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Assassins Creed

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It took me a while to get into this game. I love the time period that the game is based on. And, the main character, Altiar is one of the coolest characters in a video game. Not to mention that it's such a cool name.

My favorite part of this game is how he climbes seamlessly around the rooftop. The animations are outstanding and the city is truly amazing. A living breathing replication of the period of the Crusades. The visuals are incredible. But, as I always say, it doesn't matter how pretty a game is if it's not fun to play. And, this game is fun

It's strange because the gameplay becomes repititious; your given a target to assassinate, you go and eavesdrop, pickpocket the target, and rough him up to get information. Once this is done (and it's not neceassary to to all 3 of them), you return to the Guild in the city your in; wheter it be Acre, Jeraseluem, etc. You get your marker which gives you permission and the green light to assissinate the target.

This can get old awfully fast. Luckily, the gameplay makes up for it as well as the visuals. All is all, my opinion is that this is a must have game for any Xbox 360 owner. I can't wait unti the scond one come out.

I can't believe it's been another two years since my last entry.

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I finally was fortunate enough to get an Xbox 360. I 've also played it on HD, however my TV only has standard def. But, WOW, what a difference between the two. Fallout 3 looks amazing. It's so much more fun playing on an HD TV.

Lately, I've been getting into the multiplayer portion of Modern Warfare 2. It's so much fun and it's very addictive. Before that I had at least 23 hours put into Fallout 3, which I think is a great game. But, now. MW2 is taking all of my time. I've also spent alot of time with NHL 09. This is hands down the best most complete hockey game I've ever played. There is just something about it that makes it not only fun, but realistic. The way the players skate, the flow so easily. The shot stick allows for some great control over your shots and the passing game is great. Finally a hockey game that allows your tema to set up in the offense. The powerplay is great, it really feels that your team is on a power play and if you cycle the puck around correctly, you can take advantage of the man advantage. It's a very fun game, with lots of game modes. One being "Be a Pro", which lets you create a player and take him up through the ranks. Starting in the AHL and then working your way ultimately up to the first line on the NHL. There is so much to do with this game. If you a hockey fan, do your self a favor and pick this game up. Last I checked, the game was around 16 dollars used at Gamestop. It appears the only difference between NHL 09 and NHL 10 is the board play and the new fighting engine. And, of course, the updated rosters. Other than that, you feel as if your playing the same game.

It's now 2007...two years since my last post

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I was on Gamespot this morning checking out some gameplay videos fro CoD 4 and Assassins Creed and decided to check my user profile. I was very suprised to see that all my settings, game collection, and blogs were still here! Some of them are almost 3 years old. Good job GameSpot! You guys rock! It's nice to see a site keep all this user information for so long. I'm still playing Xbox, since I haven't had the funds to pick up a 360 yet, and I'm going to start using this blog again. However, I have to go to work right now, so I have to cut this short. Just wanted to write a quick hello and check in. TTYL. -Rwebster

List of games to play

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Since there are so many game being released lately that I want to play, I figured I'd make a list.

  1. Blitz: The League - I have to play this game...SOON...lol
  2. Starwars Battlefront II - just released today, looks awsome
  3. Far Cry: Instincts - Normally I wouldn't care to play a game like this. But, it's scored so high on all the gaming websites that I have to check it out
  4. Battlefield 2: MC - looks very cool. Especially that hot swap thing. Sweet
  5. Doom 3 - Just looks so awesome. Boasts to have the best graphics ever seen in an Xbox game. I have to check that out

Rainbow Six: Lockdown not too bad

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Rainbow Six: Lockdown got so many bad reviews and negative forum posts that I almost didn't bother playing it! I mean, they were absolutely trashing this game, calling it the worst FPS ever, a piece of garbage, terrible, etc. etc. Now that I've actually played the game, I'm appalled that this game got so much negative attention?! Simply put, it's not a bad game. Sure, I'll agree that it's not a great game. And, it's not even as good as the previous Rainbow Six games. But, overall, it's still a fun, captivating game that has a lot to offer. For starters, all the core gameplay mechanics are still there. I was worried after reading the reviews that the game had changed so much that it wouldn't even resemble Rainbow Six at all. But, that's not the case. You still have squad based tactical manuevers: Flash and Clear, Frag and Clear, Breach, and also now, Suppress, which is cool. Another new squad command is 'Scout' which allows you to send your Rainbow team up to a corner to scout the area and make sure it is free of hostiles before you advance. There are still a ton of cool weapons to choose from at the beginning on your mission. You still have bombs to deactivate, hostages to rescue and terrorists to hunt down and kill! The reviews also stated that Lockdown suffered a downgrade in graphics. While, I will agree that it looks slightly less realistic than the previous games, it's still a great looking game. The environments are huge, the weather effects are very cool, the new HUD works good and gives a nice 'breaking' effect when you take damage (it's as if your looking out of a visor, sort of on the idea of Republic Commando). The explosions look great and the weapons are awesome as usual. So, I'm surprised that this game caught so much slack. I don't play online so maybe that's what all the fuss is about? I have read that the multiplayer portion is lousy. There is not enough of a tactical feel to the game, more of a shoot em up, run n' gun style of gameplay. My biggest gripe with this game is that the character animations are completely horrible. There is just no excuse to have such poor looking animations! Especially from a company like Ubisoft, who normally release some of the best looking games available. Such as Splinter Cell series, Brothers in Arms, and the first two Rainbow Six games. So, just wanted to note that this game is still worth a run through for any Rainbow Six fans. It still satisfies and the single player campaign is pretty exciting. The new sniper missions (done at the beginning of your teams missions) are decent. I didn't care for them the first couple times, but after getting a feel for the way the sniper scope moved and how to find the tangos I was suppose to be sniping! (they are not easy to spot at first), I started to enjoy them more. Overall, I would give this game a 7.3. The gameplay is decent and the graphics really shine in some areas (wide open maps, cool weather effects, great explosions), but fail terribly in others (character animations, character models, some textures are a little pale and the sometimes have a cartoonish look). But, I still have enjoyed this game and I'm glad that I didn't disregard it.

