Category Archives: Gaming

Thursday notes

Just a quick post to let you know that I’m still alive.

Still dealing with some issues with getting our house in Wisconsin sold, but we look to be very close to having the family back together again.

Outside of that, I’ll be posting my impressions of Football Manager 2015, which releases tomorrow, at some point in the next week.

Lastly, the funeral for my grandfather was a difficult time but I thank all of you who sent notes to me for your concern.  I greatly appreciated all of your kind thoughts and words.

Talk to you all again soon.

NHL 15 thoughts

I’ve only been able to play a few games but here are my very early thoughts about NHL 15.

– After 3 games, I had already seen a repeat video introduction (by Doc Emmerick and Eddie Olczyk) at the beginning of the game.  That doesn’t bode very well for how quickly you’re going to want to skip through that particular pregame feature.

The NHL on NBC presentation throughout the game is very well done and does look quite a bit like an actual game broadcast, so that is definitely an enhancement to the game.

– Visually, the new physics engine is quite impressive and does a great job with the replication of how players bodies react to hits.  There are still some times where players move in a robotic fashion that doesn’t look right and when those moments happen, it is quite jarring.  There are times when you see a CPU player try a tricky stick move to slide a puck past a defender that are incredibly cool though.  It’s in each of those moments that you feel like the game is really moving towards something special in the future, sadly there are a lot of other issues that make you think that we could be waiting a while to get to a point when the game is really feature complete.

– Crowd audio doesn’t really seem in sync with how the game action is taking place.  In one of my games I put a tremendous hip check into a player and was there wasn’t a bit of crowd noise for the hit.  Other times, a period would end and the crowd wouldn’t make a noise for a few seconds then, all of a sudden, they would react like the team scored.  So, there are definitely some audio issues there.

– My early experiences with the game play have been terrific.  In my first game (the matchup that you have to play between Los Angeles and New York once you launch the game) I fell behind quickly due to some bad defensive lapses, but was able was able to put a few goals together quickly to be able to make a game of it.

The pro level, that the game defaults to, does seem to allow for a good deal more scoring than in years past, so if you want some more arcade style scoring, that might be the way to go.

This may be due to the fact that goalies don’t seem to be superhuman at that level and are susceptible to getting beat by shots high to the stick or glove side.  I’ll play more at some of the higher difficulty settings later to see if that adjustment brings scoring to a more accurate level, but the pro level does allow for some fun, high scoring matchups.

– The Be a Pro feature needs some serious patching.  By default your player moves directly into the starting lineup for your team (regardless of rating,) which just seems wrong for a mode such as that one where you are trying to build yourself to be a superstar.

There are other minor issues, such as the fact that if you pick a jersey number it will change it to the next highest number when you are drafted by a team, rather than letting you select a different one.  (Like I said, it is a minor issue, but damnit I want to wear number #38.)

The biggest issue with the mode is the fact that you have to sit and watch the entire game when you are not on the ice.  People might say that it’s more realistic this way, but the mode didn’t play this way in the past.  When you were off the ice, in previous versions, it would let you press a button to skip to your next shift.  By doing that the games took a great deal less time.  This way, the games take a good deal longer than if you a playing as the entire team as the game doesn’t accept any of your button presses while you are on the bench, so you have to just sit there and watch players grabbing each other after every whistle.

– Lastly, there seems to be a great deal more focus on fighting in the game.  After almost every single frozen puck there is some sort of scuffle between players where a fight can begin.  I’m glad that fighting still exists in the game, but there are so very few instances where fights occur 5 or 6 times in a real NHL game, and I have seen at least that times where a fight could begin in each of my games thus far (including in the Stanley Cup matchup, which is just wrong.)

– With the state that the game is in right now, it’s hard to recommend a purchase of the title.  I’m glad that I took a chance on the game as a rental, because there are parts of the game play that are quite good, but the lack of feature parity with previous generation versions of the game, along with some of the poorly implemented new features really suggest that people wait until next year to try the game again.

Sunday notes

- So, I’ve entered year number two of avoiding college and professional football.  After this long, I have to say that it becomes easier and easier each day to skip football.  The people at work seem absolutely flabbergasted that I don’t watch it, but that’s probably because it’s such a huge part of the culture down here in the south.  Some of them seem to be taking it as a personal mission to get me back into the sport and no matter how strongly I tell them that I won’t be following the game, they just won’t listen.  Eventually they’ll have to give up on me though, right?

