Soccer Gaming Catch-All

Prederick wrote:
But that's just experimenting with interface. What is more worrying is that they're basically restricting 95% of players to using TTF systems.

There is a "revert to classic" button y'know.

I know. But look at my second paragraph.

Prederick wrote:

Well... yeah. FM 09's system was incredibly limited, but I still think that this has grown further flexibility from that.

You're missing my point. Of course all mechanics are really limited but what they're doing is just putting a new system (tactics creator) inside further limping any attempt at creativity. Sure it's useful but for me, someone who (likes to think he) understands the underlying mechanics it's certainly no good news, because I know that non-TTF thinking and solutions in FM will become more rare from now on.
If you found FM 09 tactically 'rigid', what's the improvement then if all they did was adding a tool to automatically set it all up for you? Isn't that essence of making it more rigid?

Prederick wrote:

But does it actually look/play like soccer, or is it more "IT'S HARD BECAUSE WE SAID SO" crap from years past?

It certainly looks more like it. (Bu it's still pretty far from anything resembling flow of the game.)

I don't think I quite get your point about FM 10, UC.....i don't see how the inclusion of a tactic creator limits creativity ?

davet010 wrote:

I don't think I quite get your point about FM 10, UC.....i don't see how the inclusion of a tactic creator limits creativity ?

Because it's pretty much taking some assumptions (from said TTF system) for granted and operating within their bounds only. And yes, you have a great freedom within this system but it has it's limitations nonetheless. I can't make it to split mentality in 2-6-2 framework. If I want to experiment with it I have to set it all up manually. And I'm fine with that. But don't expect too much thinking outside of the box when almost everyone will be using tactics creator. They will stick to what TTF has to offer and tinker with preset models instead of trying to come up with their own solutions.

UCRC wrote:

You're missing my point. Of course all mechanics are really limited but what they're doing is just putting a new system (tactics creator) inside further limping any attempt at creativity.

I disagree. I've been using the TTF stuff as a jumping-off point for my own tactics, which they actually encourage.

Sure it's useful but for me, someone who (likes to think he) understands the underlying mechanics it's certainly no good news, because I know that non-TTF thinking and solutions in FM will become more rare from now on.

Says who? Again, they literally note that the TT&F guide is not for people who think/want to get one over on the engine's own basic limitations in AI and the patterns you can read and exploit. If SI is actually dumb enough to let the game stagnate now at this point tactically, and assume everything TT&F does is gospel, that's a major mistake, but I don't think for a second they're dumb enough to just figure "Welp, good enough" with it. All TT&F has tried to do is begin to explain some of the larger intricacies of the game that others may have been missing.

If you found FM 09 tactically 'rigid', what's the improvement then if all they did was adding a tool to automatically set it all up for you? Isn't that essence of making it more rigid?

That's making the assumption that all I, and most players will use is the tool to automatically set it up, which I don't feel is true. As an opening introduction, sure, and as the player begins to gain greater knowledge of the game and its ebbs and flows, they most certainly will create tactics outside of the given. Hell, even the most cut-and-paste, Rock v. Scissors "tactical strategy" games out there give you a number of set formations for the army, many of which are eschewed by more experienced players who have a specific vision in mind. We could certainly argue for days over whether or not FM became more "tactically rigid" once it became Football Manager and began to eschew the asymetrical formations with runs going all over the damn place. I don't feel FM 10 is making a huge jump from the previous iteration, that it's a night/day kind of thing, but I do feel that, rather than grasping in the dark and ending up largely in similar tacitcal situations, by giving you this guide as a place to start from, they've given me more to consider and work with. I still can (and do) come up with my own solutions to various problems my squad has, but now I have tool that advises me on the general notions of play for the kind of tactic i'm trying to create. Again, you've got Classic mode to work with still, but you seem to be under the assumption that it has become a complete afterthought and that any tactics not built with TT&F in mind will be useless.

But don't expect too much thinking outside of the box when almost everyone will be using tactics creator. They will stick to what TTF has to offer and tinker with preset models instead of trying to come up with their own solutions.

Again, I disagree. TT&F or not, there is someone out there right now trying to build a Barcelona super-tactic from scratch (as much as SI has tried to squelch those). The TT&F guide hasn't done any more to squelch creativity than having a system for creating tactical frameworks in the game does already (where's MY 1-2-8, eh?).

