Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Advertisements

Here I go again. Another year and another review of Madden. Since the Sega Genesis days I’ve spent my hard earned money every year for the new Madden (except for the one year where I bought the greatness that was NFL 2K5). Why? Well that’s because I’m a huge fan of the NFL, and now Madden is the only video game in town where the league still exists. Once I start playing a game I shut out the world around me,  and my mind focuses in only on the action on the screen. Nothing is going to stop me from making that big touchdown pass, getting the all important sack or game changing interception, or winning the Super Bowl. Yes, Madden is that big of a deal.

Now coming into this season something came over me. For the first time in over a decade I wasn’t interested in purchasing the new Madden. Call it blasphemy, but I’m really serious. In last year’s review I was a little disappointed with the game due to shitty commentary and a lack of new features to make the game more “real!” Basically I once again felt like I had a $60 roster update. At E3 I was disappointed with the terrible lag with the Joe Montana check collecting play calling Kinect presentation. I was ready to give up, but part of me said not to, so I bought the game and I’m glad that I did. So let me term this as “EA Sports: Better Than Any Madden Game!”

So where do I begin? Well let’s start with the presentation and commentary. Gone is the boring and broken play by play call of Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth who are replaced by Jim Nantz and Phil Simms from CBS Sports. The number one commentary crew on CBS bring more than just new blood. Their calling style is fun and fresh and their interaction works so well with the action taking place on the screen. The CBS style of presentation is also noticed throughout the game with the scoreboard, opening intro, camera angles, and starting lineups presented by Papa John’s who keep telling me about a free pizza, but never seem to send me one. What’s up with that?

The biggest change comes with what was once known as Franchise mode. Well, it no longer exists. Then again neither does Superstar mode either. They’ve now been combined to form Connected Careers. Playing either online or offline I created my own player with Kinect and went through the grueling season gaining wotking mu way up the depth chart and gaining valuable XP. I really enjoyed this mode even though I could only control myself. Of course I can also choose an existing player as well. Coaching was also an available option allowing me to call the shots as well as control the players on the field which makes this option as close to the old Franchise mode as I can get. Honestly, I like the changes here because the old way was getting a little boring.

My personal favorite game mode is still Madden Ultimate Team. The card collecting mode that feels like an RPG hasn’t changed much, but it’s still a blast to play. MUT is more than just a mode to play against friends or the computer. In a way really feels like a Franchise Mode where I can trade buy, sell, and trade off players to help build my team. Rewards are also aplenty here where I had a superstar player to start building my team around (I chose Aaron Rodgers) and there’s multiple challenges to compete for other legendary card bonuses. MUT is where all the fun is, and where I’ll once again spend the majority of my time.

Other than some of the new features, playing Madden is still pretty much the same game. Gameflow is still a good option to utilize although the full playbook is still available. The hit stick function has been slightly improved and still kicks ass. Online play is still fantastic even in co-op, but they still need to find a way to deal with the annoying rage quitters. There are some new animations like “Tebowing” that made it’s way into the game. Sadly, Chad Johnson‘s “head butting” didn’t make the cut.

EA Sports and Tiburon made some key changes making this year’s edition of Madden the best and most authentic version of the NFL experience ever. Then again this is also the biggest overhaul to the gameplay they’ve ever done since gaining exclusivity to the NFL license. Hopefully they don’t decide to slack off after this and go back to the usual $60 roster update. Overall, Madden NFL 13 is must buy for all fans of football in general looking for the most authentic experience.

Developer: EA, Tiburon
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-6 (Online Multiplayer)
Price: $59.99

Hardcore gaming fans, Microsoft has NOT forgotten about you. After watching the 2012 E3 keynote press conference on Xbox Live it looks like they listened to their customer base and delivered the goods. Games, games, and more games. Of course there was also plenty of Kinect, apps, and the introduction of Smart Glass which looks like a great innovation. More on that in a bit.

So what did I enjoy out of the press conference? Well here is my positives and unfortunate negatives of the big show today.

Halo 4: Kicking off the show was Microsoft’s premiere franchise. Good move, because I didn’t want to see Call of Duty…again. From live action to the gameplay itself Halo 4 looks like it will deliver on it’s promises especially considering the fact that this game is developed by 343 Industries and not Bungie. Master Chief is back! And so is the Battle Rifle. from the campaign footage I saw I can tell you that this game looks awesome. A new enemy joins the fight which had one moment where the chief threw a plasma grenade only to have it thrown back at him. 343 did announce before the show about multiplayer with both competitive and co-op gameplay with Spartan Ops. As of right now this game is living up to it’s tremendous hype.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist: Holy shit Ubisoft I didn’t see this one coming! Sam Fisher is back in a whole new adventure taking place on the Iran/Iraq border where his mission is to prevent the next blacklist attack. In other words it’s more kick ass stealth, interrogation, and execution tactics that I love. Busting through doors and taking out enemies you tracked beforehand in slow motion looked amazing. Kinect voice recognition also played a factor in this game as Sam can get the enemies attention as well as call in an air strike. This is something I’m going to like. Too bad I have to wait until Spring 2013.

Tomb Raider: While I’ve never been really into the Tomb Raider series, the latest gameplay demo for the rebooted origin story for Lara Croft really blew my mind. A mature style Tomb Raider with amazing visuals and combat along with a more realistic feeling. I really liked the outstanding visuals (especially the water effects), the combat, and the destructible environment as it objects would splinter and break from gun attacks. I really enjoyed the cinematic action from the waterfall and parachuting scene where Lara literally fought for her life while going through tremendous pain and suffering. A great demo from Crystal Dynamics and more than likely a buy for me.

Gears of War: Judgement: OK, so this was only a trailer, but the prequel that takes place just after Emergence Day and stars Baird and Cole Train is looking pretty good so far. Too bad I have to wait probably another year to play it. Hopefully this game debuts on the new Xbox with the new Unreal 4 Engine.

Resident Evil 6: Could it be? Another game that feels like a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Leon tore through zombies better than any USS soldier in Operation Raccoon City. No bullet sponge enemies and clunky movements made for some great action. Objects crash and explode along with the zombies that stand in your way from completing each objective. The demo was spoiler free leaving plenty to the imagination.

Xbox Smart Glass: The mere thought of having my Xbox connected with my iPad and iPhone has me excited. From television, to movies, and even my games I can coordinate everything into one smart source. I can be playing a game of Halo 4 and my iPad displays key information of locations and about what I’m doing. My iPhone can be used as a remote control to integrate to the new web browser. Even my Kinect integrates much simpler with Windows 8 for easy web browsing and voice recognition. Full integration begins this Fall.

Other things that interested me included the expansion of ESPN with all channels along with NBA Gametime and League Pass so that I can watch the Miami Heat anywhere when I’m working on the road. South Park: The Stick of Truth has me very interested considering the fact that I’m a big fan of the show. I also liked The Wreckateer which could make for a fun Angry Birds clone with Kinect this summer. Finally, I’m going to keep my eyes on Ascend: New Gods from Signal Studios, LocoCycle from Twisted Pixel, and Forza Horizon which sort of reminds me of a mix of Need for Speed and Test Drive Unlimited.

So here is my list of negatives.

Madden NFL 13: NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana was a great highlight, but the laggy voice recognition controls for calling plays at the line made things look terrible. EA Sports and Tiburon have a lot of work to do to make this feature work seamlessly. August 28 is not that far away so get busy.

Nike + Kinect Training: I’m not going to fault Nike for announcing this innovative product featuring your own personal trainer, development program, and challenging friends on Xbox Live, but I just don’t see a lot of people buying this Kinect based program. Just look back to last year with UFC Personal Trainer. Not everyone has a Kinect and more people would rather just play games or watch movies and sports. Besides most of us all have gym memberships already.

Xbox Music: With so many apps on Xbox Live including last.fm and Pandora already available Xbox Music and it’s 30 million songs to choose from will have a hard time fitting itself in. Also will this be a free service or pay per song like iTunes.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2: Since this series has fallen out of favor with me due to it’s crappy multiplayer filled with cheaters, glitches, and boosters, it would take a lot to bring me back. Activision and Treyarch are taking a big leap here with a future war, but there wasn’t enough here today to sway me back. Zombies will return, but I need more of a reason besides that to make me commit the money. Hopefully I’ll get that answer in the coming months, or else it’s another year of avoidance.

Overall, I enjoyed Microsoft’s presentation for the Xbox 360 for the rest of the year and beyond. No terrible actors, no casual kiddy games taking control of the show, no fist bumping. Microsoft went back to what made them successful since the beginning and left the majority of fans, including myself, happy. Time to get my wallet ready for another busy season.

