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BAL In PES 2011

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It’s not a game mode I myself have focused on in the past, and not one I’ve enjoyed playing in recent times. PES 2010’s crippling response times, and punishing animations for the less skilled players made such a mode a chore playing at the start. I never had the patience with it, and therefore missed out on a mode many spend most of their time on in PES.

After the jump I delve into the first part of my career, and let you know just why many could find this to be a hidden gem in the game modes this year.

Starting off, creating your player and starting your career is the same as last year. Which at first is bad, mainly because the face import feature is still primitive. Using a picture of myself, importing it to use showed the same editing limits as last years option – a small section of the face to import, and no option to add facial hair. Sort it out Konami! Once I’d fought that process, and dress my virtual me as the football gods intended, I was ready to delve into my actual career.

First up, it’s about choosing you position, and fans will be happy to know every position is available to you, apart from keeper. The choices are:

CF – Prolific Goal scorer
SS – A withdrawn forward who plays off the Centre Forward
WF – Creates chance out wide by beating opposition side backs
AMF – Conducts the attack from an advanced position
SMF – Players looking to attack from out wide
CMF – An all round midfielder who provides both defensive and attacking prowess
WB – A variation of the side back with a more offensive role
DMF – Sits deep in midfield, protecting the back line
SB – Defends the wide areas, whiles also providing width in attack
CB – Centrally positioned defenders, who guards the 18 yards box
SW – The teams last line of defense

I decided to go as a SS, as I’m usually wanting to play centre mid and be involved with all play. This time though, I thought I’d try and grab some goals, and have more of a chance of influencing things further up the pitch.

The next screen ask you to choose what type of player you want to become. Choices are:

All rounder
Create a well balanced all round player

The Finisher
Create a clinical finisher

Creative midfielder
Create a good passer

Dribbling
Create a skilful dribbler

Shooting star
Create a pacey speedster

Heavy tank
Create a strong powerful player

Human dynamo
Create a tenacious battler

Wanting to make the most out of the dribbling in the game, I chose dribbler.

The final choice you make regarding your player is using 14 slots to fill up a bar that builds up areas in your skill-set, allowing you to determine what you want to prioritise on. These are called focus points. The choices are:

Shot
Pass
Defense
Dribbling
Power
Speed
Stamina

Each one has 5 slots, but I spread them out evenly at first, and used the rest on dribbling and power. The game then calculates this and accumulates stats for your BAL player. I came out as an overall 60 rated player, with my highest stats being dribbling accuracy and speed, both being 81 and 80 respectively.

Now the big change from last year straight away is the fact there’s no training match, you go straight into contract discussions with clubs. You have 6 choices, all with their pros and cons. As you would expect, all the teams are mid level, with stand out names being Cagliari from Serie A, and Wigan Athletic from the EPL. In the end though I signed for a team in the fake PES League, mainly because of the percentage of playing time being higher.

When you go through each contract, the yearly wage is the same (mine was 37, 037 euros for a 2 year contract), but the intricacies differ immensely. So as I mentioned, you get a percentage score of how much playing time you will get. 5 of the teams stated 10%, while the fake team (called Blookrows) said 43%. You also get a list of their playing style (most say quick counter attack) and also what competition they are in, i.e. Champions League or Europa Cup. Once I signed that contract it was time to start playing!

When you see the main BAL menu screen, it’s reminiscent of the new ML screen, with an ever changing main screen depending on whats going on in the week, plus a scrolling bar at the bottom to go through choices. I checked the schedule, and realised we had 2 friendly games before the season started. Without delving too far into it, I went straight into the game option.

As you’ve seen from the BAL screens showing the whiteboard and manager, that’s the first thing you see once you start the game, as the manager talks to you very quickly about what he wants you to do. Seeing the formation screen, I was being played as a right winger, and told to get the ball to our star man on the left wing. Once this cut scene ends you’re thrown straight into the game.

Now before I go on, I want to say I changed the game camera to wide cam, as I’m not a fan of the BAL cam. For those who do play in that cam though, there is a new feature. By holding L2, you can move the camera wherever you want to, giving you some of the peripheral vision most of the single player modes lack.

There’s also a new addition that I welcome for the game mode, and that’s telling your players to press the opposition. Like in the normal mode, pressing square allows you to bring in a second player to press. Pressing square in BAL makes the player closest to ball press the opposition, which allays any frustrations when you don’t have the ball.

Onto the game then, and from the get go the new engine makes this mode ever so playable. The responsiveness, together with the new freedom of passing makes even playing as a low skilled youngster very enjoyable, with any frustration of the previous game gone within moments of playing as your BAL player. The coach instructions also adds a layer to the game that’s been severely lacking thus far, giving you a clear way of playing as soon as you receive possession. And it’s not easy, I can tell you. Receiving the ball on the opposite wing to my target, you have the choice of playing a short pass to keep the ball, or try that hollywood ball in the hope of it finding your target. Due to my dribbling skills, keeping the ball was much easier than before, so working infield to fire off a pass was my main battle plan, and worked a treat.

Throughout the game, depending on the outcome and if a goal is scored from either side, the coach will continually change tactics and instructions, which again keeps things fresh and your position and role ever changing. Adapting to any role given will be key to your success.

There’s been many questions about the AI, and for me it’s never been an issue in my short time with the game (around 10 games into the season). With my team not being very good, their ability to pass you the ball when requested, and even create chances and stop the opposition seems to be adequate for a team of that level. Being able to be a key member in the team is hugely satisfying, finding yourself being the core of what’s good gives you a feeling of satisfaction. Coupled with that, it’s also noticed.

After each match you’re given a score, and the manager will tell you how well you’ve done. If you’ve nailed it, he’ll say something like “did not much wrong, well done”. There will also be a side note, again talking about aspects of your performance. Naturally, being fresh faced to BAL, the desire to run around and get stuck in to help win the ball took over commonsense for me. After a busy performance the manager said “did great work defensively, did well to help out the team”. A nice touch, but perhaps not something you would want to see if you’re an aspiring second striker!

After 4 games, my hard work paid off. 4 straight 7.5 ratings, and only one match where I was subbed, I had a real ‘punch fist in air’ moment. Before the match the manager went through his pre-match talk, only for me then to realise I was the main man! So, rather than being told to pick out someone, the entire team was told to pick me out at every opportunity! My only instruction was then to make sure I was always in space to receive the ball.

As the match kicked off, I knew it was going to be my most enjoyable, as players instantly were trying to get the ball to me – with me never having to call for the ball once! Despite being very early in my career, this made me feel like a superstar in a small club, and gave you the feeling of an important player in the team for the first time. Sure enough, with all the opportunities being carved up for me, I scored my first goal as a pro, and leaped out of my seat as it hit the net. A true sense of achievement!

After the game, which I did end up getting subbed off, the manager said “great goal, you did well!”. Well chuffed! Since that game, I’ve been center of attention since, and so far am building up my player through these focus points after each week. This seems to be the only weakness in the mode, as I’d like to see my stats being built up naturally, rather than me having to keep allotting them. It doesn’t seem to be effecting my stats yet too, as I still haven’t budged from being overall 60. Here’s hoping this comes into effect in January, or after the season ends.

And that’s where this BAL feature ends. A short but very pleasant venture into the mode, and one I will look forward to getting stuck into in the coming weeks. Anymore questions, head over to the Q&A thread in the forums.

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