NCAA 12 Dynasty Mode Thoughts


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It’s the classic Godfather 3 quote. It’s the only classic Godfather 3 quote. “Just when I think I’m out…”

I really can’t help myself. I initially asked Todd to cover NCAA this year and then changed my mind mainly because Todd’s a busy guy and I have learned to feed him games at a pace appropriate for a man of his vital, busy schedule. So I’m back doing NCAA again, much to the delight of Brandon I might add.

I got the game Friday evening but my weekend was jammed with friends coming over and my daughter’s dog show that it wasn’t until Sunday that I could sit down to play NCAA 12. The review embargo lifts today but I’m not close to being ready to write that so I can simply offer some thoughts…

The gameplay is NCAA. It feels a bit tighter; I like the new tackling and I don’t see nearly as much suction and player phasing. But I’ve played a total of 3 games so it’s merely early impressions at this point. I surprisingly love the new tackle button which at E3 I thought sounded incredibly silly. “It allows you to set your feet and make a sure tackle.” Umm…ok. What this really does is effectively removes the DIVE button which is the worst thing to ever hit videogame football. This results in no more 5 yard flying tackles and that animation where the RB looks like he’s been shot in the back, Willem DaFoe Platoon style. Now when you press X on defense your player sort of lunges forward and while I technically think you can call it a dive it’s more of a controlled fall. It’s much, much better.

Penalties are still nonexistent unless you adjust slider settings. Player ratings, IMO, are severely suspect on certain teams (Sorry, Michigan’s defense being rated a B+ is about as accurate as calling LeBron James “great in the clutch.”) It’s not just Michigan though. NCAA needs a complete retooling of how it rates its players.

I still hate the field goal kicking meter as I think it’s far too easy to kick it where you want it, and you’ll need to adjust sub in/out settings to get teams to rotate players at all. The one game I played against Michigan the AI did a poor job of using Denard Robinson, I think because they no longer run the spread, and have turned him into a non scrambling pocket passer (In the game, anyway.)

I did see a lot of good things, though: dropped passes with contact, a decent CPU run game on default All American, and several deep pass attempts by the CPU and one caught for a 72 yard TD when I played against Stanford and watched as Luck throw for 336 yards. Egad.

But I want to talk Dynasty Mode. I’m a real stickler (read: Pain in the ass) when it comes to Franchise modes or Dynasty modes that are underdeveloped. It was a big issue with NCAA 11 because thanks to serious recruiting logic errors that game was unplayable after a couple of seasons. So, two seasons down and let’s look at how NCAA 12 stacks up.

Stats for the two year sim look….ok. The red flags are in the run game, and I still think we see too many QBs throwing 40 TDs and 2 or 3 picks but it’s better than it was a couple of years ago.

NCAA leaders in rushing for both years were a bit low, quantity wise. There doesn’t seem to be enough 1,000 yard rushers, possibly due to a lack of long gains. Somehow I doubt it remotely possible for the 2011 NCAA rushing leader – well first of all the fact that it was Stephfon Green, HB at Penn State, is a mind blower, but for Green to rush for 1700 yards and his LONGEST run be 17 yards…that’s tough to swallow. In year two I saw several top rushers with long gains of 13, 17, and 19. Yes there are some with nice, 45+ yard gains as their long but there aren’t too many home runs being hit by the tailbacks thus far.

Two other issues I need to keep an eye on are, again, kickers and also top 25 polling. First off, polling has been weird in this game since the very first NCAA over 10 years ago. Seriously – If Michigan is 9-3 and Ohio State is 9-3 and Ohio State beats Michigan and Michigan’s losses are to Notre Dame and San Diego State – there is no way – none – that Michigan would be ranked #9 and OSU #13. 100%, certifiably impossible. Additionally, if North Carolina, a team from a major conference, rolls to an 11-1 record, there’s no way that team would sit ranked at #15. Impossible. I have always wanted the ability to edit the top 25 rankings manually in solo dynasties. I’d still like such a feature.

