Sometimes you can't avoid things all around you, no matter how hard you try. For me recently, that has been the NHL playoffs. You see, as big of a sports fan as I am, I'm not exactly a hockey fan. I honestly couldn't care less about who wins, loses and all that jazz. Because of my general interest in sports as a whole, I find it impossible to not paying a little attention to it, just so that I can feel apart of the conversation, not an outsider looking in.
It seems like my Twitter feed recently has been dominated by NHL playoff chatter, my local sports radio has spent more time than usual discussing it and everyone around me seems to have the playoff hockey fever. Because of that, I decided to give NHL '13 a shot tonight, on the PS3.
I can't remember the last time I played a hockey game was. I'm guessing it was probably around the Super Nintendo era, but I could be wrong. Without being a fan of the sport, there has been little motivation for me to play a game about the said sport. Because of my lack of knowledge in this genre of games, I was tempted to play the tutorial, but I instead chose not to.
I just jumped into a game, expecting to be able to wing it and figure it out as I went. Well, I was plenty wrong on that front. A few minutes into the game, I had to pause it check what the controls were, since they weren't even remotely easy to figure out. I actually had to do it a couple more times after that, because that's how confusing they were. I'm sure anyone familiar with the franchise could pick it up easily and get going without any problems. For rookies, however, the tutorial is probably necessary.
The game was fun, but by the end of it, I felt like I do with regular hockey. I got bored by the end. For hockey fans everywhere, this is probably an awesome game for them. For me, however? Not so much.
Real talk Saturday, here. I am not a fan of soccer. I want to be, but never can seem to ever enjoy it more than whatever match I am watching. I have no problems watching a match, but finding the motivation to actually do it and then being able to invest in the "sport" past that is almost impossible.
Oh, and yes, I did put the word sport in quotation marks again, in reference to a previous post where I talked about the late, great George Carlin's view on what actually constitutes a sport. What did he think about soccer, you might be wondering? Well...
"Soccer. Soccer is not a sport because you can't use your arms. Anything where you can't use your arms can't be a sport. Tap dancing isn't a sport. I rest my case." - George Carlin
Anyway, I will watch World Cup matches, especially if the USA is playing, and same goes for the Olympics, but I don't go out of my way to watch them. Occasionally I will turn on an MLS game, mainly to catch the local team, the Portland Timbers, playing. Mostly that happens when my cousin wants to watch with me, as I will happily oblige to hang out with him. I usually just watch out of sheer interest, not super fandom where I am invested on who wins.
Speaking of my cousin, I was hanging out at his place today, and out of boredom, popped in FIFA Soccer 12. You see, he loves soccer, and is all about every aspect of it. He even invited me to go with him to the Timbers game tomorrow, which I am still mulling over, because of how rowdy and raucous the Timbers Army is. Anyway, back to the game.
I didn't hate it. The game itself is fun, and the challenge to score a goal seems as difficult as it probably should be. I understand the rules of soccer and the basic overall strategy enough to not feel like I am just freestyling it while I play, but there is a true to art to setting up the perfect scoring plays, both in real soccer and in the game. Clearly that's best left to the soccer guys.
My overall impression of the game, though, was what I normally feel about soccer. I didn't mind it, but I didn't actively make the effort to play this game before I stumbled upon it, and after I was done, I wasn't thinking about when the next time I will play will be.
To some it up, really, is that soccer is quite boring. The goal scoring is incredibly exciting, but they are so few and far between that I feel like I'm wasting so much time watching a full match when I can just watch the highlights and get everything out of it that I need to know. It was a good game to combat my boredom and also clear my mind a little bit after the BioShock Infinite hurricane of insanity that I suffered from last night.
Good old soccer. The most beautiful game in the world, as they say.
See - not even they will call it a sport, but rather a game instead.
I have been waiting for this weekend all week practically. Well, at least since Tuesday evening, when we got back from our Disneyland. Aside from sheer exhaustion and the lack of time to let my body catch up, combined with a lingering sinus infection that I just haven't been able to kick, I frankly just haven't had time to get some serious console gaming time in. And that has made me sad, especially since all I have wanted to do was play BioShock Infinite.
Well, today I played BioShock. I played a lot of it. Actually, I had an almost six hour marathon of it. If I wasn't such a tedious and narcotic collector/scavenger/explorer, I would have probably gotten a little further in the story, but that's neither here nor there, as they say. (Do they actually still use that term, or does it seem dated to you, to?)
Anyway, I got to a few particular storyline plot points in BioShock that threw my head for a loop, and I just needed a break from it all. I needed a pallet cleanser. And what better way to clear your head and just relax than with the only "sport" that absolutely relies on sheer mental toughness and thinking ability - golf. So I played the new Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 14 game.
Did you notice that I put sport in quotation marks up there? Why did I do that, you ask? Well, that's me paying homage to possibly my favorite comedian of all time, the late great George Carlin. You see, he had some very opinionated and somewhat controversial thoughts on what should and shouldn't be considered a sport. He believed there are only three true sports: baseball, basketball and football. Everything else, he said, is either a game or an activity.