Pros:
Everything you love about NFL Blitz back in the day is back again
Elite League is awesome

Cons:
No Late Hits! WTF!
Why is Elite League online only?
Rage Quitting Opponents

Back in the late ’90s NBA Jam was at it’s peak. I always enjoyed the jam session both in the arcades as well as at home on my consoles. While jamming the ball in someone’s face hearing “Boomshakalaka!” is fun, my heart really longed for some hard hitting arcade over the top football. Madden was just not enough for me. Midway then brought NFL Blitz to the masses and the rest was history. While the game was on hiatus in the past few years since the ridiculous Blitz The League, EA Sports has revived the classic game of the past on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network.

With the NFL license comfortably in EA’s careful hands, they decided to bring back what fans so desperately wanted…NFL Blitz. A couple of my favorite plays like “Hurricane” and “Da Bomb” are once again dominating my offensive playbook along with the hard hitting defense and endless amounts of body slams and other after the play…wait a minute! Where’s the after the whistle action? I feel like I’ve been robbed EA! Oh well, no big deal (actually it is). I won’t harp on it anymore (yes I will). NFL Blitz is perfectly alright without all the extra shenanigans going on (no it’s not). With all that said, a word to the wise for the good folks at EA Sports: Blitz is not Madden! We want our extracurricular activities after the whistle! Late hits is what helped make this game fun! <cue the applause>

While this new version of the old Blitz brings back more of the same (which is a good thing) there are some new modes that help keep the aging formula fresh and exciting. Let’s take the example of Blitz Gauntlet. This ladder style game mode let’s you take on teams made up of lions, robots, and a slew of other mascot style teams just to add on the over the top formula. I’m ok with this, but part of me would rather have some sort of season mode instead. The good news is that winning games in the Gauntlet will net you bonus codes that you can enter in pre-game. Remember the Big Heads and other hilarious options? Well their all back for another round. Besides this wouldn’t be Blitz without all the hilarious features that make the game what it is.

New to NFL Blitz is Elite League. Those familiar with Madden’s Ultimate Team will feel right at home with this game mode. Honestly, your going to spend more time here then with anything else. Just like Ultimate Team you’ll start out with a starter deck of cards which is used to assemble your team. As you play Blitz online you’ll accrue Blitz Bucks that you can use to purchase new packs with more players to strengthen your team. Continue to play online and keep earning those bucks because you may unlock some legendary players as well as other bonuses. Now Elite League is a great mode, but the only problem I have has to so with only gaining Blitz Bucks online. What about players who play offline? What happens when the online community dies off? Then what? Just a thought.

Now everyone and their mother knows that a single player fans can only go so far. NFL Blitz was made for multiplayer and nothing spells fun better than scoring touchdowns and talking trash between friends. NFL Blitz features both local and online multiplayer so that the you can enjoy the thrill of victory and the agony of suckitude all from the comfort of your home. Multiplayer is great, but I have to comment on all the quitters out there. Rage quitting is for losers. Are you a loser? Please take a word of advice. If your getting your ass kicked royally in a game…stick it out to the end. Sadly, no matter what game you play the rage quitter still clouds the fun.

NFL Blitz is still the same smash mouth, in your face, trash talking, hard hitting, arcade style, over the top mayhem ever since it’s inception. Of course it also includes all it’s flaws like rubber band AI to keep games closer than they really are and now no late hits (still ranting on this). With that said the game is still fun and the $15 asking price should make NFL Blitz a no-brainer purchase. See you online, and no rage quitting when I beat you!

Pros:
TV Style Presentation Is Well Done
Madden Ultimate Team Is Awesome

Cons:
Commentary from Gus Johnson and Chris Collinsworth Is Horrible
Stop Changing The Kicking Mechanics!
Not Much Has Changed From Last Year’s Game

I’m sure for most football fans out there the NFL Lockout really sucked. For me the thought of almost not having an NFL season would have driven me nuts. At least there was one shining light at the end of the tunnel. That light is known as Madden from EA Sports. No lockout was going to stop this beast from releasing on every console known to man. However, after playing the game there are some issues that make me think that EA Sports and Tiburon were locked out as well because this version of Madden feels a lot like last year’s game except some things look like they were sacked for a big loss.

