Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I understand poetic/creative license when doing a historical film like this.
But this movie got SO many things just plain wrong that it was distracting to anyone who knows the story of this great Thoroughbred.
They turned it into classic Disney Hollywood schlock.
They turned good people into villains for no good reason other than every story needs a bad guy.
They filmed the damn movie at Keeneland -- this would be like filming a movie about the Daytona 500 in Indianapolis, and leaving in the symbols of Indy in place. Hey guys, we have technology to erase the KEENELAND signs.
They got SO much wrong. For no reason at all. The dialogue was cookie cutter and the directing was like a made for TV movie.
They got one thing right: Secretariat was a nationwide phenomenon and won the Triple Crown in 1973.
Good job guys.
So many things to like/love about this game and still so many things that need work. I think this is about as "complete" a 2K game as we have ever seen, but there are still a lot of head scratching decisions that were made by the developers.
In all, it's highly recommended but with caution: the main one being you better have some serious gamepad skills to get the most out of what this game is trying to accomplish.
It's the hardcore flight sim of sports games.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
NBA 2K11 loves them. With all its heart.
I am playing on full 12 min. quarters and games are taking a LONG time, because, well, I'm on 12 min quarters but also because every play stoppage, every sub, every free throw, 2K wants to show me how "TV Like" its game is.
I DO NOT CARE who the Sprite Player of whatever is, or the Gatorade whatever moment is. I do not need the Gatorade sub screen to show me who is coming in and out of the game. A quick flash of subs is all I need. I sure as hell don't need up close shots of players after a play.
Now, you are supposed to be able to turn that shit off, but in the presentation menu I only see a few options for such things and I still get to see these intermittent cut scenes far too often in this game.
GET ME TO THE ACTION. I don't give a shit if this is "just like it is on television."
This isn't television. I have shit to do. I am wearing out the A button on my controller pleading with NBA 2K11 to stop showing me stuff that has nothing to do with me playing the game.
As for the game itself, it's good, it's bad, and I hate Michael Jordan.
Seriously, it is a very challenging game when playing on the "PRO SIM" mode. I lost to the 76ers 104-101 as Boston in overtime. I didn't care to see Even Turner killing me with 3s because ...Even Turner shouldn't do that, but overall it feels pretty authentic.
I STILL think t egame is best played by gamepad gurus who can master a million different moves, and I still hate that slow PFers who get caught in rotation on Rondo can guard him like they are John Starks...but hey..
Monday, October 4, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
So, if you’ve listened to this week’s Jumping the Shark podcast you got a plateful of Civilization 5 thoughts. At that point I had about six hours or so in the game and had a generally favorable impression. Now that I’ve had a full week with it (and about 20 hours), it has soured somewhat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going back to Civ IV (yet). There’s a lot of stuff I like a great deal and, if I don’t get lazy, I’ll write about that too, in a later post. That said, I’m really distressed by the level of incompetence I’m seeing and reading about with regards to the AI.
Here’s the thing. I really want to be sympathetic about the game's AI issues given that the combat model is a total revolution (no pun intended) in the Civ series design. But I can't. This is something where Firaxis knows they're making this big change -probably right from the beginning- and they have to *know* that military AI will have to essentially be re-built from the ground up. That's something they have to get right. A few holes is one thing (and inevitable), but this isn't a game that, long term, can absorb having a toothless AI against an experienced opponent. And it is toothless. It apparently can't conquer a city state without a Herculean effort. How is it going to beat a human player once said player has grown comfortable with the rules and mechanics?
It would be one thing if the AI itself got better on higher difficulties, but from what I'm reading it really doesn't. It just gets bigger and better bonuses. (That’s a totally unverified assertion; your mileage may vary.) If what you see with the AI at the Prince level (where the playing field is totally level) is what you get, then they really have some work to do.
In my first game, played at Prince (4) difficulty, I achieved a science victory by 1985 (not totally unreasonable at that level), while the AI was still floating around in frigates and finding out gunpowder was kinda neat (way too inept at a level where the playing field is supposed to be level). Militarily… well, here's an example from that game, which I completed last night:
I'm (as the Americans) on a continent with the Persians and Greeks. I take out the Persians pretty early on. They never had more than a couple of military units and they threw them away by attacking the teeth of my invading forces (composed of archers, chariots, and spearmen; no siege units at all). With no siege units, conquering their two cities took a bit of time, but it was a speed-bump since Darius could not defend himself.
Later I went up against the Greeks, who were of equal or greater size to my civ, but were less advanced (later on, significantly so). I fought them, basically, in three stages.
The first phase of the war was fine. I attacked him where he was over-expanded and at his weakest. (He plopped two cities in a line, bisecting my empire in two.) No big deal that I easily won that confrontation. I should have, given my tech advantage and the fact that I had horses and Darius did not.
The second phase is where it was obvious the AI just didn't know what it was doing. When I started up hostilities again, Alexander had been picking on two city states (Stockholm and Venice). He'd mostly given up on Stockholm because I went in and positioned my own units around the city to protect them, so he appeared to have turned his full attention to Venice. And when i say “full attention,” I mean very nearly that. He left a couple of military units behind, but not nearly enough to protect his turf. So when I moved in, I basically had free range to roam his countryside and position myself around his cities however I liked. Bear in mind, any human player would have seen this coming. I had units all over my border with him.