"And finally welcome to golf. For my full take on golf, I refer you elsewhere in the book, but let it just be said golf is a game that might possibly be fun, if it could be played alone. But it's the vacuous, striving, superficial, male-bonding joiners one has to associate with that makes it such a repulsive pastime. And it is decidedly not a sport. Period."
So what was his full take on golf, you might be wondering? Well, I just so happened to find a video version of his complete thoughts on the activity that is golf.
PLEASE NOTE: The following video is NSWF as it does contain strong language. It is George Carlin, after all.
With all that being said, yes, I played a golf game. And surprisingly to some (since apparently everyone on the interwebs think I totally despise the Xbox 360, despite using it 22 times now for this blog), I did play Tiger Woods 14 on the Xbox 360 tonight. I did not however, play using the Kinect sensor, as I refuse to have a potentially good game ruined by bad technology.
Thankfully I chose that route, because I honestly enjoyed what I played. It's been a couple years since I have played a Tiger Woods game, so I had to refresh myself on the controls, which shockingly enough, did so quite effectively using a well thought-out tutorial mode. After my tutorial, I jumped into a tournament round, the Sunday of The Masters. I chose Tiger Woods (because really, who else would I pick?) and decided to go head-to-head against Rory McIlroy. The leader board showed us two tied with a third player for the lead, although the third guy had already finished his round, meaning all we had to do was finish one stroke or more better than him and our playing partner to win.
The course is spot on Augusta, for those of you who know anything about golf. Myself, I don't tend to watch hardly any golf except the major tournaments, or if I need a good nap on a weekend. I started off the round pretty good, but because the tutorial only showed me how to hit the ball and didn't include a putting section (unless there was an option I missed), that's where my game fell apart. I left put after put short of the cup by inches. Just when I thought I had a good put, I messed it up somehow. Now I'm sure that with putting, just like in real golf, practice makes perfect, but come on now! This was the final round of the Masters! There was no time to practice!
Long story short, despite my fantastic tee shots, my struggling putting game forced me to lose by a couple of strokes. I guess that's pretty much par for the course though for Tiger Woods now days, right?
After that short-game debacle, I tried out the Legends of the Masters mode, where you go back in time and recreate specific and significant events that have helped shaped golf into what it is today, all while playing as iconic and legendary golfers. You can skip back and forth between eras, but you can't advance to the next challenge in a particular era until the current objective is met. Also, the game looks like the era it's played in, meaning the very first ones are displayed in sepia with a grainy look to the video quality. It's actually really well done and ropes you into the era you're in. Golfers are also dressed accordingly.
There are also boss-battle type of challenges, where you are put up against a particular legend that you unlock once you complete the given challenge. It's a great addition to a gaming franchise that probably was starting to suffer from the annualized-game feel.
Overall, I enjoyed what I played, and could see myself playing more of it.
Too bad it wasn't a sports game, however.
OK sports fans, let's be real here for a minute. When the football season is in the off-season, sports in general just aren't that interesting. I said last week, on a podcast that I was on, that the NBA All-Star weekend was the worst weekend in sports all year. Unless you were a hockey or regular season college basketball fan, there was nothing to watch even remotely interesting. Well, a week later, and I honestly don't feel that much different about the previous weekend and now.
Sure, we have competitive NBA games, and while teams are starting to jockey for playoff position, there are only a couple teams outside of the playoff race that can make a push into the playoffs. It just isn't that interesting. Baseball spring training started, and while I am super pumped about the upcoming MLB regular season, there is nothing to watch currently. All we get are news stories about how bad the Yankees are going to be. While that isn't something I am opposed to, it just gets old after a while.
Hockey is still blah, NASCAR is driving in circles and car crashes and even those aren't fun anymore (what? too soon?). College basketball STILL isn't interesting, and won't be until the tournament starts. Golf isn't fun or worth watching except the Majors, and that's only if the big names are playing to win on the last day. So that leaves football, which unfortunately, isn't played year-round. There is a bit of football going on, however, thanks to the over hyped, over analyzed and over covered NFL combine. But hey, if LBs running 40-yard dashes gets better ratings than other, actual competitive sports on TV, then more power to the powers that be making those TV network decisions.
Because of this sports lull, and in honor of college athletes trying to show off why they deserve to be in the NFL, I decided to give NCAA Football 13 a whirl. I had high hopes for this game, but I'm not quite sure why. Maybe because the visuals in Madden are so pretty now, I expected NCAA to be on par. I should have remembered that wasn't the case from reviews when the game came out, but alas, I can't remember every little detail like that. I'm not saying the graphics are bad, just not jaw-dropping like I hoped they would be.