One of the main improvements in this year’s game had to do with presentation. EA Sports and Tiburon wanted to bring you closer to the game and it looks like they’ve succeeded. The TV style presentation is top notch making everything feel like your actually sitting back on your couch and enjoying a Sunday filled with football, chips, dips and beer. Player introductions are awesome and are different with each team. Those who choose the 4:15 start time will see changes with the sun setting throughout the game. Stats will show up on the screen keeping everything up to date with all the action. Well as the old saying goes “EA Sports…It’s in the game!” Now what they really need to do is make a camera view for the people in the nosebleed sections and this game would be perfect.

Now if there was one huge negative in the presentation it would have to be the play-by-play commentary. Chris Collinsworth’s commentary was not that great last year, however Gus Johnson was amazing. This year they both sound like they just phoned it in. The commentary is sloppy, not coherent to what’s going on in the game, and was filled with awkward pauses. The commentary is so awful I can see why it was left out of the demo. A good suggestion is to turn off the commentary and find something else to listen too. At least the ambient sounds of the game make you sound like your actually there.

Gameplay is not that much different from last year’s game. There are some changes in the Gameflow system which are both positive and negative at the same time. The system will coordinate a play to cater to the moment in the game. This is great for amateur players who don’t know what to do, but pros may find it a hinderance. Offensively it’s not much of a problem, but defensively it sucks. When playing on defense the gameflow system may pick plays that might not give you the coverage you need leading to your opponent (online player or CPU) making that big play or putting six on the board. However, in goal line situations the Gameflow system will work just fine.

One thing that remains in the game is the Defensive Assist. For those not familiar with this function the Defensive Assist lets the Computer AI take over when your offense is not on the field. Noobs will find this helpful, but I think it’s retarded. Seriously people, don’t you all know that defense wins championships? This assist is really for those who are just plain lazy. If your going to get good at the game then play some fucking D! It’s really not that hard to do. It just takes a little practice. Speaking of defense, I’ve also noticed that players sucking into the tackle is pretty nonexistant compared to past games which is a big improvement.

I do have one huge bone to pick with EA Sports and Tiburon. This would have to do with the kicking game. In the demo I did mention that I shanked a couple of field goal attempts. I even messed up an opening kickoff. I’ve got to know EA. What’s with you guys changing the kicking mechanics every year? Do us all a favor and just stick with one method for doing kicks. Last year’s kicking system worked out just fine. Stop making changes when it’s not needed. I guess they haven’t herard of the old phrase “If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it!”

Just like last year, Madden NFL 12 features all of the same game modes that you enjoyed, or may have not liked at all. My personal favorite is Madden Ultimate Team. MUT allows you to create your own team from scratch by gaining cards from packs and auctions. Legendary players have been included in this year’s game to help up the ante for your team as well as the ability to trade cards with other players. Coins are gained by playing the computer AI or play with other players online to increase your intake of coins for better packs. Of course you can use your Microsoft Points to buy coins as well (Microtransaction). Trust me when I tell you that MUT will absolutely consume your life so make sure you have plenty of time to spare to it.

As for the other game modes, Franchise Mode returns once again with some slight tweeks in terms of free agency and scouting players. Other than that it’s still the same game mode you’ve been playing for years. This will be boring to some of you. With that in mind I suggest you go to Madden Ultimate Team or Online Franchise Mode. Online Franchise allows you and some friends to play the game together with your own league and control you own team’s destiny as the GM, head coach, and the players. That’s where the real challenge and fun is.

Speaking of online, Madden NFL 12 features plenty of online options besides just roster updates which by the way is Madden’s annual moniker: “The $60 yearly roster update.” Multiplayer is also here as you can take on anyone in the world in head-to-head games. Online Team Play returns once again allowing multiple people the opportunity to play in competitive co-op. Both of these online game modes make Madden fun. Keep in mind that EA will punish those who rage quit so make sure you finish your games or else the big “L” is coming as well as an increase in your DNF percentage.

So what’s really new with Madden NFL 12. Well not much. To be honest with you, this game feels more like Madden NFL 11 just with a slight graphical facelift. It’s hard to really notice any changes. So is the game worth buying? It all comes down to whether your a big fan of the game or not. Maybe if you have a lot of time on your hands you can create some of the new players in NFL 2K5 and stick with that. Either way you look at it, Madden NFL 12 is fun, but I really wish that EA Sports and Tiburon would stop acting like the big bully making very little changes in their games just because they own the NFL license.