I don't have time to answer you in depth (I've been living in the land of Riemann integrals and other noble academic pursuits* for some time now) but I appreciate the points you've made and I'd be happy to get back to this discussion sometime in future, preferably when we both sink some more time into FM 10 and it's tactics.
Oh, and Pred, any chance of you buying PES 10 for PC? I have no one to play against at the moment.

*noble my ass, I'm getting sleep deprived here!

No worries dude, glad to hear you're hearing what i'm saying and i'm happy to continue the conversation.

Also, we're leaning that way. Release day is Nov. 10 here, so let's see.

EDIT:

UCRC wrote:

Oh, and Pred, any chance of you buying PES 10 for PC? I have no one to play against at the moment.

$35 on GoGamer.com. Sold.

I have Fifa 10 for the 360 and am hooked on the multiplayer games. I've never been good at jumping from player to player in the middle of a game and the multiplayer allows me to just control one player. For the most part the games have been good, with only minor asshatery in attendance. People generally play their positions although the midfielders have a tendency late in the game to make outrageous offensive runs.

I am inches away from picking up FM 2010. I really hate that they don't include a fantasy draft option as that would make it a must have every year. Anybody know of a game that has that (even if it is a "shallower" game like FIFA Manager or Championship Manager)? The lack of a fantasy draft option kills 51% of my enjoyment of the management gaming experience.

Edgar

I think the problem with a 'fantasy draft' in FM 10 would be the sheer amount of players and data involved - would all teams start with zero players, or would they start with the reserve and youth teams populated and just the first team in the pot ? If you just did that for one league, people would complain that there was little difference, but if it was all the the leagues that you are running (and I only run 7) then that would take a huge amount of time and require very complex AI...and all pretensions of being realistic would go out of the water.

I've only played the demo of CM 10, and not played FIFA manager for years, but I don't recall hearing that either of them had such an option. The last one i do remember was a game called LMA Manager from 3 or 4 years ago, where one of the starting options was for you to establish a new club and you could select players for your squad, but i can't remember whether there was any value cap or anything.

I suppose, though, that if you just want to have a 'fantasy draft' just for your own team you could always just use the editor in FM. As a 'bitter blue' of many years standing, I merely enforce that for Man U by setting their cash position at -700m and watching the ensuing fire sale...some changes of kit colour and ground name may also be involved

Doesn''t FM Live use real players?

I've not played it since beta, but I seem to remember that it does. I don't know whether it's still running though, and I can't remember how players were going to be initially allocated.

I think that if you joined now, unless you joined a completely new 'world', the other teams would already have their players and your team would be bidding for transfer listed players or ones who were free agents.

davet010, thanks for the response. I agree that it would be somewhat complex. Essentially what I am suggesting is that you take a league, any league, and do a fantasy draft within that league. The rest of the world ("ROW") would remain the same (but would be available for later transfers in the ordinary course of a season). It essentially allows you to mix your players from one league in a "pot" and pull a draft together. So, if you wanted to coach Arsenal, the computer would simulate a draft from the EPL. Once the first team is selected, you can have the AI draft the reserve and youth teams. Yes, the realism would be broken with respect to the team that you start with, but the engine and experience that would follow from the drafted "starting point" would be as realistic as the current game.

Seems like a lost opportunity. I know that it would immediately lead to 4 sales of the game each year for my family. We would much prefer to play that then the ESPN fantasy league in which we currently participate.

UCRC wrote:

Doesn''t FM Live use real players?

It does. And yes, unless we joined a new world, we'd be bidding on free agents. MLB has fantasy drafts in their sports management simulations. So do other sports. It seems so easy to do a fantasy draft within one league and then allow that to exist within the existing "rest of world" leagues. It doesn't seem all that much different from where a FM league would be after 10 years of simming....

The realism argument just doesn't hold a lot of weight for me. It seems a pretty simple drafting mechanic and one that would make the game more accessible to new audiences, but SI (the developer) just doesn't seem to be interested in getting that audience as customers. Totally frustrating.

Edgar_Newt wrote:

The realism argument just doesn't hold a lot of weight for me. It seems a pretty simple drafting mechanic and one that would make the game more accessible to new audiences, but SI (the developer) just doesn't seem to be interested in getting that audience as customers. Totally frustrating.

