Showing posts with label EA Sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EA Sports. Show all posts

Monday, September 30, 2013

Games on the AVE: GAMESPOT Reviews FIFA 14

Also on Xbox 360, XboxOne, and PS4





There's a change of pace about FIFA 14 that can be a little jarring at first. Those long-used run-and-gun attacks up the center of the pitch so beloved by FIFA players are met here with a steely wall of defence and a disheartening counterattack. This is a slower, more considered take on football that rewards careful buildup play and thoughtful strategy over brash tactics, and boy is it all the better for it. A slew of clever changes to the physics--some visible in the eerily realistic-looking animation and some working their magic behind the scenes--and clever control tweaks set this year's game apart from its predecessors. And in typical FIFA style, it's all wrapped up in some wonderfully compelling game modes and the glossiest of presentations.

There's no single new feature in FIFA 14 that screams "Buy me!" as perhaps the rag-doll collisions and 360-degree control did in FIFA 12, but it's how the game slickly combines several little tweaks to form a cohesive whole that makes matches sing. For instance, while you could previously manoeuvre the ball in all directions while a player was standing still, that ability now extends to when a player is running with the ball. It's an obvious tweak when you think about it, but it opens the game up to a multitude of runs that zigzag all over the pitch and to clever plays that outsmart defenders with more than a lucky through ball and a burst of speed.
This doesn't mean you can carve a mazelike path around the pitch without consequence, though. For every twist and turn you make, your players visibly shift their weight around and throw their arms out to keep balance. Overdo it, and the ball, which is no longer magically glued to a player's feet, drifts wide or too far out in front, giving defenders the perfect opportunity to swoop in and steal it. Naturally, some players are better at keeping control of the ball than others, depending on their stats. Figuring out who's the best man for the job and doling out the right strategy to the players is all part of the fun, and it's made easy thanks to a comprehensive and easy-to-use set of management tools that you can dive into before and during matches.
The best players are better equipped to perform showboating skill moves too, which are easier to pull off since you no longer have to hold down a modifier button. With just a few waggles of the right stick, you can indulge in all manner of body feints, stepovers, and sideways rolls, which--when combined with the looser dribbling and slick animation--look spectacular. The ability to actively shield the ball helps things along, giving you a little more time to plan an attack and giving your player those crucial seconds needed to line up a shot. It works well offensively too; some well-timed shielding lets you throw your player's weight around and turn on sixpence, and allows you to brute force defenders away from the ball.
What this all adds up to is a game that looks and feels more like a real game of football than ever before. AI performs more intelligently, boxing in players on the attack and performing runs in just the right places to create some real shooting chances, even if they're offside a little more often than you might like. And when you do get the chance to try to stick one in the back of the net, the ball dips, arcs, and moves with the kind of unpredictability you'd expect from a small round object being whipped through the air at pace. It's a wonderful thing to see in motion, and when you finally make your way to the box and score after a string of deft touches and considerate passing, it feels like you earned it. There's still an element of FIFA's heavy-handed automation at work here, but with FIFA 14 slowing down the pace and making you work harder for a goal, the automation is far less of an issue than in last year's game.
Off the pitch, things are largely the same, with modes like Head to Head Seasons, Ultimate Team, Online Friendlies, Virtual Pro, and Manager to play through, but they remain the most comprehensive and compelling you'll find in a football game. Real-world statistics ensure that every team is kept up to date before the start of every match, while the excellent EA Sports Football Club keeps track of any points earned and ties them to a real-world team for a ranking on a global league table. A slick new interface that mimics that of the Xbox 360 dashboard not only looks far better than its predecessor, but also keeps the action flowing smoothly in Career mode thanks to a simpler layout and navigation that lets you access all the core functions with just a few flicks of the analogue stick.
Career mode has received some much-needed tweaks, including the option to disable the first summer transfer window, finally giving you the chance to maintain a real-world squad up until the January transfer window. A Global Transfer Network has been introduced too, which masks a player's overall rating (OVR), so you've absolutely got to use scouts to find the best youth players. A tile on the Career mode page keeps you up to date on scouting progress, letting you choose to move forward with in-depth scouting, after which the OVR is finally revealed and you can decide who to purchase. This is far more engaging than simply hitting up the search box and looking for players with the highest OVRs, and it means you've got to put a great deal more thought into your purchases.
Fun skill minigames, swift loading times, and some excellent commentary (complete with rambling pre-match banter) put the finishing touches on what is a fantastic football experience. And, like previous FIFA games, FIFA 14 is beautifully presented. Animations are smooth, and famous players, kits, and stadiums are faithfully re-created with great attention to detail. You could argue that perhaps it all looks a little too perfect, and a little bit of grit here and there, along with some players who don't look like they've lost all feeling in their upper bodies, would go a long way towards making the game look even better, though it's still leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
Despite the lack of a defining new feature to attach itself to, FIFA 14 is far more than the sum of its parts. It's a fundamentally different experience to last year's game, and an entertaining one at that, moving the series ever closer to the realism it so proudly strives for. The only competition FIFA has this year is itself. With a next-gen version just on the horizon, complete with a brand-new engine, you may be thinking about sitting this one out until then. But to do so would mean missing out on what is a fabulous football game, one that feels fresh yet familiar and that pushes even FIFA veterans into new, exciting, and engrossing ways of playing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Games on the AVE: Gamespot Reviews NHL 14

