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After the sudden cancelation of NBA Elite 11 back in October 2010, fans of the National Basketball Association only had one franchise to choose from: 2K Sports' NBA 2K series. Thankfully, 2K's brand of basketball is viewed as one of the best sports franchises on the market, and that distinction probably won't change in the near future, unless EA takes some significant risks with its basketball franchise. Tiburon and EA Sports are under a lot of pressure to deliver a solid basketball game that will not only compete with 2K down the road, but also surpass it.
For the future EA NBA game to work and become the de facto basketball game on the market, it has to "borrow" elements from other sports games. Even though development shifted from its Vancouver studios to Tiburon in Florida, those working on EA NBA need to look at what has made both NHL and FIFA EA's marquee sports titles. Both games do a fantastic job of delivering an authentic presentation with excellent commentary, stadium design, player animations, and more. Those games not only make players feel as though they are playing a realistic-looking sports game, but they can also fool a bystander into thinking it's a real event by focusing on presentation.
Basketball broadcasts are flashy because, perhaps, the sport is fast paced and its athletes are celebrities. Even if you don't follow the sport regularly, you could probably identify a number of basketball players, current or retires. While 2K has recently focused on celebrating the past, EA should focus on the present by ensuring that players are properly replicated in the game. This means every aspect of a player's movements on and off the court should play out as they would in a real game. While 2K has done a great job of replicating player shooting animations, other aspects, such as off-the-ball reactions, movements (both on the court and on the bench), and other details, disconnect the gamer from the real experience. If a player has a particular running motion while playing, the same movements should be in game. EA needs to take advantage of this and make sure that it brings extra attention to these facets of the sport.
And EA shouldn't just focus on NBA players either. Basketball is a global sport and EA needs to embrace this fact. Previous NBA Live games have included national teams, but why not include full Euroleague support? There are a lot of great basketball players in Spain, Italy, Russia, and other European countries so giving fans extra teams and modes could be quite interesting. Basketball matches in Europe are mostly held in smaller arenas that give off an intimate but intimidating feel. Scores are usually close, and in basketball-centric countries, like Greece and Serbia, fans take the support of their teams and hatred of their opposition to a whole different level.
Indeed, the Euroleague is an interesting concept where 24 of the continent's best basketball clubs play against each other. They start off in four groups of six and play against each other in a round-robin format. Then, the top four in each group are thrown into four additional groups of four, with the top two advancing to the play-offs. All are vying for a place in the Euroleague Final Four, which is held in a different European city every year. A lot of great European players make their mark in this league and the matches are almost always tightly contested. At the same time, this opens the door for EA to break into the European market, and the inclusion of European clubs would help it stand apart from NBA 2K.
Here's another reason to include foreign teams: Ultimate Team mode. EA has proven how popular this mode is during the past few years. It originally started as paid downloadable content, but now, every professional team sports game includes the mode from day one. FIFA has it. NHL has it. Even Madden has its own version. Because the NBA's roster of players is the smallest of the professional sports in North America, foreign leagues would help flesh it out. Again, this is something that no basketball game does, including 2K, which would give EA's version of the sport a much needed advantage.
Although we've pointed out some of the features that should be included in the upcoming EA NBA game, the most important thing that needs to be addressed is the actual gameplay. EA needs to ensure the game is authentic to the sport and simultaneously easy to pick up and play. Past Live games did a fine job with the right analog stick for dribbling, which gave players more control with crossovers, back steps, and other moves. If EA wants to incorporate the right analog stick for shooting, like NBA 2K, then EA needs to ensure that players have the ability to do both right-analog and button-pressing shooting without needing to go into a menu to change mid-game. In NBA JAM: On Fire Edition, a recently released EA arcade basketball game, shooting and controls worked extremely well and could be used to the same degree. Obviously, some adjustments need to be made to accommodate 360-degree movements, but in the right hands, this issue shouldn't be that difficult to overcome.
We don't know much regarding the next EA NBA game, other than the fact that one will eventually make its way onto store shelves. In any case, whatever EA decides to do with its basketball game, the most important thing is for EA not to rush to release a game just to have one to release. At the same time, it needs to accept that its basketball game won't immediately dethrone NBA 2K because EA is in catch-up mode. If EA does bring basketball fans something fresh and different, it will help set the foundation for future releases and give EA an opportunity to get back into the game.
During the midlife period of the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, EA Sports released numerous titles as part of its EA Big brand of games. NBA Street was probably the most popular, and its success spawned various other Street-branded games, including three FIFA Street games. It has been more than three years since the release of FIFA Street 3, but the series is making a return in 2012, and it is going in a very different direction. While this is street footie, it doesn't convey the over-the-top style of the past. We had the opportunity to fool around with the game and see the changes that have been made to the series.
From the first moment you step onto the pitch, you can see that this game takes a very different approach from previous games. Gone are the cartoony-looking players, crazy animations, and goal-scoring absurdities that were available in the past. This is how the sport would look and play on the streets. Players feel as they would while playing on a grass pitch, but now, they're playing on different street venues and reacting to the solid ground. While the wall is still your friend, you won't see these players running Matrix-style to avoid defenders, and scoring a goal from your own end won't be easy; it's possible but quite hard to pull off.
But that's not to say that this is just regular soccer played on the pavement. Players can still perform nutmegs, dummy moves, and dribbles to fool the opposition, but these are moves that anyone with proper dribbling skills can perform in real life. Performing these moves works in a number of different ways. Your right analog stick is used to perform the most basic of actions: shimming left or right, doing stopovers, and other similar actions. But when you begin to incorporate the left and right triggers, the players can perform different actions. Your left trigger acts as a brake; the player will stay in position and his play with the ball will react accordingly. Conversely, the right trigger is your sprint, and when coupled with movements made with the right analog stick, players will begin to perform more complex actions. When done correctly, these can leave a defender stuck in place.
On top of changing the way in which the game plays, a number of different modes and game types will be included. Match types include the classic three-a-side matches with no keeper and smaller nets, as well as five-a-side futsal matches. There's even a Last Man Standing mode available that has an interesting aspect to it: Every time your team scores, you lose a player. Thus, the goal is to be the first team without any players left.
For those who enjoy street footie but weren't too keen on the over-the-top action of previous FIFA Street games, this version may be for you. With a more realistic approach to the sport, FIFA Street may appeal to a much wider audience, and its ease of entry will entice people to quickly pick up a controller and begin playing. We expect to see more FIFA Street before it hits both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox Live in early 2012.
