Category Archives: Basketball

Thursday notes (gaming stuff)

– Last evening I finished up Wolfenstein: The New Order for the PS4 and I have to say that while the gameplay was that of a pretty standard first person shooter (with some pretty fun weapons,) the story really surprised me throughout.

With a game that has you blasting away at hundreds of 1960’s Nazi’s, you would think that it would be pretty easy to just have a cookie-cutter “all of them are evil” story involved, but the game surprised me with it’s ability to create some more complicated narratives of what it would have been like for people to have lived in a time where the Germans won World War 2.

Also, I have to give credit to the people at Bethesda and Machine Games for making a first person shooter game that does not include a multiplayer component.  Personally, I can’t remember the last time that I enjoyed playing an FPS game online, so purchasing this game was a way to support a company and studio for taking the chance on putting out a single player focused game.

– If you’re a Playstation Plus subscriber (and really, every PS3, PS4, and Vita user should be) you will be getting NBA 2K14 for the PS3 as part of the free game selection in June.  It’s not as strong of a game as the PS4 or Xbox One versions are, but it’s still a very solid basketball game for the price of… sort of free.

I do have to say that it has been great to see sports titles appearing in the monthly free titles as that was always a genre that was neglected in the PS Plus library.

– Continuing on the Playstation kick, I started playing MLB 14: The Show for the PS4 late last week and other than the large scale graphical improvements to the game I just wasn’t all that impressed by the Road to the Show mode (which is all that I’ve had time to tackle to this point.)

One of the things that impressed me the most about the My Player mode for NBA 2K14 for the PS4 was how much different and improved that mode felt over the previous generation versions.  I didn’t get any of that with the Road to the Show for MLB 14 and I guess the whole thing just left me feeling like it was missing something that made it really great.

I’ll give some of the other modes a look and see if any of them change my feelings on the game, but for now… meh.

Wednesday notes

– Hopefully you’re all able to get your brackets in.  I have mine completed, not that it will be any good (I’m pretty bad at them traditionally,) but it is done in time.

– Picked up a copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and you should have seen how excited my daughter was to be able to visit the village I made in my game.  It really is the simple things that amaze them sometimes.  Of course, as soon as I got the game, I had plans for the next two evenings so she couldn’t come and visit my village again.  It’s tough being a parent (and having a life outside of home.)

– I have to admit that I’m a bit curious and jealous of the tech writers that are getting a chance to try out Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift at GDC, but the good thing is that it is going to be a few years before the headsets come out for the Playstation and PC.  Still, the tech looks cool and they could make for some interesting gaming experiences.

– Lastly, I’m very excited to start playing inFamous: Second Son over the weekend.  The first two games were two of my favorites in the previous generation and I look forward to being an truly evil bastard who will be destroying large parts of Seattle very soon.

Tuesday notes

– Typically with a basketball arena, you don’t want these sorts of things happening

Gotta figure that the person in that seat is a bit unhappy with things right now (and feeling pretty damn lucky right now.)

– Finished up Tomb Raider last Friday night and was entertained throughout.  $60 entertained?  Ehhhh…. I’d have to say no.  Considering you have been able to pick up the game on the PC for $5 over the last few months, I would have to say that the graphical additions to the game wouldn’t have been worth the price difference for me.  Thankfully, I rented it and didn’t have to deal with the post-purchase guilt.

– Tomorrow morning is my meeting with the orthopedist at which point I will be finding out what they want to do to address the labrum tear, arthritis, and bone spurs, on my right hip.  At this point I’m hoping for a surgical plan just so I can get the damn pain resolved and start  training for the marathon that I want to run at the end of the year.  The person in charge of my hockey group has different plans and he just wants me to play through pain for the rest of my life (he just doesn’t want to find a sub for 6 or 8 weeks.)

Either way, we should have a plan tomorrow.


Thursday notes

– As a person who doesn’t really mind winter (other than my wife talking about moving us to Minnesota at some point in the future… it’s much colder up there,) it has been nice to have a bit of a warm up (32 degrees today!) over the last few days.