Different cultures. Fantasy Drafts and fantasy sports do not have anywhere near the import in Europe/Asia/South America as they do here. That audience, in FM's total base, is microscopic, i'm almost totally sure. (You'll note neither FIFA or PES have such a feature either).

Also, how would the fantasy draft make the game more accessible? Given the HUGE number of players, even in a Premiership game, you're going to need to know the kind of players you want for the specific tactic you're going to be playing, how to get them to play together, and that's excluding needing to fit them to your budget (if we're taking that into account and you're playing as Sunderland instead of Chelsea), keeping them all happy, and yeah, maintaining the game's "realism" level is part of it, as in a fantasy draft, are we going to level out all the club's reputation levels and the competitions they're already entered in, or, assuming that you have a transfer window, will a team like Wigan who drafted well but have a small budget and aren't in the Champions League going to have all their players taken by ManU in the January window? I think my response probably would mirror SI's, which is that FM 10 allows you to create a totally new divisions in the game, and that (while it takes more work), you can do this yourself, essentially, with the Data Editor the game ships with.

Like I said, I don't believe a single soccer game includes a "fantasy draft" variant, because generally games that offer that are focused on running a single league, not 5, or 10, or 30.

My copy of PES showed up today, a few notes:

1.) This isn't a criticism of PES specifically, but of both FIFA and PES. Defending is a joke in both games, a total, utter joke. Which again, I can understand, neither title is trying to move cop by advertising your chance to be Nemanja Vidic. Where FIFA's defense was too good, PES's is still an impenetrable mass of bad tackles and world-class defenders not quite doing any goddamn thing to stop the opposition. Why in god's name they continue to put in the "Secondary Pressure" button when it's been useless for two years now is beyond me.

2.) Through balls. For god's sake, give me control of them, because i'm damn tired of watching Xabi Alonso/Juan Roman Riquelme/etc. miss through balls that I could've played. And a "trigger runs" button would be nice too.

3.) Difficulty levels. Regular is now "Idiot". I won two games 5-0 on Regular, moved up to Professional, and lost 2-1 to Standard Liege with Barca. Sweet lord, I beg for sliders.

That said, there's a LOT right with PES. A lot. I can acutally shoot from distance and dribble now. But I still can't defend. As it ever was, and seems to ever be, both games have strengths and glaring weaknesses that, if put together, would make an AMAZING game of footy. The EuroGamer review is correct, this is still a PS2 game in a Next-Gen game's clothes, but it's a very good PS2 game. So I guess that's where we're at. A game that is to realism in soccer as Rainbow Six: Vegas is to tactical realism, and a game that's a very, very good version of a game that came out six years ago. More on Tuesday, when I can write a real, total review.

EDIT: Oh, and also, can PES please, please, please, either make some thing simpler, or assume there are people playing the game who are not in the top 10th percentile of players? Free-kicks have been nearly impenetrable for me for years now, and PES refuses to give out any hints, tips, guidance, tutorials, etc on how the hell to do it, I imagine under their (apparent, and incredibly annoying) assumption that everyone who's playing this game knows how to do it already because they're all hardcore PES-heads. PES is at its worst in these situations, giving no help to beginners or players who aren't as skilled. At times, it can be very much like sitting down to play a flight sim, where the programmer expects you to know all the controls of a F/A-18 already and only gives some vague tips.

But man, when the AI isn't pressing you with 3 players (happens way too often), and you can pass the ball around, you can make some great plays and score some great goals. I already have one goal that'd never get scored in FIFA 10, a goalmouth scramble that ends in the ball almost apologetically creeping over the line. Great stuff.

I just wish soccer games were as interested in letting me be Paul McGrath (1994 World Cup v. Italy) or England in 1997, or the US holding on to upset Portugal 3-2 in the 2002 World Cup. Defense is half (and an important half) of the game, and neither FIFA or PES seem to have given it much more than a moment's thought. Admittedly, we all love Arsenal/Barca's flowing, attacking football, but remember, especially in the modern game, the best offense is a good defense.

The attacking is great though.

I have been playing PES (PS3) this weekend. I have a couple of criticisms:

1) Goalies - Are horrible. The person who programmed this should be fired from his job. Goalie mistakes happen much more often than in the real world.

2) Tackling - I moved up to Top Player level and theres a big difference in my chances of pulling off a succesful tackle and the AI pulling one off. This is frustrating.