Also on PS3




It's too bad that EA Sports doesn't have any competition for the hockey gaming market anymore. While the previous two editions of its long-standing hockey franchise were impressively playable--if not exactly groundbreaking refinements of the superb game that was NHL 11--too little of note has been added this time around. EA Sports is really pushing things this year with a game that incorporates nothing significantly new aside from arcade-style hitting, more fighting, and a lame re-creation of NHL 94.
It has now been two decades since NHL 94 changed hockey gaming forever, so EA is marking this with what's ostensibly a souped-up version of the usual release. But just like in Madden 25, there isn't much here worth blowing out the candles over. Game modes are similar to those offered last year. You still play one-off matches, get into careers running a player or a whole franchise, take on GM duties, mess around with Hockey Ultimate Team card-collecting, relive big games from last season in the expanded NHL Moments Live, and take the whole shebang online for multiplayer games, tournaments, and leagues.
Controls are identical to what was offered last year, save for the addition of a one-button deke move and some finicky dangles that are tough to pull off on a regular basis. And like last year, some moves are still overpowered, most notably poke-checking. You can control the nuances of nearly every stride and shot, or drop down to basic button-pushing as was offered in 1994. The game continues to include most of the international hockey world, from Major Junior in Canada and the elite European leagues to the NHL and its minor-pro AHL affiliate clubs. Team rosters are a little messed up, though, apparently dating back to June, and even the first downloadable update includes some noticeable mistakes and omissions, like the absence of the new division names that were announced in July.
Graphics and sound have been ported over almost intact from last year's game. Visuals remain very good, with impressive animations and TV-accurate depictions of players. The broadcast duo of Gary Thorne and Bill Clement spouts the same lines as before, the sound effects are ultrafamiliar, and the soundtrack includes the standard alt-rock lineup of new and old tunes where the most prominent track is Wolfmother's "Joker and the Thief" from its 2005 debut disc.
Additions are present, though they don't amount to much. The big new feature change is that the Be a Pro franchise mode, where you play an up-and-coming phenom or an existing star, has been converted to a slightly more elaborate role-playing experience called Live the Life. It never rises above being more than a half-baked version of what 2K Sports has been doing with its NBA 2K series, where you gain endorsements, design shoes, and even mess around with the media to make a name for yourself. Live the Life functions similarly, but there's no meat on this bone. Interactions are handled through bland text screens. You choose from several possible answers when teams quiz you before the draft, for instance, or simply say yea or nay when sponsors come calling with deals like putting your toothless mug on billboards in exchange for cash.
The results of how you mouth off to your team or the press directly translate to scores given to four audiences--fans, teammates, management, and family--that govern how things work off the ice. Be too much of a prima donna, and your team and management hate you, and might just trade you out of town. It's all too boring and rigid to feel authentic. Scores go up and down immediately after you finish answering questions, making the whole thing seem like you're painting a good guy like John Tavares or a nut like Steve Downie by the numbers, rather than creating a real hockey player.
The other headline new feature is NHL 94 mode. This is a retro option where you play arcade hockey just like you did in the Clinton era. It's a great idea, although it doesn't include many actual retro touches. The mode acts more like a dumbed-down NHL 14 sped up and locked to an old-school top-down camera. You get the distinctive blue-tinted ice, stars under players, 16-bit sound effects, and the zippy action that made NHL 94 so great back in the day. But the game uses the new graphics engine, mostly modern sound effects, and the current rosters.
Other modern touches that could have been more meaningful, like online multiplayer and league play, aren't supported in this mode. Ultimately, it's as if EA Sports couldn't decide between going full retro with the complete 1994 game or doing a modernized take on a classic, so it compromised and did neither. The result is barely a passing nod to this legendary hockey game, with the most standout detail being the bleepy-bloopy music you might remember well from long-ago marathons on the Sega Genesis.
Gameplay changes are also very slight in NHL 14. This is the second year of EA Sports' newest physics engine, but the action on the ice isn't noticeably smoother this time out. Granted, the skating physics are still very good. Momentum continues to be extremely well handled, especially when it comes to sharp turns and stops. Opposing defensemen get really aggressive in front of the net, and it's routine to see the net knocked off its moorings when forwards drive hard into the crease.