Also, I think that a law just passed so that it’s homicide is justified in cases where someone says, “See?  Global warming is total crap.  It’s so cold and snowy here.”  Sigh…

– NBA2K14, for the PC, is down to $14.99 at Amazon right now.  There seems to be such an awesome modding community for that version of the game with things ranging from college basketball mods to Space Jam mods.  Almost worth picking it up just to be able to see all of the stuff that people are doing with it.

– Pitchers and catchers report in 2 days for the Brewers.

– One of the things that I love about following the Premier League now is the time difference.  Getting to watch games first thing in the morning and then be able to have the rest of my day free has been awesome.

That also works out well for the Winter Olympics this time around as I was able to get up at 6:30 this morning and catch the first period of the USA/Slovakia hockey game before even getting into the shower to go to work.

Based on one day of watching hockey, here are my thoughts.

NBCSN’s coverage?  Great.  No commercials during the period that I saw and they had their best NHL announcers there.

Streaming?  It sucked.  Same coverage, but every time there was a stoppage in play there were 10 to 15 second commercials.  Half of the time, you were  missing part of the game action because the commercials took longer than the set up to drop the puck.

I guess it’s time for me to try and get a Slingbox set up again at my house just to avoid all of that crap.

Wednesday notes

– The pond hockey tournament in Eagle River was terrific last weekend even though there we were skating in wind chill temperatures as low as -20 below zero.  I did grab some video from a home-made camera mount on my chest protector, so I’ll see if I can grab that in the next few days and get some of the “highlights” posted.  The weekend went far too quickly and I’m already looking forward to the tournament next year.

– Not that I got a chance to see much of him when I was growing up, but Pete Maravich was one of my favorite basketball players when I was a kid.   Watching the videos of some of his highlights on Youtube show you some of the amazing things that he was doing almost 40 years ago, and it is very easy to picture a player like himself being in today’s game without any issues.  If you get a chance, take a look at the story that was written over at Sports on Earth about the relationship that Pete’s two boys had with the game after he passed away.

– Last week, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for the PS4 showed up from Gamefly and it is one of the most fun games that I’ve played in recent memory.  It pulls very heavily from the Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed style games, but doesn’t have all of the machismo that those games provide.   While there are some disconnects in the story as Lara transitions from a simple researcher to a stone cold killer, the cut scenes at least give you the feeling that violence isn’t the action that she wants to take but that it is put upon her out of necessity.  I can highly recommend that people rent the game, at the very least, as it is a beautiful game to watch as well as play.

– Anyone else as geeked up as I am to watch men’s Olympic hockey start up?  Canada, Russia, and the US all take the ice tomorrow.

– Lastly, I’m really excited to see Crystal Palace play against Everton today as the new additions to the squad really made a big difference in their offensive play style during last Saturday’s game against West Brom.  It’s asking a lot, but if they can steal 3 points on the road today, they can push themselves up to 10th in the league table and the chances of getting relegated become greatly diminished.

Thursday notes

– Well, according to my dealer, some cable had come lose and that’s what was causing my battery issues.  Not sure that I believe that, since the problem was happening before I had replaced my battery a few months ago… but I’m hopeful that is the case (mostly because this was only $50 for them to find a solution to…)

– It seems as though every sports team that I follow this year will go through a stretch where the wheels completely fall off.  First, Crystal Palace went through a terrible stretch before their manager finally resigned and the team turned things around, then the Islanders slumped horribly before starting to put together a great series of come from behind wins, and now the Badgers basketball team seem to have taken over from there.  It really is hard to believe that Wisconsin looked so good a week or so ago.  All of the defensive lessons that they had learned early in the season look to have completely gone out the window.

Having said that, the teams that they have been playing over the last 3 games haven’t been pushover teams that would have been a guarantee for a win under any circumstances either.

Personally, I think they should just blame  it all on me and then just move on.  Seems to have worked for the Eagles and the Islanders.

– In what had to be a surprising move that no one would have seen coming, the Brewers signed Matt Garza to a 4 year – $52 million contract today.  This from a team that hadn’t signed a single major league free agent during the entire offseason.  What is nice about the deal is that it doesn’t force them to give up a draft pick for a player that slots in as a #2 starter in their rotation (right now they look to have 3 – #2 or #3 guys, but no #1.)

