Sunday, August 31, 2008

Madden Back Again This Year

What a treat... EA sports has once again pushed out yet another year of Madden. Okay so, not so much a treat. Either way it is here and in my collection. Last year, after taking about a 10 year break from the popular franchise, I got it. All in all, I think I enjoyed it save for a few frustrating things (fumbles.). So why did I go back out and get it this year like a crazy person? For a couple of reasons. 1. You could get the Head Coach game in the special edition bundle. 2. It looked fancy enough. Okay, so those reasons suck. I got it because it is football season and I bought into the hype.

Where am I with the game?
Through the Pre-Season with the Redskins.

How is it?
Still fun. Contrary to what I've read, the game seems fairly balanced using the new Madden IQ thingy. A lot of reviewers underestimate the potential of this feature. I also think it is impressive from a coding stand point. It is difficult to say how it will play out during my regular season, but we will see. I'm curious to find out what happens if I am playing a far superior team and get crushed. Will my IQ be reduced to nothing thus diminishing the CPU skills for the next team I play? I'm still wondering if the IQ thing is to replace traditional sliders. I don't think there are CPU sliders in the game, which is different, but could be because of the IQ. What has me scratching my head then is that I can adjust User sliders though. A few people out there are reeeeaaaally upset about the lack of CPU sliders, but between the IQ and User sliders you can get a challenging, accurate game going on. Besides wouldn't adjusting User sliders one way or another, in effect, be adjusting the CPUs? Well, not entirely, but like I've already said, I'm having fun with the game.

How are the stats then, realistic?
This is a very important thing for me. I'll toss a sports game out the window if I'm leading the league in every category, or finishing dead last in them all. I've played Madden games enough to know not to go with 15 min quarters. Right now I'm going with 12 min. I'm only through the pre-season, but so far stats seem solid. I'm a bit stuck in the mud with the running game, but in my last game against the Bills I put up about 150 yds rushing and 200 something in the air (with zero interceptions!!!)

How does it look?
Great. And some moments... unbelievable. Viewing a replay is really a treat. But I will say that still images of the game make it look better then it is. Stadiums look perfect, and finally the crowds are not distractingly bad in a sports game.

How does it play?
Good. But it damn well better. It still bothers me that players can get pushed as if on ice if contact with another player isn't just so. It is especially irritating after a play stops. Nit-picky, I know. But, ya know, football, my friends, is a contact sport, MAKE THE CONTACT WORK AND YOU HAVE A GREAT DAMN GAME. Jeeze.

Bells and Whistles?
Lots. Pretty interface again. I'm a franchise player. In it for the long hall.

How did the 'Skins do in the preseason?
Not bad. Move Cooley to FB Mr. Zorn and you will win.

Madden is still piling on little features like IQ every year, when, if they fixed a couple tiny things in the gameplay I, and the rest of the sports playing world, would be very happy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Soon Ohio, Soon

video
too good a song by too good a band to resist. longer video to come

Lockbourne



Braid; 4.7(?)

The simplicity of the game design is what makes this game stand apart from most others. Braid is a complete thought. As I play the game I can't help but think about what if the game had come out during the height of 2-D platforming. What if somewhere in-between Super Mario Bros. 3 and Strider a game like Braid came out? Would the course of popular video game history have been changed?

While it is futile to compare video games to movies one thing is for sure; you can't help but do it with most current generation games. Alone in the Dark has chapters you can skip to like a DVD, Dead Rising is a send up to zombie movies, BioShock comes dangerously close to film noir at points. and I'm sure that there is some review out there that states CoD IV is an 'action packed, thrill ride'. So then why does such a simple game like Braid more closely garnish feelings so close to what a movie gives you? I guess I could battle back and forth with myself for hours on that, but in the end I would tell you the same thing.

Given the right circumstances, Braid is a game that can hit you like any good art form; literary, visual, or otherwise. I would liken the game to a movie like F. W. Murnau's 'Sunrise'. In that, if I were to talk about it, you might be turned off. It is something that has to experienced under the right conditions to get the full impact.

I can't review this game under the exact same structure I use for others. It has no package and I am going to stick to reviewing games that I can collect on my shelf (for now). I sometimes wonder what is going to happen to Xbox Live Games 10-20 years from now. Will we have all them stored somewhere, like our music, to pull up later when we want to enjoy them? Kind of makes things disposable to think about it that way. Time shall tell. As for now and for the topic of this particular blog, the game gets a 4.70 out of 5. Sans Package Design and Art of course.

Anyway... that is an average.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Braid


Sort of by happenstance I came across the XBL game "Braid". After clicking around and reading a couple reviews on it I started scratching my head. The scores are through the roof? For a Xbox Live game that looks like a painted Mario?

Here is part of Dan Whitehead's excellent review from Eurogamer:

"You see, Braid's creator, Jonathan Blow, has more in mind than just shaking up tired old gameplay conventions. He wants to create games that make you think and feel. Braid doesn't have a story, at least not in the traditional linear narrative sense, but there's a lead character, Tim, and his mission is to find a princess. She's not a literal princess though, but a metaphor - the romantic cliché of that perfect soul mate as filtered through popular videogame motifs. The classic Mario line "our princess is in another castle", knowingly reused here, is more than just an ironic wink to gaming history. In the context of Braid's melancholy mood, it becomes a bona fide commentary on the human condition. Our princess is always in another castle."

After reading that I got the game. Like Mr. Whitehead's review, I too, am at a loss for the best way to explain the impact this game could have on you. I'll end up writing more about this game soon.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

O I Wish

I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart's affections and the truth of Imagination - What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth - whether it existed before or not - for I have the same idea of all our passions as of love: they are all, in their sublime, creative of essential beauty...

The imagination may be compared to Adam's dream, - he awoke and found it truth. I am more zealous in this affair because I have never yet been able to perceive how anything can be known for truth by consecutive reasoning - and yet it must be.

Can it be that even the greatest philosopher ever arrived at his goal without putting aside numerous objections?

However it may be, O for a life of sensation rather than of thoughts!

It is a 'Vision in the form of Youth,' a shadow of reality to come.

- John Keats
(pulled from a letter to Benjamin Bailey)

I like it when his words have meaning to me again. To temper the enthusiasm, an excerpt from his odes...

"Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung."