Category: Video Games

Call of Duty MWIII Reviewed by a 14 Year Old

Because I’m a married adult, I was unable to run out and purchase the latest edition of the Call of Duty franchise.  My 14-year-old brother has no life (because he’s 14) and somehow finagled this game out of his older sister on release day.  We haven’t actually seen him since.  He came out of his cave long enough to write this review in hopes that we’d make him a regular contributor.  If he plagiarized it, I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked.  Enjoy.

Infinity Ward’s release of their new game Modern Warfare 3.

There’s been a lot of speculation about the new game, but this game far outranks any other first person shooters on the market. I’ll go through the different versions of the game explaining the differences.

Campaign:  The story of the game is a sequel of the past two Modern Warfare games.  The beginning starts you off as a part of an ambushed military convoy, then proceeds to take you through missions involving strategy, stealth, and fast-paced combat scenarios.  Campaign is the perfect way to establish how the game is played and gives the player a sneak peek of the guns in Multiplayer.

Multiplayer:  This option adds more variety to the mix and is what I play most.  Xbox Live or Playstation Network is the best way to play against others.  If you don’t have the internet on your machine, you can play split screen like the old Goldeneye days.  There is a multitude of maps, including an even larger arrangement of match types.  They are Team Death Match, Free-For-All, and Search and Destroy.  Also, custom classes that let you make your own gun set up.  Then you get to play your own style. 

Special Operations (Spec Ops):  Spec Ops has two versions; Missions and Survival.  Survival is simple, stay alive as long as you can against waves of attacks.  Each wave gets harder, piling on attack dogs and juggernauts (very heavily armed people).  The missions are a very different game.  Each mission is ranges from rescue, to assassinations, to basic survival.  Spec Ops has been in the other Modern Warfare games, but this one has definitely been the best.

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My Neighbor Reviews Madden ’12

Editor’s Note:  I purchased Madden 12 the day it came out.  Since then I have not played more than 2 games.  This year’s game requires an Xbox Live Gold membership in order to update the rosters.  I spent the last month or so attempting to update the rosters without giving Microsoft another dime of my money.  Therefore, I asked my “neighbor” to review the game.  His review is below.  Enjoy.

Madden came out a few weeks ago.  I have been playing it non-stop.  Here’s what you need to know:

The Gameplay:

Pro: Seamless.  Let’s just say I’ve had a lot of time to play Madden lately, and out of the many games that I’ve played, I’ve only run into a small glitch here or there.  Nothing memorable.  Frankly, I can’t believe how smooth this game is.  To help change up the look of the game, they added lots of new tackle/missed tackle animations.  This definitely helps keep the game fresh.  They also went through the trouble of creating every team’s pre-game entrance routine.  You can watch the Seahawks march onto the field through fireworks, behind a flying hawk (no Bittersweet Symphony, though).  The play-calling is fast and easy with the game flow option.  This year you can choose between a running or passing play, or you can open the full playbook.  Much smarter play selection than in years past.

Con: The kicking angle.  When kicking off, the camera angle is like a Tecmo Bowl/TV Broadcast type thing.  This makes it very difficult to try and aim your kicks to one side.  The field goal kicking camera angle is also changed, making it very difficult to factor wind into your kick.  Luckily the field goal angle can be quickly switched to “classic mode” by the push of a button.

The Announcers:

Pro: Hey, at least it’s not John Madden!  For my money, Gus Johnson is the best announcer in sports.  Chris Collinsworth is no slouch either, although he takes a few unnecessary jabs at Johnson.

Con: The commentary is choppy and repetitive.  I know, this is common and somewhat unavoidable in sports games.  The problem is accentuated in Madden because of Gus Johnson’s enthusiasm.  Too often his volume goes from zero to ten, with no intermediaries whatsoever.  Also, get used to hearing about the best player on your favorite team, as Johnson mentions him every time your team plays.  I got close to cutting Calvin Johnson because I was tired of hearing Johnson refer to him as Megatron game after game.

The Difficulty:

Pro: For years I would complain that Madden had a “difficulty problem.”  All-Pro was easy to master, but All-Madden required you to quit your job, buy gaming magazines, and become somewhat of a recluse.  This is fixed in the new game.  The All-Pro difficulty is plenty difficult.  It’s challenging, but not impossible.  I am able to win, but not all the time (and almost never a blowout).

Con: I’ve actually yet to play All-Madden mode on the new game, but I can assume it is reeeeeeee-diculous.

Franchise Mode:

Pro: Franchise Mode is by far my favorite way to play.  It doesn’t disappoint.  The new and improved player scouting is a lot of fun, and a decent amount of work.  The draft in the offseason is much more realistic, with teams much less likely to trade away a top draft pick than in years past.  And, as long as we’re talking about trading draft picks, you can now trade future draft picks (at least 1 year into the future).

Much remains the same, which is good (if it ain’t broke…).  This year you can change the team you are controlling in the offseason.  This is fun if you want to start from scratch again, you can pick the team with the number 1 draft pick and coach up a franchise player from the beginning.

*Fun Fact 1: I moved the Carolina Panthers to Portland, and named them the Portland Primates.  I even got to design their new stadium, jerseys, helmets, you name it.  Very fun.

*Fun Fact 2: It was year 4 of my franchise before I was able to get the Seahawks into the playoffs (and all the way to the Super Bowl!)  New QB, RB, almost everything except Zach Miller and Earl Thomas.

Con: I’m not in love with the new free agent signing stage of the off-season.  They’ve made it a “Bidding war” where you bid for players against other teams.  The idea is fun in theory, and I’m not totally opposed to it in practice, either.  I guess I’m still adjusting to it.  My main complaint is that it all happens very quickly, and if you’re trying to address multiple needs in the offseason, it becomes very difficult.

Online Play:

Pro: I haven’t experimented too much with online play, but I like the idea of “Communities,” which was added this year.  It lets you join a community of like-minded players, so you don’t have to play the jerk that keeps running the same cheap play over and over again (or the guy that always kicks an on-side kick, or the guy that goes for it every 4th down, or…)

Con: The reason I haven’t experimented too much with online gameplay: The servers are constantly busy.  I’ve started maybe 7 online games, and the servers have kicked me off of 3 of them.  Not fun.  Also, this year Xbox decided to gauge fans more than usual by making them sign up for Xbox Live Gold before they are able to download any sort of roster update.  Lame.

Overall:

I find the game lots of fun, and certainly worthy of your time and money.  I don’t do stars or thumbs, but if I did, there would be a lot of them.  I haven’t even tried the Superstar or Ultimate Team modes yet.

Favorite Team to Play With: Baltimore Ravens (Ray Rice is a Beast)

Favorite Player to Play With: Cam Newton

Best Looking Stadium: Portland Primates Park, or P3 … Just kidding.  All of the stadiums look fantastic.  The outside shots are amazing, as are some of the angled shots from the upper deck mimicking Monday Night Football.  The night sky even shifts from day to night during the game! 

NCAA Football 12 Review

Another summer means another edition of EA Sports Football games.  Like many others, I picked up this game on its release  date.  I finally gave in and got NCAA 11 in January and joined an Online Dynasty and was hooked.  I wasn’t going to miss the chance to start that up again and get a full year in.  Needless to say I was anticipating this game quite a bit.  I do have to give EA some credit for this. One thing they are top notch as it advertising.  From live press conferences over the web to showcase new features and gameplay, to a highly followed Facebook / Twitter accounts to keep everyone panting until the release date.  I will attempt to break down the game and give my amateur opinion of the game.

First, let’s take a look at the new features.  Honestly, these games that are released every year don’t always warrant buying a new game, so I believe this is the most important thing to look at when reviewing:

Road To Glory Mode – For those who are not familiar to the game, this mode entails playing as a single player, starting out in your high school year, going through the playoffs and hopefully winning your state championship.  During which time you are getting recruited based on how well you do, select your college, and then play your 4 year college career and try to get the best stats possible.

Key updates were:

  • Addition of “Iron Man” style player in high school.  This allows you to pick one of the offense and defense positions while getting recruited separately based on your ability at each position.  (If you like being frustrated, try being a cornerback. The extremely awkard camera angle that constantly rotates is frustrating.)
  • Store style upgrades where you spend experience points gained in practice / games.  I personally have not gotten that far in RTG, so I may update this later, but for those into this mode, I see this as a huge upgrade from ’11.
  • Updated player battles.  Again an area I haven’t gotten to, but making it so that you have to earn your spot in the lineup.  There was a form of this in ’11, but practice was frustratingly slow to load and you would be better off to just sim through. Should be interesting and frustrating because you have to earn your way on, but frustrating if you are stuck down on the depth chart and just sim the games.

