6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Rugby 2004 Review


I’m not a big Rugby fan. I barely even know the sport to be honest. Still, this was one of the only games I could find for under 5 on Amazon so I figured it was time for the plunge. It does feel a bit like Football even if it isn’t the genuine article. It’s close enough for me and that’s what counts. I had to figure out the controls on the fly as the practice mode here doesn’t actually teach you any of the controls. I’m not even sure I see the point of the Practice Mode here. It definitely could have been quite a bit better.

The game has no real story mode or anything like that so you’ll probably just be jumping into the quick “Play now” mode. Once you’re in you pick your team and the match settings like how long the game is and where you want to play. For my first match I made it very cold and overcast but sadly you couldn’t just pick rain ow snow like in the good ole days. I feel like those two should always be an option. How much harder could it be to program those into the match right? I played 3 games in total and saw a lot of rapid improvement. In the first game I lost 59-0.

Granted, I was still learning the controls at this point. I was figuring out how to run, pass the ball, etc. Even by the end of all 3 games I could never figure out how to lateral the ball back to someone else. It definitely made things pretty tough. The only play I knew how to run was what was effectively a delayed hand off. I did enjoy how the player would already start running before he grabbed the ball to pick up momentum. That’s a play I’d like to run more of in the Football games. I may have gotten blown out, but the gameplay was solid so I still had a solid time throughout. I think that speaks to how solid EA Games was at this point.

Then I jumped into my second round which went over better. I lost 8-7 in this one. I was finally figuring out how to play some good defense and of course I could run now. My play wouldn’t work very often but it worked once and so I was at least able to get on the board this time. My defense couldn’t stop them when it counted but I kept it close. Then we had the final match although for this one I toggled the difficulty level lower a bit so I’d have a calm experience. I ended up winning 3-0. Yeah, that’s a pretty low score but it oculd have been worse. At least I had the higher score so in the end I was able to claim victory. It was a pretty solid way to end the game I’d say.

Even now I don’t really get the rules. I do think it has potential though. If I ever did manage to understand how the game works I’d probably be able to enjoy this one about as much as Football or Basketball. It’s got a lot of solid fundamentals to it and that’s all I need. The matches don’t take very long either. I was able to knock out 3 games in about an hour which is a pretty good amount of time I’d say. 20 minutes for what I’d say was a complete experience. The game just goes very quickly since the clock never really stops. It’s just always active. I don’t understand how the end of the timer works though. It’s sort of like Soccer where even once the game ends the timer just stays there flickering for a little while. There’s probably some logic there that I just don’t get.

As for the graphics, I’d definitely say that those look pretty good. They may not be top of the ring or anything like that but for the PS2 era they have aged rather well. The whole thing looks pretty good. You’re able to leap into action and I have to give the game credit for having so many arenas and teams here. That must have taken a lot of effort. Additionally the game has a ton of replay value of course. You can enjoy playing quick games or jump into a franchise. Either way that results in a lot of playing time which is always a good thing. Of course this all depends on you enjoying the game a lot. Naturally if you’re not a big fan then this will probably drag on.

Overall, Rugby 2004 is a solid game. It would likely be higher if I actually understood how this all works. It’s too bad that Rugby didn’t get more installments but I suppose it never really got all that big in the US. Football dominated over here and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. There aren’t a whole lot of other Rugby games that I haven’t played over here now so I’m one step closer to playing them all. Still, I don’t see myself getting another Rugby game for a long while so it could be a bit before I hit that milestone.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Games, Live Action Movie Reviews, Reviews

Need For Speed Undercover Review


Looks like the Need for Speed marathon is finally at an end. I’ll play through the next one at some point but at least for right now this will be it. Undercover is definitely a very solid installment in the series though. Not only does it have a lot of content to go through but it also takes us back to the more plot driven direction of the earlier games. It could stand to have more of a focused story but even just having boss battles is a big improvement over the last few. It’s just hard to top that and I wonder what they’ll do for an encore.