The Brewers seem to be stuck in a very odd position of almost rebuilding and almost trying to spend the money to contend each year and I’m not sure how this really helps them in the long run.  Honestly, the thing that they need most is to try and rebuild their farm system as the talent there is pretty lacking for the next few years.  I guess that hanging onto all of their draft picks allows them to continue working on that process again this year.

– Have a good evening.

Wednesday notes

– Funny that one writer talks about how Wisconsin is one of the 8 teams that will win the national championship, and then they lose that evening.

If you watched the game last night, you saw that Wisconsin had a terrible time stopping anyone from driving to the basket, which is pretty strange for a Bo Ryan coached team.

Also, they had a lot of open looks at 3-pointers in the second half that they just didn’t make down the stretch.

Still, they’re a very, very good team that should make a run at a Big Ten title and a deep NCAA tournament run (unless they have to deal with some injuries.)

– The MLB Baseball ’14 news is very interesting to me, but we’re pretty much in the dark about the game.  No idea on who is making the game (which developers) or what the game might entail as far as features are concerned, but it is another baseball game (and the only one for the Xbox One, as Dan mentioned,) so I guess that’s a good thing.

– It was interesting to start playing FIFA on the Xbox One last night, as it seems that everything I had learned about the game on the PS4 had gone out the window.  Also, Ultimate Team is still incredibly confusing to me as all of the players that I’ve acquired via packs don’t seem to be readily available for my team even though I moved them to my squad.

Hopefully we’ll be able to put a league together with a few teams (and that Joe enjoys the game…)

– Finally….

Archer Vice?  Gotta say, I didn’t see that coming.

Friday notes

– So, the game that I’ve been adoring over the last few days is Diablo III on the PS3.  When I played it on the PC a year or so ago, the game really just felt….. not right (pretty technical description there.)

Playing it on the PS3 now, though, just feels perfect.  The loot rates are awesome and the controls work wonderfully. I’m working through Act II right now and playing on the Hard difficulty and I love every minute of it.  It seems as though they’ve taken everything that I loved about a game like Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (a game that I loved an insane amount) and brought it into the Diablo world.

If you didn’t like the PC version, give the console version a shot.  I love it.

– Dan mentioned the Kontrol Freak sticks for the Xbox One and PS4.  They sent me the PS4 editions of the FPS Snipr sticks a few weeks ago and I enjoyed the control they offered with the games that I was playing.  The one caveat that I would state about that particular version is that if you liked the feel of the sticks on the PS3, that’s the one to go with.  The FPS Freek Ultra stick is more inline with the new PS4 control sticks as they have that concave feeling on the sticks.  Before trying them, I wouldn’t have thought that extending the sticks would be a big deal, but after using them, I have to say that I really did like playing games with them.

– On Wednesday I went to the doctor as I’ve been having some serious problems with my hip since my last half-marathon.  They did an x-ray as part of the process and told me that I have degenerative joint disease (along with a possible impingement) in my right hip.  Looking at the treatments, it appears that I might be looking at a hip replacement… at age 39.  Awesome!  I’ll find out more when I start to meet with the orthopedic staff, but suffice to say that I’m really excited about it.

Honestly though, I just want to get the issue resolved.  If I need surgery, I would rather get it done now rather than deal with pain in the future.

Over time, it has become very clear to me that my body doesn’t agree with the exercise and activities I try to put it though.  1 rotator cuff repair, 1 right shoulder labrum repair, and now a possible hip replacement.  Sigh….

– Nintendo is up to 11.5 million 3DS/3DS XL/2DS consoles sold in the U.S. now.  Remember all those times when people keep saying that they should get out of that business and sell their games on iPhones?  Yeah…

Oh, they also have a 45% increase in software sales as well.  Certainly the WiiU is struggling (although it is the system that my family plays more than any of the others,) but their handheld line of business seems to be as strong as ever.