Now, he's got at least four military units up to the north, basically laying siege to Venice, which was on a peninsula, sans actual siege units. I did not go to his capital straight-away, so even discounting my invasion was telegraphed a good five to ten turns ahead of time, he still had time to bring his forces back. Maybe even heal them up a little. As I took out my initial target (Sparta) he did nothing of the sort. I ended up taking his capital with nothing there to defend it because he was all about Venice. Again, I didn't even need siege units of my own. I just relied on my, now huge, tech advantage that had me running over his turf with Knights and Muskets. (I couldn't build trebuchet's if I wanted to, since I lacked iron.) He did eventually pull units back as I moved north, but once his capital fell it was beyond too late. Once I had conquered all but two of his cities I took a peace deal so I could deal with unhappiness from all these new puppet states.
The third phase was just mop up. Alexander had no means to build enough units in ten turns to mount any kind of defense.
Ignoring my ability to build a big early tech lead despite not yet being familiar with all the new gameplay concepts, what really bugs me is that it seems clear the AI is incapable of moving to defend itself, even when it has the means to do so. This is not the kind of thing that can be justified by, "well, it's a new combat system."
Alexander focusing on a city state while he’s got hostile forces marching on Athens is just not acceptable. Also, just to be clear, I'm an experienced player, but not a particularly good one. And that’s an important distinction because you don’t have to be one of the savants at CivFanatics to badly exploit this game. You just need enough experience with the game to understand how the different mechanics work. That’s just a function of time.
Now, balancing that is a host of stuff I really like. The Social Policy system is really interesting, even if I do think I like the old Civics system a bit better. I *love* that cities can now defend themselves to some degree. AI aside, I love the new military model. It’s so much better than the stacks of doom model of previous Civs. I like how culture works. I think I like the new global Happiness model that essentially replaces stuff like corruption and healthiness, although I’m not convinced it’s well-balanced yet. (Others seem to think there’s a lot of ways to exploit happiness, but this is probably more a concern for players more skilled than I. Still, Firaxis may have oversimplified in relying on that mechanic to dictate empire growth.)
And also, to be fair, I did see the AI do some things that were, well, if not especially smart, certainly correct. Long after I vanquished Alexander, Napoleon came trolling from across the sea. He surrounded the city state of Stockholm with galleons (I think). I was not looking for war with France, but I also did not want to lose Stockholm as an ally. So, I exploited my giant tech lead by gifting Stockholm with a destroyer. As soon as that ship was in Stockholm’s port, Napoleon wasted no time in pulling back, rather than fight an uphill battle. That’s good. (Also, there’s a perverse thrill to be had from launching a torpedo attack from your sub on a nearby frigate. BOOM!)
I think the take home is ultimately that this game is a load of fun early on where you're just learning how it's evolved from CivIV (or learning it for the first time). Firaxis took a lot of chances and tried a lot of new things with this game and I respect that *a lot*. That said, long term, it really looks to me like Firaxis has a ton of work to do to get this game balanced and running the way it needs to. Their history says they will, but until they get a legit patch in the field, you should buy the game knowing that long term enjoyment from the gameplay is probably limited for the foreseeable future. (And by long term, I mean in the 40+ hour range. I put about 15 hours into my first game on a standard size map and game length and am far from tired of it. I can just see some of the writing on the wall.)
Yes, you can up the difficulty, but personally, I don’t enjoy the game as much when I know I’m getting beat just because the AI has ridiculous production and research advantages. I like to be challenged on a level, or only modestly tilted, playing field. That’s something I got from the previous games that it looks like I’m unlikely to get here. I’ve started a new game on King (5) and we’ll see how it goes. I hope to be proved wrong.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Sorry about that.
In the meantime, here's my take on FIFA 11. Good game. Really good, actually.
In other news, my back is killing me. Played in my Monday night hoops league last night and had a rough, rough night.
If you play sports, or played sports, you know that there are people who simply have your number. I played against my nemesis last night. Whenever this guy guards me, I struggle.
He's taller and faster than me and for a guy who makes his hay coming off screens and shooting three pointers, that's a tough matchup. The guy just refuses to let me shoot and he's tall enough to take on screens and still affect my shot, which forces me to do one of two things: step back and shoot particularly long threes, or try and drive past him, or simply not look to shoot and play as decoy. (where's the fun in that?)
This brings us to my ankles, which is why I rarely drive past anyone anymore.
Well last night, after about 20 minutes and a grand total of 3 points on about 1-6 shooting I decided I had to try and change it up.
In our league I am known for three things:
1. Realistic range of about 20 feet
2. An inability to play moderately good defense (thanks ankles)
3. A scoop shot that I have perfected over the past 25 years. I can get this scoop shot off from anywhere in the paint -- it drives big men INSANE because everyone wants to block that shot, but rarely do.
I don't go near the paint much anymore but when I do you can almost guarantee that a scoop is coming.
Last night, I HAD to try and get past this guy guarding me because I was basically taken out of the game. I come off a screen, reverse drive around the screen, which trapped the defender, and I make my way into the lane where a 6'5 guy is waiting for me and I flash the scoop at him -- but fake the shot, keeping the ball in my extended hand.