3) Reaction - At Top Player the AI seems to have a very low reaction time as opposed to me. This is very apparent when you have just pulled off a succesful tackle and the opponent is on you immediately.

4) Free kicks as Pred mentioned. I was ace at this ins PES 3-5 but I can't recall if I've scored many since then.

5) Dificulty levels as Pred mentioned. Theres a huge difference between the hardest and second hardest dificulty level.

6) Corner kicks - I havent connected a header to one yet. And I've had more than a hundred corners. The AI does not have the same problems. I might have do some training on this though.

I'll have to agree with Pred that this is a return to previous versions of PES gameplay. Its still the same things that are the problem with the game.

All in all its stil an above average game though. And a vast improvement on last years version.

I've played one online game (my first ever) I was ahead 1-0 when the opponent dropped out at 85 minutes leaving med with a 3-0 win. There were definite lag problems in that match as opposed to playing the game vs. the AI. However one game is not enough to accurately describe if this is indeed a problem.

EDIT: Criticism 2 & 3 above could be argued to be due to the higher dificulty.

Okay, so after spending 5 minutes in training I managed to score from my first free kick afterwards. 25 meters out. I think I have a good idea of which button combination to use from the different distances now (With Mutu at least).

From <25: Midstrength + backwards
From ~25 m: Midstrength + x
From ~27 m: Midstrength
From ~30 m: Midstrength + triangle
From +30 m: Midstrength + forward

Also, I managed to score from a corner kick with a new tactic. I just started hammering the square button after the kick was taken and Gilardino won the header and scored. Not the most intelligent technique. But it worked.

Also, I've found a way of bettering my tackles. Theres a bit of timing to it. But you have to go for a sliding tackle at the right time when you're running along side a player.

As for freekicks... well, I don't want to go into lengths because it's all on youtube, but it's certainly possible to score from any position and like many aspects of PES it's free of that annoying PC assistance. After some time you should be able to judge exactly what you need to press and how long to hold X.
Two tips that I think might be crucial:
- if you're sticking to one team (ML), train with your free kick taker. You have to get used to his attributes. Sometimes it's easier to score with guy who has 80 FK taking than someone who's at 95 just because you're used to taking kicks with the former.
- My favourite free kick technique (that seems to work great in PES 2010): A + backwards, maximum strength. Subtle, beautiful, use it when you're somewhere on the edge of the box.

Corners: they've changed it a bit because it was all to easy in PES 2009 where you kept scoring and conceding time after time and it was all too random. Now scoring from corners is tough and there isn't any particular tactic that seems to work. But I like it better than last year because I don't have to worry about 'undefendable' (yes, that's a word.) corners from PC.

Tackles + what Pred said about defending: whole secret of defending is in positioning. It's all you need to know, really. In that aspect it greatly mirrors football: stay close to opponent when he's about to recieve the ball and he's all yours. Deny him space.
Translating it into game mechanics: most important thing here is setting your tactics right. Compactness and d-line settings are really useful. Also, don't forget about man marking settings in important games.
By using man marking and playing highly compact formation, I've won Europa League final against Roma 4-0, controlling the game almost all the way through, even though I've struggled against lesser teams like Fulham or Spartak. They just had nowhere to move.
And using X (second man pressure) while you're out of possession is really useful, Pred, you just need to observe and get used to it. You won't win many balls that way but it's perfect for denying opponents space and passing opportunities. Look to use it especially when you're in lead and want to close up opponents on their own half.

Difficulty levels: agreed. Five stars is just whole different ballgame. Fortunately, I play with Toulouse in ML so I can't even dream of playing on Top Player just yet because I'm constantly being pitted against stronger teams. (Side note: it's amazing how much I suck at PES considering how much time I play it. ;])

And Pred, you can make manual passes if you want (right stick if you're using X360 controller like I do). Through balls in this edition have been made much less successful (and for a good reason because it was all too easy in last year's PES), but they forgot to fine-tune them and sometimes you just end up with your players playing strangest kinds of balls.

I have pile of great replays to show you but don't have time to record and edit them. Eh.

