NBA 2K15 Review


Yes guys, it is Basketball time once more! I’m still not the biggest 2K fan out there, but I will admit that they spared no expense with this one. There’s even more content than usual and of course the graphics are really good as always. There’s really nothing to dislike here so as long as you like Basketball then you’re gonna be in for a pretty great experience.

As always I started out with the classic Play Now mode. It’s always a good way to quickly get used to the controls and just get yourself acquainted with the game. I’m still not quite ready to take on the higher difficulties here as normal mode is enough for the computers to start to overwhelm me. I was doing pretty good, but gradually the small lead the computer had kept getting bigger and bigger. By the end of the game it was a genuine blowout. I tried adjusting mid-game but it’s definitely easier said than done.

The main issue here is the fact that on offense I am definitely not guaranteed to score and that’s always a bad thing since I can’t really stop the computer all that consistently. Sure, I can stop them here and there, but they score almost every time and I’m typically scoring 50% of the time. It’s odd that I’m missing so much so In know that I’m getting something wrong as opposed to the shot% just being really low here. It seems like there is some kind of shot meter like in some of the newer NBA games only it is invisible unlike those. So make sure you’re timing your shots since that seems important.

Even with that it is tough to get the shots because you need to learn how the mechanics work for all the various situations. A lot of times I would try to get a shot off but the player would try to dodge someone so the shot didn’t go off. It definitely takes a lot of practice. You also can’t get away with the risky passes you might have tried in the normal NBA games because here they’ll steal the ball almost every time. The defense is relentless.

On the other hand, it’s hard to stop the team when they’re on offense. Most of the time you’re just hoping that they’ll miss the shot and you can get the rebound. Of course, rebounds are really tough here. On one hand I almost always got the rebounds when I would miss a shot, but by the same token they would tend to get their own rebounds as well. Defense just felt almost impossible at times, but that’s usually how it is for me.

So, I decided to play some more of the bonus content here that I usually don’t really touch upon. One of these was the franchise mode. In this one you start out as a new recruit in college and you play one game before the actual draft starts. It’s pretty interesting since you’re an actual player so you can’t just keep on jumping around like you would in a normal game. You have to just play the game as a selfish player constantly asking for the ball or just waiting for your opportunity. I tried being selfish since it’s not like I was going to be playing this for a long time anyway. I ended up getting an F grade….so that didn’t work out well.

From there you go to the draft and then some actual interviews which was pretty interesting. I do love the concept as this makes the realism grow to even greater heights. It’s hard to imagine the games getting even more realistic than this. It’s the full draft experience, but the one thing I don’t like is that you can’t skip the cutcenes. You get 3 interviews back to back and I like how you have different options for your answers, but it is very long so if you don’t care and just want to get into the action you’ll be waiting for quite a while.

Meanwhile the graphics are naturally top tier as always. You won’t have any complaints here for sure. The players are naturally on point and on model. The court is clear and a lot of effort was put in here as per usual. The soundtrack is definitely less inspired. It’s pretty much the same as per usual but either way you’re in it for the Basketball right? The soundtrack would just be a bonus.

There’s pretty much endless replay value here as you can keep on playing the various basketball matches or you can jump into these various franchise modes. I probably prefer the classic Basketball gameplay the best, but I do think the novelty of sticking to one player could definitely be a lot of fun as well. I don’t know about being pulled out of the game though, that seems like it would be annoying pretty quick. Then of course you’ve also got the PS3 trophies to earn so you’ll definitely be here for a while. I didn’t try the online, but since this is 2K15 I wonder if the servers are still up. I definitely don’t know for sure though so don’t count on the online still being active just in case.

Overall, NBA 2K15 is probably the definitive installment in the 2K series. At least from the ones I’ve played. The gameplay still isn’t quite as fast paced or intense as the NBA ones in my opinion. It’s definitely a very different take and for longtime fans of the 2K series I’m sure they’ll love it. It’ll take a little longer for the normal NBA fans to get into it of course, but once you do then you’ll see the great amount of depth that is to be found here. I’d recommend picking this one up and soon I’ll be playing the older installments so it’ll be fun to see how the game has evolved over the years.

Overall 8/10

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Moneyball


It’s time to look at a film based on true events. I’m not all that knowledgeable on Baseball so even once they mentioned the team and the year I didn’t know what was going to happen ahead of time. In a way that helps to make the film more interesting. You know that the year had to be special in some way or there wouldn’t be a film, but the question was whether or not they would win the World Series. Big Baseball fans will know the answer to that right away, but whether you do know or not, this film’s pretty enjoyable.