– If I wanted to be a very superstitious person, I could think that I’m to blame for the Brewers losing 11 of 12 games and completely falling out of the playoff pictures, because of my move to Atlanta.   But even as awesome as I am, I can’t make an entire team stop hitting and make an entire pitching staff fall apart like they have.  At least I’ve been able to keep watching the games via MLB.TV though.  Even though they are losing games, it’s still nice to see Miller Park and Wisconsin.

Even with the division title completely out of contention now, at least I can pull for them to try and crawl back into the Wild Card picture.  That’s what a good fan does, I guess.

– International competition week this early into the Premier League season really stinks.  I know that they are part of the larger world of soccer, but man, it would have been nice to have been able to see some soccer anywhere on TV this weekend.

– Seeing as how we are nearly 11 months from the launch of the Xbox One and Playstation 4, it is astounding to see how badly EA Sports has handled the launch of NHL 15, the first hockey game available for the new generation of consoles.

Polygon has taken a look into the features that have been removed from the previous generation of games and it is nothing short of shocking.  How they can try to justify the removal of all of those game play modes and settings and still try to convince users that it is a worthy purchase is beyond me.

– If anyone is picking up Destiny for the PS4 and hasn’t already added me to their friends list, go ahead and do so.  My PSN user name is Psunami.  I’ll be picking up the game at midnight tomorrow, because I don’t have much else to do, do I?

– Have a great week everyone.

Madden NFL 15 Impressions

Now that I’ve had a bit of time to play with Madden 15 for the PS4, I wanted to detail a few of my impressions for the game.

The first thing that I want to address have to deal with the loading times.  It seems like as the years have gone on, games load more and more slowly, and Madden seems to be no different.  Having said that, here are the loading times that I’ve experienced to this point.

– From starting the game from the PS4 dashboard to the “Press any button” title screen: 36.7 seconds

– From the “Press any button” page to the actual game menu (This second loading period is filled with loading your profile, the community gameplay recommendation, etc.) : 36.8 seconds

– Time to launch an actual game: 50.5 seconds to the pregame

– Time to skip to the kickoff from pregame: 16.7 seconds

– Time to get back to the main game menu when exiting after the completion of a game: 14 seconds

None of these loading time issues make the game any worse, but I do find myself walking away from the system or getting distracted by my phone just due to the fact that there is that waiting time built into the game.  The loading time that is probably the most frustrating is the one right at the start of the game.  Why send you to a screen where you have to press a button just to launch the game?  There is nothing else that you can do from that page, so it just seems to be a page to send you to just to break up a single longer loading time that you cannot avoid.  It’s just a silly and frustrating thing to start each game session with.

Beyond that, once you get into an actual game, there are some really nice changes on the defensive side.  For starters, the defensive line gameplay changes (along with the new camera angles on defense) really make the defensive side of the game a great deal more enjoyable.  As a person who almost always takes a defensive lineman, the snap-jumping and the new abilities to shed blocks are well received changes and add a great amount of depth to a segment of the game that seems to have been neglected in the past.

The tackle cone is another new feature that was added and while it may have seemed like a good idea, I found myself turning it off after a few games because I just found it distracting and haven’t felt that I was having a hard time judging when to make a tackle in the past.

If you are looking for large changes when you are in control of offense, you really won’t find too many differences from previous revisions as it seems that the lion’s share of the work in the game was spent on defense.  The one thing that you will notice when throwing a pass is that the passing accuracy for the QB’s has been adjusted so that some of the “lesser able” QB’s will tend to throw more incomplete (and erratic) passes than someone like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.  That change alone makes the game a bit more realistic, but I have already noticed a few times where good QB’s make some terrible throws when WR’s are wide open, so there is probably some tuning and adjusting that needs to be completed on that new feature before it’s all dialed in.

Another change is the newly added community recommendations that you can see during play selection.  When you go to select a play, the game presents you with data that they have collected to show how effective that particular play has been for you, along with how effective it has been for the entire Madden community.  While that feature does add to the loading times when you launch the game, it is a nice addition to see some of the data that EA Sports collects being presented back to the user.

