8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

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

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

MLB 14: The Show Review

It’s time to look at a new MLB game I got recently. It’s one of the few sport titles from EA that I didn’t grow up. I always used to play Football and Basketball and even played a few FIFA titles along the way. However, even though I did own one Baseball game for Gamecube, I just never really played it. As a result, it can be tough to get the controls to this one. Sport games have some of the highest learning curves and this one is no exception. The end result is that the game feels as slow as the real life sport does to me so it doesn’t end up being a very entertaining experience.

Naturally there are quite a few modes here. The main one is the Franchise mode where you go through the entire Baseball season. You’ve really got to love the game to do that though as there are many games to go through. You can do this online as well as you go up against other teams and hope that the players don’t disconnect just as you’re about to win. There are also minigame modes here like the Home Run Contest which I had fun checking out. It’s a bit long though so I recommend shortening the duration in the settings before starting. Fortunately the game does let you fast forward through the mode if you start to get bored.

I hit a ton of Home Runs, but after a while you just want to get back to the game. The problem is that in a normal game I was having a hard time getting any hits. I think I only got a real hit twice. Every other time they would just catch the ball or tag me before I hit the base. Something didn’t feel right about all of that. Baseball is a hard game to adapt for sure and I think EA just doesn’t do it all that well. I enjoy the Mario Baseball games. They may be overly simplified but you quickly know how to hit and pitch. In this game both gameplay modes are so advanced that you’ll need big tutorials on both. I couldn’t find a tutorial mode within the game though, just normal practice.

I just couldn’t pitch a straight ball to save my life. I’d click the pitching button without moving the stick and it would still go out of left field. It seems like you have to take the wind into consideration or something like that, but that’s definitely making things more complicated than they ought to be. Then you’ve got batting where part of it feels luck based. A large part is skill like when to hit the ball, angling, and stuff like that. However, once you hit the ball all bets are off. In Basketball or Football you are largely in control of the game for at least 90% of what happens. RNG is always still around of course, but it won’t be trying to get in your way all that much. As I said, I couldn’t get any hits past the infield. It was crazy!

As always EA does deliver on a technical level though. The graphics are very nice and everything looks quite sharp. You feel like you’re in a real Baseball game. It may not be quite as exciting as their other titles, but Baseball is rarely meant to be a “flashy” game. They just tried to emulate the real thing as best they could and as per usual they succeeded. There are some tunes here, but like their other sport games I rarely notice them as I get caught up in the excitement of the whole thing. Still a nice touch for those who want a little music involved of course.

Also, you can’t deny that the game has a ton of replay value for those who enjoy the sport. You can play the actual games over and over again as you rise to the top. This is especially true since there is an online element here. The title never has to end as every game is fresh. That’s definitely a good thing and I can’t think of any other big Baseball game so EA has really cornered the market here. If you want to play you’ve got to play their way.

Overall, I won’t say that this is a bad game. It’s too technically impressive for that. Still, it’s not my kind of game. At the end of the day it wasn’t all that fun and that holds it back quite a bit. Still, if you like Baseball then you should definitely check it out. I think you’ll probably be impressed with how in-depth it is. Hopefully next time the controls are a little more intuitive though. I’d like to be able to just pop it in and play at a reasonable level. At the very least, hopefully I could give the CPU players a run for their money. Until then I need to git gud.

Overall 5/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NCAA Football 2011 Review

This is the first college Football game that I’ve really gotten to play extensively. I own quite a few of the other titles, but I have so many sport games that I typically just play them for a game or two and then move on to the next one. That’s why I love the trophy system on the PS3. It gives me a good reason to keep on playing long past the point where I would have stropped otherwise. The gameplay style may take a teeny bit of adjustment at first if you’re used to Madden, but it’s still EA so the control scheme is similar. It’s a pretty great and while I’ll always prefer Madden, I’ll always be up for a game here!