He's salivating because he wants to block this shot -- but as most big men are -- he' s a tad over anxious and not too bright (I kid, I kid) so he leaps expecting to throw the ball into the stands and lands--
My back goes "pop". I'm now the one feeling stupid.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
We had to suffer through a few bouts of rain, but it was well worth it.
It's a rite of passage for me and my father to attend an OSU game every year, and we aren't going to do it sitting in the corner of the end zone. We were at the Texas game and the USC game, which didn't work out as planned. But we were also at the 2002 and 2005 Michigan games, the 2002 Washington St game, the 2003 Washington game, and many, many other games where OSU rolled on to victory.
Saturday's game was one of the strangest games I have seen in a long, long time. 36-24 OSU and it could have been closer than that OR could have been a blowout for the Buckeyes. Miami returns two kicks for touchdowns, OSU picks off 4 passes, settles for 5 FGs -- 4 of which were red zone field goals and had a TD called back on a hold.
It was a huge win for OSU as the Bucks needed to get that early season OOC match up monkey off its back. That won't stop Mark May from calling OSU too slow to compete against teams from the south..or the east or the far east, but whatever. He's a tool.
Oh, yeah, the Browns managed to lose another 2nd half lead. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Title Update 3 (TU3)
* The pump fake exploit was resolved. The entire defense will no longer rush the QB after a pump fake.
* Resolved an issue with setting SS/ FS to QB Spy and then blitzing, virtually unblocked.
* Increased the Overall rating for incoming freshman. This resulted in one and two star freshman coming in at a higher overall rating.
* In Season Progression is back! Players once again have the ability to get a slight boost to their ratings during the season.
* There was an issue with Hawaii's home schedule causing conflicts with particular teams. This has been resolved. In particular, teams in the Pac 10 and the WAC will now have the correct number of conference games.
* Resolved an issue with the Rush Defense slider where they were only impacting defensive line special moves. They have been adjusted to also impact win/loss chances for blocking.
Live Tuning Pack 3 (LTP3)
* Kick Power/Kick Accuracy progression for Kickers and Punters was adjusted to be in line with the new incoming freshmen. Kickers and punters will now progress in line with other players, but will start with a higher average overall due to the improved recruit ratings in the patch.
* Increased Awareness progression for all positions.
* Increased progression slightly for Elusiveness, Spin Move, and Juke Move for Wide Receivers.
* Increased progression of the Tackle rating for Corner Backs to be in line with WR skill ratings (Juke, Spin, and Elusiveness).
* Reduced the frequency of defenders successfully jumping the snap. Also adjusted how frequently they would jump early when the offense performed a fake snap.
* Tuned Man Coverage so defenders will not jump in front of routes so early. They will still jump the route, but not as early, or frequently, as before.
* Adjusted in season progression to be in line with higher rated incoming freshmen.
* Tuned Incoming freshman to better match the spread on the default rosters.
* Tuned team prestige progression to be in line with the changes to incoming freshmen.
In many ways, I suppose college football is like life.
After their win over a very overrated VTech team, Boise's road to a national championship game now runs through the mighty Oregon State Beavers.
Can this Boise St. team play with the "big boys?" Of course. They have proven that more than once.
Is it easier gearing up for two big games a year with the rest of the schedule filled with Power Puff Girls?
It kinda is, yeah.
Give Ohio State, Alabama, or hell even Michigan that schedule and watch as the Wolverines rattle off a 9 or 10 win season.
But congrats to the Broncos. They are half way home now to a potential title game appearance.
Monday, September 6, 2010
So, I’ve spent a couple days digesting the Michigan game. I went into the year unsure of what my expectations should be. In general, I expected that Michigan would have an offense that would rank in the upper half of the Big 10 and a defense that would remain in the lower half.
What I saw on Saturday was *really* impressive. It’s easy to just say, “Well, it’s only UConn,” but 48 hours ago a lot of people, both on TV on and off and including myself, thought the Huskies had a legitimate shot of coming to the Big(ger) House and walking out with a W. It would be par for the course after three years of The Horror (Appalachian State), Utah, Toledo, etc.
There’s plenty of reason for concern, no question. Bill’s right. Denard cannot carry the ball 29 times a game on a Big10 schedule. I was starting to get upset he was still in the game into the fourth quarter. I was also really pissed that when Denard went out in the 3rd after dinging his hip that true freshman Devin Gardner came in. The game was still potentially in doubt and we’re running out a guy who’s never taken a college snap instead of the guy who started and played most of 12 games last year in Tate Forcier. Just how bad must this kid’s work ethic and attitude have been this past off-season for him not to have seen the field after being a reasonably effective freshman quarterback last year (given he played half of it injured). And, frankly, if UConn had shown any competence whatsoever in the passing game this turns into a shootout.
Now, to be fair. I think you have to give the Michigan D some credit for being disruptive. There were a lot times when the Dline put pressure and hits on the UConn QB (Frazer?). Also, for all the times UConn tossed an errant pass or dropped a ball, there was also a young player in Michigan’s secondary breaking up a pass or causing a fumble. If you’re going to point out a dropped third down pass in the first quarter that would’ve given UConn a first and goal, you also have to point out their second quarter fluke passing conversion on third down that did lead to a late touchdown. The game could’ve just as easily been 30-3. Good teams with experienced quarterbacks are going to shred that secondary this year. No question. I’m just saying it wasn’t all a fluke in M’s favor.
