I’m bad at playing football games online, but I’m not that bad. For all my downplaying of my online skillz, it’s been quite rare over the years for me to be completely thumped.

I’ve been taking thumpings over and over again in MyClub, and lack of Team Spirit is why. Passes don’t connect, defenders don’t cover, the ball constantly bobbles, and easy shots miss.

Shellacking tale of the tape

I still got the most possession. But look at that passing %. That’s partly due to my opponent’s insane pressuring, but it’s mostly due to the low Team Spirit.

I go on. I’m loving the refreshing change after the rigours of Master League.

FIFA15 is still there waiting to be fired up again. This blog isn’t about me being a faux-journalist, and providing even-handed coverage to all football games, and giving FIFA15 a go because I feel I have to. I do hope to get back to FIFA15 before PES2016 arrives. But if I don’t, tough Titty Town.