The game starts with the main character being tasked with the assignment of going undercover in order to take down a bunch of renegade racers. Gangs are popping up everywhere and you have to stay undercover until you find the big boss. The tricky thing is that you start to sympathize with some of these racers who are just trying their best to live and survive in what is considered a pretty frightening world. Is there any way that the hero can let them off easy? He’ll have to also avoid attracting too much attention since some characters already think that he’s probably compromised. It sure is difficult to keep getting these guys arrested while the lead is somehow safe.

I feel like the villains should have known something was up the instant we busted an entire gang, leaving the main character as the only guy left. At this point we joined another gang and did the same thing but really? That’s super suspicious. The main character doesn’t get to appear all that much and even gets censored during the quick cutscenes with the cops so we don’t see him all that clearly. I suppose he seems like a nice enough guy but also a very gullible one who is easy to manipulate. His driving skills are second to none though and the villains learn that the hard way. The ending has a lot of things happening so you’ll need to pay attention to that.

Unfortunately the sound mixing wasn’t very good. The gameplay and music while in the race are much louder than the actual cutscenes. What this means is that you’ll be playing normally when suddenly a cutscene occurs and you need to raise the volume. If you don’t then what ends up happening is you won’t be able to hear what’s going on quite as well. I don’t really get how something like this would make it past the play testing since it seems like a quick fix. Beyond that, it has the usual EA soundtrack. There are a lot of songs here and they’re all pretty fast paced so I’d say that you’re bound to find at least a few that you’ll like. I’d be surprised if you didn’t. The ending song is definitely a pretty intense one and ends as if this was a theatrical movie. Pretty epic if you ask me.

Then you’ve got the graphics which are solid as always. EA has never disappointed in this area and I wouldn’t expect them to start now. The cars look excellent and so driving through the city is a lot of fun. It’s all or mostly all in the daytime though so surprisingly we’re still not getting a lot of night levels. I know those can be risky since it can be hard to get the night look while not getting too dark but I think they can pull it off. Regardless, the hub world is quite huge and the fact that you can drive around the whole thing and pick up missions is a blast if you ask me. The cutscenes also look really good like the big boss battle at the end where the car jumps off the road. It helps really get you into the swing of things.

The gameplay is easy enough to describe. It’s the same 3D racing that you’re used to and is as fun as always. Using your nitro to get away is nice or quickly spinning a 180 and zooming away as the other racers get confused is just as satisfying. You really can’t go wrong with the gameplay here. There are no bonus competitions like drifting or any of that this time. It’s all about racing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This makes the most sense in context after all. You will get new cars as you go through the game and can upgrade them but the process has been very simplified compared to how it was in other titles. I think this game has pretty much nailed down the formula so they should really stick to this going forward. You still need to take a look at your car every now and again but not constantly. Aside from free roam you can also use the GPS to jump straight into a race. You can tell which events are story ones because the icon will be wrapped in a circle which looks very fancy.

If you complete a level very quickly you will have “dominated” it which allows you to permanently increase a stat. You don’t get to choose which one but they certainly add up. I recommend going for the dominate as much as possible because the stats and discounts add up very quickly. Without them I imagine that this would be considerably more difficult. The main game’s campaign took me a little over 10 hours so when you add up all the extra events that should probably take you to around 14-15 hours. Pretty good deal for the game if you ask me. You certainly won’t be wanting for content by the time you’re done with all of this. Undercover is really the complete package for a Need for Speed title.

Overall, I’ll definitely miss Undercover. It’s definitely the most complete game in the series I’ve played since Underground. If you like racing around the city and enjoy Free Roam then this is definitely the game for you. It’ll remind you of Driver with the added danger of having to run from the cops. The cop chases here can definitely be very intense. There’s not a whole lot you can do about the hellicopters and their vans really smash your car out of the way. The game runs well and the graphics are sharp. I only encountered one glitch where I seemingly won a level too quickly which was odd so it didn’t count. It seems like that’s not something you would typically need to worry about though so I wouldn’t sweat it. Could be a while, but we’ll see where the series goes from here.

Overall 7/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Need For Speed ProStreet Review


It’s time to look at a recent Need for Speed title I completed. Unfortunately this may end up being the weakest title in the series. It’s hard to get into this one and there’s not even much of a story. I don’t know about you but I always need a compelling story to really throw the Need For Speed games into the next level. Not having one just doesn’t feel right because the whole time you’re waiting for something to happen and it just doesn’t. Additionally there are some other gimmicks that didn’t work well but more on that later.