GRADE – 7.0 /10. Cool updates, but for me personally I’m not into this mode.  It takes way too long to progress and I’m too impatient.  I may update this later, but I’m not all that intrigued and rather spend the time I get focused on Dynasty Mode

Dynasty  – Be the coach of a team and build up the program. Bring in recruits, play the games, and take your program to the promise land.  Online Dynasties are amazing.  It’s like playing Fantasy Football, but better because when you win a user matchup, you are the one actually playing.

Key updates:

  • Coaching Carousel.  Really intriguing for single player dynasties or specialized dynasties, but the real appeal to dynasty is picking teams within a conference or make a conference with those teams, and play everyone in the league, create rivalries, competition for recruits, etc.  The coaching carousel is where you sign a contract with a school and can get fired / re-signed based on performance against goals.  Also, you can choose to be just the offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator, so you only control the team on your side of the ball, and the other side of the ball is simmed and controlled by the computer.  This has been really cool in my offline dynasty as I try to go from an offensive coordinator at WSU, fail to win 6 games because they are terrible, get fired, and work my way back and take them to a rose bowl win (still working on becoming the head coach, but I’ll get there – I will get them to the National Championship some day).
  • Fully Custom Conferences.  ’11 had a pretty bad interface for updating conferences and was pretty limited. This year you can make conferences from 4 to 16 teams, make independent, change division names within a conference, and even change automatic bowl bids if you want Conference USA to get an automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl.  You can even control the protected rival matchups so that when the computer automatically creates the schedule, it will lock in those protected rivalries once they’ve been changed.  You can also change conferences every off-season, whereas in last years game you could only set it up at the beginning and then you were stuck.  So if a couple computer teams start lacking, you can swap in some other schools to keep your level of competion in conference up and keep the prestige up.
  • Auto Advance and Sim Games over the web. Auto advance is pretty cool because in ’11 the commisioner had to be at their xbox to advance, but now if everyone is ready to advance, the commish can now advance from anywhere they have access to the web.

GRADE: 9.5/10.  Was great in ’11, even better with the customizability.

Authentic Gameday Traditions – Really?  In a video game.  This is the dumbest thing I’ve heard of.  Well that’s a reach, but seriously. How many times would you actually watch those pre-games?  Honestly I can’t press the “A” button fast enough to get to the coin toss and get the game going.  This is a waste of time and resources that could go towards things that actually affect game play.

GRADE: 0/10 – Waste of money paying developers to build this into a game.  I really don’t want a sad looking bull on the field for pregame when I’m playing against Texas in their house.

Enhanced Tackling Engine – This is actually a great addition to the game.  Too many times in ’11 a guy would just tackle the ball carrier who was actually being blocked or something stupid like that.  This allows for momentum to better control tackle success.  In addition there are cleaner tackles when more than 1 tackler is involved.

GRADE: 9/10 – Still not perfect. 100% better than last year, but still needs some work to produce a smooth experience.

Things I would put into the game

  • Athletic Director.  Currently you can’t really control where money goes.  It would be cool to be able to spend money on new uniforms, stadium additions, gym upgrades, etc.  This would help build up your grade at certain aspects when recruiting.
  • Ability to specify “Aggressive”, “Balanced”, and “Conservative” setting for Game Tempo.  This setting automatically runs the play clock down to a set time when you break the huddle and address the line.  Aggressive gets you to the ball ASAP, usually with 30+ seconds on the play clock if you pick your play quickly enough, with balanced leaving 26 seconds, and conservative leaving 11 or 12 seconds. The conservative setting forces you to basically run to the line of scrimmage and leaves pretty much no time audible, and Balanced makes you sit in formation for too long.  Just seems like an easy thing to get into the game, so I don’t see why it’s not in there already.

Things I would take out of the game

  • In-game replays.  Or at least the ability to never show replays.  Replays just get in the way of the game, they slow down game play and are unnecessary.  As a player, you don’t watch highlights DURING the game.  You may watch them afterwards, but not during.  Stop interferring with my gameplay and let me choose the next play.  At least this year they fixed it so the game clock wouldn’t run some times when running replays, but still, I DON’T CARE.  If I want to watch a replay, I will take the time to pause the game, and play the replay myself.
  • Washington Huskies (GO COUGS!)

OVERALL GRADE: 9.5 – NCAA ’11 was amazing, and this years version is even better.  It is frustrating because I’m not the best and get frustrated when I lose, but that’s a good thing.  At least the online dynasty shows how many times you restart to keep players honesty.  My offline dynast doesn’t have such protections in place.  If you like football at all, this is a must buy.