Offensively, I really think those guys are for real this year. Yes, Michigan leaned too heavily on Dilithium Robinson racking up a single-game QB rushing record 195 yards, but the man was also something like 19-22 passing on Saturday. That’s absurd even if it’s a low per pass average. Every time he threw the ball it was at an open receiver or put in place on the numbers. There were no flukes. If it turns out this guy can be an effective passer on passes over 10 yards, which he was on multiple occasions yesterday, what are you going to do as an opposing defense? You can’t stop the conventional running game (which, granted, ended up underwhelming a bit after a good start), the passing game, and the Shoelace. Also overlooked yesterday is the offensive line, which is now experienced and has Molk back. They were was superb against UConn. Barring injury, Michigan is going to score points this season.
So, belated prediction time, now that I’ve had a chance to see this team play for real. You’re gonna say I’m a homer and that I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. Maybe I am. But I think *if* you see this team win at Notre Dame next weekend you’re going to see them get off to a 6-0 start (UConn, at ND, Mass, Bowling Green, at Indiana, Michigan State). I’m probably underselling MSU, but let’s be honest, that team exists to disappoint its fans. After that, I think they win two of the remaining mid-season games (Iowa, at Penn St., Illinois, Purdue) before dropping their last home game in Wisconsin and, of course, getting beat in Columbus. That would be an 8-win season that all but ensures Rodriguez is back next year.
The big question in that is whether or not the defense improves as the freshmen in the secondary gain experience. If they do, Michigan will get tougher to beat over the course of the year. If it turns out other teams get better at exploiting them, then it gets dicey. ND and MSU could easily end up as losses and that could prove disastrous.
Is the ship finally about to be righted? Dare to dream.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Michigan played its best game in years yesterday, with a QB that runs the West Virginian's offense to the letter. What an amazing game by Robinson.
I have thus revised my prediction from a 5-7 season for UM to 7-5. I have no idea if 7-5 saves the man's job, but I do see 7 wins on that schedule. (UCONN, ND, UMASS, IU, BGU, Illinois, Purdue)
I think with Tater Tot playing UM may very well lose that game vs UCONN, and I think they beat ND Saturday, I really do. And hope they do.
Robinson is going to get killed, eventually. I hate offenses like this because physiology tells you that if a kid takes THAT many shots something is going to eventually give. He got nicked up yesterday and as the season rolls on that's only going to get worse -- and *everything* hinges on this guy for Michigan to succeed. Even if he's not "injured" will this be the same guy in week 7 as in week 1? The grind of the Big10 is brutal, and Robinson doesn't have Slaton/Devine to take the pressure off. And the defenses in the Big10 are better than what WVU faced in the Big East.
I still think that defense sucks. UCONN failed to take advantage of plays that better teams will not miss out on -- UM matches up extremely well with a team like that. UM started 4-0 last year, too, so before you start punching Rose Bowl tickets I would advise some caution. But I am a firm believer that the Big10 is better when Michigan and OSU are both elite level teams, so congrats to UM for getting out of the gate.
A question: Was RichRod playing cat and mouse by not declaring Robinson the starter earlier? Or is the guy that poor of an evaluator? What took so long to give this kid the keys?
Friday, September 3, 2010
What was the story last night?
Let's play Pick the Website that has this as the lead :
1. "Looking for the first upset of the season? Look no further. Jordan Wynn throws for three TDs as Utah beats No. 15 Pittsburgh 27-24 in OT."
2. "Immediate Impact: Utah Edges #15 Pitt"
3. " Buckeyes, Canes ready for each other - The start of college football is here at last, but it doesn't provide much of a test for Ohio State or Miami. That challenge comes next week when they face each other."
4. "Off And Running USC opened a new era by hanging 49 on Hawaii"
These headlines are taken from SI.com, The Sporting News, CBS Sports line, and ESPN.
Which one is from ESpin?
If you chose 4, you realize how embarrassing ESPN is to the sports world.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
It's such an odd game -- and I agree with Troy's opinion pretty much right down the line. It was released way too soon, has incomplete and undocumented features and an AI that simply doesn't put up much of a fight.
This genre is in my wheelhouse, and I'm shelving it until most likely this winter, when Stardock manages to finish what they started.
What I REALLY want to talk about is NHL 11.
But I can't.
But I really want to.
I love this game.
Monday, August 30, 2010
- Mafia 2 is very, very disappointing. I'm coming up on a bit of a lull of sorts and this game looked perfect to fit the bill however I have no desire to spend most of my time driving. That is when I'm not dealing with shitty checkpoints. The checkpoint save system needs to die screaming in a fire as a warning to any that would come after it. I still have the demo on my 360 and I still want to play it to see the good parts but that's pretty much all I'll do. I wonder if Danielle's comments about having a shortened time to put in actual gameplay are at all on the money. Only 2K knows for sure. Here's Bill's final review. It ended up being one of his better ones. I give the man shit but I forget how well he can make those words dance.
- Elemental sounds really, really interesting but I'm sure I have neither the brain power nor the computing power to handle it. As I get older, I fear more games are going to fall into that category however for the former reason, not the latter.