– You have to continue to be astounded by how good the Wisconsin basketball team looks at this point.   They’ve won games where they’ve scored in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 100’s.  4 players are averaging over 10 points, and no one is averaging more than 14.3.  Currently, the scoring average is 76.4 and they’re only allowing 61.1 per game as well.  Pretty impressive stuff.

The team that they remind me most of at this point is the 2000 Michigan State Spartans team.  That team could do just about everything right (offensively and defensively) and while this Wisconsin team still has a way to go to match up to a squad like that one, you can’t argue with their 16-0 record with the tough schedule that they have played.  (Can’t wait to see them play Ohio State and Michigan State.)

– There are still some other very long and complicated posts that I’m working on writing up (that are much more personal than I usually write on here) and those should be coming soon.  Safe to say that there have been plenty of changes in my life in the last year and I just wanted to talk about them somewhere, might as well be here.

Glen’s 2013 Games of the Year

Break it down…

Sports Games Nominees

– FIFA 14 Next Gen

– Pro Evolution Soccer 2014

– Football Manager 2014

– NBA 2K14 Next Gen

– WWE 2K14

If you would have asked me this a few weeks ago, I would have given the nod to NBA 2K14.  Since then, the 2K servers have been largely unavailable and render the MyCareer and MyGM portions of the game unplayable for me and that makes the game hard to recommend when key components are unavailable for everyone to play.

Seeing as how that is the case, I’m going to revert back to the game that I have enjoyed, uninterrupted, for the last few months, Football Manager 2014.

Portable Game of the Year

– Fire Emblem: Awakening

– Tearaway

– Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

Now that Tearaway has dropped down to $20 a few times, you really must give the game a try.  The ability to interact and re-do almost the entire game world was a master stroke by Media Molecule.

Game of the Year

– The Last of Us

– Super Mario 3D World

– Football Manager 2014

– Tearaway

– Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD

As I’m typing this, I’m having a really hard time deciding which game I actually liked most out of the games on this list.  Every one of them is an absolutely terrific game and is well worthy of your time and money, but… when the chips are down, I have to say…

Super Mario 3D World.

Ever since opening the game, every member of my family has asked to play the game (including my wife.)  The four-player gameplay is nearly flawless and the new power ups that they’ve added to the game all add an incredible amount of fun to the platform genre.

I can’t avoid commenting on The Last of Us though (it lost my Game of the Year on a coin-flip.)  Naughty Dog has made an absolute gem of a game and while it does have it’s flaws, it’s an incredible ride throughout the 15 to 20 hour single-player campaign.

Early Monday Morning notes

– Sorry for the lack of posting over the last week.

There were database issues (which I just resolved at this nice and early hour) that were preventing some things on the site from working.

Also, I worked 56 hours in 4 days and pretty much shut down after that.

That led to me getting a cold that I’m just now finishing fighting off.

Basically it was a fun week, but thankfully I have the next 3 days off and can enjoy a live of fulfillment during that time off.

– Microsoft has been running some sales over the last week, for the 360, and today they are doing a sports game sale.

NBA Jam: On Fire – $3.74

NFL Blitz – $3.74

FIFA Street 3 – $4.99

3 on 3 NHL Arcade – $1.24

FIFA is the only one that I haven’t played, but the others have all been enjoyable in stints.

– I have a few longer posts coming up, but I’m still trying to work on the right way for delivering them as they’re a bit outside of typical site material (as if that exists.)

Not sure how to handle them or what the reaction to them will be, but there is some stuff on the way.

NBA Live 14 interview – Sean O’Brien

On Halloween, I had a chance to speak with Sean O’Brien, Executive Producer for EA Sports NBA Live 14.

We had a chance to discuss quite a few aspects of the return of the franchise and here’s a sample of what we covered.

– Sean’s background with EA Sports, starting with his time as one of the first mo-cap athletes for NBA Live

– Is there more pressure to rebuild the franchise after the years off?

– What possibility is there of a PC return of the game?

– How closely is ESPN integrated into the product?

– What sorts of updates can we expect for the title on a regular basis?

– The balance between detail and game play

– What does the Ignite engine offer that couldn’t have been done on the previous console generation?