The film follows general manager Billy Beane as he is faced with a tough dilemma. His team lost in the playoffs last year and now all of their best players have been swiped by other teams. This team also doesn’t have a lot of money so it’s not like they can just go and buy some good players. Billy is confident that if they try drafting people the normal way they are going to lose. Following this train of logic be brings in an assistant from another team known as Peter. Peter believes that there is a data way to picking out good players rather than simply looking for talent. He builds the algorithm and then the main characters start drafting from there. Still, just because the team is good on paper doesn’t mean that it will necessarily work. Also, while it will be tough enough to meet the opposition from other teams, there are forces within the organization who don’t like what is going on.

Another interesting dynamic here is the fact that Billy isn’t the owner or the coach, he’s the GM. It’s an interesting position as it’s a very powerful one, but not a position that comes up in the news much. Beyond Jerry Jones I couldn’t name any other GM in all of sports. So for the film the tough part is that Billy can make all the trades he wants, but if the coach doesn’t play them then he is stuck. He can’t really fire the coach because of the contract. I’m sure he could ask the owner to buy the coach out, but considering how the owner doesn’t want to spend any money that definitely seems pretty unlikely. The players also comment on how it’s rare to be talking to a GM, but Billy makes sure to take a hands on approach with the team. He even acts like the coach for a good chunk of the film.

Billy’s a fun lead. It was definitely interesting how he said he doesn’t watch the games though. I personally find Baseball to be a little boring with how long the season is and the slow pace of the games, but if you’re a GM I just assume that you like the game or at least that you like the salary enough to like the game. At least he is pretty upfront about this with Peter though and by the end he watches more though. By the end of the film he has a tough coaching decision. I definitely agree with Peter on going up to show how the system works and not letting it get too personal. Billy ultimately makes the move he was most comfortable with which based on his backstory makes sense. Definitely feels like a missed opportunity though.

Peter is a pretty good supporting character. He doesn’t quite have the confidence or know how that Billy has, but in the guy’s defense he had only just started his first job when he was pushed all the way up the ladder. It makes sense that he wouldn’t really be too comfortable with these more difficult tasks like staying on the line with multiple clients or firing people. Billy shows up the ropes though and by the end he is definitely pretty good in these various roles.

A film like this is naturally counting on the writing to be a success. The sport scenes are definitely important of course, but without a good script it’ll fall flat. I’d definitely say that it was pretty solid. Perhaps not perfect, but it was engaging and you’ll be interested in what is going to happen from start to finish. The on the field action is naturally pretty cool since it’s like a sped up version of the game as the movie doesn’t have to wait between hits, but the off the field parts are nice too. You definitely do get the feeling that the owner was trying to save up as much money as possible as the players are even charged for soda. That does sound pretty crazy so it’s no wonder why the team always loses. Even if Billy does give it a good system, I can see the owner messing it up by never giving anyone a pay increase. Eventually even if you use the data model you’re gonna have to pay some of the players.

Overall, Moneyball is definitely a really good film. I do think basically any sport can be interesting in cinema form as there was even that Golf film I saw a while back that was pretty fun. Baseball is no exception and this one was really well made. I think you’ll be able to enjoy it whether you follow the sport or you do not. Think of it more as a drama title and you’ll be engaged. I feel like a lot of films based on true stories tend to be more about traumatic experiences or really big events. In comparison this one was a lot smaller so it was cool that it got picked to be adapted. I’d definitely be down for more sport movies to come out someday.

FIFA 08 Review


My FIFA marathon is now at an end. 08 is the final game I own that I have not covered yet. It’s definitely been cool going through the years like this. I’m not sure what sport is next, but I think I’m in the mood for something super hype like Football so that’s probably gonna be the one. I’m out of Madden games (Aside from a Head Coach title) so most likely it’ll be college Football. Either way lets get back on topic. FIFA 08 is definitely not quite as good as 09 and 10 but it’s pretty close tbh. FIFA is definitely a game where you don’t see much of a difference in gameplay or graphics til we get even newer than that.

