Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Peyton Manning released by Indianpolis Colts today

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  • 4-time NFL MVP
  • 11-time Pro-Bowler
  • 11 playoff trips in 13 seasons
  • 7 AFC South titles
  • 3rd all-time wins for a single franchise (141)
  • 1 Super Bowl win, 1 Super Bowl MVP
  • 3 neck surgeries in 19 months
Released by the team.

This is the story of former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. The Colts announced recently their plans to let their franchise QB go, this comes as a complete changing of the guard in the city of Indianapolis as the future - and era - of Manning and the organization now is just a memory, stadium, and ultimately financial mystery as they both venture into the inevitable. The Colts dodged a $28 million payout to the QB by releasing him before the deadline of Thursday.

Peyton's mark on the Colts organization extends far beyond the field. Manning, who bought a local children's hospital, has long been the sole face of the franchise. In an almost single-handed effort, he transformed a known basketball "Hoosier" state, into a pure out-and-out football community. The Indianapolis Colts were 3-13 when Manning was drafted, in next 12 seasons he lead the Colts to a 138-54 record.

The release of Peyton will undoubtedly be the biggest in NFL history for a quarterback. Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, and most recently Brett Farve all spent the last few seasons of their respective careers playing for other teams, however no one was released with such reverence and mystery as it currently constructed upon news of Manning's release.

The Colt's will announce Wednesday the release of it's quarterback - and in most people's opinion - the prospect of picking either Andrew Luck, or Robert Griffin III with the No. 1 overall pick of this year's NFL Draft. Ultimately, it seems as if the Colts are taking a risk on the chance one of these two quarterbacks will compete out of the gates, or they are folding the next season to "rebuild" and move in the next direction with whomever they so choose to go with on August 26th, 2012.

Whatever the direction the Colts decide to go with their pick, and whatever decision Manning makes on the next chapter in his career, one thing is certain, it was bound to happen. No one is immortal, and no one can play the game of football forever. If Peyton does decide to come back, and is anything near his old form, whatever team that signs him will instantaneously be a threat in the league offensively.

For 14 celebrated seasons, the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning made for a historic era in the NFL. This is truly an end to one of the best runs to ever take place in professional sports. The Colts are letting go of a true class act and groundbreaking ambassador of the game, who gave his all and only through calamity was unable to serve the organization that showed so much support for him and his family.

Wednesday will be an emotional and momentous, as arguably football's greatest regular season quarterback says goodbye to the only organization he's ever known to either free agency or retirement. This is something of a nature that the sports world has never witnessed before.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Games on the AVE: Gamespot reviews Syndicate

Also on PS3

If you're a fan of 1993's beloved strategy game Syndicate, you might see the new series reboot as heresy. But if you've dismissed the new Syndicate because you think it sullies the franchise, you're doing yourself a disservice. That's because 2012's Syndicate is a really good first-person shooter with a palpable science-fiction vibe and rousing cooperative play. If you're looking for a first-class way to play an online game with three good friends, here's your destination. Just be sure you come to Syndicate for the co-op rather than the intermittently entertaining but messy single-player campaign, which prizes form over function.

But such form it is: Syndicate is slick, moody, and in total command of its near-future vision. You are a digitally enhanced agent of a megacorporation fighting for domination, and every aspect of the presentation reinforces this notion. In a rainy courtyard shoot-out under the rising skyscrapers of New York City, you're struck by the hazy blue lighting and how it contrasts with the craggy industrial pipes and pillars that surround you. Elsewhere, walls of text scroll down transparent green computer terminals, and countless objects are identified in your heads-up display. The atmosphere is both gorgeous and emotionally disconnected. This is the future, cool and indifferent, and Syndicate does an impressive job of transporting you there.
If only this attention to detail were applied to the rest of the campaign, which is characterized by momentary thrills broken up by pointless puzzle-solving and stretches of nothing that grind the pace to a halt. Consider this scenario: For narrative reasons, you find yourself strapped into a fancy machine--the kind that appears in so many science fiction games. Developer Starbreeze squeezes out as many minutes as it can out of this unskippable scene (not to mention, the ones leading up to it). You take drowsy steps into the device. You watch as straps bind your wrists in place. You look around as the machine ever-so-slowly rises into the air and then ever-so-slowly examines your innards. Every whirr and every click is belabored.
Such pace-killing moments are common. Syndicate moves forward in fits and starts, grinding to a halt just when it seems things might finally get awesome. Quiet moments can build tension in games that tell great stories or at least deliver effective payoffs, but Syndicate isn't such a game. You know that you are Miles Kilo, a EuroCorp agent with a special augmentation chip that gives you superhuman abilities. You meet comrades like Lily Drawl and Jack Denham, and you are told of EuroCorp and competing syndicates, but you are never given a reason to care. What does EuroCorp actually do? What makes it different from other corporations? What are the real stakes in this corporate war?
Syndicate does a poor job of answering such important questions. In place of true world development, it dumps thousands of words of text into an infobank, where you can read character profiles and various propaganda. The game doesn't tell a story so much as it shoves an encyclopedia at you and expects you to do the legwork. Compare this approach to last year's Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which used similar devices to expand its proper narrative, not to replace it. By the time Syndicate makes some last-ditch attempts to elicit emotion in this apathetic climate, it's too late. If a game never bothers to flesh out its characters, then you can't be expected to care about their pasts or futures.
Had Syndicate's campaign focused purely on the action, it would have made a much better impression. When things take off, they can really get your pulse pounding, though such moments don't last very long--at least, not until the final chapters. But when the shooting intensifies, the exciting single-player shooter hiding finally breaks free. Taking aim and shooting feels as satisfying as you'd like. A steady frame rate and sleek animations do their part to keep the action feeling fluid, and you feel a sense of weight when jumping or sliding into a cover spot. You might feel a bit of Killzone 3 in that feeling of heft. Perhaps not coincidentally, Syndicate employs a Killzone-esque first-person cover system. This is no cover shooter, however: persevering enemies approach from multiple angles and keep you moving. If you're used to predictable shooting galleries, in which foes enter from obvious entry points and seem content in their roles as bullet fodder, then Syndicate will represent a refreshing change.
Of course, as a future supersoldier, you don't just get guns: you get a few handy applications to keep the challenge from being overwhelming. It all starts with the suicide app. With the press of a button, your target is overcome by mental anguish before grabbing a grenade and expiring in particularly explosive fashion. Then there is the backfire app, which flings a merc to the ground, where he's temporarily vulnerable. The persuade application tops off your repertoire, turning your chosen enemy into an ally until he turns his gun on himself.
That all sounds deliciously gory, though in practice, you're not focused on the splattering of brains: you've already moved on to your next target. Some of those targets may require breaching, which is to say, hacking your target's chip. Powerful enemies require you to breach their armor before they can be harmed, which requires holding a button for several precious seconds. When such a foe is playing lone gunman, this isn't so bad. When he's accompanied by a few comrades, things get a lot more intense. If the action seems too much, you can activate your tactical overlay. Doing so slows down time and highlights every nearby enemy, even those behind walls. And with the right weapon, you can even snipe targets protected by cover.

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