UCRC wrote:

As for freekicks... well, I don't want to go into lengths because it's all on youtube, but it's certainly possible to score from any position and like many aspects of PES it's free of that annoying PC assistance. After some time you should be able to judge exactly what you need to press and how long to hold X.
Two tips that I think might be crucial:
- if you're sticking to one team (ML), train with your free kick taker. You have to get used to his attributes. Sometimes it's easier to score with guy who has 80 FK taking than someone who's at 95 just because you're used to taking kicks with the former.
- My favourite free kick technique (that seems to work great in PES 2010): A + backwards, maximum strength. Subtle, beautiful, use it when you're somewhere on the edge of the box.

Again, my criticism isn't that it's deep and advanced, my criticism is Konami gives you absolutely no clue as to how it works, that it is quite possibly the antithesis of "intuitive", and I have to go looking for a bunch of user-made YouTube videos to explain it. That is not fun.

UCRC wrote:

Tackles + what Pred said about defending: whole secret of defending is in positioning. It's all you need to know, really. In that aspect it greatly mirrors football: stay close to opponent when he's about to recieve the ball and he's all yours. Deny him space.
Translating it into game mechanics: most important thing here is setting your tactics right. Compactness and d-line settings are really useful. Also, don't forget about man marking settings in important games.
By using man marking and playing highly compact formation, I've won Europa League final against Roma 4-0, controlling the game almost all the way through, even though I've struggled against lesser teams like Fulham or Spartak. They just had nowhere to move.
And using X (second man pressure) while you're out of possession is really useful, Pred, you just need to observe and get used to it. You won't win many balls that way but it's perfect for denying opponents space and passing opportunities. Look to use it especially when you're in lead and want to close up opponents on their own half.

I really can't get behind you on that one, for reasons i've already elucidated on. Defense in this game is a miasma of BS and knowing *winks* that's about as analogous to the real thing as FIFA is. Which is to say, it isn't. I can't even remember the last time one of my defenders read the opponent's play and smartly intercepted a pass. Last year, I remember seeing people talking about how the second man pressure button was useless, since the second man ran headlong at the ball like a maniac (in a dead-straight line no less), and inevitably missed his tackle.

Moreover, there's still my eternal question of what the hell actually makes a good defender in the game. If my (admittedly limited) experience is any indication, it's still like the very first PES title I ever bought, way back in 2002/3, when I won the master league several times, never upgrading from the random generics they gave me with because defending isn't actually that deep. I'm beginning to think my "Paul Scholes Test" idea should become a mandate for games. Which is that if Paul Scholes can regularly and effectively make tackles without fouling/drawing a card, your ratings/defense gameplay is 16 kinds of broken.

What you're saying is all what you'd do in real soccer, sure, but it's sure as hell not what you'd do in this. It feels like there's no rhyme or reason to when players make tackles (although i'm sure, like freekicks, there is more detail, Konami just opted not to give us any clue because they're like that). I do get in good position, I try to stay between my man and the net, and to ensure his passing options are limited. And they still make a ton of horrible tackles. At this point, i'm not even sure if I should use the "pressure" button at all, considering that it seems to make things worse.

I played a few more games today, and started pulling some wins, but honest to god, for both titles, defense is bloody awful. It ought to be embarrassing. I watched Chelsea v. ManU today, and to see the way they defended in real life, and then try the same thing in PES, it's sad that still noone is taking an entire half of the game seriously.

The corners, however, are MUCH better now, in that yes, they aren't too easy, no, they're not impossible to defend when the AI takes one, and you get the kind of fun goalmouth scrambles I already mentioned. And i'm not going to try my "crap team" test where I make the AI play with a badly rated/everyone out of position squad to see if the game takes players or difficulty level more into account. FIFA already failed that test with flying colors, and I don't think PES will fare much better.

The bottom line, like the EuroGamer review said, is that Konami still hasn't made a next-gen soccer game. This is a very, very, very good PS2 game, which has its good points, and its bad ones. I'm finding it better than EA's "Rainbow Six: Soccer" though.

So, I took about 30 minutes and made a bang-up version of Fulham's kit for myself. I'm almost tempted to do it for all the teams, but there are so many unlicensed ones, i'm just not arsed to do it. Is there any word on another fan-patch that'll update everything?

EDIT: The Master League. Wow. Good job guys.

Aaaaand it doesn't work. Yay. 0.6 won't even install, and 0.8 (and the 0.82 patch) totally bork the game for me. I mean totally. It won't even run. User-made content always has such a high pass/fail rating.