The general premise is that you want to become the number one racer in town. To do that you will have to win a lot of races and tournaments. After clearing a bunch of tournaments you get to a showdown level where you get to beat a boss. Then rinse and repeat until you beat all of the showdowns which will earn you a match against one of the legendary Kings. Beat him and the game is over but after that you can take down the rest of the kings in the post game to become the grand king. At that point you are the best there ever was so what else would you really want to do?

There’s a lot of content here so I’ll certainly grant the game that. The campaign itself is incredibly long due to the sheer volume of races and tournaments here. I don’t see you completing the game in under 10 hours and it’ll probably take more like 15. Aside from that it’ll take a lot of time and money to unlock all of the cars or to break enough records to take on all of the kings. Earning money takes a lot of time in this game and that’s unfortunate because you need money to get the better cars. Your starter just won’t cut it. I’m cool with upgrading, but this game tries to go a little too realistic with that. There are some cars where even if you max them out they will never be fast enough to win the race. You also have to compete in “Wheelie” competitions near the end of the game and none of my cars could pull it off. Had to get a brand new one which was a colossal waste of money since it was just good for that and the drag races.

Ultimately I made it to the King at the end and took him down in the first 4 races, but the 5th one stumped me. I really only beat the first race because he ended up crashing so I crawled to the end. His car was simply worlds ahead of mine so no matter how well I raced through the level there was no way I was going to win. I needed a completely different car if I wanted to deal any damage and going all the way back didn’t seem like a great option. So that’s where my journey ended. I really don’t think the idea of having to get new cars all the time is a good one. I like just having one good car that you can upgrade. Make the courses tougher but don’t mess with the cars.

Maybe this wouldn’t have felt quite so bad if the game had a real story. This just didn’t really even feel like a Need For Speed. There is no free roam in the game which is absolutely crazy. That’s basically the core of the NFS franchise. Gone are the underground races and trying to zip away with your car intact. It’s admirable that the game was going for something new but if you ask me it just didn’t work. The core gameplay is still good of course so I’m happy about that but that’s really all I can say about this game. There are several different kinds of racing modes, but the classic Circuit is the best one. I suppose my second favorite would be Speed since the whole idea behind that mode is going full throttle from the start in 1 long lap. One mistake will mean the end for you here so you can’t afford to slip up.

The graphics aren’t bad. They’re pretty standard as far as the series goes. I wouldn’t really say that it’s improved much at all since the last one. As long as I can see the track I’m good though. The soundtrack’s pretty limited, I can’t recall any good tunes. One element that further holds the game back is the announcer. He talks constantly as you’re going through the menus so you feel like you have to hurry and make your selections. His lines aren’t witty, they’re just annoying and super loud. Additionally the game throws in a lot more fanservice than these games typically have. You’re also forced to experience this before every single race. You know how some of these levels are so difficult you have to retry them over and over again? Well, get ready for these unskippable intros before the race because they really eat up a lot of time by the time they’re all over.

Overall, Need For Speed ProStreet really fell pretty hard compared to most of the Need for Speed games. This one barely even feels like it’s a part of the same series as the others. It only shares the name with the rest of the games but otherwise may as well be a completely different title. The gameplay is good, but that’s not really enough to save the game. If I at least got my free roaming mode I’d be okay but without that this game just couldn’t work. If you’re going to get into the Need For Speed series then I recommend starting out with just about any other game compared to this one. ProStreet just does a disservice to the series.

Overall 5/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

FIFA 13 Review


It feels like it’s been a long time since I got to play a FIFA game so this was pretty nostalgic. Interestingly the game only lets you operate the menus with a wireless controller so I had to break out my original PS3 controller over the wired one I’ve been using for a while now. I do prefer the wireless one in general, but the controls have been glitched for a little while where it moves to the left and right at times. Fortunately this didn’t have a real impact on the gameplay since it’s too subtle to register while running all over the place.

