Archive for Video Games

I don’t know about you guys, but one of my all-time favorite past times is baseball video games. Going back to RBI Baseball to MVP to the crazy in-depth stuff we have these days (I mean seriously, I have to decide who to protect from the Rule 5 Draft in a video game?!), they were all a great way to sit back and unwind. I prefer The Show, but if you’re into the 2K series, here’s your chance to take home a seven-figure payout thanks to your (joy) stick skills.

From Asylum:

All those Dew-fueled gaming marathons and the sleepless (dateless) Saturday nights will all be worth it when “Major League Baseball 2K10″ drops on March 2. That’s because the first person to pitch a perfect game — no hits, no walks, no errors — between then and May 1 wins a million bucks.

Compete on Xbox 360, Xbox Live, PlayStation 3 or PlayStationNetwork in the MLB Today mode, select from the available matchups, then highlight the “MLB 2K10 contest” option and have at it. You’ll have to document your greatness — keep a camera or DVR rolling because you have to send your flawless game to 2K Sports on DVD.

Don’t even think about cheating: 2K Sports has partnered with Twin Galaxies International — the worldwide authority on video game records and provider of scores to Guinness World Records — to keep things on the up-and-up.

For the record, I kinda suck at baseball games. I have thrown no-hitters and perfect games before, but it’s been a mad long time, since the days of EA Sports’ MVP series. My problem is generally offense, probably because I tend to use sucky teams like the Padres for my franchises and stuff. The game gets too easy with the Yanks because they have all the best players, and I like a little more of a challenge. Anyway, if you’re into 2K, good luck in your pursuit of a million bucks.

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Here’s your open thread for the night. The Nets, Devils, and Rangers (with their new pickups) are all in action tonight, but talk about whatever you want here. Just be cool.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (344)
Jan
08

Previewing MLB 10: The Show

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It seems like every year, baseball games get better and better. Back in the day we had a tremendous selection. Nintendo featured RBI Baseball and Baseball Simulator 1.000, two excellent titles, plus the playable Bases Loaded. (Though I was always partial to Base Wars.) Super Nintendo brought Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball, one of my favorite all-time baseball games. But with the introduction of the Sony Playstation, it seemed like baseball games slid in quality. Developer 989 Studios, a division of Sony, produced their MLB series, which I found unplayable. In order to finish a game in a reasonable amount of time I had to reduce to six innings, and that screwed over my players as they raced for stat tiles. Triple Play Baseball was kind of fun, but it still didn’t catch my attention.

Then came Playstation 2 and MVP Baseball — though it was nothing more than a rebranding of EA’s Triple Play series. Everything changed. The gameplay went faster, so you could play a full nine innings in a reasonable amount of time. The pitching system was better, too, making for a more fun game all-around. Then came the 2K series. For the 2006 season MLB/MLBPA granted 2K an exclusive (non-Sony) license to develop games. I loved the 2K6 game, though it seems like the game degenerated every year from there on. I got 2K8, but didn’t enjoy it at all. Thankfully, the Sony replacement for their MLB series, The Show, progressively got better and better. In 2009 it blew the 2K game out of the water.

As the season approaches, so does the release date for MLB 10: The Show. GameDaily has an early preview, and it looks pretty damn cool. The article starts off talking about the extras, like the Road to The Show feature and Home Run Derby mode, but I’m more interested in the actual game play. After all, that’s what the game’s all about, right?

According to GD, we should see some significant improvements in this year’s version.

The developers added 1,250 new gameplay animations, 1,000 presentation animations and 400 personalized pitcher and batter animations.

To me, animations can make or break a game. My biggest complaint with older Madden versions was that poor animations led to unrealistic gameplay. More animations means the computer can more accurately identify the most realistic option. It might not be as relevant in a baseball, where the main animation issues arise when there’s one defender chasing down a ball, as in football, where all 22 men are in constant motion, but it still matters in terms of playability.

Another excellent improvement: base running. Maybe it’s just me and my lack of skill with a controller, but I had a terrible time running the bases in MLB 09. Any improvement on that front would be greatly appreciated.

The game comes out on March 2, with a deserving player gracing the box.

Check out the article for more information on changes in MLB 10: The Show. This video also provides a quick, cursory rundown.

Categories : Fantasy Baseball
Comments (64)
Feb
20

Official MLB 09: The Show Plug

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If you’re an RAB regular then you know I’ve made no secret of my affinity for video games, especially sports games. I’ve always found them to be a great way to mellow out and blow off some steam, but I also enjoy them because it’s chance to do things we normally never would be able too. Right at our fingertips is the ability to run a baseball team, or battle an army of Nazi zombies, or jump off the Empire State Building after a long night of stealing cars and killing hookers, or literally countless other possibilities. Needless to say that when we received an email from the crew behind MLB 09: The Show asking to plug some screen shots of the game, I jumped at the chance.

The game has a ton of new improvements this year, including fielding and pitching/hitting upgrades, and even has some new training modes. If you’ve ever played The Show, then you know it’s attention to detail is unmatched. You probably remember the New Yankee Stadium and CitiField clips we had last month, but if not here’s the link. The game is scheduled for release on on March 3rd, and will be available on PS3, PS2, and PSP (sorry Xboxers).