Prederick wrote:

The bottom line, like the EuroGamer review said, is that Konami still hasn't made a next-gen soccer game. This is a very, very, very good PS2 game, which has its good points, and its bad ones. I'm finding it better than EA's "Rainbow Six: Soccer" though.

Is this a vote for PES '10, Pred?

Prederick wrote:

Aaaaand it doesn't work. Yay. 0.6 won't even install, and 0.8 (and the 0.82 patch) totally bork the game for me. I mean totally. It won't even run. User-made content always has such a high pass/fail rating.

Huh? Maybe it's something with NA release, I have no idea. I never had a single problem with fan-made patches for PES. Maybe you didn't install kitserver? ;]

Just a few comments on your discussion as I can't be arsed to write such a long reply.

Free kicks: Spend a few minutes practicing from different distances and you're gold.

Corners (defense): I never had trouble defending against corners in PES2009 and I use the same technique in 2010. Basically, it's all about positioning your man correctly.

AI Defense: You will see very, very odd defending patterns from the AI. It isn't anywhere close to real footie. But for an arcade game it's still fun and not bad enough to put the game away. From what I can see it has to do with the quick strategy "Pressure" and Game Plan settings which make your team mates close in on the opponent with the ball. This leads to (rare and) very odd chase scenarios with one attacker and sometimes 4-5 defenders chasing him.

Pressure button: The key is to using it in the right situation and in the right position, not all the time.

Master league: The CL and Europa League implementations in the game absolutely blew me away. Talk about atmosphere. And this is coming from someone who only very rarely falls for flashy gameplay.

Staats wrote:
Prederick wrote:

The bottom line, like the EuroGamer review said, is that Konami still hasn't made a next-gen soccer game. This is a very, very, very good PS2 game, which has its good points, and its bad ones. I'm finding it better than EA's "Rainbow Six: Soccer" though.

Is this a vote for PES '10, Pred?

Well, let me go into detail here, since I promised a write-up today that noone was asking for.

As I mentioned, and I don't mean it as a slam, just a judgement, PES is not really what i'd call a next-gen sports game. Or current-gen, or whatever. From the standards i've seen being set by titles from 2K Games and EA, I just don't think it's quite there yet, but that's my own opinion. What PES 2010 is to me however, is a very, very, very well-polished PS2 game that happens to be on a Next-Gen console. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it means the series has been tweaking and tuning all the things that made it great for years (save for the last two, at least). On the downside, if I may use a horrible metaphor, if PES was a ship, the hull would be creaking pretty loudly and it'd be getting rusty. But it still would do it's job better and more efficiently than that newfangled one three docks down that has all the shiny bells and whistles but still hasn't quite figured out how to make all of those work. Or something.

As I've mentioned, PES does a LOT right. Like -

* - Passing has been (mercifully) tightened. While I still have a little trouble with players passing to targets I didn't intend, last year's near constant misplays have been thankfully removed, and now the through ball button actually works. Mind, it's still a bit "Puzzle Game" (by which I mean there are a limited number of situations where you really can use it, because players will always hit certain types of passes), but it's a vast improvement on years past, when it felt nearly useless.

* - While FIFA touched on it last year, they seem to have let off on the tactical side of the game in order to make the title more "pick up and play", while doing other things to keep the scoring down. PES has embraced in-game tactical decisions, to its great benefit. The team sliders in PES make sense, and are a little more effective than FIFA's seem (although I think both games would be well-benefited by, rather than having a 1-100 scale for their tactical sliders, using 1-10 or even Low/Medium/High). The biggest move they've made in the game, and the actual biggest change in console soccer gaming this year is the introduction of Player Index cards. Essentially, they're an expansion of the special abilities players had before, except now they actually work and have a visible effect on the game (they're kind of like Preferred Moves in FM). So Dani Alves really does go bombing up the wings, and passing with Xavi and Iniesta is a breeze. I have some minor gripes (There isn't one for a good old fashioned "Target Man", and i'd like to see them given to more players, and have their effectiveness tied to ratings), but they are very minor. The cards are a very good thing.

* - Shooting, at least from open play, is good, albeit, almost too easy in some circumstances. Good players can put a ton of varied shots on net now, although it may be a little too simple (I know i've already put a few in the corner of the net when I was just lashing one in blindly).

