College Hoops 2K7 Review


It’s time to play my first 2k title in quite a while. People really tend to like this series quite a bit even though I’ve never been a particularly big fan of it. 2k definitely feels more realistic with its controls but as a result it is a lot slower and less intuitive. You won’t be able to just run up to the basket and score here. Instead you will be having to think or plays and strategies if you want to win.

Despite being a different series 2k has most of the usual modes that you would expect to see. One of these is a simple quick match of course and then you’ve got the season mode. You can practice your skills as well and as you play you will unlock achievements. This was a welcome addition to the game even if the achievements don’t necessarily translate into trophies. This may have been before that era as I don’t think I got any trophies despite beating quite a few achievements. Hey, it’s not easy landing 3 3 point shots in a row!

The graphics definitely look pretty good here as well. I’d say that 2K is going for a bit of a grittier look than the NBA titles and since it’s a college title it makes sense that it would be a little less refined than the NBA stadiums. The game definitely still holds up though. There’s not much of a soundtrack as per usual but that’s not a really big deal.

As I mentioned earlier the gameplay is a lot more difficult here. Don’t expect to jump to the highest difficulty level and take names as you might in the other version. Here even the default difficulty will show you no mercy as it goes in for the win. I found that the best thing to do if you can stop the opponent at times is to simply go for 3 point shots. You’ll make more than you miss and the fact that you get more points than the basic shot will balance things out. Of course the key part here is being able to stop the computer consistently. If you can’t do that then this will only lead to your inevitable demise. If you can’t stop them and have to resort to a shoot out then you need to win the battles inside the paint. Go with quick passes to dunks or close shots. Those have a good success rate and at that point you just have to watch out for steals. I don’t really know how to prevent them but the quicker you release the ball the more likely it is that you’ll be okay.

I’m not all that familiar with how college basketball rules differ from the NBA but it does seem like there are only two quarters (called halfs) rather than 4. Maybe that’s just a game thing but I feel like it’s unlikely the video game would change up the rules like that. It’s a lot more likely that at the college level they just switched it up. This may also determine how much you enjoy the game since a lot of NBA fans don’t necessarily care about the college level and vice versa. You may not be quite as invested in a game that has the same gameplay as one of your favorites but without the character. As long as you’re just a big fan of the sport in general you should be fine though.

Overall, This is a pretty solid Basketball game. As always you can play this for a long time without getting bored as there is a good amount of replay value and every match is a little different. At the same time if you are a casual basketball player then this game will likely get frustrating at times because of how relentless the computer is. They definitely won’t be cutting you a break here that’s for sure. You can buy the game for a buck or two so check it out and let me know if it does best the NBA titles for you.

Overall 7/10

Advertisements

NCAA 08 March Madness Review


It’s time to look at another basketball game. This one takes us to the college level of the sport rather than the NBA. Maybe this was intentional although I’m not sure, but the pace of the game is a lot slower. The players don’t move as quickly and you won’t be nailing the 3 point shots with ease. I’m guessing a whole lot of this is just placebo, but it’s definitely something that I felt like I noticed. I didn’t like it as much as the NBA games, but it’s still Basketball so you really can’t go wrong here.

There are the usual assortment of modes here, but you’ll probably want to get right into the matches. A new gimmick here is that before the game starts you can play a minigame where you try to score as many points as possible on your own and see if you can pass the total that the other team got. I was able to win the first minigame but then when trying to top the score from the final difficulty I couldn’t even get all that close. You need a lot of crazy skills to really go that far. It’s a fun little thing to make the game more unique.

Then we’ve got the actual basketball gameplay which is basically what you would expect from the others. You run up and down the field and try to make as many baskets as possible. Whoever scores the most wins. Passing and shooting is pretty basic and there are no meters so you just have to try and get the timing done. I really do prefer it that way so no meter is definitely fine by me. As I mentioned the speed is a bit slower so you’re going to want to do more passing here. Just running up the middle is definitely not going to cut it here. They’ll steal the ball like it’s nobody’s business.

Defense definitely feels extremely important here. I had a hard time stealing the ball, but the other team was definitely really good at it. There’s also a new technique you can do where you just lunge for the opponent’s ball. 9/10 times this will just result in a foul, but otherwise it is a guaranteed steal. Seems way too risky to be reliable, but maybe there’s actually a way to do it safely. If so, then that’s definitely a game changing move and you’re gonna want to have that one when you face off against real opponents.