More thoughts on Madden 2005

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Madden Authority gives tips to strengthen running game...
"Hit in the back field for a short loss." These are the words that I hear everytime I try to run the ball in Madden. It doesn't seem to matter whether I'm controlling Tomlinson or Lamont Jordan, I go down and usually for a hard loss! When I first got into gaming, I rented ESPN NFL 2k5 and thought it was great. About a month later, I bought the Prima strategy guide and the game and went on a 2 1/2 month run with the game. I enjoyed the gameplay, the awesome presentation, and graphics of the game. And, it was fairly easy to run the ball. But, passing was challenging. At times, a little too challenging for me. Now, Madden, in direct contrast to NFL 2K5, has a very simply passing system. After playing 2K5 for a couple months and getting picked off like 3 times a game (on passes that I felt were pretty decent) it was a relief to be able to have a consistent passing game with Madden. But, every rose has it's thorn as they say, and running the ball in Madden is damn near impossible. Madden even says it himself in the commentary, "It's damn near impossible to run the ball when you have defenders in the backfield as soon as you snap the ball." And, that's exactly the case. Many times, I don't even complete the handoff to my RB before a linebacker busts through and nails me..."Big hit that time, he's gonna feel that one tomorrow." "Big hit in the backfield". 9 out of 10 of my end up losing yards. But, yesterday I found a site called Madden Authority which looks to have some very useful information and tips that may help me improve my running game. I only looked over the site briefly yesterday and already had two games with 100 rushing yards! I'm psyched because it sucks to have to pass the ball all the time! I mean, I used to be pissed because I couldn't get my passing game going and had to rely on the rushing attack. Now, I pass the ball with great success, but can't gain even 3 yards on the run. But, let me point out that the passing game is a bit too easy. At least in ESPN you felt that there was some skill involved in passing the ball. You had to get the right timing, find the open man (throwing into coverage was a guaranteed pick), have a good receiver, etc. But, in Madden, you throw the ball anywhere near the receiver and even if he's triple covered, he's going to make the catch 9 out of 10 times! :-) But, ya know, I really don't mind. Because in NCAA 2005 it was also tough to get a consistent passing game going. So, it still is nice to have the ability to make some big catches. But, getting back to the run, I have LT (Tomlinson) on my team; the highest rated running back in Madden! He's got a 99 speed rating, 99 break tackle, 98 agility, and so on. But, I was still getting crushed every time I tried to run. Didn't matter if it was a toss play, off-tackle, up the gut, counter, most attempts failed miserably. With Tomlinson ending up on his ass looking foolish in front of his home crowd. Some linebacker busting through the line and crushing my guard, fullback, and ultimately my running back all in one sweet dominating move!! SLAM!! It was like, "This is what you get for even daring to run the ball on Madden 2005!!" Now, I'm pissed so I get back to the play calling screen, pick another running play and get to the huddle determined to find some room so I can make it past the secondary and into the open field for the big run! I hit the A button to hike the ball and before I can even drop back to hand the ball off to my back, the whole defensive line crashes in and I have 3 linebackers jumping on top of my quarterback and pummeling him to the ground. These are players with like a 64 speed rating absolutely flying through my O line (which, mind you, consists of 4 players with a 95 rating or higher. Two of them have a pass block rating of 98!!) like they aren't even there. So, needless to say, it's a frustrating experience that really ruins the experience of the game. But, now that I picked up some of these tips from MA, I'm excited to get a good season in and actually be able to contend with the league leaders in rushing. I will post a separate blog on the actual tips that I've learned and the things that I have found that have instantly improved my running game. But, for now, I wanted to introduce a little history on my experience with Madden. Show that I have played other NFL console games and enjoy how they provide an easier running game and show how frustrating I get when I can't run the ball. And, also as I pointed out, the AI can be a bit unrealistic. There have been other plays where I have had a safey come flying over from the weak side of the formation, and tackle my RB in the backfield when I'm tossing to the strong side!! Unbelieveable. But, I'm hoping that this site can provide the know-how to start dominating on the ground and moving LT to the top of the league leaders in rushing yards, yards per carry, TD's, and broken tackles...where he belongs!! Yeowwwww...LT is going to dominate the field and pound the rock boooyeee

Some Thoughts on Roster Changes, Additions, & Substitutions

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1. MA talks a lot about setting up your formation for better blocking. For example; moving a TE to the weak side to block, or as I just learned, motioning a WR and then snapping the ball just as he is in position to make a key block. So, I will be looking over the run and pass block ratings of my wideouts and then using the formation substitution screen to set up some formations that may catch the defense off guard and improve my running play. :-) Sounds easy, but we'll see..

2. I've been doing a lot better with laying off of the speed button. As most guides state, the secret to running effectively is to only use the speed burst button when you break into the open field. Using it when in the pocket or before you get past the line of scrimmage only makes it more difficult to control your running back. And, most of the time, I run right into the defenders because it's harder to control. Also, a really bad habit I had was using the speed button immediately after taking the handoff, and then spinning or juking. So, now I'm running way too fast so I am already having a hard time trying to control the player. But, now I throw in some trick moves and it makes it impossible to manuveur him. So, laying off the speed burst button is the BEST advice in starting to improve your running game.

3. To compliment the 1st topic, I am going to start using my rookie FB Kaliipii (sp) #16 for most of the I-form formations. This guy is leading my whole team in pancakes and is really a great run blocker. I also have McCreary on FB, who has a higher run/pass block rating, but doesn't perform as well. The stats don't lie, so, I think the rookie will be starting. I also picked up another TE with a high run/pass block rating and I'm curious as to how good he will be in action. I'm going to use the substitute screen to put him in for a wide receiver and then audible out of a passplay to a running play to see if the blocks will set up nicely. For example, I could have a singleback 3WR set and have my TE line up on the left slot receiver position. Then, when I audible to either an I formation or singleback Big plan it so that he is in a prime position to do some effective blocking for my main man LT. If I get Gates and FB #16 in there, it could get nasty and I'll be picking up 10 to 15 yards per carry!

4. Just a couple quick notes on MA:
  • Check out the wr misdirection play from the Indy, Giants, or TB playbooks.
  • Check out the OLB Fire 3 from the 4-3 defensive playbook. stops the above play

Running the ball in Madden 2005

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Ok, now the ground game is working

Over the weekend I had a couple games where I ran for 100 yards or more. After buying the Madden Authority war room and checking out some videos on VGSports Inc. virtual playbook, I have learned how to set up better blocking for my running plays. Also, I have picked up players that have a high run block rating. This seems to help tremendously. During this past off-season, I picked up a TE Beverly who is awesome at holding defenders and opening up the running lane. My rookie FB #16 is developing into a nice run blocker and also has great power for picking up those tough yards on 3rd and short and also at the goal line. But, I'm so relieved to finally be able to have a decent, consistent running game. In the past, my running game wasn't terrible. But, it wasn't consistent. Some games I'd have good success (or luck) and break some nice 20 or 30 yard runs. Or pick up the bulk of my rushing yards on one long yardage play. (break through the line and into the open field for a 75 yard TD run). Although those plays are nice, it sucks to carry the ball 10 times and get 1 successful run. Most of the time, as I've mentioned before, I get Al Michaels stating, "dropped in the backfield for a short loss". But, hopefully, those days of getting pounded behind the line of scrimmage are over; at least for the most part. I know once in a while I'll still call a bad play and get sacked, or tackled for a loss. But, my rushing game is breaking out! It seems that blocking is the key to successful running in Madden. The D-line and linebackers are incredibly fast and aware in Madden 05 and there is no way to beat them with just a FB and your RB. I find that calling plays like the HB toss and then having the the left/right Guard, and two TE's blocking works very well. And, if I throw a FB in, even better. Some of the plays I've been having success with are; Single-back twin TE WR - HB toss strong side. This play has Beverly and Gates both blocking on the strong side. At the beginning of the season, I was starting my rookie favorite, Keliikipi #16 at FB (sp) because, even though McCreary's rating are better, West just seems to perform better on the field. Especially in the power dept. he breaks through tackles no problem and was raking up pancackes in the pre-season position battle. But, McCreary does have higher run blocking ratings that he does. So, I may go back to starting him at FB for most formations. Then sub in #16 occasionally. But, with the FB blocking and then a TE or two, call a sweep or toss play and pick up a quick 9 or 10 yards. These are the plays that I just didn't have before. And, they also set up the passing game and open up the middle of the field for an occasional run up the gut or off tackle rush. But, it's a relief. It has been frustrating trying to play this game and finding it almost impossible to run the ball. I would say that sometimes during the game; it's IMPOSSIBLE to run the damn ball. But, it's about patience too. Looking back at my track record, I would call way too many running plays that were just destined to fail. I would see the whole D-line shift to the side I was running and still try to run. I would run right into linebackers, defensive tackles, and even defensive backs by mashing the speed button the moment I got the ball. Laying off the speed button is the best thing I did to improve my running game. For some reason, the player just moves better and easier when you are not pressing and holding the button. He can break tackles easier, stiff arm, juke, and dive for extra yards. But, when holding that speed button, it seems he will just run directly into defenders all game long. So, this is been making my Madden experience a whole lot more enjoyable. It's nice to be able to be competitive in the standings and stat leaders. LT has 5 rushing td's already and my QB River's has about 7 TD passes. So, my offense is on fire. I also extended the periods to 6 minutes, mostly in an attempt to negate those period-long drives that the CPU would manufacture. Man, that's aggrevating. The CPU would get the 3rd quarter kick off and start off on their own 20 and take up the whole period (almost exactly the whole period) and drive down the field and score. I would rather they just came out and threw a long bomb and scored right away, instead of taking 5 minutes to do so. I would stop them on 1st and 2nd down only to have them convert on every third down opportunity. How frustrating! Even Madden says so himself, "it drives a defense crazy..." And, it's always the same. The march down to the red zone. Then, the 3rd quarter ends and on the very next play, 1st of the 4th quarter, they score! Damn. :-) So, I extended the period length to try and counter this. And, it has helped out. I also do the period-long drive dance with my offense (drive: 71 yards, 5 minutes 34 seconds) So, this way it gives each team more time of possesion. OK, I think I'll close here and try to get in some MA while it's quiet. I'll post more later and maybe even try to keep track of some of my stats or something to see how my offensive game improves (or declines) :-0

Ray 'pound the rock' Webster

New Xbox and NCAA 2005

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When I bought my new Xbox last November (or October) it came with 2 free games. The games were both on the same disc; Top Spin and EA Sports NCAA 2005. I would never have played NCAA 2005 if I didn't get it for free with the system. I did try Top Spin before and was very impressed. For a tennis game, it's really good. The graphics are stunning, the gameplay is surprisingly fun and it's online capabilities made it an immediate success. But, this post is about the NCAA series. So, one Saturday morning (it's weekend mornings that I usually play new games or try something different since I have more time) I decide to pop NCAA 2005 in and check it out. First thing I noticed is that it very closely resembled it's big brother counterpart; Madded NFL 2005. It had been years since I played a console football game. Naturally, since I grew up in the video game console era along with Sega Genesis, Nintendo, etc, I had heard of Madden NFL football and even played it a few times years ago. I recall one weekend staying in all day and charging through a whole 17 game season just so I could get to the Superbowl. In those days you couldn't simulate the games? Which is pretty strange now that I think of it. It was on Sega Genesis and I believe I was playing Madden 94 or 93. Either way, that was the last time I played Madden (except for one brief game on PC for Madden 02). When I first got into gaming about a year and a half ago, ESPN NFL 2K5 was the first football game I played. I really enjoyed it and thought the graphics were awesome. The presentation was amazing and the gameplay was enjoyable, exciting, and very rewarding. You can see that I really liked this game. I played a bunch of seasons, won Super Bowls, created my own team, etc. etc. I really got my $20.00 worth out of this game. I had seen Madden advertised a lot so I finally decided I'd give it a try. Mainly because I would see a lot of controversy in the message boards about which game was better; Madden or 2K5. I rented Madden and immediately was turned off by the poor graphics, less than impressive presentation (at least compared to ESPN's) and arcadey gameplay style. I don't even think I finished a game before I turned it off and went back to ESPN's NFL 2k5!! So, you can imagine my surprise when I started playing NCAA 2005 that morning and found myself having a lot of fun. Like I said, the gameplay was very similiar to that of Madden, so it was sort of acardey and seemed archaic compared to NFL 2k5. But, the more I played, the more I began to appreciate it. I even started to see the graphics, player models, animations as being pretty good. They didn't appear to be as bad as they did when I first saw them. One of things that I didn't like about NCAA 2005, was there are no names to the players. Because these players are college students, game developers are not authorized to use their names. However, the virtual players usually have the same jersey numbers as their real life counterparts. And also have the same physical dimensions as well as statistic ratings. So, all but the names are accurate. However, this was a turn off to me as I enjoy following a players stats through the season and it wasn't as exciting playing with WR #28. Not the same as having Randy Moss lining up in the FL position. So, I rented Madden again. And, this time, everything opened up for me and I began to appreciate the game and see it the way millions of other Madden fans did. It really was a good game; gameplay is solid. The playbooks and formations are very accurate and give a sim-like quality to the game. And, a big thing, is the passing game was much easier to execute. As much as I enjoyed NFL 2K5 and thought it had the best grahpics, presentation, sound, etc. It drove me crazy that the passing was so hard. And, it was normal to throw 3 or 4 interceptions a game. So, being able to pass consistently was a huge part of why I liked Madden so much. But, I'm getting way off the point that I wanted to make in this blog. So, let me speed things up and get away from a NFL 2k5 vs. Madden thing. But, just to finish off about Madden, I really ended up getting into the game. I played a bunch of seasons with the patriots winning two SuperBowls and then started a Dynasty Mode with the Chargers where I'm currently in the 4th season. I've imported the NCAA draft class 3 times now so I have Leinart, Bush, Rolle, Williams, etc all in the NFL. I drafted Reggie McNeal, Kejuan Jones, and some good defensive players. I started playing NCAA on weekend mornings working on a dynasty. I found that running the ball is fairly easy and a consistent way to gain yards. But, I found out also, to my dismay, that passing the ball was damn near impossible and a very frustrating experience! From reading the message boards I learned there was some sort of wide receiver glitch, where WR's would just drop the ball all the time. I didn't matter if they were good players, composed, in coverage, etc. They would drop perfectly placed passes. In many instances, the ball would actually bounce off of their hands!! OMG, this was a very tough thing to deal with while trying to enjoy a game. But, because I was Intrigued by the game, and really enjoyed alot of the aspects of it; running the option was fun, I liked the ability to use my players in this game and then export his likeness into Madden and then use him there in a different context and see how he measured up in the different leagues. But, trying to deal with that awful glitch was rough. And, not only did the wideouts drop passes constantly, but the passing mechanics themselves were terrible. There was another glitch called the beach ball effect where the football would actually look and move like a beach ball when it was deflected or tipped. Also, when you threw a pass, the ball moved way too slow giving any defender on the field ample time to react to it. By the time the ball reached the receiver, the whole secondary would be surrounding him. There were many good features in the game, but passing was certainly not one of them. The weird thing is, I would occasionally have games where the passing game would just 'work' great. Passes were caught, the ball moved well and receivers were open. But, it didn't happen enough. Now enter NCAA 2006. All the things that made the passing game terrible in 2005 have been fixed and there is a whole new feel to it. The ball moves much faster, receivers don't drop nearly as many passes (although, I would like to note, they still drop more than I feel is realistic?), and route running has improved. Meaning, the receivers actually get open from time to time. Not only has the passing game improved, the overall look of the game and the presentation have been improved on and polished. The players models look great and a whole bunch of new tackling, running, and catching animations have been added which really make the game come to life. This game really captures the excitement and drama of college football. Turnovers are well timed (nothing like coughing up the ball in the redzone to blow a 14-10 lead in the 4th quarter. Just ask me, I did it this morning). The AI provides a good challenge when your playing a top ranked team. The stadiums look fantastic as well as the in game cut scenes like the coach yelling at an official when a penalty is called. And, the new player celebrations are awesome. Some of them are really funny. There's one where the player holds the football as if it's a phone, makes like he's dialing a number and then puts the football to his ear like he's talking on the phone. It's halarious. Another end zone celebration has the player going to spike the ball only to act as if the ball is stuck to his hand. He then goes on to try and pry the ball off his hand with his foot. It's fun stuff. Overall, NCAA 2006 improved on so many areas of the game that it feels like a completely new game. And, while your playing it, it certainly does feel different. It's more fun, it's easier to make play action passes (which were very difficult in 2005. Most of the time your qb was sacked before he could even complete the fake handoff). The deep pass works a little too well, and some scrambling quarterbacks are ripping it up online pissing people off. But, I don't usually play online, so I'm not too worried about it. A new feature that I've enjoyed is the inclusion of Impact Players. Each team has at least two and up to four. These are the players that can really make an impact on the game. Make the big play that will turn the game in his team's favor. Make a big interception, force a fumble, break through the line and into the secondary for the huge first down. Reel in the long pass. The players are designated on field by a pulsating icon which pulsates faster if they are 'In the Zone'. While in this mode, they are more likely to make the big play, and if they do, the camera will pan in for a close up, the game pauses for a split second, and then the camera pans back out and you regain control over your player. I've seen some people complain about this, but I sort of like it. It adds to the excitement and only happens once or twice a game. So, it makes you feel like you actually are seeing a game breaking play. For example, the camera will focus in on your running back throwing a stiff arm to the line backer, and then break free from the tackle and gain an extra 4 or 5 yards. I think it's a nice touch. Another cool new feature, and the big one that they are advertising is Race for the Heisman. In this game mode, you are a freshman recruit in your first year of college ball and your goal; win the Heisman trophy before you graduate. You go through a couple drills (depending on the position  you want to play) and your players attributes are set depending on how well you perform in the drill. You are then presented with a list of colleges that are offering scholarships to you. You can select one of these schools, or walk on to any campus in the nation. Either way, you start off on your college career and you are set in a dorm room where you keep track of your stats, fan mail, newsletter, trophies, schedule, and more. As you progress through the seasons, your dorm room gets bigger and better and, depending on your on field performance, your players begins to develop into a NCAA superstar. You can check your Heisman Hype meter which gets more full as you pile up the stats. It's a unique experience and a nice change of pace from the traditional dynasty/franschise mode that has been the dominating mode in all sports games for the past decade. And, from what I hear, Madden 2006 is going to expand on this and you'll be able to send your NCAA 2006 Heisman trophy winning star to the NFL draft. And, then follow him as he begins his NFL career. This is really cool and I think it's one of the most interesting, exciting new gameplay modes to be introduced in a sports game in years.

Been a while: Now let's talk about 2k6 NHL and NBA

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I haven't posted here in a while. I drifted over to blogger.com and then ign.com. So, I forgot about my little space here. It's funny, I was just reading my old blogs from last year and everything is about 2k5 games. NFL, NBA, NHL 2k5 all seemed to be taking all my gaming time. Well, guess what! Now, it's the 2K6 series that's taking all my time; sans the NFL game because of an EA Sports and NFL deal that was inked over the off season. But, that's probably a good thing because between NHL and the NBA games, I've got my hands full. What a couple of amazing games and both with great new features, updated graphics, and just overall better gameplay. Let's start with the NHL title. Let me start by saying that this is BY FAR the best hockey game I've ever played. Even better than 2K5, which, until 2K6 was released, was the best hockey game I'd ever played! LOL. But, it's only natural that the new release of the most successful NHL console game would improve on an already winning formula. This formula; great gameplay, stunning/realistic graphics, hundreds of new animations which look amazing, and new features to really give the gamer total control over the players on the ice. Hence the title of the new passing feature in NHL 2K6; Pro Control System. This is the best thing to be added to a hockey game since icon passing. Actually, that's basically what it is, icon passing. But, a more robust and complete version. With the new Pro Control System, you click the right thumbstick and this brings up an icon for each player on your team. To pass the puck to a player, simply press his corresponding icon (either A, B, X, Y, black, or white buttons). This makes for pin point accurate passes. Which I absolutely love. I can't count how many times I've tried to pass to a teammate who is open streaking down the left wing only to have my pass go to the wrong guy! Not anymore, with Pro Control icon passing, your pass goes directly to the player who's icon you press. But, that's only the tip of the iceberg with this new system. Where Pro Control really shines is cycling around the puck and setting up for some really highlight material goals. Not only can you press the player's icon who you want to pass to, but you can queue up passes by pressing additional players icons. For example, I could press white, B, and the Y in rapid succession and the puck would then go, in order, to these players. Never before was puck movement so easy nor so graceful. It's not only a good idea, but it actually works great and is implemented very well. But, there's more. The best part of this, is you can have the player take a one-time shot by double tapping his icon. This really creates some stunning goals when done right. You can cycle the puck around, find the open man, double tap his icon and when he gets the puck, he'll immediately take the one-time shot. This works wonders on the power play. You can send the puck from the wing, to the point, and then back to the opposite wing and finally to the front of the net for a one-timer with seamless, rapid, graceful accuracey. It really makes the game come alive and makes for an authentic NHL experience. In the hopes of making this blog a bit shorter I'll stop focusing on such small details and try to just give the big picture. Other new features include Enforcers which I really enjoy. These are the big men, the goons as they are referred to in the hockey world, who protect your star players and start fights when your team starts to lose momentum. I feel that this is a nice touch and a great attempt at bringing more authenticity to the game. The NHL is full of these types of players and it's nice to see them get some recognition. We always see the big time scorers getting noticed and the playmakers. But, what about the grunts, the fighters, the guys who sweat it out night after night and live under the shadow of the playmakers. The ones who make it possible for guys like Fedorov, Roenick, Palffy to look good. 2K Sports implemented it fairly well and it is an enjoyable aspect of the game. The enforcers, each team usually has about 2 or 3, are designated on ice by a red 'E'. They can get away with a lot more rough play than your other players (slashing, roughing, tripping, etc) and can actually intimidate an opposing players. This is pretty cool. If you constantly nag an oppossing player with your enforcer he may get intimidated which is indicated by a blue 'I' around the player. And, he'll actually suffer a drop in his ratings, mostly speed. So, it actually can have an affect on the gameplay. I like it. And, it gives me a chance to use players that I would otherwise overlook; Carlton Orr, Eric Belanger, good 'ol Rob Ray!! PJ Stock. and more. Also new this year is the On-the-Fly Coaching system. This allows you to change your style of play on offense and defense at anytime during the game. There are four different play styles that can be called for each offense and defense. This can be done by simply pressing the directional pad in either direction. For example, on offense press the directional pad up to have your players Crash the Net. Down will put your team in a Defensive Pinch or left will call for Help and right will Screen the Goalie. I've found that these work fairly well. I like the extra control and it creates more scoring opportunities. NHL 2k6 is a better game all around. One big change is the commentators. No longer do we have Bill Clement and Gary Thorne (who I enjoyed) but now we have longtimers Bob Cole and Harry Neale; the announcers from Hockey Night in Canada. Although they seem less lively and a bit boring, they do a good job and they grow on you. The down side is the commentary is mostly the same from last year. So, after playing last  year's game and hearing all the lines and phrases from Gary and Bill, it seems really scripted to be hearing it all over again from different people. I mean, you know for a fact they are reading it off a script. And that takes away the 'excitement' a bit. However, there is a fair amount of new content. But, since they changed the announcers, I really feel they should have scrapped all the old commentary and created new stuff for the new team. Oh well, that is probably my biggest gripe about the game. There are some weird glitches that pop up here and there. I once played a game where my goalie had half a mask! It was strange. But, it only has happened one time out of like 170 games. So, it's not a big deal. I had a season glitch during franchise mode where the stats got all screwy and messed up. The top 5 scorers were all the same player. People had like 35 goals in the first two weeks of the season. But, I ditched that franchise, started a new one (with roster updates, but no created players) and have had no problems since. There seems to be no lingering issues with injuries either. Last year, if players got injured, the CPU controlled teams did not adjust their lines properly and the game would literally feeze before a game. I would have to turn my Xbox off to get out of the freeze. It was terrible. You'd be nearing the end of the season, getting psyched up about the playoffs and BAM! your season would be over because of a glitch. Thankfully, someone came up with a tedious, but successful, way to fix this and allow you to continue with your season. Thank God, because I was able to get like 3 years into my franchise mode which was nice. Well, this is getting lengthy and I wanted to write a bit about the NBA game as well. I pretty much covered all the new features. And, I think I made my point in stating that this is a much improved version of 2k5. Don't believe people that say it's just like playing NHL 2k5 with roster updates. It's a new experience, with new graphics, animations, and gameplay features. It is FAR worth the 19.99 price tag. In fact, I would've gladly paid $50.00 for such a solid, enjoyable game.
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