A few days ago I took my brother to Gamestop and let him pick out a few games as birthday / going away to college presents. Being the sports-brah he is, he decided on Major League Baseball 2k9 and a pre-order for Madden ‘10, which scored him access to an early demo of the game. It wasn’t until right now that I realized just howbad I am at sim sports games.
No, it’s not becuase of a lack of interest in the content—I don’t like sports that much, but I do love playing video games with Matt, so I’ll always give them a try—but I think it’s more of a problem of a lack of control or something. As gaming grows more and more technologically advanced, developers begin to invest more time and money into making their games more technologically advanced as well. With sports games, I think this is really noticable—each iteration of a next-gen series gets more and more complex. Whenever I try to play UEFA, or Tiger Woods, or Topspin, or Madden, or anything else by myself, I always get really confused when I’m trying to navigate through menus and stuff. There are just so many incredibly detailed options to let you customize your gaming experience that I wind up overwhelmed and sort of turned off.
There are so many “sliders” that affect the chances of things like players making tackles, balls hitting pins or lipping out of cups, racquet strings breaking, players getting injured on the pitch, etc. that I just can’t comprehend. I know things like this happen in real life, but I don’t feel like it’s supposed to be random. Sure, professional atheletes have occasional mishaps where they just mess up, but should there really be a random aspect to this that causes them to mess up in games? Shouldn’t player skill have a greater impact on these occurrances than a line of code that grants a percent chance?
It has always bothered me when I throw a pass in Madden to a guy and he drops it, despite only facing single coverage. It wouldn’t be too bad if I didn’t watch the computer throw the ball straight up into triple or quadruple coverage and come away with a complete pass like once every four downs. It’s disheartening, because it makes me really feel like I suck (I know I suck, for sure, but in video games, you can at least have a little fun when you suck), and sometimes it’s so bad that I feel completely disillusioned.
It’s like I’m not even really playing the game. I’m calling plays or selecting what club to use or subbing players in and out, but when the action starts, I feel like I never really have direct control over what’s happening. Part of it may be that I’m only one player in a game of ten or twenty or thirty different players (you know, part of a team), but that’s not really what I’m addressing. In sim games, I’ve always felt that the controls in general are sort of…unresponsive. Something as simple as navigating the field can sometimes be impaired by AI judgement, and it just doesn’t make sense when I’m telling my player to run left and he’s going diagonal instead because the computer thinks that would be a better route.
When I’m playing, I feel like I don’t even really have a controller; rather, I feel like I have a really fancy remote control that allows me to attempt to influence a digital sporting event that I’m spectating. I can pause it, rotate a real-time camera in any direction I want, and even watch replays of anything that I think is awesome. A lot of the time, I’m okay with this—I get chills when someone scores a touchdown in madden or a goal in UEFA, even if it’s against me. Seeing and hearing the stadium erupt in elation is just so awe-inspiring. I’ll sit for hours and watch Matt play Madden against the CPU and cheer him on with more fervency than I would the Ravens, because it heightens our sense of kinship and it’s really cool to see him pwning in a video game.
The part that makes me feel so bad is that I know these games have really intuitive, deep control schemes that let you pull off all kinds of beautiful techniques and moves that the pros employ on the fields, courts, rinks, and courses every time they compete. I can just never seem to get the hang of any of them, no matter what sport I’m trying to play. Maybe one day something will finally click after I get my butt whipped by the AI in Madden for the thirtieth time or something—I know I’ll get a chance, because Madden ‘10 comes out on August 14th and I’m sure I’ll be playing it with Matt before he *sob* leaves for college.
In the meantime though, I think sim games are more of a spectator sport for me.
I guess I was prepared for the worst when I picked up Bionic Commando for $20 at Gamestop (they’re having an actually halfway decent sale for July), but I’m actually having a lot of fun with it. The gameplay is pretty solid, the soundtrack is wonderful, and the graphics are pretty great too. Some more autosave points or the ability to manually save really would be nice, and I think I would have really liked a full city to explore, but I can get by with the stages they’ve created—each level is like a new scenario, and you’re given some enemies to dispatch and collectibles to…collect.
But I’m a couple hours in now, and so far this is my favorite part:
There’s a Tricellbillboard in the middle of Ascension City—how awesome is this?! As I’ve been attempting to grapple my way though the dilapidated city, I’ve also come across ads for Dark Void plastered on billboards and posted on crumbling walls, and even some giant Servbot posters spanning entire skyscraper facades. It all makes me wonder how close Raccoon City is in relation, and where that Dead Rising mall is, and what Dr. Wily is up to in this Capcom universe! I love Capcom’s little franchise eastereggs they put in all their games—they always make me smile, which really matters to me.
I want games to make me happy. I want video gaming to be an enjoyable experience. Sometimes I wonder if developers and publishers lose sight of this.
Oh, and Wickzilla, if you’re reading this, I haven’t found the X_Buster yet, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere ;)
Wow, even though we have to wait until the end of July for the not-so-aptly titled “Summer of Arcade,” I’m really excited for this lineup. I loved TMNT for the SNES back when I was little, and the idea of playing co-op with three friends is awesome. I’ve been waiting for MvC2 (Why didn’t I just buy a Dreamcast?) forwhat feels like years now, so this is literally a dream come true. Shadow Complex is being hyped by Cliffy B. as “Metroid-vania,” which sounds pretty incredible, and I’m anxious to see how this full game turns out on XBLA. As far as ‘Splosion Man and Trials go, I don’t know much about them, but I’ll definitely be checking out the demos to see what they’re like. Thank you so much for finally announing the lineup, Major Nelson!
UPDATE: Looks like they shuffled the order around; ‘Splosion Man now comes out first on July 22nd, and TMNT comes out third on august 5th. I guess it’s still subject to change, too :P
So last week, Blizzard announced that Starcraft 2 will not have LAN support, claiming that their new and improved Battle.net will have all the multiplayer functionality players need. I hope they’re right, because whenever my brother and I try to play with our friends via Battle.net, only one of us can manage to connect to the game. It’s like Battle.net recognizes we’re on the same connection and blocks one of us, I guess to prevent lag or cheating or something—I never bothered to look into the specifics, but I probably should have.
We definitely don’t have the fastest or the most reliable internet, but it works for the most part—unless, of course, we’re playing Gears of War 2. If LAN support is out and Battle.net still blocks one of us, guess I’m never playing SC2 with Matt, which is one of the main reasons I’d be getting it. I’m really embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve never completed a single campaign in SC1—I always get sidetracked and end up spending my play time in LAN games with my best friends and my little brother. I’m more than okay with that.
Recently I’ve been getting pretty upset whenever Blizzard talks about Starcraft 2 now, because they keep dropping bombshells like this. Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way either—check out this petition that surfaced in response to their press release last week. As I’m writing this (which was a couple of days ago, but I’ve been too lazy to actually post it), it’s been signed by close to 25,000 angry fanboys. I doubt it’ll do anything, but hey, it’s worth a shot! Oh, and teasing us with super-vague release dates isn’t helping much either, Blue.
Now I’m left hoping that good things still come to those who wait; it would really suck to see Starcraft 2 finally release later this year and be nothing more than yet anothermoney machine for Activizzard, and I have a bad feeling that’s what’s happening. The only thing keeping me optimistic right now is these silly play-by-play battle reports that showcase the game’s new units, maps, and controls. I have to admit, it looks awesome.