* - Graphics are good. I think, at this point, arguing about the graphics in the titles is largely preference-based. Like I said, I think EA has a clear lead in terms of total animations, I think their stadiums look better, and I think their player faces look better. I think PES does a fine job of most of these things (although they still seem to be a little perplexed with what the hell black people look like. Seriously. Michael Essien cannot be that hard), but Konami just doesn't have the money to hire the people to put together the monstrous graphics engine FIFA has, so I don't begrudge them for it. I never played PES because it was the prettiest anyway, I played it because it was the most soccer-like.

* - The Master League. Wow. Really, really, really, really, really well-done. Player morale, contracts, coaching staff and scouts, they've put a ton in. I haven't played it enough to see if player development is actually worth turning on this year (UCRC, got anything here), but the presentation, the way it works, it's all incredibly well done.

And that's the bottom line, for me. PES is, both in single player (PES is actually WAY ahead in SP, because SP in FIFA is almost totally useless), and in versus, is (for me), more fun and more like soccer, which is a happy change since last year I thought PES was a damn mess that FIFA wiped the floor with (and that's without FIFA being the greatest game).

There are niggles, as I've mentioned already. I still don't particularly like defending, I wish Konami would actually explain free-kicks to me, at least further than the very rudimentary basics they give, and I still absolutely feel that the game's player ratings need to be dumped and written anew (there's still the sensation that you could play Ibrahimovic at Center-Back and be fine).

In my experience so far, FIFA is essentially only fun online, against another human being. That's the only way. PES is fun with or without a living person to play against. So yeah, that'd be a "Yes" vote on PES this year.

I haven't played it enough to see if player development is actually worth turning on this year (UCRC, got anything here)

Paulo Machado, my central midfielder in Toulouse who's the best prospect had over 10 increase in his overall ratings over course of two seasons. Player development and training really work well and pretty realistically. And if you're going to play ML with smaller team developing players you have is the only way.

Hmm, good to know. Thanks Pred.

Oh UCRC, RE: FM's tactics.

Having spent a bit more time with the game, I think I can be classified as one of the users that on the whole, really aren't that angry with a more "simplified" tactics creator. Obviously, I don't want there to be a "just win" button, and I don't want to just click "4-4-2" and watch whoever my team is go on to win each game 4-0, that'd be FIFA boring. But I know that I just don't have the desire/ability to spend 45 minutes pouring over a tactic, worrying about whether my winger's creative freedom being one click to the right or left will lose me a game. There's still so much to do after creating the tactic (making sure you have the right players to play it, keeping them happy, et cetera) that I can't say i'm angry about simplifying/explaining it better. If anything, in thinking about it, I never really did like the fact that for me to understand the tactics in FM 09, I had to have the Tactical Bible, or i'd have never understood it.

No, I get your point and I believe I've said something very similar in my previous posts: that I concede that most of the players are actually going to benefit from it. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. And it isn't because I'm very clever (fact!) or exceptional FM player (fact!) but because I got really used to working with my tactics in that system and now they're taking part of it's functionality away from me while I expected them to go in other direction.

But it's just me and I'll get used to it in couple of weeks. Right now I don't have time to play FM anyway, so I can't say I care about it at all.

A few notes:

RE: PES - Hey UC, what's with headers? I mean, I can win them, but I really have no idea how I do it. I can't seem to jockey for position, and they seem to almost always be won by the man closest to the ball as it approaches (realistic, I know, but still). Do you just hammer the appropriate button as the ball approaches, or do you time it as you might a jump, or what?

I started my Master League season with Fulham, but i've kind of moved into a unfortunate rut. Either I play on Regular, and hammer the AI 3/4/5-0, or I play on Professional, get annoyed with the method the game uses to increase the difficulty, but still win 1-0 and outshoot the AI 7-1. I'm terrified of Top Player, partially because I think i'll get hammered, partially because I don't think it'll look anything like soccer. That said, I've played a few games against a friend and that is essentially what PES was invented for.

RE: FM - So apparently, there's a memory leak issue for some users where the game just eats up virtual memory as you play until it ultimately crashes. SI are working on the issue, but it's proving rather difficult, meaning i'm left with two options. 1.) Play a week or two at a time, then close and restart, play another week, rinse and repeat. 2.) Not play at all until they fix it, which may be a while as, like I said, it's proving difficult. Le sigh.