As always you’ve got a pretty good amount of options for which mode you want to play. You can jump right into a quick battle or head online. Well, the online is disabled so scratch that option. You can play a franchise mode which is honestly your best bet if you’re going to be playing this one for a long time. This way you can play a lot of games in a row and actually see yourself improve as you go through the matches. Even if you don’t make the playoffs it isn’t the end of the world as you can play more than one season. The franchise keeps on going until you decide to stop playing. In that sense the game never truly ends. There are also tutorials and practice mode to play which will help you hone your skills.

I am now confidently at the point where I can defeat the A.I. on the first dificulty level. Unfortunately after that it starts to get hairy. I fought the computer at the highest difficulty level in the game and only lost 2-0 so I felt pretty good about that. As always I am great on defense, it’s just the offensive side of the ball where I can’t really keep up. I don’t get how the players do it because it really doesn’t seem like there is any kind of opening. I really need to watch some Youtube videos or something. On defense if I play conservatively then I should usually be able to force a 0-0 game, but it gets tedious after a while so then I just start running in and hitting people. Obviously this will result in a lot of flags so it usually isn’t worth throwing the move out there without a plan. It’s fun though.

As I mentioned the graphics are basically the same as last time. The stages all look good and the player details are on point. I can’t really speak to the soundtrack much as you just won’t hear it while playing. On a technical level I also like how the celebrations are handled after a play and after a game. They’re actually pretty realistic and there are enough variations of them where you don’t feel like you are watching the same things over and over again. Having a solid selection of celebrations is about as important as having them in the first place if you ask me.

As for the gameplay, it’s pretty straight forward. As long as you know the rules of Soccer then you’ll definitely be able to get into the action here. The toughest part as I mentioned is kicking the ball. It’s hard to angle your kicks and taking the time to power them up is risky since the opponents will slide in. There’s a lot of strategy here so think of playing the game as trying to crack a code. Even if I was unable to crack the code I can definitely respect the fact that the gameplay was handled pretty well. There’s a lot of nuance here and attention to detail.

One technique I practiced a bit so I could at least say I tried to get into the deeper aspects of the game was the ball shuffle. I’m not sure what the exact term of this is, but by moving the right joystick on the controller you’re able to try and juke around the defenders. It didn’t work a single time so it seems to be about as useful as the juke in the Madden games. Usually in these games the computers just don’t fall for anything, but I do think it’ll probably work a whole lot better if I use it against real players. That’s when you know if you’ve mastered the technique or not. The only part where the human element doesn’t really come into play is the goalie so that’ll be tough regardless of who you’re playing.

Overall, FIFA 08 is definitely a fun game. There’s really no point in buying it at the moment since the later games already go for 1-2 dollars. Still, if you really want to collect all of the FIFA games then you might as well get it. Ignoring the fact that there are sequels, FIFA 08 still stands loud and proud as a solid video game. There really aren’t any glaring negatives. It’s just a very complete soccer game. There’s nothing to do but play soccer when playing FIFA 08, but why else would you get the game? So long as you enjoy playing the sport I’m sure you’ll enjoy this title.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 10 Review


It’s time for yet another FIFA game. You’d think that by now I’d really have the controls down, but it’s still a pretty tough game I have to admit. Scoring goals is really tough although I found out near the end of the game that I had actually been using the wrong button to shoot the ball the whole time. That explains a lot. Once I figured it out I still only scored one goal, but that was an improvement and I did end up winning the game so that was cool. I ended up winning another round in a penalty shootout as well. I think I will one day be able to start really winning here.

There are the usual assortment of modes here. You’ve got your franchise mode, quick matches, exhibition, minigames, and online battles. Naturally all of these modes have quite a lot of content in them so you don’t need to worry about a lack of replay value. The replay value here is endless and you don’t have to ever stop playing unless you don’t want to. Of course, with newer FIFA games out there you probably won’t want to stick with this one for long, but at the end of the day the gameplay is pretty similar for all of them anyway.

I would have a hard time telling you what is different between this one and FIFA 11 for example. Like with that one you get to play in 3D practice mode while waiting for the screens to load. The gameplay is still fairly simple which works out for me. I still think the goalkeeper is pretty overpowered and you’ll be lucky to land any real shots here, but at least you’ll know what you’re doing. The defenders give you a lot of space so you’re free to run in and try to dominate the pace of the game. Playing defense is a lot easier. So long as you don’t go for many slides you likely won’t attract any fouls. With no fouls to worry about you can just go ahead and crush your competition until they hand over to the ball. It may result in a lot of 0-0 games, but it’s worth it.