The gameplay style is a little faster than the average Madden game. You can pick what kind of offensive style you want before hand and then it’s off to the races. That’s actually a very cool gimmick to have and I got to test a few of the offensive formations out. I don’t remember all of the names, but I do like the Spread Offense and the Air Raid team is the best. In case you didn’t guess…I’m a pretty big passing fan. The problem with running the ball is that there’s more chance involved then when you’re passing it. For the most part, you can tell if you just threw a possible TD or a pick six right after you throw it.

I haven’t tackled the strongest A.I. level yet so I can’t comment on how difficult it is, but based on the previous levels it’s sure to be a nice challenge! Running the ball with your QB is easier in this game than usual and that’s a good thing since I love to do that. It’s good that it’s not too easy of course, but it’s a really effective way to move the ball when your receivers are covered. It can be tough to know when to look to run and when to pass, but the challenge of finding a nice mix is what makes this move so deadly!

I’ve gotten quite a few trophies so far although I’m probably not going to end up Platinuming this title. I won’t rule it out, but a few of the Dynasty/Career trophies seem like they would be a little too much work. I applaud EA for resisting the urge to add online trophies to the game so that the Platinum trophy is still a possibility. It was a pretty good move on their part and it’s one that I shall not forget very soon.

The game has your usual modes like Play Now that Madden has and there’s also it’s equivalent to Franchise Mode in Dynasty. There’s also a Road to Glory mode where you start out in Highschool and it looked interesting so I decided to go for it. It’s only four games long and it was pretty fun. The gameplay will certainly get you into the action very quickly and I still like the new style where you can pick a player to progress as you go through the career and then you just play when he’s on the field.

That being said, it’s a nice thing to give yourself a change of pace, but I still like to be in control for every facet of the game. You won’t catch me missing the point after attempts quite as much as the CPU and their defense tends to crumble when the going gets tough. This game has a ton of replay value since it’s Football and there are always more games to play. It’s tough for any title to even dream of matching it in replay value and the only other game that can give it an even fight is probably Super Smash Bros.

The graphics are pretty good. I’ve always thought that EA’s games looked very good and they definitely spend more time perfecting the graphics than the average game. It can be seen as excessive or underwhelming depending on the player, but it just looks great for me. The plays are always clear and you can see who’s open and who isn’t with a single glance.

If I had to list a negative for the game, it may be the soundtrack. At times, trumpets will sound and all of the music will instantly be obliterated. That’s not a bad thing per say, but the game can be more fun at times with a nice background theme. If the game is going to be silent then I think that cutting out the trumpets would help. It just doesn’t work with the style of gameplay. To counter this, NCAA has an exclusive feature where you get to run to the mascot for a celebration after each scoring play. That’s pretty cool and it’s a nice way to motivate your opponent as well.

This may have been the first NCAA game that I got to play a lot, but that won’t be the case for very long. I am planning to dig out the previous year’s game shortly to gather some trophies and then I’ll be sure to review that one as well. I expect it to be pretty good as well, but this one will likely stay on top. Where do I go from here? Well, I’m planning on tackling the full season soon so this game won’t be biting the dust just yet!

Overall, NCAA Football is a pretty great title to play and it’s one of those games that will continue to be fun long after you’ve played your 100th game. It’s just hard not to get excited while playing it and especially when the score gets tight. You just need to remember your training and you’ll be fine. The servers are down, which unfortunately halts online play, but it’s a game that is actually still a lot of fun to play with computers. If the price is right, you may still want to buy the latest version, but if not…2011 is the way to go!

Overall 8/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Backyard Football 2009 Review

I really wanted a quick Football game to play on the go and if Smash Bros can pull it off…why not right? I needed that experience so I ran to Gamestop and made the intriguing decision to buy this for the DS instead of Madden 2009. Madden is probably the better game, but it was also 3X the price….I made the right move. It’s a simple and easy Football game, but it’s still pretty fun and you won’t get bored of it for a while.

There aren’t a whole lot of modes to choose from. We have multiplayer, quick “Play Now” games and the Season Mode. I ran for the Season Mode and that’s where I spent about 90% of my time. I set the difficulty to Hard (Although it seems like it still went back to Normal for some reason) and turned off powers. It was pretty fun and I was undefeated as I crushed the opposition with really lopsided scores. The season ends once you complete it and there’s no continuing on to the next year as with the Madden titles. Instead, you’re free to just give it a whirl again with another team.