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Games on the AVE: Madden NFL 25 Review

Also on PS3 and Windows PC




Since it isn't every day that a game franchise marks its silver anniversary, you expect something sublime from Madden NFL 25. This may be the most respected series in all of gaming, with a pedigree that goes back to before Ronald Reagan left the White House, so it isn't unreasonable to expect the developers at EA Tiburon to do things up right this year with something really special. They haven't. Despite the name, you get the same old story with the traditional roster update, a few tweaks to the graphics engine, new control schemes to rev you up, and a teensy bit of feature creep. Instead of closing out the current generation of consoles with a big bash, this year's Madden just plays out the string.

Madden NFL 25 still looks good, but this big anniversary isn't being properly celebrated.
Madden NFL 25 still looks good, but this big anniversary isn't being properly celebrated.


Not much distinguishes Madden NFL 25 from last year's Madden 13. The game has been refined overall, but not in enough ways to make a measurable impact on how it plays on the gridiron. With that said, the core of the game remains Sunday afternoon in a box. This is a remarkably full-featured NFL simulation where you can play, coach, and manage in just about every way possible through a range of single-player and multiplayer modes. If you have ever fantasized about what you could do with your favorite NFL team, player, or owner, chances are very good that you will be able to do it here. And if you can't do it here right out of the box, you can peruse the files available in the new Madden Share online feature, since it allows easy access to rosters and tweak files uploaded by fellow players that adjust the game in a variety of ways. Of course, the exact same comments about everything save the new sharing option could have been made about virtually every Madden game released in the last decade.
The one big feature addition is being able to play in the Connected Franchise mode as an owner. This completes the trifecta; you can now take on franchise play as a player (a made-up rookie, an existing NFLer, or a rookie version of a legend like Joe Montana or Sammy Baugh), a coach (fictional, one of the real guys wearing a headset on the sidelines this fall, or a legend such as Tom Landry or Madden himself), or an owner (also fictional or a real-life tycoon like Jerry Jones or Robert Kraft). There isn't enough difference between these options, however. You're stuck doing too many of the same things for any of them to stand out. It's strange, for example, that you need to run practice challenges to earn XP when playing as an owner. It's rather unlikely that Jim Irsay takes time away from his luxurious office in Indianapolis to head down to the practice dome and run scrimmages.
You would expect the owner mode to function like a sports management sim, but it really works as a traditional franchise option with a couple of actions grafted on, such as answering the odd media question, setting the price on merchandise like autographed footballs and stadium snow cones, and even deciding to leave town (here come the Rams, Toronto). There just isn't enough depth here. At least the developers have added back in franchise features like draft class imports from NCAA 14 and full offline 32-team control. And they have bolstered the long-term appeal of the collectible-card, multiplayer-focused Madden Ultimate Team mode, with player chemistry affecting team performance, and head-to-head season play. Madden Ultimate Team isn't for everyone given its odd complexity and focus on collecting player cards to field top lineups, but it now almost rivals more traditional franchise play with these added features.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Games on the AVE: Gamespot Reviews FIFA Soccer 13