When EA Sports revealed that NFL Blitz would be making its return to consoles a few weeks ago, we were unsure as to how much of what made the series so enjoyable would return. After finally getting around to sitting with the game, we found that it felt like classic Blitz, but at the same time, it gave off the impression of something different.
We quickly jumped into a match and began to see the similarities and differences. Players look like their real-life counterparts, and the way in which they move and react falls in line with previous games. Animations are somewhat over the top, but even with the removal of late hits (when tackles and in-air collisions occur), the animations look cool and players appear to be injured after taking that hit. There are a lot of cool moves that you'll be able to pull off, and when you manage to get your offense or defense "On Fire," your foes better be careful. Tim Kitzrow will also be lending his voice to NFL Blitz, so those who loved his brand of over-the-top commentary in NBA Jam will be in for quite a treat. Although our time with the game was limited, the audio was great. The only real gripe we had with the commentary was Kitzrow's referral to the Seattle Seahawks stadium as Qwest Field, which is a name that was changed back in the summer.
As you might expect, the action on the field has a lot of variety to it. On offense, you'll have two pages of play selections that range from quick, short-ranged passes to long bombs. While these long throw situations leave your quarterback vulnerable, if the pass connects, your opposition won’t be able to stop you from scoring. Defense isn't that in depth, but considering this is Blitz, chances are you're going to rush all you can and hope to snag a fumble or interception in the process. The playbooks appear to be the same for all teams, so the team you select and your own skill will determine your success. Thankfully, one of the game's online elite leagues will let you customize your teams to a greater degree, ensuring more balanced matches.
There isn't much to learn in regard to the controls. Each action has its own specific button: Triggers are used to sprint faster, one button is used for passing, and one button is used for jukes. It won't take someone long to adjust to the controls and begin scoring. There will different control setups for those who want to change things up, including the ability to shift to either a Blitz or Arcade control choice.
Our time with Blitz was brief. We didn't have the opportunity to experience firsthand any of the other meatier modes included in the game. We did, however, briefly catch a glimpse of others playing the Gauntlet mode, which has you play against real NFL teams and some Blitz-specific teams. This ladder-like mode seems pretty standard, and it should be fun to unlock the specialty teams for online use. NFL Blitz makes it triumphant return this January and will be available on both Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.
When NBA 2K12 was released in early October, the highlight mode of the game was without a doubt NBA's Greatest. The mode gave basketball fans the opportunity to play with some of the best teams ever to grace the hard court. But what was missing was the ability to have the best players play against each other for court supremacy. That all changes with the upcoming release of the Legends Showcase, which is a downloadable content pack that will not only let you play as some of the greatest NBA players of all time, but also gives you the opportunity to see which duos and eras had the best athletes.
There will be five modes available in the Legends Showcase. If you just want to pick up and play one-versus-one or five-versus-five matches with the best of the best, the pick-up game option will let you do so. For one-versus-one, two-versus-two, and three-versus-three games, the matches will have you play half court with street-ball rules. For the unfamiliar, that typically means all baskets are worth one point except for threes, which are worth two; you need to clear the three-point line if the ball hits the rim; and you need to win by two points. If you play a four-versus-four or five-versus-five game, then you revert back to the standard full-court play but still retain the rules of the street.
The greatest players aren't limited to simple pick up and play as there are two modes focused on ending the debate. The first is the Teammate Challenge where 15 of the best NBA teammate combos ever to grace the NBA face off against each other. You'll have pairings like Alonzo Morning and Larry Johnson of the Hornets; Shaq and Penny from the Magic; and even Pippen and Jordan. You pick the pairing that you like and then face off against the 14 others to claim the title of best duo.
For those who may want to see which era had the best players, the Era Challenge mode provides the answer. Here, teams of three consist of the best players from a given decade. If you're a fan of the '80s, then your team of Isiah Thomas, Patrick Ewing, and Larry Bird will face off against other teams. Here, there are 10 teams to choose from, with two from each decade up to the present.
While the teams and players in the Teammate Challenge aren't exactly balanced, in Era Challenge, the developers chose teams to that ensure one big man, one forward, and one guard is included in each. This balance means that each of the 10 teams available should be able to contend with the others.
The remaining two modes give you the opportunity to play games that are familiar to the street basketball scene. Game of 21 is the standard game that so many basketball players have been playing since their youth. Here, up to four NBA players can get into it with standard rules: shoot for first, sink winning shot or drop back to 11, and so forth. The last mode available will probably be the most competitive: Horse. This is the game of showing off: sink that difficult shot and try to see if your opponent can copy it. If he sinks it, you try the next challenging shot, but if he misses it, then he gets a letter; the first to spell horse loses. Here, you'll be able to attempt a number of different and crazy shots, and the environment in which you're in can alter the ease or difficulty of the shot. Feel like shooting a granny shot from the three-point line? Then do so. Want to sink a basket from 90 feet out? Good luck.
In Horse, you first pick your spot from where you want to attempt the shot. Upon picking your spot, you'll have a number of different shot choices to choose from; the closer you are to the basket, the more options you'll have available. Once the shot type has been chosen, it's time to set up the shot, which means the arc of your throw. Arc will be extremely important especially if you're throwing over an obstacle or from a far distance. Once that's done, then you attempt to sink that basket. Here, you are given a quick glance at the shot's "sweet spot." This marker will briefly appear and then disappear with a basketball that floats along the arc path of your shot. If you manage to stop the ball at the sweet spot, the likelihood of sinking the basket is almost ensured; if you miss it, the shot will be missed.
Of the modes, Horse should be the most interesting to play with others but also the most challenging. It takes a while to get used to the proper arc placement and timing required to sink the basket. But thankfully, the great number of secret spots to take your shot can lead to some really fun situations.
NBA 2K12's Legends Showcase will be a strictly offline affair but will allow for up to four players to take part in the festivities. While there is no online aspect, the DLC will include the ability to play the current NBA's Greatest teams from the game and play them in online quickplay, which is something a lot of fans want. Expect the Legends Showcase to be available this holiday season on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
With EA Sports having brought back the NBA JAM franchise, a lot of talk was rumbling around as to whether it would resurrect another popular arcade series of the late '90s: NFL Blitz. Well, this January, EA Tiburon is bringing NFL Blitz to consoles, and we had the opportunity to talk to designer Yuri Bialsokursky who gave us some information as to what fans can expect.
EA's take on NFL Blitz isn't going to shy away from the classic gameplay that so many people spent quarters on in the arcades. You're still going to have two-minute quarters, no penalties with big hits, and other crazy actions in between. This will be the same frantic action from the past but with tons of modes to play with and sharper visuals. Even Tim Kitzrow will be doing commentary, and this time, he's joined by actor-comedian Brian Haley to do color. Expect the pair to be quite crazy and add an extra layer of enjoyment to every match. Of course, while EA is looking to keep the core mechanics that made NFL Blitz so popular, it is also hoping that the new additions will bring in other gamers to the fold.
For those who simply want to play on their own, the game's Gauntlet mode will let you create a fantasy team. Then you can play against the rest of the league and even fantasy boss teams on your way to league supremacy. Battles against boss teams will take place in the Blitz Coliseum and feature power-ups that will alter the course of the game. Defeating boss teams will unlock a cheat code, which allows you to use it in all other modes.
But where NFL Blitz really looks to shine is its focus on numerous online modes. Of course, if you simply want to play standard matches against others, you can do so, but co-op play both locally and online will be offered. Grab a friend and play together on the couch against others, or if you want, you can partner up with one of your online friends to challenge another group of players.
Other online modes include Blitz Battles. Here, you begin by selecting your team of choice and your location. Once you've chosen, you're put into a local battle board and face off against other NFL Blitz players in your area. Within the local battle board, there are four tiers: rookie, pro, veteran, and elite. Playing matches will earn you ranking points. Then based on your performance and upon reaching the top of the current tier, you'll have the opportunity to play in a "rank up" match. Winning that match moves you up to the next tier and a new set of foes. After completing the local battle board, you'll move to a regional and then a national tier. And if you can go through and be among the very best there, you'll be awarded a spot in the Blitz Hall of Fame. You can even pair up with a friend and play together online, which is a cool addition to Blitz Battles. You'll share the glory, and it might make reaching the Hall of Fame a bit easier.
The last mode that online gamers will be able to take part in is called Elite League. The Elite League is similar to the Ultimate Team mode seen in EA's regular sports series. You'll begin with a starter deck of players and play against other elite teams. Your team is built on both the skills of players and how well they work as a team. If you have a team that consists of a lot of fast players, then your team's turbo meter will last significantly longer than another team's meter. As you develop your squad, you'll want to look for trends to ensure you have the best possible team.
All online modes give you the opportunity to earn Blitz bucks based on your performance, and these can be spent on a number of different unlockables, including the ability to purchase card packs that improve your team. Every card has a contract value associated with it, but collecting an entire team will allow you to trade it in for a noticeably better card. Trading in a team gets you a "pro" player who has two maxed rating stats and an infinite contract.
On top of that, if you have an entire complete division, you'll be able to trade it in for an "ultimate" player. There is only one ultimate player per position, and his stats are maxed out in all categories and he also has an infinite contract. Collecting all the cards will be quite a challenge because each team will have 12 cards to collect, but you'll be able to trade and wager cards with other players with the hope of completing your collection and developing that ultimate team.
NFL Blitz has been in development for well over a year, and the developers at EA Tiburon feel very confident that they are bringing back the series that so many people have loved. They hope that their brand of NFL Blitz action will appeal to all players and that the number of modes included, especially the focus with online, will keep people playing for long periods of time. With any luck, we'll have the chance to play around with NFL Blitz soon as its January launch on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network can't come soon enough.
Wrestling fans are a very dedicated group. They love the sport and expect a game that delivers the same experience they get when watching it on TV or seeing it in person. Earlier this year, THQ released WWE All Stars as its arcade-focused wrestling game and has decided to rework its fall release to deliver a more simulation-styled game. This year's WWE '12 looks to take the series in a new direction, and we had the opportunity to try it out for a bit. While there are a lot of changes coming to the series in November, this is what stood out to us.
The first thing that wrestling fans will notice is the way the presentation has been adjusted. WWE '12 changes things up with a number of improvements, ranging from better arena designs and player introductions to more engaging commentary, dynamic camera angles, and replays. This year, the camera presentation looks to replicate the actual TV broadcasts in a number of different ways. The camera placements now mirror those of the real WWE broadcasts, so the angle in which you are playing would be the same if you were watching a real match. The camera will also adjust and focus on different parts of the ring based on the actions on the screen; there will no longer be one static angle to watch. If the action moves to different parts of the ring, so will the camera.
Road to Wrestlemania is another area that will see changes. While last year's mode offered various stories to follow, this year, the mode is a bit more streamlined with three different scenarios played out in sequence. You'll begin your road as Sheamus and play the game through the eyes of a villain. After completing his storyline, you'll move on to play as Triple H and experience the life of a wrestler through his eyes as an outsider. Both of these plotlines will eventually lead to your own created character's path as the hero and your lead-up to Wrestlemania XXVIII. There is promise a lot of interesting situations, both in the ring and behind the scenes, which should keep the player engaged.
Previous WWE games have been known to offer a bevy of customization options, from characters to arena modifications, and this year will be no different. Character customization is expected to be even greater than in years past, with more options available to you so that you can create the wrestler you've always wanted to control. Other character customization options include a cool and easy-to-use entrance-theme generator that can be adjusted in a number of different ways. Your created character will no longer enter in a static or bare-bones way. Entrances range from simple to complex, and your wrestler will be able to enter the ring in a memorable fashion. Sharing and downloading additional characters and arenas will also be significantly easier. Fans can quickly fill up all of their available slots with other people's creations and have a WWE game that consists of more created characters than real ones.
THQ and Yuke's heard from the fans that their series was in need of a tune-up, and WWE '12 looks to address the issues yet still give fans an experience that mirrors the real thing. Adjustments are being made across the board so that longtime followers of the series may not initially recognize the game. At the same time, even if you haven't played a wrestling game in years, THQ and Yuke's hope that this year's release will not only entice you to play but that you also feel comfortable and have a lot of fun. The wait for wrestling fans to finally get their hands on WWE '12 isn't long because it arrives on the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on November 22.
Earlier this year, THQ released WWE All Stars on various consoles and brought back the days of arcade-style wrestling that haven't been seen in a long time. The game was popular enough that THQ has decided to release it on the Nintendo 3DS, and we had the opportunity to play around for a bit to experience what's in store this November.
The 3DS version retains everything you got to experience when it was released earlier this year. You'll get 30 WWE superstars, ranging from current wrestlers like Sheamus to greats like The Ultimate Warrior. If you grew up with wrestling in the '80s and '90s, then your favorite wrestler of the time is bound to appear. On top of that, the additional wrestlers that were originally offered only as downloadable content for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of game are available right from the get-go.
It would be one thing if this were just a straight-up port that was thrown together, but the 3DS version will include some additional modes not seen elsewhere. The first is Gauntlet mode. Here, the objective is to defeat every wrestler in the game in a ladder format with no breaks. If you finish off one opponent, prepare yourself for another one to immediately follow. Your character won't have his health replenished between matches, but there will be ways to regain health so that going through all these foes won't feel like a task that can't be completed.
The other addition to the 3DS version is Score Scramble mode. The objective in this mode is to earn the highest score possible. Here, either playing against the computer or a friend, you have requirements. You have to be the first to reach X number of points of the highest score after a certain amount of time. Because WWE All Stars is focused on over-the-top moves, pulling off combos and getting those flashy finishers and signature moves will get you the higher score, as well as the ability to gloat to your friends.
Again, everything that players got to experience earlier this year has been transferred to the 3DS. From crazy moves to classic WWE footage that showcases the greats from years past, there should be something that will appeal to any brand of wrestling fan. At the same time, because other fighting games have proven to be successful on the 3DS, THQ is hoping that this brand of high-flying and flash wrestling will see the same success. WWE All Stars slams the Nintendo 3DS on November 22.
Just got a quick e-mail from a friend over at CBS Sports regarding the recent talk swirling around about LeBron James perhaps signing with an NFL team. With the lockout currently ongoing, I guess LeBron would rather change sports than go play in Europe as other players have been considering.
CBS Sports' Will Brinsom took the time to create LeBron in Madden NFL 12. He gave him some reasonable stats and then simulated a match between the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins with James at tight end for the Browns. Be sure to click the link above and read in detail what he did to create LeBron James and how his stats compared with other positions, and check out the clip of him in action.
When you have something that is well received and popular among its core audience, it's only a matter of time before you try to branch out and hopefully appeal to an even wider audience. This is the case with 2K Sports: the company revealed that it's bringing its popular NBA 2K series to iOS. With NBA 2K12 launching on the iPod Touch and iPad alongside its console big brother, we had the opportunity to play around with it and see what mobile users can expect.
NBA 2K12 is surprisingly meaty, with a slew of different modes available. For those wanting to simply pick up and play a game, that option is available, but at the same time, those wanting to play through a regular season will have that opportunity as well. If you're the kind of gamer who doesn't care about the ups and downs of a regular season, then playing through the playoffs should satisfy those needs. Then there is Situation, a mode geared for those wanting a quick game, catered to their own preferences. Want to see how well you can erase a 10-point deficit with two minutes left in the game? With Situation, you can do that. You have control over how a game starts, and you can try to turn it around in your favor. Games can be as long or as short as you want, and the match possibilities are endless.
But that's not all 2K12 has to offer. Although this version won't feature the NBA Legends mode that's available on consoles, the Jordan Challenges from 2K11 will be included. As in that game, you'll have to complete tasks as Michael Jordan and his different Bulls teams; famous games such as The Shrug, The Flu, and even the Father's Day match against the Sonics are included. These should be quite challenging to complete, and they should keep basketball fans occupied whether they're playing on the bus on the way to work or relaxing on the sofa.
One of the most important issues approaching an iOS game is controls, and NBA 2K12 will feature two control options. The standard/classic controls use an onscreen D-pad; on the left side of the screen there will be a D-pad that can be used to move your players around the court. On the right side of the screen, depending on whether you're playing offense or defense, different onscreen options will be available. On the offensive side, you'll have pass, shoot, and even an alley-oop button, while on defense, there is change player, block, and steal attempt.
If the D-pad option isn't for you, the alternative, one-finger control option should be a fine way to play. The game will automatically control the movement of players on the court, and all you need to do is touch a respective player to pass him the ball or hold the current player to shoot. On defense, it works the same way; players will move automatically, and you have the ability to initiate steal attempts by tapping the corresponding attacking player or to block by swiping up on your own player. Surprisingly, both control options work well and can be switched during a game by adjusting them in the options menu. In some situations, you may want to have full control of your team, but other times you may feel like passively playing, and the one-finger controls let you play without having to be completely absorbed in the action on the screen.
Though the iPad is larger and has sharper visual capabilities, the iPad version is identical to the iPod Touch version in regard to features. Of course, with a larger screen, the control options are a bit friendlier on the iPad, but you can still play a mean game on your iPod Touch. Both games hit the App Store on Tuesday, October 4, with the iPad version costing $9.99 and the iPod Touch version being $4.99.
When you talk to the developers at EA Canada about the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network release, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, the first thing they address is value. They want to give basketball fans and loyalists of the series as much as possible without breaking the bank. Having had the opportunity to play around with the game before it launches, their statement rings true.
In terms of features, gamers will spend the majority of their time in Road Trip or in the Online Arena. Road Trip plays similarly to last year's Remix Tour, with a few modifications. Gone are the half-court games against legends or matches where you had to win a really odd-ball scenario. Again, the league is split up by division, but how you tackle the opposition is a bit more open. Teams all have three medals: bronze, silver, and gold. Defeating a team and earning the bronze medal unlocks their silver, and beating that unlocks gold. As you progress through these medals, the challenge gets tougher, so be prepared for some really difficult matchups. But the nice thing is that you can approach these in a number of ways. You don't have to win a bronze match against every team in a division to unlock the silver. If you beat the Timberwolves at bronze, you can jump right away to silver and try to win that match. The door is open as to how you decide to handle this mode. Once you complete gold, though, expect even more challenges, including a few surprise matchups.
If a meaty Road Trip mode, which also can be played cooperatively, isn't enough for you, then how about the additional treats that can be unlocked as you play? On Fire Edition doesn't have you win specific matches to unlock additional content. Instead, everything is unlocked using Jam bucks. These work two ways; for starters, they are the experience points you earn in every match you play, be it offline or online. Completing such objectives as performing a certain number of razzle-dazzles in a match, scoring a specific number of rebounds overall, and others will earn you jam bucks. Every win and loss also earns you jam bucks, so regardless of your play, you increase your jam level and obtain jam bucks to spend on treats. And you can spend them on a lot of available treats.
We're not just talking about cosmetic improvements to your NBA Jam gamertag. Yes, there are flag and city avatars, cool backgrounds, and even labels to unlock, but there is even more. There are gameplay modifiers, as well as a large number of unlockable players to purchase. But the really fun part comes in the number of different unlockable teams. Secret teams have been a staple in the NBA Jam franchise, and that holds true here. Yes, there are a few expected teams (Republicans and Democrats), but there will also be a number of surprises along the way. In all, expect there to be more than 25 secret teams available once all is said and done.
Jam bucks even work in the game's Online Arena. You can play against other people in head-to-head matches, and your performance will earn you additional bucks. On top of that, there are arena challenges that will improve your level. These include how many points your entire friends list gets in online matches, matches against others, and how you perform certain actions.
A cool aspect of the Online Arena is that the challenges reset every week. No longer will people feel like they don't stand a change against other players. Because the arena rewards reset, you can dominate one week and be a minnow the next, or vice versa. Again, there are so many cool challenges you'll encounter that coming back each week should offer something different and entice people to come back to see what new challenge awaits.
NBA Jam: On Fire Edition hits digitally next week, and with its value incentive features, fans of the series and those looking for a game that packs a lot of punch but costs less than a movie and popcorn should be in for quite a treat. Expect our full verdict shortly.
The inclusion of a personalized career in sports game is nothing new and has been around for ages, so developers need to find ways of changing things up to entice gamers to return to this mode. My Player, NBA 2K12's player career mode, is seeing quite a few changes and additions over last year. We had the opportunity to start a career in the NBA and begin our path to the Hall of Fame.
Upon beginning My Player, you will notice a number of changes when creating your virtual self. You'll be able to fine-tune your player with a slew of new additions, including more detailed shooting and movement animations, as well as more options for accessories or hairstyle choices. Your player progression has also been modified. With the inclusion of your standard attributes, which you can adjust as you play, new abilities have been added to give you the option of fine-tuning your play relative to the position you play on the court. Abilities allow your player to become much more individualistic, but they won't necessarily make you a beast because the AI will learn what abilities you have and do what it can to prevent you from dominating. Also, abilities cost significantly more skill points to improve, so you'll be required to save up before you can make your player a more central force. The changes from the first part of My Player go even further than simple cosmetic changes. Rather than going through a series of three pick-up games, which determined your draft order, this time, you'll only have to play in one big matchup and your performance will determine where you land. This predraft "prospects" game will have you still trying to wow GMs, but it won't be the ultimate factor that decides which team drafts you.
This year, a locker room predraft interview is included where three teams will sit down with you and ask a series of questions. You can get an idea on where you may be drafted by the teams you talk with because they will mention where they stand in the draft, but it goes even further. The questions will dynamically change based on your player's position, the city, the culture of the team, and the other players currently on the team. For example, our player was a point guard, and when we talked with the Washington Wizards, one of the questions dealt with not being the star player and having to play behind current Wizards' point guard, John Wall. There are four possible answers, and depending on what you choose, it may sway a team a certain way. The Knicks also interviewed us and when they asked about dealing with the pressure of constantly being scrutinized by the paparazzi and the city, we replied that we liked to keep our lives private. Thus, the Knicks felt that we wouldn't be a good fit as a member of the Knickerbockers. In addition to having a predraft question-and-answer period, the team at 2K Sports has taken the NBA draft to the next level. Re-creating the draft was a goal for 2K Sports in that it managed to not only include current NBA commissioner David Stern in the cinematics, but 2K also had him sit down to do actual commentary. While he won't be able to announce your name when it's finally your turn at the podium, this level of authenticity is quite a treat. Anxiously waiting to see which team drafts you is also quite exhilarating.
Having to play through an 82-game season is another issue that has been addressed. Now, if you don't feel like playing through an entire season, you can play only key matchups, which are based on your player's position, you team's standing, and team's rivalries. Being able to rush through a season allows you to play more seasons and is another addition to this year's game. The ultimate goal in My Player mode is to eventually reach the Hall of Fame, and within My Player, you will have a series of career objectives that will help determine if you are worthy of a place in Springfield, Massachusetts. These objectives are pretty standard stuff, from simple tasks like reaching the play-offs at least four times to more time-intensive requests like scoring over 10,000 points. But if you do reach the Hall of Fame, you'll be able to cater your acceptance speech so your entry is remembered for generations.
However, the inclusion of Hall of Fame objectives isn't just found in My Player. A mode also making an appearance this year is Create a Legend, which lets you take a current NBA player and help him reach the Hall of Fame. Like My Player, you'll take any current player, complete the same objectives, and improve your player as he progresses in the NBA. Some players, like Kobe Bryant or Dirk Nowitzki, probably already have a place in the Hall of Fame set aside for them, but if you're a fan of players who could be on the edge of greatness, you'll be able to take over their careers and help lead them to eternal greatness.
The sport of Rugby is a fantastic one to not only watch but also to play. For whatever reason, though, it is not as popular as it could be in North America. Yes, there are pockets of the continent that play the game, but it may never get regular coverage on cable outside of the World Cup, such as the one being held later this month. Mat Catz has partnered with Tru Blu Games to bring Rugby Challenge to North America this October, and it is hoping that with the upcoming Rugby World Cup, gamers here will want more of this glorious sport. We recently got the chance to see just how Western friendly the game is and spend some time with it.
One of the challenges facing a nontraditional Western sport in North America is the lack of knowledge. An ex-girlfriend of mine played rugby in high school, and we watched an international match live, so my knowledge of the sport is probably greater than most. Thankfully, Rugby Challenge not only includes a brief, two-minute clip detailing the basics of the sport, but it also has a fairly deep tutorial that has users learn the various aspects of the game.
A nice touch to the tutorial is the fact that the challenges are broken up into four difficulty levels. If you want to only learn the bare essentials, you can do so in as few as five minutes. But, if you want to learn everything, it should only take the average sports gamers about 30 minutes to complete all the tasks.
Although the game does a good job of underlying the core mechanics, it doesn't really touch upon the strategic elements of the sport. The sport of rugby may seem barbaric to the uninformed, but in fact, there is quite a bit of strategy. It isn't simply tossing the ball backward and trying to score a "try." There are so many different elements that are required to win. While the game doesn't really delve into the core strategy, it still offers enough content for people to easily pick up and play. But don't expect to compete with someone online from Australia or New Zealand and hope to win.
There are two rugby games being released this year, and what separates Rugby Challenge from its competitors will be its plethora of options, which are included in various competitions and the Career mode. While it may not have the license of the actual World Cup, it does have the exclusive rights to two of the most important rugby national sides in Australia and New Zealand. Also, the game contains a large number of leagues from around the world, including England's Aviva Premiership; France's Top 14; and the Rugby 15 (now called Super Rugby), which has the best domestic teams from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
It is nice that there are so many authentic teams, though the South African clubs are not included. But even with the number of real clubs, chances are that people in this part of the world won't know much, if anything, about them. This will probably be the biggest challenge the game will face in this part of the world. There are more than 20 national sides included, but outside of the two mentioned earlier, only the USA rugby side contains the actual players from the team. To address this issue slightly, the game includes a friendly Edit mode, and moving the real players from their clubs to the national side is fairly simple.
Fans of the game and those interested in learning more about it should definitely keep an eye out on Rugby Challenge as we approach its October release date on the Xbox 360. For even more information, be sure to check out all of the Australian coverage the game has already received.
About a month ago, we had the opportunity to talk to EA Canada regarding the upcoming Nintendo Wii release of FIFA 12. The big new inclusion for this year's release is FIFA City, a level-based system that rewards you for playing the other modes in the game. It sounded quite interesting when we were told about it over the phone, but we finally got to see its inclusion firsthand.
For those unfamiliar with FIFA City, it acts as the main menu for FIFA 12. Upon starting the game for the first time, you're asked to name your city and your club. Once that's completed, you are greeted by a fairly bare-looking city with various near-empty sections, each corresponding to the different modes available to play with. The modes will be instantly familiar to fans of last year's release and include Street to Stadium, Be a Manager, and Tournament, to name a few. To improve each section of your city, you have to play those modes and unlock in-game achievements. These vary from easy-to-complete tasks, such as win a game on any difficulty, score your first goal as a created player, or win by four-plus goals, to long-term requests like becoming a 90-plus rated player, playing in every stadium, or scoring 50 goals in Street Soccer. The achievements work in two ways. For starters, for every accomplishment, your population increases, and you obtain items that make your city look more populated. These items include homes, better fields, and even larger stadiums. But as your city increases in size, you can take part in the game's Intercity Cup mode.
FIFA City has a level system that lets you obtain the rights, each time you level up, to select a player who will become a member of your city's football club. Once you have a team in place, you can play against other fictional created cities as part of the Intercity Cup. Defeating cities will unlock more to play against and will increase your rating as the best city in this fictional nation. Early on, only Street Soccer tournaments against rivals will be available. As you level up your city and earn additional players, you'll unlock the ability to field a proper, 11-player squad and take part in full-field matches.
During our few hours with FIFA 12 and FIFA City, the new feature really caught our attention. Trying to find ways to complete the easy objectives had us playing games in a number of different ways, either by adjusting the difficulty or by increasing the length of halves. Of course, there are objectives that will take a significant amount of time to obtain, but purists willing to take the time to do so should feel quite proud as they reach the level 52 cap. Be sure to find out more and see our final verdict of the game when it hits stores at the end of September.
The FIFA series has had a very good run lately. In recent years, each release has improved upon the former, and just when some felt nothing more could be done, the team at EA Canada has found ways of doing so. FIFA 12 aims to improve upon the defensive side of the game and increase the overall realism that has been so well implemented over the last few years. We had the opportunity to sit down and play around with the near-final build of the game and see these adjustments firsthand.
For starters, the focus on the defensive side of the sport is clearly evident. Upon starting up the game and going through the obligatory "How well do you play footie?" introduction, you are tossed into a tutorial that lays out the new defensive system. Returning this year is a dedicated "standing tackle" button. In recent FIFA games, the standing tackle was replaced with "press," where players applied pressure on their opposition but didn't actually perform a shove to win the ball. While the pressure option is still there, it has been remapped and renamed "contain," alongside the second defender press button, which let you call upon a teammate to aid you when trying to cut off an attacking player's possible passing/dribbling options.
Because of the changes with the defensive layout of the controller, longtime fans may be a little clumsy with the controller at first. But like most things, after a little practice, it should feel like second nature. Of course, if you prefer to remap the controller to be more in tune with last year's game, that option is there as well. Other additions and modifications have been made on the defensive side of things: there's better containment, players will actively try to block incoming shots, and trailing defenders can and will try to grab attacking players in the hopes of slowing them down.
Alongside the changes to the defensive approach to the sport, player animations have seen a drastic change, and the defensive side of the game really shows off these new animations. In particular, if you happen to miss a standing tackle--especially when attempting one at fast speed--your player will more often than not completely lose balance and either fall to the ground or stagger before finding his footing and continuing to run. While the animations are much more realistic, this build did show some of the shortcomings of the AI, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.
Collisions are bound to happen, but these situations occurred more than a few times while playing. These ranged from having two computer-controlled players running into each other--which then allowed a striker to walk into the penalty area and fire an easy goal--to defenders falling on their own accord when trying to clear a ball out of their own penalty area. Little AI lapses of judgment like these happened regardless of the difficulty setting or the clubs that we played with.
Other aspects of the game have seen noticeable improvements. The FIFA series has always been among the best to deliver a relatively authentic sporting experience, and that tradition continues. The improvements to expect range from subtle additions to the pregame introductions, players will visibly show their pain if sustaining an injury and perform quicker throw-ins. In the case of throw-ins, if the out-of-bounds ball is within a reasonable distance, players will attempt to rush and grab the ball to restart the action immediately.
Also, for our European readers, I strongly suggest playing a game using Vancouver's BC Place Stadium, which is one of the few authentic Western Hemisphere stadiums included in a FIFA game. If you haven't seen or heard about the complaints from fans on this side of the Atlantic about the use of American football (or in this case, Canadian football) stadiums for footie, playing in this stadium will show you why. The guys at EA Canada did an incredible job of very lightly leaving the yard lines from the stadium turf, which is how the field should look once it opens in October.
Of course, there are many additional things being done by EA Canada in the hopes of yet again delivering fans a sports experience unlike anything other. The defensive side of the game will certainly be fine-tuned prior to launch, but its improvements, coupled with the more realistic animation system, are something that longtime fans have been asking for. While we've touched on a few things, fans can expect to see much more once FIFA 12 hits stores at the end of September.
There is a lot of history associated with the NBA. Yes, the league itself has only been around for 65 years, but in that brief amount of time, there have been so many great players and teams that have graced the various hard courts around America. Unfortunately, though, so many younger basketball fans don't realize just how good these players were, and thankfully, the guys at 2K Sports are trying to educate the uniformed. We had a chance to sample the game's upcoming NBA's Greatest mode and were transported back to various periods and played with some of the best players to ever grace the sport.
For starters, the initial statement of being able to play as 15 of the greatest NBA players is a huge understatement. Yes, you do get to play as superstars like Bill Russell, Isiah Thomas, and Julius Irving, but you also get to play with or against more than 30 teams from different periods of history, all of which are represented as they were when the teams originally took to the court. Dr. J plays alongside the great Moses Malone; Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain team up and face off against my favorite player Pistol Pete and his '70s Hawks team; and so many other memorable names appear. So while there may be a focus on 15 of the greatest players ever; in fact, you're interacting with even more than that number.