After I finished Season Mode, I went back to the quick matches and decided to play a Hard battle with items on. The games are insanely easy with items since you can literally steamroll right through the defenders or cause them to fumble whenever they make contact with you. Items are interesting, but I prefer sport and car games that don’t have them. It’s just more fun without the gimmicks.

Ultimately, the A.I. isn’t very good. Even on Hard Mode, you’ll be able to crush the CPU with relative ease. They cannot stop the run and throwing the ball will almost always work. You do have to watch out for the occasional interception, but they aren’t much of a factor here. This is the kind of game where you’ll need multiplayer since the CPU doesn’t provide you with a threat. Defeating them over and over again will eventually start to bore you. Towards the end, I just started rushing the games so I could finish. It was fairly easy since you can just run rings around the stadium to take out an entire quarter or more with a single play.

The graphics are decent. As far as DS games go, they’re not downright bad, but I’ve never found the DS to be very impressive in this regard. We have the 3DS if we want true portable graphics. Everyone is in chibi mode though so it’s hard to tell how much is intentional or not. It’s cool to see everyone as kids and the graphics won’t distract from the gameplay so I give them a pass there.

I didn’t really discuss the gameplay. I’ll let you look at the NFL rules on your own. The main thing to note is that you can only dash for short periods of time and pressing Y/X while near the ball will usually result in an interception. A more efficient method is to just rush the quarterback and get some sacks. Once you get a sack, it’s easier to get more since the CPU will keep on trying for some deep balls. The offense is fairly simple to handle since you just run on handoffs and press the button over your intended receiver to throw it. It’s simplicity itself and this is more like how the old Madden games would play. They were still more in depth, but they were easy to pick up. I’ve been buying each Madden as they come out so I have fun with the new upgrades, but this came around the peak of Madden. (Slightly after though since 2004 is where it’s at.)

The soundtrack isn’t anything special and you’ll probably start to tune it out by the 4th game. It’s just very uninspired and you want something a little more fast paced for a Football game. These themes just don’t get you very excited and you want to be thrilled about facing off against new teams. I think there might only be one theme in the game, but there must be more so I’m just going to assume that they all sounded the same to me.

There are a few made up teams in this game as well as some made up players. Each of the real teams basically get one player to represent them and then you put them together for your dream team. Since each of the players have reverted back to their kid years, it’s like putting together a team on the sandlot. A trust system is in place, which means that there are no penalties to slow you down. Just get ready for some fun Football action!

Overall, Backyard Football 2009 is a pretty good game to get. As far as Football games go, just about any other title is superior, but it’s fun to have on the mobile. The gameplay is more like the classic arcade games than the current sport titles and it may remind you of the Techmo Bowl. (I may get that one someday) For a little under 5 dollars, you can’t go wrong with this title. If you play the whole season, it should last you around 5-8 hours. If you’re willing to shell out 15, then I guess I would sooner recommend Madden 2009 for the DS. This is a good title, but it’s a little lacking in content and it just gets beaten by the other titles. The big edge that this game has is that all of the players are kids of course. You can’t go wrong there.

Overall 6/10

4 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Championship Foosball Review

It’s time for another game review! “2 in one day…that’s insane!” That may be the case, but this game is only around 30 minutes long…maybe less. It was easy to quickly complete it and then get back to you guys with this review. It’s the latest game from the infamous 5 dollar bin and it really holds up well to the hype….sort of. This isn’t the kind of game that you should expect to keep you busy for a while. It’s a short experience and it’s not spectacular. Let’s see how it really fared!

There’s actually not a whole lot to say about it. There’s no plot of course. When you begin the game, the main menu is rather empty. You have your standard exhibition battle against a CPU or another player and then you have the tournament mode. There’s also a tutorial mode that features a lot of “Challenges” to help you learn the game. I always skip tutorials unless there are trophies involved so I ran for the tournament. The tournament has about 5 rounds and each one is a best 3 of 5 games set. Each game requires you to win 5 points. So, that sounds like it should stretch out the game right? It better because there’s nothing else to do!