Also available on PS3







From the moment you first set foot in one of FIFA Soccer 13's beautifully detailed stadiums, it's clear that EA's latest football outing isn't the revelation that its predecessor was. Sure, it's still feature-packed and entertaining, but where FIFA Soccer 12 revolutionised and updated the classic FIFA formula in some wonderfully inventive ways, FIFA 13 merely maintains it. Its long list of improvements--enhanced physics, AI, player physicality, a better defending system, a tweaked Ultimate Team mode, and a new Skill Games mode--are welcome and well-implemented changes. But on the pitch, it's hard to tell that you're playing a dramatically different or better game than FIFA 12. Indeed, some of FIFA 13's new marquee features are mere tweaks of those introduced in FIFA 12, one of which is the infamous player impact engine. It has been overhauled in an attempt to reduce those odd, fumbling, and sometimes-hilarious collisions that players made as they bounced over each other on the pitch like rag dolls. But while there's certainly a noticeable improvement in the physics system, with far less slipups, it's not infallible; there's still the odd glitch here and there as players do inhuman backflips over others and flop along the pitch like weird anthropomorphic fish.
Better are the changes to the dribbling system, which have been inspired by the work done on FIFA Street. Now you can swirl the ball around a player's feet using the analogue stick, teasing defenders with cheeky dummies, stops, and skilful flicks. Pulling off such manoeuvres is so very satisfying, and this system works great with another tweak that means players no longer have to face the direction in which you want them to dribble. This makes play look and feel much more natural, letting you actively shield the ball or ensure that you're always facing the goal when zipping around defenders for the perfect strike. Getting a first touch on the ball also has an added air of realism, thanks to a new system that attempts to stop the uncannily skilful control that players had when receiving a ball. Now factors such as the height of the pass, its speed, and the statistics of the players themselves are taken into account when players receive the ball. Without the guarantee of player control, you're forced to rethink passes and strategies in order to keep possession. A fast long ball into free space might seem like the best option, but when there's a strong chance the ball could pop up, be a miss-hit, or simply run away from a player, it's suddenly far less attractive.
The on-pitch action is some of the smoothest and most enjoyable the FIFA series has created; the AI makes better, more intelligent runs, and the tactical defending system now takes into account player size, meaning larger players can strong-arm the ball from weaker ones, or fight off defenders better. It all makes containing, jockeying, and whipping a leg out for a tackle feel much more fluid than before. Silky manoeuvres and swift runs down the pitch are much more realistic, while goals look spectacular, thanks to some great visuals and highly stylised replays that replicate the magic of watching a match on TV.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gaming News: Gamespot Reviews FIFA Soccer 12