After the jump are some screen shots of the game on each console, courtesy of Playstation’s Press Center. Click the images for a larger view.

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Categories : Reviews
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We all think … no wait … we all know we can be highly successful Major League General Managers. It’s a piece of cake. Sign this guy, trade these guys for that guy, cut that dude, deal this guy for a bag of balls to free up money, so on and so forth. It’s never as easy as we make it sound, but most of us will never get a chance to find that out for ourselves. Until now.

2K Sports’ MLB Front Office Manager is basically the baseball version of NFL Head Coach. It puts you in the GM chair and bombards you with all the team building stuff every real life GM has to deal with. (Luckily you don’t have to deal with the shareholders or marketing people or politicians though.) Billy Beane and Brian Cashman both consulted on the project, and the game is true to life in almost every way possible. There’s waivers, the arbitration process, 40-man rosters, the Rule 5 Draft, no trade clauses, performance bonuses, Type-A and B free agents, unhappy superstars, pissed off owners, you name it.

As you can probably imagine, the game is menu heavy. You’re kept up to date on all the major news around the league via email, although you’ll have to dig around for the smaller moves yourself. Beane also acts as your “advisor,” emailing you with advice and instructions for some of the more complicated parts of the game. The filing system for the emails is a little stupid, but it’s not terrible. I’ve seen come complaints about the intricate menu system, but I don’t have any problems with it. I think it’s pretty easy to navigate, actually.

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Categories : Reviews
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It’s not often I find myself eagerly awaiting the release of a video game, but this year The Show couldn’t come out soon enough. I had read previews online, watched trailers and flipped through screenshots all winter, and I got sucked up by the hype. The game is set for official release today, but I found a mom ‘n pop joint that was selling the game early, so I managed to get my hands on a copy this past weekend.

The gameplay is relatively unchanged from the 2007 version, although there are some minor tweaks to the Adaptive Pitching Intelligence thingy and baserunning controls. There’s a new Pitcher/Hitter Analysis feature, where you can look at what kind of pitches a guy likes to throw to a RHB in his third at-bat with two men on–stuff like that. You can basically go back and see a boatload of tendencies for both the pitcher and hitter based on data stored by the game. Frankly, I think it’s a bit of an informational overload for just a video game, but it’s cool that it’s in there.

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Categories : Reviews
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A couple of months ago I posted a review of the PS2 version of The Show, in which I advised you to wait until you can go get a used copy for $15. That most certainly does not hold true for the PS3 version.

The gameplay is nearly identical to the PS2 version, the one major difference is that you can use the SixAxis motion sensing feature of the controller to make diving catches, run over the catcher, and slide into the bases. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, because the game play is the best out there next to EA’s NCAA Baseball series in my opinion.

The graphics though, holy cow are they phenomenal. They added something like 3,500 new animations, including massive upgrades to the crowd, stadiums, and even the environment outside the stadiums. In addition to the basic player specific batting stances, there are now player specific swings. Wanna take that big long healthy cut with A-Rod? You can do it. Maybe you just wanna inside-out a pitch to the opposite field with Jeter; that’s in their too.

There’s new slide animations as well, including what I call “The David Ortiz Special,” which is when a guy catches a spike a few feet before reaching the base, and then tumbles head over heels before falling a yard short of the base. Take out slides are a bit more violent, and pop-up slides actually look like…well…pop-up slides.

There’s also host of tiny little details that have been upgraded as well, including: real 1st and 3rd base coaches (gone are the generic #77 & #81 coaches, in come the real guys, like Larry Bowa and Tony Pena), players letting go of their bats and they helicopter into the stands, A-Rod rockin’ the high socks, oh, and and after the first baseman makes a put out and throws the ball to the shortstop, he’ll actually catch it (this irked me to no end in the PS2 version).

If you’re a stickler about rosters (and who isn’t), then I’ve got good news. The default rosters are current as of Opening Day, so guys like Josh “Mike you’re an idiot, why would the Yankees want to pick this guy off waivers (a few years ago), he’s toast” Hamilton, Elijah Dukes, Alex Gordon and Joe freakin’ Smith are in the game, plus Jon Papelbon is a closer, Braden Looper a starter, and Junior Griffey a right fielder. But, if you go and download the roster updates (if you’re like me and don’t have online capabilities with your PS3, go here for instructions on how to download the updates to your computer and tranfer the files to your PS3 – it’s a piece of cake), the rosters are current as of a couple days ago. That means you get to use Phil Hughes (custom windup), Mighty Matt DeSalvo, Chase Wright, Brandon Wood, Tim Lincecum, Andy LaRoche, Brett Myers as a closer, Freddy Sanchez as a second baseman…the list goes on and on. Alas, Roger Clemens and Ron Villone aren’t in the update because they hadn’t appeared in an MLB game before the update was released.