Do you guys remember Table Soccer or Foosball? If not, I’ll quickly explain the gameplay. You are using Soccer rules, but on a small table. So, your players are tied to a line. 3 on 1, 3 on another, and so on. You get around 3-4 lines. You just have to kick the ball into the opponent’s net. Sounds easy enough right? Well….

The game actually gave me a bit of a tough time at first because this is the kind of game that is tough on the Wii Remote. Let’s face it, AAA games have trouble utilizing it so would a 2 dollar, low budget game really be able to refine the controls? I didn’t think so! Turning the guys on the field to hit the ball can be very difficult. I lost the first match because of this and it looked like the game was going to be surprisingly difficult. Luckily, I quickly realized that the 1 button was the key to success. Just hold B and spam the 1 button for the entire match. It allows all of your players to perform an infinity kick so you just need to keep moving and only worry about kicking the ball. This easily made me breeze through the championship. That being said, it’s pretty hard to land a sure goal. The ball moves incredibly fast when you hit it and you just have to keep on smacking the ball as you run up and down to eventually try and score. Your eyes will probably not be able to keep up. That part was actually pretty intense since that’s a pretty good feat for the game’s speed. I’m not sure if it’s because of all the colors flying around or the speed, but it’s still pretty cool.

The graphics are decent, but they aren’t great. The humans look downright terrible and this could give Balls of Fury some competition there. Luckily, the actual gameplay is pretty sharp and it’s what you would want from a Foosball title. The colors around the ball when it’s shot look pretty good and you really feel like you’re in the game. It’s rather surreal and it can be pretty enjoyable to watch a match. There isn’t really a soundtrack so it automatically loses points in that area.

Overall, it was actually difficult deciding if I should give this game a 4 or a 5. See, the game still does have multiplayer mode and the gameplay really wasn’t that bad once I found out about the 1 trick. I’d actually say that the gameplay is downright fun, but I lot of it almost feels like chance because of how fast it is. These are decent reasons to give the game a 5. On the other hand, the game was basically over in 30 minutes and then there is nothing else to do. There are shirts and stuff to unlock, but they don’t make much of a difference. In the end, the lack of replay value ended up hurting the game and I went with the first score. 30 minutes is way too short for any game, even if you do count multiplayer. It’s not as if this is the next Super Smash Bros! I think you could have some decent fun with this game if you’ve never played Foosball before, but the sport definitely has the potential to be a much better game. Once the novelty is worn out, the game loses its charm. You will be better off just getting Madden 15 or the latest FIFA….choose Madden. I would still consider this game to be a success for the 5 dollar bin though. Simply because it was pretty fun and a good way to spend 30 minutes on a rainy day. (It was literally raining the whole day while I was playing! It’s still raining right now I believe)

Overall 4/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Balls of Fury (Wii) Review

Balls-of-Fury (1)
Anyone remember the Balls of Fury film? I haven’t seen it yet, but I bought the original video game based off of the film for the DS a while back. Eventually, I ran across it in the 5 dollar bin section and I realized something….I had to buy it again! You can never have too much ping pong and while I may have been a little more impressed with the DS version, this one isn’t as bad as I initially thought.

The plot is basically from the film so I don’t really need to recap it all that much. Basically, the main character’s family member is murdered over a hardcore game of Ping Pong so the hero enters the fray. He gets trained by the best and he enters the ultimate tournament to avenge his family. Ping Pong is all he ever knew and it’s going to have to be enough to win the final battle!

I do give the game props for the dialogue boxes in the story. I know that the film didn’t take itself seriously either, but the game takes it to the next level. It makes sure that everyone looks terrible and you can’t help, but crack a smile when viewing the “cutscenes.” It actually makes me tempted to see the film, but some things are more fun in video game format anyway.