NBA's Greatest mode works differently from Jordan Moments in last year's game. Rather than having to complete a game and achieve a certain stat goal, you just have to win. When you win with the NBA's Greatest team in question, you unlock both that team and your opposition in Exhibition mode.
Aesthetically, this is where the mode really shines. The team at Visual Concepts has gone a long way in offering an experience that matches those that actually took place. Our time with the mode had us playing three halves of basketball in three different periods of history. The first match had us taking control of Bill Russell's 1964-65 Celtics alongside Hondo and K.C. Jones as they battled it out against the Lakers who featured Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. From the moment the match loaded, it was if we were tossed into a time machine and were watching a broadcast from the 1960s. The black-and-white broadcast with plain white text overlay looked exactly as it would have back in the day. On top of that, even the look of the court, from the backboards to the scorer's table, were re-created to simulate the way it would have looked in that era. As we moved forward in time, our next visit was the 1980s and two different matches. The first was taking the bad-boy Pistons of 1989 and facing off against Jordan's Bulls; the other had the electrifying 76ers of the mid-'80s face off against the surprisingly strong Milwaukee Bucks. Both matches re-created the time frame superbly with short-shorts and a Pistons team that everyone really did love to hate.
While the commentary is still done by its current-day team, the commentators do a fantastic job of educating you as you play in regard to the history of the players on the court. As you play, you'll learn interesting tidbits of information, not only on the key NBA's Greatest players but also the other players that made up these squads. You might not know too much about Maurice Cheeks, but after playing with him on the 76ers team, you'll learn a bit about his struggles as a Chicago kid playing college basketball in a small town in Texas.
Not only does the commentary reflect on the players, but it also takes notice of other interesting bits of information regarding the time periods. Because there was no three-point line in the early part of the league, the commentators talk about it. They also make mention of how statistics like blocks weren't calculated and how a player like Bill Russell would have been the all-time stats leader if they were calculated. As an added bonus, the audio reflects the era. When playing in the 1960s, the audio replicates the mono radio sounds of the time, including obvious static, which adds to the nostalgia factor.
In all honesty, our time with the mode wasn't as long as we would have liked. Having played basketball and being able to have the chance to play as some of the teams we not only read about but actually watched on television was quite a treat. Thankfully, NBA 2K12 hits store shelves in October, and from what we've managed to play thus far, NBA's Greatest could be a mode that not only entertains fans of the sport but also educates them.
Usually, EA Sports is known for being the first to release its sports on a new console and for setting the pace for its competitors. But in regard to its famed FIFA series, it is playing catch-up on the Nintendo 3DS. With the bar already set by another popular soccer franchise earlier this year, EA Canada is hoping that the extra time will allow for a more refined experience. We had a chance to play around with the 3DS version of FIFA 12 before it launches at the end of September, and fans of sports games on portable consoles, specifically those who enjoy soccer, will be interested in seeing how this turns out.
Aesthetically, the 3DS version feels and looks eerily similar to last year's Wii version. Not only is the game developed by a lot of the same people involved with that version, but most of the modes included here were also implemented there. There are two key modes: Career mode acts as your Manager mode and lets you deal with all the aspects of your favorite club as you hope to lead it to league title glory. The other main mode is Be a Pro. Like in last year's FIFA 11 on the Wii, it has you begin your career as a low-level street soccer player and make your way through the years and hopefully one day play for the club of your dreams.
Modes aside, the real focus for FIFA 12 on the 3Ds is how it implements the power of the console. Graphically, the build we played ran quite well and looked on par with what is offered on the 3DS. The default behind-the-player control does a good job of showing off the 3D capabilities of the system. Those who aren't fans of that view perspective can switch to one of the more standard television angles available.
The use of the touch pad is limited outside of two pretty important aspects: shooting and dead-ball situations. In normal situations, the bottom screen is where the radar is located, but when you're put into a goal-scoring opportunity, the bottom screen reveals the net, and you can pinpoint where you would like the shot to go. The player's skill and the amount of time you hold down before shooting will determine how good the shot is. A nice touch is that on the screen, it features a green dot that shows where your initial shot was intending to go, and a blue dot will reveal where it actually went.
This shooting mechanic is a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it quickly feels like the better way of doing it instead of simply hitting the shoot button. The only downside is that if you're not intending to shoot and would rather cross the ball or perform any other action around the goal area, if you rely on the radar to see where your teammates are, then you will have to guess where they are.
As for the dead-ball situations, you can use the bottom screen to help curve shots. By swiping on the bottom screen in a number of motions, you can attack the goal in a number of different ways. Unsurprisingly, this method is extremely easy to grasp, and with the right player in control of the ball, scoring a goal should not be a problem.
Again, FIFA 12 on the 3DS launches at the end of September, and so far it is shaping up to be quite the treat for fans of the sport who love to take the action wherever they go. Be sure to come back in a few weeks to read our final thoughts of EA Sports' first soccer game on Nintendo's 3D portable console.
Before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, I was lucky enough to live in Vancouver for the last four years, and as most sports fans know, the city was draped with hockey fever until mid-June. So, it's a little hard to believe that we are only a couple of weeks away from the launch of NHL 12. With the game launching on September 13, we had the opportunity to sit down and see the final build of the game and get one last taste of what everyone else will experience in a matter of weeks.
Electronic Arts' brand of hockey has delivered over the last few years, and this year is no different. As we've touched upon in previous coverage of the game, the focus is EA's trilogy of improvements: anticipation AI, dynamic goalies, and signature traits. Surprisingly, these are not the only areas where NHL 12 is looking to progress over last year's game. For starters, the presentation is seeing a massive overhaul, because EA wants to give gamers the closest experience possible to watching a real hockey match. They are doing this by having an Action Tracker that keeps track of every possible, meaningful bit of action that occurs in-game. No longer will you have to pause after every cool play to see what you managed to pull off; it's all recorded and can be referred back to at any time.
The Action Tracker is also implemented in Be a Pro mode and can be used in a number of ways. Not only will you get a better frame of reference for how your team performs, but you'll see how well you are on the ice in comparison to others. On top of that, the Action Tracker helps to speed up play in Be A Pro mode, letting you track the progress of a particular match without having to stay stuck in the standard bench angle viewpoint until your next shift on the ice.
In regard to Be a Pro mode, expect to see more interaction with your coaches and more response from them as you make your way up from a Major Junior Club to the AHL and hopefully become a star in the NHL. Improvements include having more-realistic play time dependent on your position and line setup. If you're a third-line defenseman, for instance, expect to play fewer minutes in comparison to a first-line player. Furthermore, your coach may ask that you complete certain in-game tasks on top of normal requirements. Accomplishing these feats will see you earn more ice time and become an even more important member of your team.