- I wonder if Gold's Gym had a lot of input into the game with their name on it. Having a dance workout game that involves bull fighting and kangaroo boxing sounds like something that didn't get an OK from corporate until it was too late. They should team up with Cabela's for the next game and have you jogging away from crazed grizzlies as you try to line up a shot on a caribou. You're welcome Gold's Gym.
- I played some Scott Pilgrim with friends at lunch today and man, that game is hella chaotic with a bunch of people. I think I died more with teammates than by myself. It certainly is useful to have them give you all of their money towards Scott's rental fee, but there is a lot of friendly fire going on which can make things difficult. Still though, I'd much rather play it with other people than alone, however without support for Live co-op, once the review is up I won't be doing either. If I don't get the ending where Scott and Ramona live happily ever after I can only hope her next suitor doesn't have to go through the same bullshit for her affections.
- And Yet It Moves is a very enjoyable game if you like kooky puzzle games.
- Knowing the kinds of games Danielle prefers, I totally understand the whole adventure angle. Mowing down waves of soldiers or terrorists may be good for escapism or venting some anger but it's not very adventurous. Not in the same way as something like Mass Effect or Super Mario Galaxy. My tastes tend to run the same as Danielle's however I do like the occasional foray into the more realistic for things like GTA IV or Red Dead Redemption. I am defining realism very loosely here but you get the idea.
- Those Ultima games sound badass. If I grew up playing those and then played Fallout 3, I'd be pretty pissed too. There's something to be said for going back to the older style of video game story telling where you had to have big ideas to make up for the limitations in your ability to tell the story. People are so enamored with graphics nowadays you can get away with horrible writing like "ten shitloads" and not think twice about it as long as the character delivering the line follows it up with chainsawing someone's nuts off.
- I have no idea if Locust have nuts. Given that the Beserkers are the females, I hope for the sake of the male Locust that they do not. On second thought, I don't even want to go there.
- I think it's funny that Bill was, as a young lad, so eager to play board games with his dad and I can't get my kid to focus long enough to play Chutes and Ladders. Then again that's not that funny. Chutes and Ladders is a horrible, horrible game. A blighted hellscape with no ending. No wonder my kids hate it. Seriously though, my son isn't big on rules, which are helpful for games, so board gaming isn't his thing. I'm considering starting him on the new streamlined 4E D&D however I'm not sure how well that would play with two people. At least with that game I can change up the rules to match his capricious whims.
- I realized after the show that I got the name of the game in my story wrong. It was Trauma Center: Under the Knife. Trauma Team is the sequel for the Wii that came out recently. I'm sure the game isn't as bad as I'm making it out to be but, at the same time, were I to play it now I'd probably flash back to long Russian nights and Coca-Cola that tastes like pepper. Better to just leave it alone.
- In truth, my love of Zelda has nothing to do with my son and instead has to do with the ability to hook up your GBA SP and go treasure hunting with Tingle. Oh Tingle, what a colossal freak you are.
- I gave Todd hell in the outtakes, but it does come from a loving place. Todd and I occupy the parts of the show that involve the bulk of the technical work (with Todd doing the bulk of that bulk) yet we don't have the listener draw of Bill or Danielle. I know that I've enjoyed the camaraderie that has come with it and I express it by giving him shit and lots of it. Sometimes that expresses itself by threatening to put a Nerf dart through his skull but it's a Nerf dart of love tipped with friendship, or something like that. Plus, what you don't hear are the litany of "sex with your mom" jokes he throws my way so don't get too teary eyed over my abuse of poor Todd. The man is a deviant and, from what he tells me, possibly my step-father.
The other big release I am messing with is Elemental, a game which we will have a review for tomorrow. Troy's review is very fair, as you'd expect from him. A very frustrating game -- I think there's a great strategy game buried underneath the obtuse UI and the weird AI and the flavorless world. But like many Stardock games it will need another few months of cooking time.
I'll talk more tomorrow after I post the review.
NHL 11 is in the house (it came a day after NHL Slapshot.) Both games we cannot talk about due to embargo limits. But we will have reviews for both games on the 7th. I'm doing NHL 11 and, as noted earlier, Todd is handling Slapshot.
Only three live reviews for NHL 2K11 Wii even though it has been out for a week which leads me to believe 2K Sports was very stingy with their review copies. Looking at those scores, perhaps that is not a coincidence. I'm just sayin'.
Finally, the new JTS is live. It's a good show. In fact this is the "very special episode" where we talk about our past and have a big group hug at the end. I smell Emmy.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
- EA has sent NHL Slapshot for the Wii which I thought was incredibly cool at E3. Todd is doing that review. Embargo is 9/7 but I will check with EA to see if we (well, Todd) can blog about it beforehand.
- I'm working on an NBA Elite Q&A, look for that soon.
- 2K sent Mafia II a couple of days ago, which I am reviewing and will post some thoughts on that soon.
- Elemental is out from Stardock, a game which Todd and I have been clamoring for since, well, a long time now. After a VERY rough launch I have warmed to the game quite a bit. It's very brown. Anyway lots to talk about over the next few days to stay tuned.
- Oh, 2K did not send NHL 2K11 for the Wii. Shrug. Not sure why.
