I reviewed the really disappointing NCAA 13 for PopMatters. The moneyquote:
It’s clear that barring a massive upgrade in AI development in the next few years, EA’s football series is kind of stuck, a problem largely brought on by the rules of football more so than any failing of the developer. The main issue facing football video games currently is that there are too many players. Each team fields 11 men, but the player only controls one, meaning the outcome of any play is dependent on whether or not your AI wide receiver can get open against AI cornerbacks, for example. There are obviously considerations with regards to play calls—running man-beating passing routes against man coverage and vice versa—but anyone who has ever played an EA football game knows that there are just times when the game decides that you’re not winning. And these problems extend beyond the skill position players: if your offensive linemen are unable to block the defensive line, your play call hardly matters.
I reviewed the new Tiger Woods game over at PopMatters. The takeaway:
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13’s new swing mechanic, the series’ most dramatic shift to date, makes the game similarly unfun but unfun in a golf sense, not a repetitive one. Gone are the days of mindlessly pulling back the left analog stick and slamming it forward for maximum power. The new swing mechanic relies as heavily on pace and rhythm as it does on basic human dexterity. This shift is akin to the difference between a button-mashing Street Fighter player and someone surgically attacking withTekken 3’s Yoshimitsu.
Transitioning to this new system, especially early on, presents a host of problems. Timing your swing correctly affects your distance and accuracy—to say nothing of putting. As you spend more time with the game, you start to get into a rhythm, but a single missed shot and your round can quickly take a nosedive. Putting, meanwhile, may be the most frustrating aspect of the game. The precision with which you must control your backswing and follow through is frustratingly realistic, but it is also a welcome change to a franchise that has for too long been stuck in neutral.
It’s been a while, but I wrote a review for PopMatters, this one on Grand Slam Tennis 2 for XBox. The takeaway:
Playing without the fear of the side and endlines makes Grand Slam Tennis 2—and in effect, most tennis games—much more like Checkers than Chess. Defensive shots are a rarity as the ability to return balls on the fly to exact court locations presents little challenge. The game becomes an exercise in tedium: forehand left corner, forehand left corner, backhand right corner. Game, set, match.
I reviewed (a while ago, though it just ran today, go figure) Punch-Out!! for the Wii. There’s really not much to say that I didn’t already mention in my review, but basically, it’s kind of mediocre. Money quote:
Ostensibly, Punch-Out!! is the perfect game for the Wii: simple intuitive controls, the ability to successfully take advantage of the Wii’s motion-sensor capabilities, and a remake of a classic Nintendo title. The game seems so well suited for the Wii that it’s surprising that it took Nintendo so long to adapt it to its next-gen system—in retrospect, it would’ve been the ideal launch title with the system. Unfortunately, Punch-Out!! nary deserves the marquee release that it’s been given; it is a game wholly limited by it’s greatest selling point: its adherence to its source material.