This is usually where I’d throw in a tip but I basically got steamrolled when I fought the computer on the hardest difficulty. I won on the weaker one no prob, but on this mode I just couldn’t stop them and they would stop me about half the time. As a result the gap in the score just kept on growing. I guess your best bet is to try and anticipate who the computer is going to pass it to and make the steal that way. Otherwise they definitely aren’t going to miss many shots and even when they do their guy is always ready on the rebound. Stealing is always a tempting option of course, but foul them too many times and you’re going to see their free throws going up. Just as you won’t miss those (because they’re easy) the computer won’t either. Winning in a full on shootout like that is probably not going to work.

The graphics here are definitely pretty good. I’d say that they hold up pretty well personally. You won’t be distracted during the game or anything like that. If anything it’ll just hone your focus even more and make you ready for the sport. The songs aren’t memorable or catchy though so there’s not much to say on the soundtrack. This is par for the course with basketball games in general though. You’re not exactly buying a game like this to listen to the soundtrack.

As far as replay value goes there is a lot to do here. You can play basketball games for hours and starting a franchise is definitely not something that will end over night. That being said, as long as NBA exists there isn’t a whole lot of reason to play this one. I suppose if you’re just really into College Basketball in particular then it makes sense to get this one. Otherwise I just don’t imagine there will be a large audience for these games over the NBA ones. While it’s a minor point, I also like the NBA’s faster pace for the gameplay.

Overall, This was a fun game. It’s not exactly a game changer, but it’s always fun to have another sport title. I don’t really see this series around anymore so I get the feeling that it probably ended. I definitely have at least one more college basketball game coming up though so we’ll see how it stacks up to this one. It may feel like the sport games never end, but I only have around 30 left. Once Basketball ends it’ll probably slow down quite a bit though as I just don’t enjoy the other sports quite as well. All in all, I recommend this game, but you’re better off just sticking to NBA for the definitive basketball experience. That or 2K, that one is also supposed to be really good although I’ll find out for myself soon.

Overall 7/10

NBA Live 09 Review


It’s time for another NBA game! This one’s actually a bit of a jump since the last one I played was 07 and this one is 09. The reason for that is I own two versions of 08 and I’m trying to find out if it is actually the same game or if they differ at all. If they are the same then I’ll only play one of them. On the whole I actually preferred 09 to 07 although the A.I. definitely is a little odd here.

It’s the classic Basketball rules so I can skim over that. The main gameplay difference here is the removal of the big wheel before each shot from 07. Instead you do have a bit of a meter on the ground, but it’s really hard to see it. It seems to be more of an acknowledgement that you made the shot or didn’t. So, in this way it feels a lot more like the older Basketball games which works for me. It just feels a lot more natural to just go for the shot instead of looking at a meter to see if it’s the right timing for it. I made less shots of course, but I think it was worth it.

In my first game the computer was surprisingly beating me. At first the score was very close as I was keeping pace but the gap gradually got larger as I couldn’t stop them at all and eventually they would start to stop me from scoring. I was mainly shocked because I thought that I had set the difficulty to the lowest setting for the first game. For the sport titles I like starting off easy and then increasing the difficulty. However, it turns out that I chose the second difficulty level instead of the first. So, I guess I felt a little better about keeping it even.

However, here’s where it got a little weird. For the second game I jumped to the highest difficulty level to see how badly they would be swatting me around. Instead I actually was up by around 30 points when the game wrapped up. How is this possible? Well, there were probably a few factors here. On one hand, I had more experience on both sides of the ball now. On defense I wasn’t going to be stealing any balls so I just stuck to the defender. On this difficulty the computer goes for quite a lot of shots, but surprisingly their accuracy didn’t get any better so they miss a lot and then I’d get the ball. Then on offense I wouldn’t go for anything fancy. I’d just try for shots when I was close and most of them would land.

The main difference here is that on lower difficulties the computer would just go for the easy shots while on this mode they seemed to take the shot as soon as they were within range of the 3 pointer. They made some of them, but missed the rest. I assume this has to not be intentional since there’s no way you should lose to the equivalent of standard mode and then take down very hard. Maybe if I was better at the game I would have done worse in the final difficulty, similar to how it is in Super Smash Bros. It’s better in that game to spam smash attacks against level 9 computers then going for combos. Whatever the case, I will admit that it was pretty cool to take down the A.I. for the count.

The graphics are definitely pretty sharp as always. The presentation is a little more elaborate here than in the other one. At the same time, it’s all pretty skippable so I think the game did a good job with that. It feels professional but very optional which I think is always the perfect balance for sport games like this to have the presentation but not to make it mandatory. If it’s too long then it’ll take away from the fun.