The kicker issue, which EA said they fixed, has been, well, it’s obvious they gave that some attention but I’m scared to call it truly “fixed”. After that first year a lot of teams are forced to recruit a kicker because they only keep one on a team, so you’re looking at a lot of incoming freshmen being forced to be THE kicker for a lot of teams. And the pool is still weak – not AS weak (I think this is the “we fixed this” part) but weak enough that when I looked at a lot of the rosters after the recruiting season I saw a good number of kickers rated in the 60s and three in the 50s.

That’s bad. It’s not as bad as last year but you are going to see those freshman kickers hit at best 50% of their kicks. There are more top shelf freshman kickers than before who come in rated in the 70s, which is good, but bad teams are still getting stuck with bad kickers.

My fear, as I have yet to go any further than year two, is that these freshman kickers (mostly 1 star) won’t improve all that much so we’ll be left after a few years of nothing but shitty kickers. Not ridiculously shitty kickers like we had in NCAA 2011 but still…pretty shitty.

One bit about recruiting. I still think the system needs redone. I want the recruiting in this game to reflect the real world. I don’t want to see only one 5 star rated kid from Ohio, and only a total of four kids rated 4+ stars. A simple look at any recruiting service will show you that’s not really how it works. I don’t want to see three 5 star kids from Connecticut verbal to Oregon. Stuff like that is so incredibly rare but you see that a lot in NCAA, and always have. I also think that the way recruiting works needs retooled. It’s almost like busywork and offering a kid a scholarship is simply a matter of looking at his stars. I don’t want more busywork, so I don’t need High School All Star games or anything, but I would like to be able to confer with my staff. If I have two 4 star DEs I’m looking at, what do my assistants think of these players? You see this all the time in college football – fans freak out when your team doesn’t offer a kid that Scout.com says is a 4 star player. There’s a reason why your team didn’t offer…they may not agree with Scout.com for one. Grades could be another.

Anyway I am getting off track. Let’s close this out with this:

After the second year of simming my Dynasty I saw Iowa win a National Title followed by Auburn.

So far, I think NCAA 12 shows promise. There’s things I like, and things I don’t, but I want to dig deeper.

Much more to come.

Dark Souls is Going to Piss. You. Off.


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The blokes over at CVG have posted a slew of new screens for Dark Souls along with a quote from developer From Software that would normally make me not want to play their game, ever.

Developer From Software has said the spiritual sequel will make players “scream, yell and feel even more frustrated.”

If that’s true I am going to love this game, hate this game, and may very well need a new TV when it’s all said and done. Check those screens out though. Man…some of those enemies look…big.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution 'Cities' Trailer


Monday is always a big trailer day and this Monday looks no different as over the weekend another Deus Ex commentary trailer was released, this one detailing city life and how the world is shaped.

There’s been so many Deus Ex trailers recently I think you will have seen half the game by the time you play it.

F1 2011 "Go Compete" Gameplay Trailer


A new trailer has popped up today for Codemasters upcoming F1 game. I freely admit to not being a big auto racing guy, although I know how ridiculously popular F1 is overseas. F1 2010 received good reviews, mostly, and this is in fact a pretty sweet looking trailer.

The game is slated for a 9/22/11 release.

Former XCOM Leads Form Uppercut Games


Earlier in the year a few (key) people left the development of 2K’s XCOM reboot, which may account for how the team at E3 said they were still debating certain gameplay decisions*. Now, those folks that left, specifically Andrew James and Ed Orman, have formed Uppercut Games and announced their first game for IOS devices called Epoch.

PR ahead:

Uppercut Games, a new mobile games studio formed by veteran ex-Irrational Games developers, today officially announced that their first title, Action-Combat Game “EPOCH,” will be blasting its way (released) onto iOS devices in the fourth quarter of 2011.

* Fight through the crumbling ruins of a once-thriving civilization as a freshly-rebooted robot that finds itself caught up in a mystery from the past.
* Choreograph the hectic and highly-cinematic action with innovative and intuitive swipe controls!
* Take cover, dodge, select targets, use special abilities, and launch countermeasures against your foes!
* Smash a wide variety of mechanical enemies as you struggle to fulfill your ancient programming!
* Bolt on new tech torn from your fallen adversaries, or trade for parts in the Scrapyard – will you be a ninja-like sharpshooter or an unstoppable juggernaut?