As always the graphics are definitely quite sharp here. EA spares no expense on its sport titles. It’s all very lifelike which is pretty neat. Naturally you can’t compare it to the really new ones, but this game did come out quite a while ago. When it came out the graphics were definitely very high end. The soundtrack is a lot less noticeable like in most sport games since the actual sound effects and such end up completely dominating the music. That works for me though since EA’s music is rarely all that great. The tempo tends to fit for the game you’re playing but I can’t really speak to the lyrics much.

There’s really nothing bad to say about FIFA 10. There were no glitches or bugs that I encountered. There are quite a lot of modes to choose from so it’s not as if the game was made in a rush either. It’s just a very direct game. What you see is what you’ll get. It’s got you covered with whatever kind of soccer modes you want to try. The gameplay may be hard to get into, but once you do learn it fully you’ll definitely be ready to dominate your competition quite easily. It’s definitely a very rewarding game in that sense since once you learn it you will completely dominate your competition.

Overall, FIFA 10 is another solid game. Ultimately there really isn’t much reason to play it now though. You can play FIFA 14 for about 5 bucks nowadays and you’ll have much better luck finding opponents online. I get the feeling there even if the servers are still up for 10 (and they probably aren’t) it’ll be a while before you find a match. There just won’t be many people still playing a FIFA game from that far back. It’s just not going to happen if you ask me. Still, just because there are better versions of the game doesn’t mean it takes away from this one’s score. You have to judge the game on its own and in that case I’d say that this one is still fundamentally sound.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 11 Review


I definitely don’t play a lot of FIFA so most of the gameplay mechanics start to go over my head. You could probably tell that from my earlier FIFA review. Well, the marathon must continue and now I’m going at FIFA 11. I am proud to say that this one is actually an improvement. If anything that could actually be a bit of a negative of course since that means the games got worse as they went along, but that’s mainly because I’m a casual. FIFA 11 is a lot more arcade based so the controls are just simpler. I was actually able to score this time.

As always there are quite a few standard sport modes here. You can quickly pick up and play a normal game, do some minigames and challenges or you can run through a franchise. A cool part of the loading screen here is while waiting for the game to start you can head to the field and practice your shots 1 on 1. I enjoyed these quite a bit and while it would definitely be a very different kind of soccer game I think it would make for a fun one. Some 1 on 1 battles would definitely be a good way to practice fundamentals.

Still, the main part is naturally the actual games and in those I do feel like I improved. At first I couldn’t score a single goal, but then I played some more games and was getting some good shots in. I was able to defeat the opponent on the two easiest difficulties and then after that I started getting blown up again. It’s inevitable, but at least I felt like I was playing as opposed to just staying strong. I got my wins and losses and this just felt like the definitive version of the game.

Everything about FIFA 11 just feels right. The gameplay mechanics and visuals are on point. As always EA really delivers on how the game looks and plays. Then you’ve also got the way the shots work. In the later FIFA games you have to be hitting multiple buttons at once to get the shots where you want. In this one you just hit the shoot button and you’ve got the general direction down. From there it’s all about just keeping on until you get to the end.

Naturally there is also online battles to increase your replay value. Fighting other players online is just a great way to really start testing your skills beyond a local level. At this point it’s hard to imagine going back to just having local multiplayer. For some games that works of course, but especially with sports having online access makes it feel a lot more lifelike. You can go through a complete season with 15 other real teams (Well, that’s Football but you get the idea) and then you’re okay even if you don’t have a friend who plays FIFA.

One gameplay tip for all aspiring FIFA players is you definitely want to pass quite a bit. Get close enough to the goal and one player will always leave his man to try and get to you. That’s when you want to quickly pass the ball and get yourself into a prime position to make the goal. Even then it’s going to be pretty tough of course since the goal keeper is incredibly OP no matter what FIFA game you’re playing. You just gotta keep going and you’ll score. There are less tips to give to the defensive side since it’s pretty easy to stop the goals from being scored so long as you keep tackling the other players. Don’t bother with the slides since you’ll usually get penalized for them. Just go for basic shoves and the other players will never be able to get past you. That’s one thing I’ve been consistent about in both FIFA games, the opponent just doesn’t score.

I did try one game at the highest difficulty level though. It didn’t really follow the same path though as this time I couldn’t stop them from scoring. In my defense, the highest level in any sport game is typically insane. Even in Madden, which is my best series, I have a hard time keeping up at this level. The other team inevitably ends up winning the game by the end even if I can keep it close. So keeping it close in FIFA at this level? Nah…..I can’t do that.