As always it goes without saying that there is a whole lot of replay value to be found here. The Basketball games are all unique so you can do a bunch of matches and not get bored. Furthermore, there are minigames to consider and you can start a franchise. It’s always pretty much the same modes but they’re all the core content you would expect. There’s only so much you can do in a Basketball game…or only so much you would want to do. That being said, I wouldn’t mind some spinoff modes like having the basketball players play with a Football or a Baseball as they try to land it in the hoop. Little mini modes like that would be fun for the novelty.

Overall, NBA 09 is definitely a powerful entry in the series. Longtime fans of the NBA games may not see a whole lot of new content which is a fair point against the game. However, it’s not good to change these titles just for the sake of changing them so to that end I’m glad that it’s still the same ole game that I remember. It’s consistent gameplay and win or lose it is a blast to play. I look forward to playing the next few NBA titles and seeing how they stack up as well.

Overall 8/10

NBA 07 Review


All right! It’s finally time to get into some of the Basketball titles! Next to Football this sport has always fought it out with Tennis for being the next most enjoyable one. There’s just a lot of fun to be had in Basketball and the games are always nice and fast paced. I feel like my fundamentals from 2003 hold up fairly well although there have definitely been some changes to the gameplay since then. I can’t say that they are for the better, but they are the kinds of changes that make the game deeper so I’m sure I would like them if I played more often.

If you know the game of Basketball then you basically already know how the gameplay is gonna work. The goal here is to score more points than your opponent. You score points by firing the ball into the basket and naturally you want to prevent the opponent from doing this as well. To that end the controls are a little more straight forward than the other games. Also, it’s only 5 on 5 I believe so the court never feels all that packed. You can just go in and get the stuff done. That being said, don’t expect to just run up to the opponent and start firing off shots though. You could do that back in the day, but times have changed.

One new addition to the series (At least it wasn’t around in 2003) is a new accuracy meter. When you shoot you need to time the button release just right so you shoot when it’s in the green. That will result in an automatic basket. If it’s yellow then you’ll make the basket more times than not. Any darker color and that’s it for you. This adds an extra layer of difficulty because now even shots that you would normally make won’t be so easy now. On the other hand, if you master it then there’s no way you’ll be losing to the average player. I can respect the developers wanting to give this game a higher skill ceiling, but it is tough for us casuals.

I got the gameplay down pretty well by the end though. I came back from what was a 60 point deficit and only ended up losing by 3 points. It was pretty emotional I’ll admit and I would have been tempted to upload a replay if I had gone further. I went for a high risk approach by the end and just kept going for 3 point shots. I felt like I was getting the timing down pretty well too. Defense is where I really turned it up though. Initially I couldn’t stop the opponent for beans. The problem is that it’s very hard to stay with your man in this game.

The opponent can spin or pass at any given time. If you over extent in trying to stop the opponent then you’ll just end up being stuck behind as they score. I found that the best defensive strategy was to not really do anything. Just let them miss the shot as you stick by or force them to pass and try to intercept. It may not be as exciting, but I found that to be the best way to go. My usual tricks weren’t working otherwise. So that does mean that the defensive side of the game is a little less exciting than usual. I also feel like the game is less explosive in general as you don’t get knocked over when trying to block and there’s less contact. Maybe it’s trying to be like the modern NBA in that respect as all of the sports have less contact now.

Aside from the main mode there are minigames and franchises to start. Pretty much the usual sport modes as those don’t really change from game to game. There’s a lot of content to keep you busy here and in theory just playing the Basketball games is enough to really hold you all the way til the end. Even when I was getting schooled it was just a lot of fun to play the games. In that respect sport games have always been high tier because you’re guaranteed to have a fun time. It’s hard to imagine a Basketball or Football game ever being bad.

Of course the graphics are pretty solid here. There are less cinematics and presentation compared to some of the other sport games, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that starts to change as we get more caught up in the years. This was all the way back with 07 after all so you can only imagine that an NBA 16 will be a lot more modern. The soundtrack is less impressive as it’s your standard EA tunes. They’re fast enough to get you ready I suppose, but that’s about it. Once you’re in the actual matches you don’t have time for such things anyway. You’re 100% focused on winning at that point.