Uppercut’s developers have drawn on their 24 years of combined experience with the powerful Unreal Engine to render “EPOCH” in visually stunning and highly detailed 3D graphics.

The official release date for “EPOCH” will soon be confirmed.

To learn more about EPOCH, follow Uppercut Games @uppercutgames on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/uppercutgames or visit the game page www.uppercut-games.com

*Speculation alert.

Calendar Man – Week of 7/11

No High Scores

Welcome to the college football edition of Calendar Man. Hoo-rah!

Actually, I have zero interest in college football as I went to a hockey school (RPI represent!) but here in the Georgia, folks live and breathe college football. Between UGA, Tech and Auburn, not to mention all of the Florida fans, there’s a lot of college football lovin’ going on. The fact that the Falcons constantly choke in the playoffs certainly can’t help. I’ve tried to get into college ball but between not having a team to root for and the fact that the bowl system is way too convoluted, I just can’t get into it. My good buddy Mr. Bones is an Auburn fan, so if I had to pick, I guess I’ll go with them. War damn Eagle indeed.

Not a lot on the docket other than NCAA this week and aside from Best Buy’s buy two get one free sale, not a lot going on the deals section either. That being said, let’s light this candle…

Back when Bill and Todd ran their own blog, before I joined and brought it all to a screeching halt, the release of NCAA or Madden meant that there would be nothing but football posts. Whee. I’d say you can expect the same thing here, but Bill has repeatedly stated that he’s done banging his head against the wall when it comes to franchise mode. We’ll see. I think Bill having less stress in his life is good for everyone, but at the same time, a year without him going apoplectic with rage over kicker progression is like a year without Christmas.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was a terrible, terrible game. I played it and hated every minute of it, but the worst part was running through the Ministry of Magic, shooting wizards while Harry yelled “you mustn’t tell lies” and Ron yelled “we’re all going to die”, both at the top of their lungs. It was alternately discouraging and disturbing. I have zero faith this game will be any better and I have no interest in finding out.

Deals
Toys R US – Buy one get one at 50% off on all games prices $19.99 or less. Save $10 on the following games: Mortal Kombat, CoD:BLOPS, Cars 2, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean. Free $50 gift card with purchase of Xbox 360 Kinect bundle. Free NCAA football figure with purchase of NCAA Football 12.

Target – Crysis 2, TW PGA Tour 12 and Dragon Age 2 for $39.99. Bulletstorm for $29.99. Save $20 on NCAA Football 12 when trading in any two 360 or PS3 games.

Best Buy – Buy two games, get the third game free. This is good for any game in the store, with the lowest priced game being the freebie. Get an extra 40% trade in value when purchasing NCAA Football 12.

Steam – Steam has a metric ton of stuff on sale including all of the Prince of Persia games and all of the Sam and Max games. You can see them all on the specials page.

Impulse – Impulse has far less on sale, but there may be something that suits your fancy, also on their specials page.

Rage: The Dawn Trailer

Oh look, Rage has a story. There’s an asteroid and um, dune buggies and mutants. It’s like Hemingway, but with a shotgun. I don’t remember any of the Hemingway I read while in school and it’s possible it already has a shotgun, so if so, please excuse the joke as the ramblings of an illiterate buffoon. In any case, enjoy the trailer.

Sunday Time Waster: Gaming is Dead


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Being a gamer of “my age” is significant. Gamers of my age, if you’ve been a gamer for most of those years, are part of a club, of sorts. A weird, AV Club type of club but a club nonetheless.

We have been here from the beginning. (Remember The Gaming Tree: http://nohighscores.com/node/378) It’s pretty cool when you think about it. Every generation can say this about something: radio, television, telegraph, telemundo, whatever. Every generation isn’t limited of course to one thing, but for my generation it was videogames and MTV.

Says a lot about us, no?

Being here from the get go, though, should give us some perspective on things. Being a PC gamer I have been reading and hearing about how PC gaming is next to dead for about 20 years now. The PlayStation was going to kill it. The PS2 was going to kill it. The mass market appeal of videogames and the finicky nature of the PC were going to kill it. The Xbox was basically a PC so it was definitely going to kill it. Of course none of that happened – the PC marketplace simply adapted. In fact the PC gaming scene is alive, well, and perfectly dandy thank you very much. I’d like to play more sports games on my PC but oh well.