– How the game is more data driven rather than being code based

– Are there other gameplay modes outside of 5-on-5?

Enjoy the interview!

NBA2K14 thoughts

(I will state at the beginning that I have not tried out any of the online modes for the game, including the return of the “Crew” feature, due to the fact that I do not have a current Xbox Live subscription.  All of the information contained below is in regards to the single player aspect of the game.)

As I started to play NBA 2K14 on the Xbox 360, I was struck with a strong feeling of “sameness.”  Sure, I know that isn’t a word, but that’s the feeling I had from the moment that I started playing the game.  I swore that it was nearly identical to last years game.   In fact, after playing for about 10 hours, I was almost certain that the game play was almost identical, then I put last years game into the drive….

Now it is fair to say that there are quite a few similarities between the titles.  The interfaces and game play modes are almost completely interchangeable.   If it wasn’t for the soundtrack, Lebron’s mug all over the place, and seeing a 4 instead of a 3, you would swear that you’re almost looking at the same game, but when you get into the gamest, you’ll really find some terrific differences between 2K13 and 2K14.

One of the first, and best, changes that is found revolves around the play calling interface.  2K has implemented a “smart play call system” that is utilized by holding down the LB button on the controller.  Once that is started, the game gives you basic instructions as to how to run that particular play for your team.  (For example, they will put a circle on the court indicating where you need to move your player to, then a ball icon will appear over the head of the player to pass to for that particular play.)  It’s a minor change, but it really helps people who want to move quickly into gameplay rather than studying an entire playbook for a team.

Beyond that change, the game has also tweaked the “drive to the basket” animations.  In all of the games that I’ve played, I can’t recall a time where I got “stuck” in an animation where my player was driving out of control to the basket.  In the single game of NBA2K13 that I played after playing 2K14, I saw at least three of those “out of control drives” in a single half.  Again, it’s a minor change, but it makes the game seem much more realistic and makes you feel like you’re more in control of the players on the court.

Another item that really draws you into the game is the fact that the arena interaction has been greatly improved as the crowd intensity seems to ramp up as your team plays better on the court.  Now, whether or not it has an impact on the other team and causes them to make more mistakes is up for debate, but it does seem to mirror the appearance of an NBA crowd.

The commentary is still terrific and is probably one of the best features for the game, year in and year out.  The way that they weave in previous stats and details about your last games is masterfully handled each and every year.  I really wish that 2K had more opportunities to bring this technology into other sports, because the commentary in Madden, The Show, and NHL have been so lackluster over the past few years and could really use something like this to freshen them up.

Now, having listed those positives, there are some negatives in the game as well.  Defensive players (that you are not in controlling) will sometimes just lapse away from opposing players and leave them with wide open opportunities to score more often than you would see in any real game.  In fact, most of the scoring chances that I have seen in my games have been due to the fact that the CPU defense just doesn’t play intelligently on it’s default settings.   This may be something that is able to be adjusted and tweaked, but it is certainly annoying when you are playing a very close game in the 4th quarter.

The My Career mode is very much the same as last season and could really use a refresh.  The media interaction segments take far too long after each game and really drag on throughout the season.  Also, it’s annoying to hear the exact same player voice no matter who you have created for a player.   Lastly, the point system to upgrade your created player lends itself to a massive amount of grinding in order to make your player into a decent NBA player.  The way that it is balanced is by having to pay real money to buy the “VC” in order to build a serviceable NBA player.  Personally, I think that stinks, but I can’t say that it’s a foreign concept for most of today’s sports games (nor will it be going away any time soon.)

As for the Lebron: Path to Greatness mode?  I would have been more interested in it if you had the ability to take Lebron and pick whatever team you wanted to put him on and attempt to best MJ’s 6 championships, but the fact that it’s an entirely scripted affair really diminishes my interest in that feature.

So, it’s clear that the game has it’s good and bad parts, but I believe that the good greatly outweigh the bad.  If you haven’t played the game in a few seasons, I highly recommend taking a look at it.

Also, if you are a PC player… take a look at the version available via Steam, as it is priced at $29.99 (half of what the console versions run for.)

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