Overall, FIFA 11 is definitely a very solid game. Soccer still isn’t really my sport, but I do think this one is more beginner friendly and the controls are more straight forward. I can see how veterans may not like this, but at the moment I consider this to be the definitive FIFA. I do have other FIFA games to go play (At least 3 more) so we’ll see if those can match up. Considering the trend they just might end up getting even better.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 14 Review


It’s time to look at an old FIFA game. I would say a “modern” one but at this point 2014 feels like a long time ago. I don’t have a lot of experience with FIFA, but I’m a little better at it than I am at MLB. At the very least I keep the games close. It’s definitely a fun title, but certainly one that you will enjoy a whole lot more if you are actually good at it. Knowing how to make the plays that you want to achieve simply makes for a world of difference here.

There are a bunch of different modes. I imagine that you will spend most of your time in Franchise mode ordinarily. After all, that’s where you get to really learn and grow with your team. If you can’t get the hang of the controls for a while you’ll start out with some bad records, but eventually you’ll be able to completely flip that. I don’t really have enough time to do all of that, but it’s always a great mode for any sport. Beyond that you can also run drills, practice, Go online and play, or a bunch of other options. There is no shortage of modes and content here.

As for the gameplay, it seems pretty good. it’s definitely one of those games where it’ll take a while to actually master the controls. There’s a lot to them and you can’t really skate by on just doing the easy controls. You’ll really need to apply yourself here. For example, I played a few games, but couldn’t score a single goal. I just can’t get close enough to take a realistic shot, it’s crazy. On the other side though, I didn’t allow any goals to be scored in most of the games. (They did score on me once) So…either the goal keeper is just OP here or I need more training. I imagine that it’s the latter because otherwise the FIFA games wouldn’t be nearly as big as they are now. I felt more confident than in Baseball since I’m at least not getting blown out, but at the same time you can’t win without scoring right?

The graphics are certainly solid as always. EA doesn’t hold back in that area. As always in the sport games the music isn’t all that memorable, but it seems to be pretty fast and fitting for the sport. On a technical level the game is quite good and the gameplay is solid as well so I have no real complaints. The only thing really hurting the score is the fact that the game won’t be incredibly fun until you get good at it and you also have to love the sport. If you think about it, technically you’re going to be going through the same motions in every match. That’s true for many games of course, but it does emphasize how much you need to like the gameplay in order to go through with it. Otherwise it would just become a chore by the end and you don’t want that.

To date the best Soccer game has definitely been Mario Strikers. It took a more arcade style look at the sport with simplified controls but still hitting all of the right mechanics. It’s a game that holds up well today and I think FIFA could learn a thing or two from it. FIFA is of course going for a Soccer Simulation style as it’s very realistic but I think it could loosen up on the mechanics a bit. Make the ball go in more precise locations instead of just anywhere and that would help with the shooting. Of course, this is something that would help casual FIFA players like me while professional gamers would likely not like having their experience go to waste so it’s definitely a mixed proposal. I’ll definitely still be buying the next FIFA games once the price is reasonable so it doesn’t make much of a difference to me, but I do think it would be a way for the series to get to the next step.

Currently from the big EA titles I’d rank them as Madden>NBA>FIFA>NHL>MLB>PGA. If we threw Tennis in there then it would be third after NBA. In general those are the 3 games that are way above the others. Starting with FIFA they just aren’t as interesting. Put it this way, Madden is a 9 star series and NBA/Tennis are 8 stars. FIFA is a 7 and the others range from 6 to 3. There’s probably a strong correlation to how I enjoy the real life sports too I suppose.

Overall, FIFA 14 definitely continues the series off well. I look forward to playing some of the other FIFA games I have in the backlog but haven’t played yet. They’ll all be older, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be even better. The more I play them the better I should get so that could help plus sometimes the older games had simpler controls which is also important to notice. It’s the opposite of fighting games where they’ve gotten a little simpler over the years. (Although in some cases that’s been a good thing like with Super Smash and Street Fighter) Whether you’ve played a previous FIFA game or not you should be able to jump in pretty quick here as long as you know how the sport works. Actually winning a game is a completely different discussion though. For that you’re gonna need to practice your shooting for quite a while and that’s no easy feat.

Overall 7/10