The actual story mode is fairly short and it’s around 8 battles give or take 2-3. I completed it in around an hour or two so you don’t want to rely on that for replay value. Although, just having a story mode is pretty cool for a sports game. There’s also an Arcade Mode and a Tournament Mode. You essentially just fight other Ping Pong players like in Story Mode. It’s basically the same thing except for the fact that there are no cutscenes and you can play as a different character.

The gameplay is the intriguing part. There is no moving involved. Now, this Is a Ping Pong match so I suppose that there is only so much room to run anyway. That being said, I was definitely a little surprised. The Wii Remote is the required remote for this game and it’s pretty basic. Swing your arm to the left for a left hit, up for a lob, down for a smash, etc. The controls are very simple and you can master them in a few seconds. Each character has a special ability as well. You can use it on your serve or on a generic hit. They are very useful…for the computer since you get no warning. When you use it, it’s really a matter of luck on whether it will go through or not. It’s still a good feature to include in the game though and the traditional super attack that I use is a fire blast. It’s very effective.

Each game goes up to 11 points with a few exceptions. The games can definitely take a while as there is a lot of back and forth, but the time is definitely doable. Some matches just require you to end up leading a match by at least 3 points, which tends to be a lot quicker. I’m sure that you can probably choose which settings to play with in multiplayer mode.

Multiplayer mode is really what saves the game from getting a slightly negative to barely standing rating. If this was like Casper’s sport game for the Wii, then it would have been a little dicey. Multiplayer is essential for this kind of game and I’m glad to see it included. Battling a computer over and over again can definitely get repetitive after a while. This game simply wasn’t made for that. It works for titles like Street Fighter, Mario Kart, and Smash Bros, but Balls of Fury really needs that multiplayer element.

I would say that the multiplayer part of it contributes to the replay value. Otherwise, the only replay value in the game would be the trophies angle. There are 10 of them in all and I only bothered to earn one of them. (For beating the game) Others are earned by completing tasks like completing Arcade Mode with everyone or without losing a point. The latter sounds difficult, but most of the others definitely sound achievable. I just have too many other games to play at the moment so I wasn’t really tempted to do any of that. It does help the replay factor though. So, if you are on your own, then this game is not going to last very long. With companions, this game can really stay enjoyable for quite some time.

There’s not much to say about the soundtrack in this title either. The main theme is pretty catchy and I really remember it from the DS version. You won’t get tired of it and that’s a good thing since you’ll be hearing it constantly. The taunts are pretty imaginative, but each character only gets 1 or 2 taunts so spamming them can get a little tough on the ears. The whole place shakes when you taunt though so it can be strategically used to win. (Note that it has no effect on the computer)

The graphics are….pretty bad if we’re keeping it real. The heads look photoshopped to the bodies and we’re looking at PS1 level for the animations. Now, that could be an insult to some Playstation 1 games, but it had to be said. Of course, graphics are really unimportant in a sports game so this shouldn’t deter you all that much. If you’re looking for a 1080P 60FPS game…then you’ve come to the wrong place and you’ll want to leave right away.

Overall, This definitely isn’t a bad game. The humorous story mode mixed in with the fun gameplay keeps it positive. The game doesn’t have a lot of replay value though and the graphics are downright bad. At 1.89$ this was definitely a purchase that I am proud of, but I can’t imagine buying it for 30 or 50 dollars. I recommend giving it a shot and you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Make sure that you give the game two chances. The Wii Sensor can be a little dicey and that’s why I had a pretty negative first impression of the game. It worked perfectly on this last run and it makes all the difference for this kind of game. The controls definitely hurt the game and it could have scored a 7 if it had some real controllers, but this was simply the extent of its abilities. It looks like the 5 dollar bin batch of games was definitely worth it and I’ll be sure to check it again in the future. Keep an eye out for this title when you’re at your local Gamestop and be ready for some hard hitting table tennis as long as you have a companion to play with. If you’re by your lonesome, then picking it up is still a decent idea, but you may as well buy Grand Slam Tennis for the PS3.

Overall 6/10