Category Archives: Xbox

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!

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?

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.

Tuesday notes

- Somebody is taking a road trip to Columbus!  My daughters just about lost it this morning when I told them we would be going to see Crystal Palace play.  My wife won’t be able to attend, so it’ll be interesting taking the girls on an 8 hour drive to see a soccer match, but it should be worth it and we will definitely be coming home with some new Eagles gear.   Can’t wait.

– For those of you who trade in your games (Dan….) Target is having a deal where they are offering triple value on their trades for this week.   For example, Grand Theft Auto 5 for the PS3 is getting $45 in store credit right now.

As for me, I’ll be trading in the PS3 version of Diablo III (for $30) and picking up the new addon for the PC (which is priced at $30) along with a few other old PS2, original Xbox, and GC games that have bizarrely high values.

– Speaking of Diablo III, it took Blizzard a few years to get to this point, but the game is really great right now and I’m having as much fun with this as I did with Diablo II back in the day.  There is still something special about every Legendary drop and waiting to see what valuable goodie you’re going to get from it.

If you’ve held off until now, you should really pick up the game either for consoles or for the PC.  Both are terrific at this point.

– As for upcoming games, we have Wolfenstein and Transistor releasing today, Watch Dogs next week, and Mario Kart 8 at the end of next week.

Trying to remember this many games being released right before E3, but maybe I’m just getting old and having a hard time remembering details like that.  #oldmanproblems

Microsoft removing Kinect from Xbox One

Had to say that we should have seen this coming.

The Xbox One has probably been one of the greatest console purchase regrets that I’ve ever had.  I barely ever play it and it only really gets used as a system for my kids to watch Amazon Instant Video or Netflix.

I hope that there will be some games that will sell me on keeping the system when E3 rolls around or else there is more than likely going to be a Day One edition console for sale soon.

Monday notes

- Sports On Earth does a much better job of summing up what is going on with the Brewers right now than I ever could, as they detail what has been happening with the team during their 10-2 start (including winning their last 9 in a row.)

It’s hard to think about big series in April, but with 3 against Pittsburgh (already completed,) 3 against St. Louis, then another 4 at Pittsburgh, there is a lot of interesting games in the NL Central early.

Also, while it’s impossible for the Brewers can keep playing like they have, it’s been sure been fun to see how many interesting ways they can win games of late.

– Dan was giving me grief for not mentioning the Brewers lately, but I have been paying as much attention, if not more so, to Crystal Palace’s play over the last few weeks.  Getting 9 points over the last three weeks has pushed them from 17th place (and in serious danger of relegation) to 12th place and 7 points clear of 18th (with 1 game in hand) with 5 games to play.

While I still have so much to learn about the Premier League, and soccer in general, I just love the passion that the Palace fans show at every game, whether at home or on the road.  I’m glad that I picked the Eagles to support as this season has been a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

– The other thing that I’ve been watching was the end of yet another Islanders season.  That organization frustrates me to no end.  Maybe next year they’ll sell the team and fire Snow… maybe…

– FIFA World Cup 14 is due to release tomorrow for the PS3 and Xbox 360 and while I loved the previous game, I really couldn’t get into the game based on the demo.  The PS4 and Xbox One versions of FIFA play incredibly well and are very fluid, but the older version of the game engine just doesn’t seem to hold up very well after having experienced the new versions of the FIFA game engine.

– Konami has released their own World Challenge DLC for Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 and while it doesn’t have the full presentation that the EA Sports game costs, you could get Pro Evolution and the DLC for just over half the price ($29.99 for the game at Amazon – $4.99 for the DLC) of picking up FIFA World Cup 2014.

Something to think about.

 

Thursday notes

- Long time, no see.  Work=crazy.  Moving on.

– Front Office Football 7 now has a Steam Greenlight page.  Do Jim a favor and give it a thumbs up to get it onto Steam.  Steam really needs more of these types of sports games on it and Jim’s game is one of the best.