The current bogeyman, to not only PC games but for big screen TV console games, lurks on social networks and inside your telephone. Soon, the only games you’ll be able to play involve some type of ‘Ville or will cost 3.99 to download. I understand the nature of the reaction to a lot of these games. No one likes to “lose” a great developer like Brian Reynolds to Facebook. But one thing about our industry: it’s constantly adapting, evolving, and feeding the needs of the consumer in one way or the other. In other words, the tent is plenty big enough for iPhone Apps and Facebook games…and PC games, and console games, and other handheld games.

Human nature doesn’t change all that much though. PC gamers were saying the exact same thing about console games that console gamers are saying about Facebook games today. The parallel is striking. You kids and your crazy cassette tapes and Walkmans.

When John Carmack said recently that in two years cell phones will be more powerful than current gen consoles it raised eyebrows. Does this mean big consoles are soon to go the way of the Vectrex? It’s as if people truly think that in five years there will be no more videogames – just games inside a browser or on the App Store. It’s like progress has shifted in reverse!

Our industry may very well look different in five years. Think back ten years ago – to 2001 – and remember how different our industry was then. It moves so fast (and yet at times remains so shockingly stale) that technology is going to consistently keep things moving. There are positive trends too, though. Yves Jacquier of UbiSoft said recently that “AI” was the next battleground in videogames. Think about how stunning that statement is in an industry that continues to get so wrapped up in aesthetics and gloss. AI will be the next battleground?

Folks we can only hope.

There is fear, though. Some developers and publishers (more so developers) are downright scared of the current trend toward Facebook and tablets and cell phones. Some seem downright mad at “real gamers” for playing them. It’s like a parent yelling, “You’re just encouraging them!”

History tells them not to be worried. For every company, like Disney, that hints at abandoning consoles to focus on Social Games, it opens the door for another publisher to step in. Or not. Regardless, videogames aren’t going anywhere…they are simply changing. Likely to more downloadable games and far less need for stores like GameStop to even exist, at least in its current format.

Gamers of may age remember glory days of games like Ultima, Bard’s Tale, DOOM, Pole Position, hell even Space Invaders. You think that Angry Birds will be remembered that way by this generation?

Should it be?

***
Hey we have a game to give away!

The winner of Dungeon Siege III on the 360 according to the magic spinning wheel that is Random/Org is…

themanmonkey

Email has been sent, thanks for entering, we’ll do another one soon! Likely a download so all you cool people in Brazil can enter, too.

Disney to Leave Consoles?


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There is an article on Eurogamer today about why Disney closed the doors on Black Rock, developer of Split/Second and Pure. In it, analyst Nicholas Lovell of GAMESbrief said:

“I’m completely unsurprised that they shut down the studio, when they are no longer focused on console. The new management of Disney Interactive is under a lot of pressure to become profitable, and they are looking for any way to cut costs. I can’t say that closing Black Rock is the most expedient way to cut costs, but the leadership of Disney Interactive comes from internet backgrounds, and they seem pretty focused on social games rather than on packaged products. Accordingly, it appears to me that they are more inclined to cut costs on the packaged goods side than on the social games side, and I think this is evidence of that inclination.”

You can read the rest of the piece here.

You have to wonder if this is a less violent version of the Domino Theory, as more and more companies begin to abandon packaged games and continue to head down the App and Facebook route which is the current trend.

But like anything else , just how saturated can the Facebook and app markets become before it, too, spills on the floor and makes a mess?

Planetside 2 Announced


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Sony Online may be reducing prices and merging servers left and right but the company is still cranking out MMOs. The next one in line is Planetside 2, sequel to the shooter sci-fi MMO.

You can go to the game’s home page (http://www.planetside2.com/) to read a short FAQ and view a few screens.

What is PlanetSide 2?

PlanetSide 2 is a Massively Multiplayer first person shooter. Battles take place not between dozens of troops, but thousands; with air and ground vehicles slugging it out alongside squads of troops. Whether in open fields, tightly-packed urban centers or enormous structures, winning requires strategic teamwork and a quick trigger finger.