Monday, August 23, 2010
- Listening to the show I wish I had realized how completely dense I sounded during the Battlefield conversation. I don't know why I didn't get the fact that you had to blow up the control points, but I didn't. I thought that you blew them up so that other people couldn't capture them so that you then lost slower. Seriously, this was my thinking. In retrospect, that's just stupid and I should have kept my mouth shut. Now that I think of it, that describes about 90% of my interactions with other people.
- The decision to take online co-op out of Lara Croft and the Light Whatever is seriously, one of the dumbest decisions to come down the gaming pike in some time. Yeah sure, it's a great co-op couch game, but seriously, who has people over to play co-op games? I'm 38 fucking years old. I'm not in third grade. I'm not going to ask my friends to come over and play Lara Croft. I don't care how great your game is, it's not going to happen. It's entirely possible I'm not the audience for this game, and I get that, but still, taking out online co-op was just plain stupid and in this hobby, asking people to wait a month for something like that is like asking them to wait a decade. By the time the co-op feature is available, people won't give a shit any more. I hope I'm wrong as it sounds like a good game and I'd like to see the people who made it rewarded for their efforts.
- To Todd's Starcraft point, pretty much every game that has a multiplayer component does a horrible job at preparing you for said component when you play the single player, but in the case of Starcraft where things like build order and tech tree management is so important, along with a highly developed twitch response, I can see it being even worse. In shooters, the single player campaign is going to have you learning the basic mechanics of MP, namely shooting at dudes who are also shooting at you. Crank up the difficulty and you have to do a better job at shooting them, even if it's not as good as a job as you'd have to do in MP. In RTS's, if you have a mission that emphasizes the use of a particular unit, getting really good at that unit won't mean jack shit if Homeboy on the other end has a strategy that makes your unit useless. I'm just sayin'. Of course, having a useless unit is something Todd should be familiar with by now, so I don't know what he's complaining about. Zing!
- I'm not kidding about the bears in RDR. They are frequent occurances, presumably because, unlike many of the other animals in the game, they only show up in one geographical area and that area is a very small subsection of the map. As a result, they pop up all of the time. In fact, elk and big horn sheep also show up there and unlike every other hunting challenge in the game which will make your current target of choice impossible to find even if you were ankle deep in said creature not seconds before they became your target, I had no problems getting enough elk meat and sheep horns. I also killed over 20 bears while doing so and this was in the space of about 45 minutes. This is not an exaggeration.
- I wish Bill had been on the show to agree with me about Rock Band 3. I feel like we disagree a lot, or can't speak to each other's opinion so this may have been our only chance. I'm sure the game will be great, I just don't like the idea of starting all over. Plus, the achievements are not appetizing at all. I usually don't take achievements into account for rhythm games as I suck on pretty much every instrument, but with the Pro mode and the keyboard, the amount of points I can get is even further reduced. Yes I'm a slave to my score, and no I don't have a problem with it. I think Harmonix will do just fine without my 60 bucks.
- As for Halo: Reach, I've been killing the Covenant for like ten years now. It'd be nice to shoot something new.
- Hydrophobia looks interesting, even if the trailer is suprisingly bereft of water power action. See for yourself.
- I'm with Mitch on Fable 3. I played both of the previous games and got all of the points in the second one, but I could give a shit about making my kingdom's subjects happy. Plus, the game simply will not deliver on what it promises and will instead shoehorn some shitty design invention into everything and take away from the interesting stuff as a result. Not to mention that they have some seriously shitty character design. I'd rather not spend another 40 hours with a female character that looks like the offspring of Frankenstein and an East German swimmer.
- Danielle was not kidding about her room at E3. It was disgusting. It smelled like you were living in someone's armpit. And that was after Danielle watched the cleaning staff clean the place.
- I still don't understand playing updated versions of old games for the sake of nostalgia, much along paying for the experience. As Todd has said before, I hate old games and this is pretty much true. Either do something really new with it or don't even bother. Hell, I don't even want to play updated versions old games I haven't played so much do I hate old games. Die old games, die!
The money quote:
Moving forward, we are working on addressing some of the most common feedback in upcoming title updates. You all already know that we are planning on releasing an update to enable old-school pre-play controls right around the start of the NFL season, which also will include the brand new Madden Moments LIVE feature where you can replay the top games from each week. In that update we will also have numerous art, gameplay, and stability fixes included as well. Along with that, we have also planned a second update to come towards the end of September. Below is a list of the top priority issues we seem to be hearing the most about that we are looking at:
- Fixing a bug to allow friend invites to ranked games
- Generally making pass defense more effective
- Reducing number of broken tackles
- Fixing user blitz exploit(s)
- Tuning injuries
- Tuning CPU & GameFlow play-calling logic
- Improving play action blocking
- Improving kick return blocking
- Improving online connectivity issues with kick meter lag, media streaming, etc.
- Random stability improvements
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Whee whee whee, all the way home.
- Jeff McAllister was our guest this week and Jeff is one of the most laid back dudes you'll ever talk to, as you can tell from the show. Part of his speaking style came from being nervous that Bill was going to yell at him. Wonder where he'd get that from. Jeff has wanted to be on the show since day one and we've been lazy in asking him to come aboard so I'm glad he finally got to be on. I liked the topic too, what with BioShock Infinite being announced that day.