There are a ton of modes to check out here including a franchise, training, quick games, and more. Naturally I went straight to the quick game because that’s just how I roll. I don’t need build up or anything like that, I’m just ready to jump in and have a blast. While the game is loading you can practice your shots on an empty field. Then it’s game time after that. I’ve played quite a few FIFA games before so the controls were all pretty familiar. FIFA is one of those games that doesn’t really change a whole lot after all. The graphics may improve a little and all, but that’s about it.

The goal of the game is to kick the ball into the opponent’s net. Once you’ve done this then you will be awarded a point. You then have to prevent the opponent from doing the same to you. The games are around 90 minutes but the matches don’t take that long in real time. I was able to finish 3 games in an hour so they take around 20 minutes a piece. You can shoot or pass the ball and on defense you can slam into opponents or go for a passive block. I prefer lunging but you do have to be careful when you do it because it’s very easy to rack up some fouls this way. You don’t want to be thrown out of the game or anything, but it seems like it would take a very long time for that to happen so I wouldn’t even worry about that all that much.

I actually did very well in the first match as I won 3-1. It’s rare for me to really score at all so that was pretty cool. I lost the second game 2-1 and lost in overtime after being tied 1-1 during the game. It’s still a pretty difficult game if you ask me since it’s so hard to score, but it does make it very satisfying when you do eventually find the net. If you keep at it long enough then eventually you are bound to score a goal. Passing is the key here but it’s hard to get the A.I. to go where you want them to. If you can have one of your partners above or under you when closing in on the net then it will be an easy goal. Pass and shoot as soon as you get the ball. You have to do this quickly though because the other team runs in very quickly and definitely won’t give you time to catch your breath. They want the goals just as badly.

The graphics are pretty solid. You always know what is happening on screen and the FIFA games have never disappointed there. It’s hard to fault anything about the game on those merits. The soundtrack is more on the nonexistent side but it won’t bother you much while you’re busy trying to make plays. In terms of replay value there is quite a lot here. Naturally you won’t be able to play online at this point, but that won’t stop you from playing a lot of soccer games over and over. That is ultimately the reason you would buy a soccer game in the first place right? So there’s no shortage of content here and since you can buy the game for a dollar or two that’s not a bad idea.

Overall, FIFA 13 is a pretty solid Soccer game. It can hold its own with all of the entries. As always you do have to consider the fact that there is really little reason to buy this one when you can buy a newer one for the same price, but that doesn’t mean the game is any worse in comparison. It’s just how it goes. With this I have nearly all of the FIFA games which is pretty cool. I don’t buy sport games quite as frequently as I used to, but they are still nice for a change of pace. Madden and NBA will always be my two favorite though. I just feel more in control in those titles and the gameplay is so explosive. I don’t know which sport game I’ll review next. Only time will tell.

Overall 7/10

9 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Madden 19 Review


It’s time to look at one of the newest installments in Madden. It’s definitely been a fun series throughout the years and I’m proud to say that I own almost all of the installments in it. Madden 19 continues the series strong run into the modern era and it’s the kind of game that you could play for a very long time. It’s one of the only sport games where I end up playing through a full season before the review so I could really take in the smooth gameplay. There’s really not much to say against this game although there is a feature or two that take away from it being the perfect Madden title. (2004 will always be the best one)

First things first I jumped into Franchise mode. It’s really quite sad how this mode has gotten the shaft in favor of other titles over the years. You rarely hear people getting hyped about this one anymore, but to me it’ll always be the best mode. You just pick your team and play for as many years as you want. There is now the option to play the Franchise online which sounds interesting. I assume that means all 32 teams will be controller by someone online, but does that mean the matches have to be scheduled? I know there are also a lot of rage quitters so I wonder how the game handles that. Either way I don’t have PS+ so I had to play the franchise offline but that made it extra nostalgic.

