Category: PES Chronicles

I Kane stand it no more

Today is positively the last Harry Kane-themed post title. I was desperately hoping that he could become a key figure for me in PES2018. I really wanted him to emerge as a classic PES individual in my ML team.

One of the canaries in the coalmine that betrays how PES has changed in recent years is the fact that I naturally assumed Kane would come to dominate and be a character in my Master League side, in the way that his various predecessors over the years – the Bergkamps, the Schwarzes, the Vieris, the Stoitchkovs, the list is endless – always did.

After a magical first session or two from Kane, he might as well now be called Generic nuPES Striker 9321 or something like that.

Okay, of course that’s an exaggeration. Things have not got quite that bad with nuPES just yet.

But it’s not much of an exaggeration. I’d argue until the end of time that the most individualistic player in PES2018 is markedly less of an individual than the least individualistic player of oldPES – truPES.

Another exaggeration, there (I love them more than I love life itself – see?), but again, not much of an exaggeration.

I’m back on Top Player in the game and loving it. This will almost certainly now be my last season. Over the weekend I blew a thick layer of dust off my PS3 and its controllers, plugged everything in, and checked that I will be able to play PES2011 without trouble, when the time comes. All went well.

Playtesting PES2011 almost distracted me enough that I had to force myself back to PES2018. Where I revelled in the ease of the PS4’s environment. Boy, I will miss the PS4’s screenshot and replay features. I will be back on the PS4 at some point in the form of FIFA17, but there’s hopefully a lot of PES2011 before that point. I would like to be still playing PES2011 around the time of PES2019’s release. Won’t that be fun?

Back in PES2018, my league form hasn’t picked up on Top Player in the way I thought it might.

Hmmm. Even ML league table scripting will have to go some to get me up that table from here. But I Have Faith.

Next is a slightly different mini-compilation of ‘moments’ from a single session in the game.

First, an extraordinary sequence of me blasting the AI goal with a sequence of headers and outrageous shots that cannon off the woodwork and/or keeper.

Then an AI free kick goal that hilariously fools my GK all ends up. It looks like a deflection, but I can’t see that it does get a deflection. It seems to be a random computer-gamey glitch.

Finally, in that same match, a nice little moment from Harry Kane that’s very evocative of this goal from PES2011 that I posted in comments over the weekend. Almost as if PES2018 is saying ‘hey! I can do that too! Don’t go…’

Any which way you Kane

My Superstar experiment with PES2018 lasted around 12 matches here in Season 8.

I’m returning now to Top Player, and will stay there until the end of my PES2018 career – which, I’ve now decided, will almost certainly be the end of this current season.

My first few matches on Superstar were respectably tough, and enjoyable. Solid 8/10 matches. Great stuff. Notably, they all came in the same session…

Session variance is very much still a thing in PES. Konami have removed much of the nuts and bolts of classic PES from the series. They’ve stripped back and consolidated player stats to the point where they often mean little (and sometimes nothing). And the majority of matches end with a big fat 0 (or a 1) next to the Free Kicks stat.

But they didn’t take away our precious session-to-session variance in the overall feel of the game.

Superstar in session 1 was great. In session 2, not so great. In sessions 3 and 4, bad-to-awful. In session 5, slightly improved – almost good again. Et cetera. This was always the PES way, and I suppose we should be thankful that there’s still something of the old girl left.

It wasn’t an easy decision to drop back down to Top Player. The chances are good of me romping to at least some sort of Double – and maybe the Treble.

Whatever happens, this season is now almost certainly my final season on PES2018 and nuPES. Konami’s overall strategy with nuPES is to jettison the stubborn single-player holdouts who don’t pay for things after purchase. It’s working! They can take their faces, boots, balls and tattoos, and they can stick them.

In my last session on Superstar I took on Barcelona in the final Champions League group-stage match. I’d already qualified for the knock-outs, as had Barca, so the fixture was a dead rubber. Nevertheless, it was a thrilling encounter.

This was a great match! One to remember in the months and years to come when I’m trying to think of the good in PES2018. I doubt that I’ll remember anything at all of PES2018 in 5 or 10 years’ time, but if I do, I’ll remember the ebbs and flows and epic feels of this one match. I had to work very hard for this win.

I beat Barca twice in the group stages, and took top spot on that basis. Nice to see the actual rules applied. Many an edition of PES would have awarded Barca the top spot on account of goals scored.

In the League, things are not quite so rosy at the moment.

The Superstar sessions saw me draw an incredible amount of games, lose one or two, and win a few as well. I slipped down the table. 10 points between me and the top spot. At this stage of the season, and back on Top Player, this is an easily surmountable gap. I’ll be there or thereabouts in May.

So, I’m 98% sure that this is my last season on PES2018 and on all new PES games, forever. It feels like the end of an era because it is one. It feels scary, knowing that in about a week, two weeks tops, I’ll be stepping off the carousel that I was so pleased and proud to be on for over twenty years.

I never wanted this stage to come. Lord knows I have tried my best to squeeze the essence of PES out of these nuPES games of the past few years. There is something of the old PES spirit in there – it’d be fatuous to deny that – but ultimately, there’s just not enough left.

I haven’t mentioned yesterday’s 1.04 patch because there wasn’t one. It was a boots and balls DLC. Which is nice for those who like that kind of thing, but eh, what’s a player like me supposed to think of it? Nothing, really, so I think nothing of it. I really don’t have anything else to say about it. It’s all part of the new culture of football gaming that I will soon be leaving behind for good.