– Yesterday my copy of Titanfall showed up via Gamefly and all I was able to do was to install it. (I had hockey last night and I’m trying to do as much of that as I can before my surgery.)  I’ll give the Xbox One version a go before deciding whether or not I want the game or not (for either consoles or PC.)  I’ve read some reviews that state it is a First Person Shooter for people who don’t usually play those sorts of games.  I guess I’ll find out if it works for me….

The Xbox One has been a huge buyers remorse device for me since I purchased it, so I’m really looking for something that makes me use it more because I haven’t found much to do with it to this point other than letting my kids watch Amazon Instant Video in the living room while yelling “XBOX SELECT” at it.

– When a feature is removed from Madden, it’s a good guess that it’s because the NFL wanted it out.

– So, plenty of details are out there now about the new RBI Baseball and there is good and bad there.

Good:

Simplistic Gameplay

Season Mode

No Pay to Win

Unlockable Jerseys via Season Mode

Bad:

Few Gameplay modes

First console game from MLB AM

To this point, the Good outweighs the bad, but we’ll have to wait and see if it the game turns out to be a fun and entertaining sports product.

– Lastly, I think I’m going to be buying a second copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf in the next week or so.  My daughter ended up taking my copy when I gave her my old 3DS at Christmas and she has become completely addicted to the game.  I’m still a bit sad that I had to erase my village to let her take over as mayor in her own game, so I guess her enthusiasm for the game has got me interested in playing it again as well.  Gotta love the kids.

Thursday notes

- Currently, I am on the road on the way up to Eagle River to the USA Hockey Pond Hockey championships.

I really look forward to this trip every year as it is a great weekend of hanging out with friends and now that i am getting a chance to play, that just makes it that much better.

Now I just have to hope that my hip holds up for the three games, but I am sure that it will be fine.

I will try to post some pictures from the tournament, either over the weekend or when I get back, to give you an idea of what the environment is like.  It is pretty damn cool, in my book.

– In a curious development, EA Sports announced FIFA World Cup 2014 today.  In and of itself that isn’t too surprising, but what was interesting was the fact that it is only being released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 and is skipping the PS4 and Xbox One.

The PS4 and Xbox One versions of FIFA 14 were good upgrades of the previous generation software and the new engine offered some nice changes to the old FIFA engine and it is too bad that they are being passed over for this game.

I am anxious to play this when it comes out though as FIFA World Cup 10 was one of my favorite sports games on the PS3.  Hopefully the features this time around are as good or better than that version to justify the 59.99 price point. 

– Have a good weekend.

Riding the Pines – Episode 87

- After a few months, Glen and Dan have decided to get together and catch up about what’s been going on in their lives.

– Dan talks about the Vectrex

– Everyone talks about how much they love soccer

– And we catch up with our feelings about the Xbox One

Enjoy the podcast!

Riding the Pines – Episode 86 (Peter Garcin – The Golf Club Game)

Hello there, everyone.

Today we bring to you our interview with Peter Garcin, Executive Producer for The Golf Club Game.

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

– Did EA’s decision to not release a golf title for this year impact the release of the game

– Are there feature limitations between PC/Console versions

– Is multiplayer platform agnostic (PS4 vs. Xbox One players)

– How are updates going to be handled for the game

– What limitations do we have in the course creator

– Will PC users be able to use a mouse/keyboard for course creation and gameplay

– How are tours and tournaments handled by the game

– Could the game work with any of the virtual golf simulation hardware

– How much modification of the golfer models is allowed

– What kinds of camera control options are available to us

Enjoy the interview!

Wednesday notes

- The second recording of The Golf Club game interview went off without a hitch.  The interview should be posted at some point later today and should be on iTunes shortly thereafter.

– With Puncheon’s goal yesterday against Hull, Crystal Palace have pulled into 14th in the Premier League table (and only 1 point out of 10th.)  Amazingly, they have the most wins of any team in the bottom 10 of the table as well.  Crazy to think that they were firmly in relegation territory a few weeks ago, but it’s amazing what a few wins can do.

Puncheon really has had a remarkable comeback after his disastrous PK from a few weeks ago, scoring goals in three of the Eagles last four Premier League matches.  You have to credit Tony Pulis with a lot of that, as the team is really playing remarkably since he arrived a few months ago.

– More later…

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