Beyond the gameplay changes, the presentation for the game has gotten an overhaul and those changes are a bit of a mixed bag.  New sequences before and after plays really give the game a much more realistic broadcast feel and are nice additions, but what I didn’t care for was all of the new pregame and post game show material.  For the first few games they feel fresh and interesting but, like every sports game that I’ve ever played, they become tiresome and annoying after playing 10 or 15 games.  The halftime show in particular stands out because it can’t be skipped easily with a simple button press as you have to wait until it starts the highlights for the first half, and then press a button, before you can skip to the beginning of the second half.  Not a huge issue, but it is just another moment that adds more time to your game that wasn’t there in the past.

The connected franchise mode, which is probably at the heart of most people’s game experience with Madden, as it lets you play online or offline leagues, has been adjusted to include player confidence as a means increase or decrease player ratings as the season wears on.  Confidence is impacted by how well or poorly you play on the field as well as by the new Game Prep feature.  The Game Prep allows you decide which players or parts of your team that you want to focus on before each game.  In theory it seems like an interesting concept, but once I played a few games I started to let the CPU handle it for me because I just wasn’t seeing the value in it.

I can’t say too much about Ultimate Team changes, as I have some internet issues due to my move, but there seem to be more ways to collect cards outside of purchase that haven’t been there in past editions due to new objectives in the mode.  Those might be worth a look if you’re more of a solo player.

Based on my time with the game, I would say it’s definitely worth a rental, but if you really like the defensive side of the ball, you might want to pick it up as the changes there really make the game worthwhile.  If your main focus is Ultimate Team or the Connected Franchise, you might want to take a pass on it this year and stick with last years game.

Riding the Pines – Interview with Seann Graddy – Madden NFL 15

Today we bring to you an interview that I conducted with Seann Graddy, Senior Producer for EA Sports Madden NFL 15.

Here are a few of the topics that we covered in the interview.

– Changes in NFL involvement with the title over the years
– Camera changes
– Differences between Tackle Cone and Passing Cone
– The focus on defensive changes for this season
– What sorts of information they get from their telemetry that helps guide the game in the future
– Changes to the presentation for the game
– Ultimate team/Connected franchise changes

We hope you enjoy the interview!

Thursday notes

- So, we put in an offer on a house down in Georgia yesterday.  Hopefully we’ll hear something back on it shortly.  One week until I make my way down there.

– Dan beat me in the twitter race.  He hit 100 followers last week, while I’m still at 92.  This makes me sad in some way, but Dan rants about the NE Revolution a lot, so people probably enjoy that sort of thing.

– I started playing Fez this week, due to it being available for every Sony platform under the sun via Playstation Plus and I have to say that it is a very charming puzzle/platforming title.  The cross-save capabilities for the game are awesome as I can transition from the PS4 to the Vita version without any issues.  I love that feature and pray that Nintendo can put something like that together eventually for the WiiU and 3DS, but I won’t hold my breath on that happening (since there is only one Cross-buy title available at this point for Nintendo.)

– Tomorrow is my last day at work, so I’ll probably do a bit more posting next week as I have some more time during the days, but I am sure that I will end up sitting around eating Bon Bon’s and watching “my stories” instead.

Madden 15 deal at Best Buy (starts on 8/10)

Stick with me on this one kids, it does involve a few steps.

Next week, Best Buy will be offering $25 in trade-in credit for Madden 25 (for the PS4 and Xbox One versions,) plus a $10 coupon to be put towards Madden 15.

So, if you already have a copy, you can acquire Madden 15 for $25.  Good deal, huh?  It gets better if you do a few other things.

If you pre-order Madden 15, you can receive a $10 reward certificate when you pick up the game, so that takes it down to only paying $15 for the newest version of Madden for the PS4 or Xbox One.  If you have Gamers Club Unlocked, you get the game for $48 (after the automatic 20% off,) plus the $10 reward certificate, so you get the new version for only $3 after the trade-in, coupon, and reward certificate are all factored in.

Probably the best deal I’ve seen for getting a new version of a sports title in a while.

EA Access for Xbox One

So, EA has decided to launch an updated version of Season Access on the Xbox One where for $4.99 a month (or $29.99 a year) where you get access to their “Vault” which at the launch of their beta will include Battlefield 4, Madden NFL 25, and FIFA 14 along with 10% discounts on digital purchases on the Xbox One.

For a moment I thought this was a good deal, and could possibly see myself purchasing a single month rental from time to time just to play some old games, but when I look at the fact that I would be spending $30 a year to only get a 10% discount, why wouldn’t I just get the Gamer’s Club Unlocked at Best Buy (which has been down to $60 lately) which gets you 2 years where you get all games, for all platforms, for 20% off.