Overall, NBA 07 is definitely a game I highly recommend. I think you can get it for under a dollar nowadays so that’s basically a steal if you ask me. Of course, realistically there isn’t much reason to buy this game when you can probably get 08 or 09 for basically the same price. It’s a solid title, but one that is basically nullified by the newer entries. It’ll definitely be fun to see how the newer titles stack up though. I’ll be playing NBA 08 shortly as I continue this sport marathon.

Overall 8/10

NHL 15 Review


It’s time to jump back into the world of Hockey! It’s been a long time since I’ve played a hockey game so I must warn you that I was pretty rusty. It’s definitely not my favorite sport to play, but at the same time it can be fast paced so it’s not the worst either. It’s just got a high learning curve like the FIFA titles. Fortunately this one does give you a lot of different gameplay options at the ready which I thought was pretty nice. You can play through Arcade mode or simulation style. I tried both options to make sure I was ready for the review.

So there are the usual modes here. You can play quick games, jump into a franchise, or you can have fun coaching and practicing. I jumped right into the thick of the action of course. The gameplay is pretty straight forward as it’s a 3D title and the goal is to hit the ball/puck into the opponent’s goal. Once you’ve done that then you’ll have scored a point. Whoever scores the most wins. You can switch between players and shoot, pass, and a lot of other moves. One thing I like about this game is how it embraces the combat aspect of the game. You can body slam opponents and even accept fight requests.

If you accept a fight then the two characters will line up in a boxing battle. The controls even change to that of a boxing game’s which is a pretty neat touch. I definitely enjoyed those brawls even if I was basically just button mashing at that point. I won almost all of my fights which was pretty nice. As for the overall games, I won the match on rookie level, but lost on all other difficulties. It’s similar to Soccer in how it’s almost impossible to score. Even on the easiest difficulty I was having trouble doing anything. The CPU would just run in and steal the puck from me whenever I was getting close which was pretty sad.

I feel like there are more breaks in the flow of the game than usual here though. Whenever you do something it seems like a flag comes out or the puck is stopped for icing. As a result the games can be a little on the long side. The computers never seem to make these mistakes though so it’s just something that you’ll have to get around. I suspect that it would take you a very long time to get all of the mechanics down. It helps a lot if you already watch Hockey and know the rules. If you do not, then this will be quite the experience indeed.

There are naturally a lot of PS4 trophies to grab which helps with the replay value. Prepare to sink quite a lot of time into the game if you are seriously gunning for the Platinum though. If there are any online trophies then your chances are probably 0 before you even start anyway. Then you’ve got local multiplayer so as with most sport games it basically has unlimited replay value as long as you know someone who also enjoys NHL. This may be a bit of a long shot though as I don’t imagine that there are a whole lot of people who would want to play NHL 15 when you can play one of the newer ones.

Naturally the game’s presentation is quite impressive and fires on all cylinders. You actually have live action commentators giving feedback as the match starts and then we get a nice introduction to both teams. The graphics are definitely on point and the music is pretty fitting. None of this is surprising in the slightest as EA sport games always look really great, but it’s nice to see regardless. This is the level of design that all games should strive for, especially in this day and age.

After having played more sport games I can confirm that so far the standings are Football>Tennis>Basketball>>>>Soccer>NHL>>>>MLB>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>PGA. I really enjoy playing the first 3 sports, but the other ones definitely take quite the tumble. Still, with the exception of PGA, it’s not like I would call any of them bad games. Even this one will still get a positive score. It may not be a title that I see myself ever getting back into, but there was definitely a lot of effort put into this game. The developers clearly cared and just seeing that boxing minigame was enough to get me sold. There aren’t any glitches and the gameplay does seem to make sense, I just need to learn how to master it.

Overall, NHL is not quite as fun as FIFA I’d say. It makes sense since I prefer Soccer to Hockey in general. Both games have a lot of similarities though so it’ll definitely come down to personal preference. What gives Soccer the edge though is that it’s easier to defend so at least the team won’t blow you out. In this game prepare for them to run up the score because they aren’t held back by the goalie. They’ll score whenever they feel like it and it’s very hard to stop them. The gameplay wasn’t quite as intuitive to me as the other games so moving around was a lot more difficult than I expected it to be. Fans of the NHL games will definitely like this one, but newcomers beware as the game is just very complicated and hard to master.

Overall 6/10

Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron Review


The Star Wars marathon continues as I play through the final PSP experience. The Battlefront series has definitely been pretty fun. While I still do miss the overall gameplay of the first title, the rest have definitely been solid. Ironically I think this one’s gameplay is definitely weaker than Renegade Squadron, but it makes up for this with a more expansive story. The Battlefront games have all been pretty close when it counts.