- Speaking of BioShock Infinite, I think the response of the gaming press bugged me more than the announcement of a game that's two years out. The latter is something that happens all of the time so it's not a big deal but the former seemed to be a whole bunch of incredulity that people would dare be disappointed that Irrational is going back to the BioShock well. I get it, it's a new city and the theme is different but it's still a dude with a gun and powers. Does that mean the game won't be great? Not at all but for folks hoping to see a new IP from Irrational there are reasons to be disappointed. The "trust us, we've seen it" twittering that came afterwards bugged me even more.
- Monday Night Combat sounds interesting, but so do a lot of things that I end up not playing so that I can instead spend 45 minutes looking for bobcats to kill only to have one spawn on the roof in a Mexican hideout. True story.
- Speaking of Red Dead Redemption, hoo boy, we sure lit a fire under Bill on this one. I think my new rule is going to be to not play games that Bill is playing, or at least find out if he had issues with the game before I play it. If I'm not playing a game for critical purposes I tend to let a lot of things go, or at the very least just say "yeah, fuck this" and quit so my anger level doesn't really get too high (Dragon Age DLC not included as you'll hear in the outtakes). Can I be a better critic if I look at all games that I play critically? No doubt, but that seems so much less fun for some reason. Bill and I chatted about this one day and he likes seeing everything critically to the point where things like Bonnie jump out whereas I tend to want to just go with the flow and have a good time. For recreational games both approaches work, however when the time comes to be critical I have to flip a switch whereas he doesn't and I can't say that the switch always gets flipped as soon as it should. In reality, I fucking hate gaucho pants so I'm glad the bitch left.
- I also hate capri pants but that's a talk for another time.
- Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin is a hoot, if only because you get a score at the end of the day and can then hoard that over your kid for the rest of the vacation. Nothing like a seven year old driven to tears because only the high scorer gets lemonade. Suck it Timmy!
- My kid is not named Timmy, his name is Ben and I did not withhold lemonade. I'm just putting that out there.
- The Snoop Dogg game I was talking about was called Fear and Respect. Here's a link to a copy of the mag with Snoop on its cover. It's funny, but I remember a time when the review of a game would be on the cover, not a preview, but I also remember Zips and that makes me incredibly old. I think Jeff and Todd's point about coming up, saying "hey, we're making this game" and then leaving is an excellent one. Two years out, what else do you need to say? I do wonder if people cheered at the end of the Irrational reveal. I bet they did. Boo, game journalists! Boo!
- Here's a fun fact: Canadian Smarties are actually UK Smarties which are like M&M's and are not available in the US. US Smarties are small, sugary tablets wrapped in cellophane. With this knowledge, Jeff's comment makes more sense because I was originally thinking that Smarties are kind of lame and who gets that excited about Smarties, but if they're like M&M's in Canada I completely understand. Neither manifestation of Smarties explains why Bill doesn't know what they are. That level of candy ignorance is unacceptable in modern society.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
The fixes are many.
This one caught my eye:
- Tuned Kick Power and Kick Accuracy of progression of kickers and punters in Dynasty Mode
The problem? It's still 100% broken. This tuning pack does ZIP to address the real issue.
OK, let me try and make this as clear as I POSSIBLY can:
The issue is not just "progression" -- the issue is:
THE FRESHMEN KICKERS SUCK!
THEY COME IN RATED AS LOW AS 45 OVR WITH THE ABILITY OF MY 9 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER! THEY LITERALLY CANNOT MAKE EXTRA POINTS!
In 2012 USF still signs 1 kicker who is rated a 46 overall and can't make an extra point. Until THIS gets fixed Dynasty Mode, for me and a lot of others, remains useless. Utterly useless.
The Patch notes end with this:
This update is for you Mr. Passionate-NCAA-Football-Gamer.
Designer NCAA Football
*Insert forehead into open palm*
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Right up until the bear hunting starts.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
For the past several months Ashley has been going to 4H. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of 4H -- here ya go.
Ashley's group works with dogs with the culminating event being the Hartford Fair Dog Show where the kids do their best Westminster impersonation.
Ashley has been working with our 5 year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Skipper. We think he's around 5. We got him at a local shelter a couple of years ago. Being that I work from home Skip attached to me immediately and Ashley was frustrated because he became more my dog than hers.
This was the whole point of doing Dog 4H. Ashley wanted to try to bond more with Skipper.
So we'd take the 20 minute drive every week to dog practice where Ashley would work with Skipper, learning how to show him and how to work with him in a formal "dog show" setting.
It wasn't easy and required daily hand feedings by Ashley so as to train Skipper to both listen to commands and to trust her. Months or practice.
We had been in a few "practice" shows over the summer, getting ready for the fair and Ashley did ok. There is the dog show part and an oral exam part where she has to answer questions from the dog handbook. She's a really smart kid but tends to get worked up when taking oral tests.
So anyway Saturday was Fair Day and the dog show lasts from 9 til around 4 so we were there literally all day. Ashley and Skipper performed so amazingly well Saturday that both Mary and I were stunned. So when Ashley was awarded the 1st place trophy and the blue ribbon for winning her Jr division it was one of those surreal parenting moments -- much like what a father feels watching his son score the winning goal or hitting the late inning homer.
I was filled with pride after she won because she had worked so hard on this for months on end.
I was shocked she placed first not because of the ring performance (she and Skipper really nailed that) but she also did great on the exam portion. Even Ashley couldn't believe it.