Distilling the world's most popular sport into a video game isn't an easy task. Aside from capturing the atmosphere of the game--the satisfying thump of boot on football, the on-pitch dramas created between player and referee, and the ferocious roar of the crowd as the ball sails into the back of the net--there are other considerations too. Some players want to manage their teams. Others want to live out their dreams of football stardom. Still others want to put their skills to the test against the best in the world, all the while clamouring for as realistic an experience as possible. FIFA 12 lets you do all of these things and more. A new tactical defending system, player impact engine, and head-to-head seasons are just some of the excellent new features it offers. But it's the new EA Sports Football Club that's the real draw, bringing with it an addictive levelling system that pits you against the world's players, keeping track of your own progress and that of your favourite team too. Not only is FIFA 12 the best game in the series, it's also one of the most exciting, accurate, and complete sports games around


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gaming News: IGN Reviews NHL 12







EA Sports' NHL 11 reached the pinnacle of hockey gaming last year by featuring the most enjoyable and most accurate arcade simulation of the sport ever made. So where do you go from there? NHL 12 answers that question with a range of subtle refinements and additions that improve play on the ice in a number of ways, as well as add new features like being able to skate as a number of NHL greats. This game won't be the most necessary sequel that you'll ever buy, but chances are good that you won't regret laying down the cash after spending a few games enjoying the new offensive and defensive player positioning, checking out the new CHL league support, or working a give-and-go with Gordie Howe. 

Normally we bring you guys the video reviews of video games from our current fave video game site, Gamespot. But todays video review is brought to you by IGN



Thursday, September 01, 2011

Gaming News: Gamespot gives in depth review of Madden NFL '12

Peyton Hillis covers this year's Madden

Every year at this time, fans across the country are abuzz at the prospect of their chosen team's seemingly unlimited potential. Any team could hoist the fabled Lombardi Trophy, and that unbridled optimism drenches even the most levelheaded spectators in waves of hope. It's only after the weeks creep by that fans start to realize their team hasn't improved much in the months since it last took to the field. That cycle of dizzying expectations crushed by cruel reality is mirrored all too well in Madden NFL 12. The core action has seen slight improvements, making it incrementally better than last year's offering, and presentation tweaks do a better job of mimicking Sunday's biggest games. But those minor additions offer little incentive to plunk down your hard-earned cash if you already own a recent entry in the franchise. Madden 12 still offers the strategic excitement the series is known for, but the overall package is a familiar rendition of America's favorite sport. With that being said, take a look at Gamespot's review video of Madden NFL '12 below and decide if this is worth your cash !!! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gaming News: Trailer for EA Sports NHL 12






Last year, EA Sports benched its NBA series and watched rival 2K Sports capitalize on the absence by featuring arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, in NBA 2K11. Turnabout is fair play, so with 2K Sports sending its NHL series to the showers for this season, EA Sports today announced that NHL 12 will feature arguably the greatest hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky. This marks the second time the Hall of Famer has been prominently featured in an EA game, as he served as cover athlete for last year's NHL Slapshot on the Wii.The Great One in his office.
Throughout his career, the Great One was known as much for his team play as individual accomplishments (he has more career assists than the next highest-scoring player, Gordie Howe, has goals and assists combined). So it's only fitting that EA Sports is bringing him into the game with a worthy supporting cast of his fellow NHL legends. The publisher will feature eight other former players in the game, with big-time blueliners Ray Bourque and Chris Chelios the first revealed.
The legends won't just be for show, either. EA Sports is featuring them in the new Be a Legend mode, which challenges players to match up to their namesakes' accomplishments over the course of a Be a Pro career. Players will also be able to add the game's greatest players to their roster in Be a GM, Hockey Ultimate Team, and Battle for the Cup modes or try them out in exhibition and online games.
Apart from the legends, EA Sports has updated this year's version of the series with a new "Full Contact" physics engine. The publisher aims to increase realism in the game, adding in such features as goalies that can be interfered with more realistically, as well as net battles. EA Sports has also added new events, such as the 2011 NHL Winter Classic, which will be played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, and it has revamped the Be a Pro career mode.
An Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 downloadable demo for NHL 12 will be available worldwide beginning August 23, with the game itself launching September 9 in Europe and September 13 in North America.

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