As expected there are a few new bells and whistles here. For starters every player has XP as if this was an RPG and you’ve got missions for every game. Clearing them gives you more XP and you can use that to level up specific techniques or even the coach. I’m not sure if I’m 100% happy to have these extra things because I prefer to just play the game with my own playbook, but it doesn’t really harm things offline. Online it could mean that you end up being completely outclassed though if all of their players are maxed out. So I dove into the games and managed a 10-6 record. I managed to get a first round bye which was nice, but then I lost to the Eagles in the Divisional round 37-27. Considering I was playing as the Cowboys it was a pretty rough way to go. My backup quarterback fumbled twice and I also threw a pick. In the end we just couldn’t get past that. (And the random holding calls from my offensive line)

In a lot of ways the games have gotten even more realistic than they used to. A holding penalty suddenly showing up to wipe away my first down happened about as much as you see on TV for the team. Then there are also the constant injuries that would happen every game. Pretty much every important player on my team had to leave at least once during the game and several were out for weeks. I had to sign 3 more quarterbacks during the season to keep my team afloat until Dak arrived again in the final game of the regular season….only to get knocked out during the Eagles game. I’m really tempted to turn off injuries for the league next time I do a season.

Granted, I got a lot of mileage out of Dak. I ran for over 1300 yards as him and while my passing yards were only around 2800 or so, it worked out pretty well. My favorite play in the game is quick slants as there are a lot of options on the field and typically if they’re all covered well then you can run for it. Usually I would run for about 15-20 yards a piece. Of course I do recommend diving each time you run at the end because a direct hit would probably lead to a fumble. Running the ball normally was okay, but Zeke felt extremely slow so I usually wouldn’t get a lot of yards. I did go to Exhibition after the season to play as the Ravens real quick and their running back was so much faster. It just feels nice to blow past everyone.

On the defensive side it felt about the same as usual. You go after the quarterback or stay with the cornerbacks. It can be really tough to make any stops though and half the time it feels like you don’t have any real power here. I played defense for a little while and eventually turned it off. One of the best features here is the ability to skip one side of the ball. I would set it to Offense only so I would only take over at that point and the defensive side would be simulated. It was a pretty good balance if you ask me. Special teams is pretty good as well though and they tend to keep that one in. Field goal kicking has been greatly improved as it’s back to a “click x button twice” style as opposed to flicking the stick. It just feels a lot more natural now. Punting is also pretty good so these parts of the game are as good as can be.

The graphics and presentation are top notch as you’d expect. Madden has always been amazingly consistent in these areas and it shows how much effort the company puts into the game. Madden is a flagship title after all so you would expect it to always be this good. The players throw their clipboards away after a game and they’ve even got most of the celebration dances in. You can now choose how you celebrate after a play as well and the commentators really have a lot of good dialogue options so they typically know what they are talking about. It’s really rare for them to say something unrelated during the game.

Now lets talk about the only parts of the game that don’t work so well. First up, I like the concept of their Longshot mode which is where you get to start the game from college or high school and make your way to the championships. The problem is that the game has long cutscenes that cannot be skipped which is not something you want to see nowadays. I don’t think it was ever a good thing, but I understand that there may have been technical limitations at some points. Otherwise there is no excuse not to be able to skip cutscenes. That just hampers the mode quite a bit.

Meanwhile you’ve got the soundtrack which isn’t so good. EA’s always gone for very loud music which I guess ties into Football, but it can be a little obnoxious while you’re on the menus waiting for the next game. You’ll probably want to turn it off as soon as possible. Fortunately it is easy to do that. The final thing I have to mention here is that it’s still really tough to ever throw deep balls. One thing I liked about the older Maddens was that you could take shots down the field. Nowadays if you do that you’re going to get picked off. There are good receiver catching mechanics that have been added like the RAC option, but they don’t solve this issue. Typically the way to advance are short passes that go for 10-15 yards and that’s it. There are no long balls and that’s a shame.

Overall, Madden 19 is definitely a fantastic game. There is an endless amount of replay value to be found here as the game has tons and tons of different modes. It’ll take some time to master all of the mechanics since there are a lot of them and in general Madden has never been an easy game. You need to have great reaction times and to be able to scan the field right away since everyone’s positions will be constantly moving. Still, if you are able to do that you will find yourself dashing through the competition. Maybe you can even go for the Platinum while there are still enough people playing the game. Regardless Madden continues to be the greatest video game series out there right after Super Smash. I’ll definitely go after Madden 20 once the price has dropped to the 5-10 dollar level like this one did.

Overall 9/10