Overall, I give it a very solid 9 out of 10. I don’t like the fictious player contracts/salaries, and I do have some qualms about some of the player rankings (David Ross the best player on the Reds? Anibal Sanchez the best on the Fish? Come on now), but the combination of gameplay and graphics is nearly impossible to beat. $65 is a bit stiff, but if you love baseball games, it’s well worth it.

Categories : Reviews
Comments (5)

Once EA lost it’s license to produce MLB games, my interest in them basically disappeared. MLB 2005 (predecessor to The Show) was good, but it tended to freeze. And freeze. And freeze. And freeze some more. MVP 05 was great in every possible way, especially since it included the..ahem…likenesses of Phil Hughes, Eric Duncan and Marcos Vechionacci. However, that franchise went kaput once MLB sold out for exclusive licensing.

EA came out with MVP 06 NCAA baseball about a year ago, and I was instantly hooked. The gameplay was phenomenal as always, and the excitement of the college atmosphere was as good as it gets. I started a Dynasty with my Nittany Lions, and played over 4 seasons without so much as getting bored. However, do to a freak PS3 accident, my saved data was corrupted, and my team was lost forever (I was on pace for my first trip to Omaha, go figure).

But last weekend I was home watching my fiancee’s younger brother, who just so happened to have a copy of The Show 07. I checked it out, played a game or two, and was sold. I stole his copy bought a copy of my own and started a Franchise with the Pirates (I hate the DH, and I love that ballpark). Instead of sticking with the default rosters, I went for a good ol’ fantasy draft, where I picked exactly 1 player over 26 years of age (Oswalt).

The Franchise mode is very deep, but to a fault: I’m not really interested in changing ticket prices or managing my advertisements, I just want to play baseball. The controls are good, though the push button batting is…how do you say…outdated. The pitching is the same old meter, which leaves something to be desired. The fielding is decent, though sometimes flyballs can be an adventure. There’s tons of custom animations, if you want to see the Broxton pirouette, it’s there. The Matt Morris bobblehead, it’s there. The Joe Morgan chickenwing, it’s there. Heck, Jeter even holds out his right arm before taking his stance, basically telling the ump “slow down bitch, I ain’t ready yet.”

Some of the player ratings are straight up wrong. Kei Igawa is not better than Dice-K, David Ross is not the best player on the Reds, nor is Anibal Sanchez the Marlins’ best player. Little things like that take away for the game. Oh, and none of the player contracts are correct, they’re basically pulled out of mid air. The minor league stuff is okay, the biggest drawback is the lack of a Single-A level (there’s only AA and AAA).

I’d give it a solid B, there’s a lot of little things that take away from what should be a great game overall. I say wait until you can pick up a used copy for $15.

Categories : Reviews
Comments (7)
Mar
07

Review of MLB 2k7

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Ever since I shattered a controller playing Madden — my annual indication that I’m done with the game until it is re-released in August — I’ve been awaiting the release of MLB2k7. I was reluctant to buy the game last year, because I thought MVP was the be all, end all of baseball video games. But after playing the craptacular “MLB: The Show,” I was left with little other choice.

I fell in love with the game, though. The pitching system was sleek, and I eventually grew used to the Tiger Woods-esque hitting system. I actually like it a ton better than the MVP hitting system, which at one time I thought was the closest simulation possible. In short, I was sold.

I’ve had March 5th circled on my calendar for a while now, and planned to buy the game on my lunch break this past Monday. You can imagine my excitement and ensuing disappointment when on Saturday night I found out that it had been realeased on Feburary 26th. Why disappointment? I had made the discovery at 10 p.m., when all major retailers were closed. I searched endlessly, but there was no place within a reasonable driving distance open 24 hours.

The worst part of all: I live in Bergen County, NJ. Anyone familiar with the area knows that, by law, retail and other “non-necessary” businesses must be closed on Sundays.

Bah, like that would stop me. Across the New York border it was, and I came home with my beloved copy of the game. Within minutes, I had a GM career set up and ready to go with the San Francisco Giants. The reason being: I was excited as hell to use both Matt cain and Tim Lincecum. But wait…no Lincecum? What the hell?

This led me to browse the Yankees roster. And guess what? No Phil Hughes. This was particularly troubling, because he had appeared in MLB2k6. But I shook it off and continued my season with the Giants.

The gameplay, hyped as being revamped from last year, is still just like the original. It’s still highly possible to miss a routine fly ball, though the ground ball fielding is a bit improved. Hitting has the same old flaws: the bunt button doesn’t always work, you can’t pull back diagonally on the R stick in any way, or you won’t step, and I even had an at-bat that was started with the hitter facing the catcher. And pitching is exactly the same as 2k6.

The GMing aspect is also exactly the same. You can cut people and shave that money off the cap; rarely do you see a Boras-esque contract demand; your minor leaguers don’t progress well; trades are ridiculously lopsided. The latter is linked directly to the ludicrous player ratings — J.D. Drew is a 100. Hell, Randy freakin’ Winn is a 95.

I sit here today without a longing desire to get home and play the game, when a year ago I would be comping at the bit. Not only do I feel like I wasted $30, but I also wasted my time driving to New York to purchase it. My recommendation: just play 2k6.

Categories : Reviews
Comments (12)