You Kane handle the truth

On show above-right is my new 2nd strip, again courtesy of regular commenter Paul (of PESFX fame). This 2nd strip is evocative of Coventry City’s famous/notorious ‘excrement’ brown strip of the 1970s, but red-shifted just enough to give it that 21st century gloss.

Late last week I changed the Difficulty setting of my Master League to Superstar and, for better or worse, I have left it so.

I made the change with the idea that Superstar was just a trial (in every sense), and I would switch back to Top Player after a few matches.

But I’ve stuck with it. I feel that I had to, really. I was starting to win around half of my Top Player matches very easily. Half of the other half were moderately difficult, but still easier than I liked. Which left about a quarter of matches that were still tough, but even they were not that tough.

So Superstar it had to be, and I was wary. The toughness of the AI (That We Need) is 90% a positive experience. The 10% unpositive side usually arises when I’m behind and chasing the game, and the AI starts indulging in uber-Barcelona-style flicks and passing triangles and backheels. Which would be acceptable from Barcelona, but is incredibly aggravating from Hull.

So Superstar revolves around coping with that. It needs the willing suspension of disbelief, and patience.

So far, I’m coping, and I’m getting tough matches again.

And goals like this feel extra-sweet:

A nice mid-range, first-time strike from my under-mentioned AMF, P Gurpegui, who seems to be a made-up Konami player. He’s quietly one of the best AMFs I have had in PES2018. Gurpegui bucks the nuPES trend that renders 99% of AMFs virtually indistinguishable from one another. If nuPES is partly a quest for the handful of non-clone players that still do exist in the game, Gurpegui is another one.

Peter Crouch teed up the shot for Gurpegui, but at the time of writing I have agreed a deal to sell Crouch in mid-season. I seem to try every year, but just cannot recapture Crouch’s PES2015 magic.

The League table after 10 matches:

The switch to Superstar came after 8 League matches, and I lost one, won one. It’ll be interesting to see how the switch affects what seemed to be a near-certain chance of major silverware this season.

You Kane not be serious

There’s nothing like a Master League’s first European night at home. The seasonal-specific colouring of the sky. The floodlights. The different font. No matter how far PES has fallen – and fallen it has – these moments remain magical.

I had a change of kit to implement, thanks to regular commenter Paul of PESFX. It’s been a while since I changed kits, and I had grown so fond of his previous kits – Home and Away – that I kept them on as my 3rd and 4th kits respectively.

Also, apologies to anyone whose OCD I might be triggering with my eccentric squad numbering. Defenders shouldn’t wear the number 9. I keep meaning to fix them all, but keep forgetting to.

I drew 0-0 in this match against Slavia Praha, but then my next tie was away to Barcelona. I traditionally tank badly in my first European season in any Master League, so I feared the worst. But given that every team in PES2018 plays in a Barcelona-like fashion, there wasn’t perhaps so much to worry about.

This one should have ended 0-0 too, but I converted one of my few chances to snatch the surprise away victory.

This result and a few others have started me thinking that it might be time to give Superstar another go. I don’t want to, as I suspect it won’t go well, but if these kinds of results keep coming I will have to. I will probably wait until mid-season and review it all then.

By the by: that number 21 in my team list above, S ATAIDE, is the 94OPR player whom I was on the verge of signing in my last post. He is, of course, Classic Ronaldo – the original and best Ronaldo. Brazilian Ronaldo. That one. (That’s him standing next to the team list in the screenshot above. The resemblance is uncanny.)

So far, he has done nothing. All his stats have yet to manifest themselves on the pitch in any way. His Finishing stat of 95 has no apparent effect on his actual finishing. Or is it me? It’s both, of course. I would seriously struggle to tell the difference between ATAIDE-RONALDO and any 70-something OPR-rated Youth striker.

And this, right here, is the True Tragedy of nuPES.

Forget fouls and forget AI and forget everything else on the nuPES Shitlist. When they turned the series in the direction of online, they had to ‘balance’ the way the game plays, which involves the flattening out of stats. I.e. my Ronaldo can still be ‘better’ than your Danny Ings, but not by much. Barely at all, even, given that the mechanics of first touch and dribbling are rendered more or less universal by the demands of online matching. Can’t have the game making complex player-by-player decisions based on stats, and slowing the flow/creating lag, now, can we?

The near-total elision of player individuality is the current era’s principal Crime Against PES. One of the most revered of football gaming legacies was unceremoniously chucked overboard in the name of business models and spreadsheets, and here’s the kicker – it had to be done. PES as it was, pre-PES2014, probably couldn’t survive in today’s marketplace. No point in giving the masses Gran Turismo when they want Mario Kart.

That the wisp of something like PES player individuality still remains is undeniable. Everyone – even me – has favourites whom we would hotly defend as individuals. But they are scattered names. Not even enough to make a five-a-side team.

The League table after 6 matches:All my usual gripes aside, I had a couple of sessions of PES2018 that were so good I almost started to entertain fantasies of becoming a nuPES liker, or even lover. I amused myself thinking of how I would turn it all around on the blog, and join in the PES2019 party after all.

But no. In PES2018 I’m very much enjoying what is a good football game of the 21st century. To get my full PES fix I will indeed have to go back to the past – and stay there.

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