I think the best part of all, though, was when Ashley went over to her friend who also showed her dog and that dog flipped out due to being in close proximity to cows that were being shown the next day and stabled nearby.
Her dog simply would not perform. This little girl was devastated. Ashley walked over, after giving me the trophy and ribbon to hold, and basically consoled her for the next 15 minutes. It's just the kind of kid she is.
As parents we all have moments with our kids that we know will stick. Ask me what Ashley did over this summer or last summer and it's all a blur. Ask me 10 years from now what Ashley did over the summer of 2010 and I will immediately tell you: That's the summer she and Skipper bonded and won at the fair.
It was definitely one of those moments.
Monday, August 9, 2010
- Along with being our 30th show, this marks six months in the podcasting business for us. When we first started this, had you told us we'd be doing it six months from now I think we all would have laughed at you. Then you would have gone to prom any way and ended up killing us in a blood soaked, telekinetic nightmare.
- We had to go with the Skype feed as some of the individual audio tracks were messed up. I give Todd shit all of the time but his insistence on audio redundancy has saved this show on more than one occasion. The day we lose an entire show is coming and when it happens we'll have Todd act out Dr. Horrible in its entirety in the show's place. We all know he can do it.
- Michael Barnes is, hands down, my favorite guest on the show because the man is an absolute force of nature once he gets started. On the one hand, it's like trying to corral a tornado but when you see someone so passionate about games, it's hard not to get caught up in it. I want to make a ringtone of him saying "Gordon Freeman!". It would probably also act well as one of those super-sonic mole deterrents.
- I'm glad to have Tom back on the show because Tom is one of those people who makes you better at your job simply by talking to him. It's very easy in this job to get caught up in the "fun" and think a game is great because it's fun, and fun certainly has it's place, but Tom makes you think about why you like the things you say you like. I remember walking back from E3 with him and talking about Epic Mickey and when I told him what it was about, his response was "So it's just a platformer?" He wasn't dismissive, just probing to get me to think about what it was about the game that I liked. We don't have enough people like that in this business, and I include myself in that deficiency.
- Speaking of Tom, I'm so glad Todd asked Tom his thoughts on being a contrarian. It is easy to remember the high profile dislikes of any reviewer and come to the incorrect assumption that they don't like anything. I know I've done it as I'm sure we all have. Getting Tom's take on things was great.
- Since recording the show I have played Bonnie's last mission in Red Dead Redemption and I still don't get it. I guess Miss McaFarlane just didn't resonate as deeply with me as she did with others. Now that guy who likes to sleep with horses? We need more of him.
- As I mentioned before, I we didn't come to a consensus on which game was better, Metro 2033 or Half-Life 2 but that wasn't really the point. It's like when the news tells you that there's an item in your house that can kill you and they mean some obscure food item that causes cancer and not the rack of unsecured shotguns. In talking about Half-Life 2 though I remembered how much I ended up not liking that game by the end of it. The two episodes afterwards didn't help much as playing Strider tag was an exercise in supreme frustration. I wish I had liked Metro 2033 more so that I could see these awesome set pieces and this amazing ending. I guess Metro was my Alan Wake in that I'd like to see the story but I don't want to have to play it to do so. For the record, I was able to make that distinction without calling Metro a "piece of shit." Not that anyone on the show did that with Alan Wake. No sir.
That Todd, what a gullamaroon.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Grasu (49er rookie QB, with middling ratings) 15/36 242 1 INT (43 of those yards on a last dribe hail mary)
McCoy 13/24 174 1 TD. McCoy's best game in many a week.
Gore: 20 carries 155 yards. Could not stop him. He broke off a 79 yard run in the 2nd quarter.
Harrison: 20 for 162. Finally got Jerome back on track. First play of the game he went for a 59 yard sweep.
The games are starting to show a lot of variety which I love. This was the complete opposite of the Titans game I played the other night. A total 180.
After 10 games (I am 7-3 right now, in a 3 way tie with Pitt and Baltimore) here are some AFC team rankings for the Browns. Remember this is the 2011 season, not this year.
- 1st in Team Rushing. Again, don't chuckle at this. The left side of my OLine is brilliant, Thomas, Steinbeck and Mack are all 90+ rated linemen and I run behind them constantly and Harrison only lacks tackle breaking and awareness but with me controlling him he's a top 5 back with 90+ ratings in speed, acceleration, etc. The little dude is hard to catch.
- 9th in the AFC in passing. McCoy is having an OK year. I have been sacked 22 times in 10 games, btw.
- LAST in Pass Defense. Yeah...sorta suck but we are getting better as I am learning what defenses we are better at running. I'm also doing a lot of zone in the middle of the field because the AI loves those over the middle plays.
- 8th in rush defense. I love not being #1 here. The AI can run the ball in this game. No doubt. And my only real beast on the Dline is Rogers. Everyone else is a 70 something rated player.
- However we are 2nd in sacks. I tend to blitz a lot...which also contributes to me being last in pass defense...
- Finally a huge reason I am 7-3? +10 in turnovers. We have recovered 14 fumbles in 10 games.
Anyway, I don't know if I will be able to get the review posted on Tuesday because I still have some online testing to do. But as for solo play I am reaching the conclusion that while I still wish the feature set was a bit different the on the field play is growing on me at a pretty fast clip.