Sure, the “Vault” titles offer some incentives, but for me, I just can’t see a great benefit from this deal.

Thoughts?

Thursday notes

- Hey look, the site has been up for 2 days.  (Of course, that probably just jinxed the whole thing.  Damnit.)

– Not that I have bought the album yet, but I have been loving the new Weird Al videos that he is releasing daily.  How someone has been able to stay consistently funny all while working with different styles of music throughout the last 30 years is absolutely amazing to me.  I sincerely hope that he makes his way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at some point, as he truly deserves it.

– The Destiny beta launches today on the PS3 and PS4.  I will have 2 extra keys for the PS4 version, so send me a shout or a tweet if you want one of them.

–  Life has been pretty crazy of late (and next week will be no exception as almost zero downtime in the next week and a half.)  I’ll be posting updates as I can throughout though, because you know I love you all.

FIFA World Cup 14 (PS3) – $24.99 or $14.99 (PS Plus)

Considering the fact that Gamestop is still selling the 2010 FIFA World Cup title for $39.99, it’s a huge deal to see the newest edition of the World Cup games for $14.99 via the Playstation Store (if you have PS Plus ($24.99 if you don’t,) which you just should at this point.)

Most of the online reviews state that it’s more of a “fun” soccer simulation than FIFA 14 was, so it might be worth a go to hold you over until FIFA 15.  Of course this is all predicated on the fact that you might be interested in taking on the tournament for yourself.  If not, then please disregard.

Friday notes (What I’m playing edition)

- Woohoo!  The site has been up for 2 days without crashing.  Gotta love memory leaks in applications that cause database crashes. Or something.

– Dan has been bugging me to pick up Sniper Elite 3 and I just wanted to put forth a script to summarize almost every conversation that I have with him.

(Enter Glen.  A man, who even as he is approaching middle age, is still dashingly handsome.)

(Enter Dan.  A very strange individual.)

Dan: Hey! You should buy <insert game that came out in the last week.>

Glen: Why should I buy it?

Dan: Because it new and it’s a game.

And scene!

Seriously, this happens almost every single week.  It doesn’t have to be new games either.  Last night he was telling me that I should buy Bases Loaded on WiiU, because I should.

I think that living inside Dan’s mind would be one of the scariest places in the history of the world to be.

– Having said all that, I did try out Sniper Elite v2 (due to the fact that Steam had the game for free a few months ago) and have found that while playing it on the easiest setting that it is quite good.  It is certainly incredibly violent, but it does let you do something like this.  My best to this point is 2 kills with one shot, but it is fun to try and line up those kinds of shots and then pull them off.

I can imagine that the new version of the game has improved some of the aspects of the controls and graphics, but I’m definitely enjoying this game for the $0 that I paid for it.

– Also on the playlist of late is Assassin’s Creed IV for the PS4 and what has been interesting for me is that, for the most part, I’m completely ignoring the story (except to unlock the capability to complete certain events) and just cruising around from island to island wrecking the Caribbean and blowing up forts with the big-ass cannons on my ship.

I have absolutely zero interest in the multiplayer side of the game, but boarding ships and killing random Spanish and British sailing crew has been a blast for me.

– With my Club Nintendo rewards points, (I have far too much Nintendo stuff, and am still pissed about missing out on the Mario Bros shoelaces that they offered in the past) I picked up Kid Icarus 3D for the 3DS.

I don’t know if I was some sort of gaming savant in my earlier days or if my skills have faded that much, but the game kicked my arse when I played it last night.

There seems to be a great deal of nostalgia about making games hard again and I feel that eventually we’re going to reach a point where someone will create a game that punches you in the face every time you make a mistake just to make it “hardcore.”

Having said that, there is still something to completing a massive achievement in a game.  I still remember the feeling that I got when I beat Mike Tyson in Punch Out (had to use the cheat code to face him, as I could never beat him after defeating everyone else in the game.)  There is just something special about the challenge that was in some of those old games, so I will stick with Kid Icarus for a while and see if I can find some of my old skills, rusty as they are.

 

Tuesday notes

- Um, there is a pretty big soccer match today (outside of Argentina and Switzerland which was pretty boring for 115 minutes, but crazy exciting at the end.)  Dan and I will have more to say about that later.

– Thanks to the GOG.com sales last week, I’m now a proud owner of yet another copy of the entire Wing Commander series, but this time in digital form. (Only cost $6 during the sales last week, well worth that price tag.)