The game’s story covers the trilogy as well as some events after it. The main character is X2 and he is a clone bred for combat. Along with X1, he was one of the Empire’s finest soldiers. He ends up joining the rebellion though once Palpatine emerges and he finds out that he was on the wrong side. X1 remains evil though and will do everything he can to help the Empire win the war. It may not be Darth Vader and Palpatine that the rebels need to worry about after all.

It’s always fun to see how the games incorporate all of these new characters and events into the classic films. They fit them in pretty seamlessly to be honest. There are also a lot of fun nods to the last games as in 2 missions you get to support Renegade Squadron in their battles. It helps tie everything together into a larger continuity so that’s definitely pretty cool. Sadly you don’t get to fight with Vader this time, but you do take on some Jedi which is definitely a lot of fun.

It is easy to see how the Jedi ended up losing the war though. There is one cutscene where a Jedi shows up and manages to beat X1. However, he says that he won’t murder anyone. After saying this, the Jedi turns his back to X1 and is promptly stabbed. Did he really think that one line would cause X1 to turn good? Later in the story X2 is presented with a similar choice and while he also makes the hero call of not murdering X1, he at least doesn’t give the villain his back. Both X1 and X2 are definitely real fun characters though. They remind me of Starkiller to an extent. They also get hype as the villain takes down Luke Skywalker and the hero is ultimately able to trade blows with just about anyone in the game.

As for the core gameplay, it’s a classic 3D blaster style. You do get a lightsaber during the final few levels though so at that point it feels more like a beat em up. The controls are a little rougher than the last few titles mainly thanks to the camera work. It can be very hard to turn around as the camera shakes quite a bit so get ready for the villains to get a bunch of cheap shots in. Perhaps the developers realized this though as there are constant checkpoints throughout the game. Whenever you die you can find solace in the fact that you won’t have gone far. You’ll rarely have to replay more than 5 minutes of content to get back to where you are at.

You can heal your health by throwing a health packet or standing near a health point. Likewise there are various ammo points. Due to all of these methods of strengthening your character you are rarely in serious danger. So long as you play patiently you will definitely be fine. The aerial levels are back as well and these are definitely improved from the last one. You can move really quickly and the lock-on system is on point. You always feel like you are in control here and I actually looked forward to these levels. Typically they would be mixed in with the ground levels for a pretty good balance.

As for the length of the game, while it isn’t 3 hours like the last one, it is still pretty short. I don’t imagine it would take you much longer than 5 hours and honestly it would probably be more like 4. It’s definitely a short campaign, but of course there are other modes to keep you engaged like jumping into normal levels to have fun in. There’s no real post game though as the various unlockables don’t feel all that special. I got it for a cheap price and the value is pretty decent. I don’t think you’d regret the buy as even though it is short the gameplay is fun enough to keep you on board.

Going back to the length, this is also the kind of game where you can leisurely beat the level as you explore or you can blast through them. As the game uses a checkpoint system it’s very easy to cheese the game by running full speed to each objective. Even if you die after making it the checkpoint counts as a save point so each time you’ll be closer. As a result it’s not a bad idea to just run in each time. It’s not exactly how the developers probably imagined you’ll play though. Also, it’s not like you’re always saving a ton of time by doing this, but realistically there is no reason to actually fight all of the enemies unless you really want to. After all, there’s no EXP system here and I only tend to stick around and fight everyone when I can get level ups out of it.

The graphics are definitely solid and we do get more cinematics than last time. The Jedi vs X1 battle was really solid and we get other good action scenes as well. I’m always pleasantly surprised to see such cutscenes in the games and it does make the game feel a little more special. The soundtrack is about the same as always. I know the tunes are still good no matter how many times you hear them but I want to see the Star Wars games show a little more creativity with the upcoming games. There are a lot of new tunes they can come up with I’m sure.

Overall, Elite Squadron is a very fun game. It is definitely a step up over Rebel Squadron even if the gameplay is a little weaker. It’s very relative since all of the Battlefront games are very solid in that respect. The rest of the game aspects improve upon the original so you can’t count that as anything but a win. The next Star Wars game I’m playing is for the GBA so that’ll definitely be fun. It’ll be a fresh gameplay experience so it’ll be nice to see what the other companies could come up with. y Star Wars marathon is coming to a close, but it’s definitely been a fun ride. If you don’t have Elite Squadron yet then you should definitely change that.

Overall 7/10