I played a few different games tonight. For one, I just wanted to experience the game as a whole, but then it turned into flat out trophy hunting. I'm not even ashamed of it either. To get a lot a trophies in the this game, you would have to dump some serious hours into all the different modes featured. If you were all about playing this game and nothing else, that would be a breeze. But for me, I find sports games in general (not just this one) tedious and repetitive after a while. But hey, I know LOTS of people who will play multiple seasons and careers in a game, playing each game of each season. I appreciate the dedication, buy my ADD won't let that happen.
The absolute best feature of this game is the Heisman mode, where you can play as a former Heisman winner for a season in an attempt to replicate or better their award winning season, all while trying to win the coveted prize at the end. It's a really cool concept, but even better, they got the legend Barry Sanders to be apart of it. I tell you what, I haven't had so much fun playing as a RB in a football game since, well, I played THIS GAME. Barry is one of the best football players I can remember ever watching, and being able to play as him in a game, where I actually felt like I was controlling him, was SWEET. I was surging to get the trophy for winning the Heisman with Barry. That is, until the game froze up and I lost everything. Awesome.
Well, I don't plan on wasting much time playing this game, but it did rejuvenate the sports fan in me. Maybe I can start enjoying some sports again. Or I can just keep watching guys do football drills in front of hundreds of people. Either way, it's nice to be back in the sports mood.
On a side note, I am in the beginning stages of doing something special for the March Madness tourney coming up soon. Of course, it will be video game related. Look for it, if I go through with my idea, up shortly. It might be an epic crash and burn of an idea, or the greatest thing since a sliced bread maker ... we will see!
Tonight, I got myself ready for the "Big Game" tomorrow. Screw it, I'm not getting paid for this. I can say Super Bowl all I want. So in between creating my totally awesome Super Bowl cake for our big Super Bowl party tomorrow, I took a little bit of time to see if I could predict the future ... by simulating it in Madden '13, of course.
Now, I know this game isn't the best version of the Madden '13 games, despite the cool features the GamePad provides. Mainly, due to poor frame rate and the older engine of the game not used on the PS3 and 360 versions, which got the latest game engine, it doesn't have the same polished look as the others. But that's ok, at least for tonight. All I was worried about was simulating the Super Bowl.
I could have just set up the game to simulate itself, and see who won that way, but I figured for the sake of this project, I had to actually PLAY the game. So I chose the Ravens, and cranked up the difficulty to try and resemble how hard fought the game should be tomorrow.
While playing, I was thinking about the next version of this game, which just got announced to be released (shockingly!) in August. Instead of being called Madden '14, however, the game will be paying homage to its own legacy, as it will be appropriately named Madden 25, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the most popular sports video game franchise ever. The cover athlete, like the last couple of years, will be chosen via the fans, in an online vote. But instead of just one player from each franchise, they will also be all-time greats to vote on as well. I can't wait to see all the players to vote on.
If Bo Jackson isn't one to vote on, I will be sorely disappointed.
So anyway, I always love Madden games, and I always plan on playing full seasons, running a successful franchise for several more seasons, and sucking every drop of content out of the game. It never happens that way though, unfortunately. After a while it gets hard to dump hours and hours into several football games. Just the way it goes. Unless you don't play anything other than sports games, they are super-hard to stay dedicated to.
Anyway, I had fun tonight, but I have to get back to my SUPER BOWL cake ... before Roger Goodell sues me for saying SUPER BOWL or something like that.
Oh, and were you wondering who won in my simulation game? I did, of course, but it wasn't easy. I ended up hurting Kaepernick on a vicious sack, and the ice-cold Alex Smith didn't have enough in him to bring the 49ers to the promised land. So is this foreshadowing for tomorrow's game? Only one way to find out ... and I guess that's why the play the game, as they say (which I will probably get sued for as well).
I'm going to make this short and sweet tonight, because in all honestly, I have been fighting a really nasty flu bug and I feel like death. In between full-body shakes, constant pain, headaches and some great naps, I still managed to play a little games. And tonight, due mainly in part to the fact I've been watching NBA games all night, I felt compelled to try out another fee offering from PS Plus, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition.
Now, the rosters are set for before last season started, so there have been quite a few player moves in the league since the game, and while it would be cool if they updated the game to reflect the current rosters, the game is still fun.
NBA Jam and I go way back to my youth, when I used to play it in every arcade I was in, and then play it at home for hours, typing in all the cheat codes and what not. The fact that EA Sports was smart enough to bring this franchise back is awesome, however I feel that it probably only is truly appreciated by my generation of gamers.
The voice acting, the catch phrases, the dunks, everything is still as fun as I always remember it to be. Oh, and the computer still cheats badly, especially when you go up by a few buckets. Glad to see the developers brought that back as well ... not.
Ok, that's it for tonight. Sorry for the short, mostly uninteresting post. I just need to go lie down again. Ugggghhhhh....
My Year of Gaming – Project Stats
Games played: 4
Systems played on: NES = 1, PS Vita = 1, PS3 = 2
Total time played: 6.5 hours
XBLA = The Noyse
PSN = the_noyse
NNID = The Noyse
3DS F.C. = 3007-8109-2329
STEAM = TheNoyse
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Games played for project : 365