One of the great things about the internet is that you don’t even have to work all that hard to configure the titles to run nearly perfectly on any system now a days.  People on Youtube have done a tremendous job showing you all of the files to edit and settings to put in place so that you can get the games working beautifully in a very small amount of time.

The thing that they can’t help you with is the fact that asteroids are just horrible in the first game.  I’ve died twice on missions where I’ve fragged multiple Kilrathi, only to have a giant asteroid undo all of that good work in seconds.  Definitely frustrating, but part of playing a 25 year old game.

– Amazon has NHL 09 and Madden NFL 08 (the last two releases of each for the PC) on sale for $2.  There is a pretty good modding community for NHL 09 and they have been updating teams, rosters, and schedules since the games release.  Worth a look for the price.

– Enjoy watching the match!

Quick E3 notes (sports related)

- Madden has a tackling “cone” this year.  Remember how well that worked the last time there was a “cone” used in a Madden game?

– EA focused on emotion in their description of FIFA 15, which is fine, but didn’t they do that also last year?  They did touch on deformation of turf and things such as that, but what I would love to see is this many guys in the box on corner kicks…

Oh, and on another note, did you see that FIFA 15 for the PC will be using the Ignite engine next year.  Can we get EA to finally start releasing all of their sports games for the PC again?

– NHL 15 looked terrific in trailer form, but I’m going to reserve judgment on it as I haven’t really enjoyed the series of late.  I guess I am just so much tougher on it seeing as how I play the game regularly in real life.

– PGA Golf 15 looked great and they finally seem to have changed the game so that you can play from anywhere on the course while eliminating loading times between holes which were two of my biggest issues with previous games.  Also, they made a point of showing a fantasy course with a battleship crashing into the green.  Not sure if that’s what fans were looking for, but ok.

Monday notes

- Looks as though Dan is going to win the race to 100 followers.  I’m just not that popular it appears.  (Anyone who sat in my high school lunch room could have attested to that fact.)

– As we get closer and closer to the World Cup, I have been spending more and more time playing Football Manager 2014 in a way to connect more with my building love of soccer.

With the January transfers now being a part of the default roster, I decided to take another shot at running Crystal Palace to see if I could get them to avoid relegation in FM, as they did in real life.

Tony Pulis can not be given enough credit for keeping Palace up this year, as I have found through my time with the game that it is incredibly difficult to keep that squad from being relegated.

Thanks to some monumental efforts from Ince and Chamakh I was able to grab 17th place in the Premier League (by 3 points) and stay up for one more year (and get a 2 year contract extension.  Woot!)

I have had more fun with this game over the past six months than any other game in recent memory.  Even though I can simulate every game, I find myself watching each match and yelling at my players when they make a bad play and pumping my fist in the air when they make a great one.

It’s still priced at $12.50 on Steam and is worth every penny.

– E3 begins with Microsoft, Sony, EA, and Ubisoft all having press conferences today.  Not sure how much there will be out there as far as sports gaming from them, but I’m sure that Dan and I will be commenting when we have a chance.

Monday notes

- It would be difficult to find a game to recommend more highly than Mario Kart 8 right now.  The family and I spent a good bit of time with it over the weekend and (other than my wife) none of us got anywhere close to bored with it.  Even when I was working on getting 3 gold stars for each of the series in single player mode, I was still having a great time with the game (and from my experience this will be a pretty good challenge.)

While I’ve seen some comments from people about how much they dislike the replay features of the games, I love having the ability to post your race highlights to Youtube (as I have done here and here.)

Also, it’s given us highlights such as this one.  (You have to love Luigi’s evil glare in that one.)

If you’re interested in playing some online, feel free to add me to your WiiU for some multiplayer.  My Nintendo NNID is Psunami.

– On Saturday, the family took the trip down to Miller Park for our first game of the year (my 3rd to this point)  and even though Brewers lost, we definitely had a good time at the game while taking in plenty of the activities at the stadium.

As I get older, things like tailgating have become less interesting for me, so we just went to the Friday’s restaurant at the stadium and had a nice lunch there while watching the end of Cubs batting practice and then got to our seats well before the game began.

I guess that there is just something special about a simple and fun day at the ballpark with the family.

– Lastly, I hope that you were able to catch game 7 between the Kings and Blackhawks last night as overtime was a fitting conclusion to an incredibly entertaining series.

Now I can firmly put all of my energy into cheering the Kings on to thrash the Rangers.

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