Another improvement being made this year is allowing for some incorporation of your pro from last year's game. While you won't be able to start at exactly the same point where your career left off, you will get a head start and avoid having to start at the bottom. Of all the talk surrounding the upcoming release of NHL 12, the recent announcement of the inclusion of various legendary players has garnered the most attention. Incorporating classic teams and players is nothing new for sports games--EA included a centennial Montreal Canadiens team a few years back--but this year EA is incorporating some of the greatest players in a number of different modes.
Based on completing objectives as your Be a Pro player, you will unlock the Legendary players for use in other modes. Players include Wayne Gretzky, Jeremy Roenick, and Patrick Roy, to name a few, but getting them all will take you a while. Requirements include finishing a game with a "Gordie Howe hat trick"--score a goal, get an assist, and get into a fight--or scoring your first goal on your first-ever shift the way Mario Lemieux did in his debut back in 1984. As an added bonus, those who play the card-collecting Ultimate Team mode, Legends will also be available as rare cards. Their stats will be significantly better in comparison to other players, and considering their lengthy careers in the real world, they'll last considerably longer than regular cards.
Taking into account the success of the last few entries in EA Sports' NHL franchise, fans of the franchise should be pleased that rather than coasting along the ice, the team over at EA Canada is picking up steam and eager to crash the net. NHL 12 will be available on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 13. Expect our final analysis of the game around the same time.
One of the most fundamental issues facing most fighting games is accessibility. If you've played a series for years, you have a grasp of the controls and can more or less dominate any new opposition that comes your way. With nearly two years between games, the guys at Yuke's and THQ have taken that time to make the upcoming UFC Undisputed 3 accessible to a wider audience. While veterans of the series will be able to grab a controller and fight as they always have, a number of new additions allow for newcomers to grasp the controls and still be competitive.
For starters, Undisputed 3 looks at teaching you in-game rather than having you jump into a tutorial and learn from a very static lesson set. When you're beginning a fight, small pop-ups will appear during key situations to explain what you should do at that particular moment. The first set of notifications will explain the face button attacks, how grappling and clinching work with the right analog stick, and the differences between quick hits and more-focused ones.
This gradual learning of the controls and basics of the game let you jump into a fight and have fun. Since these notifications occur at specific moments, you learn what you need to know at the relevant moment rather than learning it elsewhere and then trying to remember it when that scenario occurs later in the octagon. These notifications can be easily turned off so that seasoned players aren't bothered by bits of information they already know.
Onscreen notifications are not the only way the game teaches you. Audio notifications will also assist you in learning what you are doing right and wrong, through the commentary between longtime UFC commentators Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg and from your corner-team. Rogan and Goldberg do a fine job of pointing out key situations that are happening in the match; the same goes in regards to directions coming from your corner. If you so choose, you can turn off all outside noises and be able to hear the guys in your corner yell suggestions and point out things. If you're not blocking your face and getting countered too often, they will make sure you're aware of your faults.
Feeding you with information also happens between rounds, with a nice text comment telling you what you're doing right and wrong. To go one step further, when you're being informed of the aspect of your fight that is weak or lacking, a simple click of a button reveals a more in-depth hint detailing what needs to be done to address this fault.
Another way the fighting is being made more user-friendly is through the inclusion of two different ways of handling transitions. In the past, to perform major and minor transitions, especially when trying to get up from the ground or putting someone down, you had to do specific movements with the right analog stick. While this more advanced system is still in place, the introduction of a simple transition system lets less experienced players remain dominant on the ground without worrying about more technical motions. Rather than having to flick the analog stick in specific rotations, you flick up to perform a minor transition and flick down to perform a major transition.
Of course, there are limitations in place to prevent this use from being too one-sided or easy. Those who stick with the advanced transition system will be able to cancel their moves midway through an animation if they see something they don't like; those who use the simple system will be stuck in a particular animation and will not be able to prevent their opposition from performing an action.
Grappling and clinching are not the only aspects being addressed; a new submission system is in place that not only is easy to grasp, but is even more reliant on the fighter's skill in determining success. This time around, when you're pressing the right analog stick and attempting a submission, a 2D octagon appears on the screen along with two markers signifying each fighter. Here, the fighter trying to perform the submission needs to move their cursor to be on top of the cursor of the other fighter and keep it there long enough for the submission to take place. The length of this cat-and-mouse-like minigame is determined by the type of submission taking place and the skill of the two fighters.
This system won't be exploitive. Over time, not only will the ability to perform a submission become more difficult, but the length of time given to perform the minigame will also be drastically cut. Depending on the fighter, though, in some situations, if you are unsuccessful with one type of submission, you may be able to quickly transition to another one, have a fresh bar, and finish off the fight. Also, the person performing the submission has a slight edge and can move their marker closer to or on top of their opponent's bar before they have the opportunity to move. This window of opportunity is very short, but it could very well be the difference between success and failure.
UFC Undisputed 3's launch in January is still a ways off, and the fact that so much focus is being put on delivering a strong product that can be appreciated by a wider audience is very promising. There is still a lot more to be seen, especially in regard to the inclusion of fighters from Pride and new weight classes, but so far the time between Undisputed 2010 and this upcoming release is being used wisely. Expect that as we move closer to launch we will get more details on all the additional features.
The FIFA series on the Nintendo Wii has had a fairly good run of late. When you consider the small number of sports games that are regularly released on the console, EA Sports has done a good job of not only giving fans a game to play but also improving the series each year. We recently managed to have a nice phone call with Tristan Jackson, producer of FIFA Soccer 12, to discuss some of what fans can expect later this year.
This type of rewards system isn't new to sports games, but EA Sports is taking it one step further with an additional mode called Intercity Cup. As the size of your own FIFA city starts to grow, you will be able to play against other cities in various five-versus-five tournaments. This mode won't be unlocked at first, but as your city grows into the millions, you will slowly unlock a better training facility and then kits for your team to wear. Once you surpass 5 million residents, you will be invited to start challenging other cities. Of course, you'll start off playing smaller sides, which will allow you to then recruit those players and use them to challenge better sides. Once you reach the high ranks of a city, you'll be rewarded for your progress and be able to play against full squads in 11-versus-11 matches and tournaments.
The Intercity Cup should not only easily prolong the experience, but also entice soccer fans to play all the modes available in FIFA Soccer 12. Last year's popular mode, Streets to Stadium, returns with very little changed. You will still commence as a lowly street soccer player, make your way up the ranks, and hopefully reach your dream goal of playing for the club of your dreams. After your five season trek to greatness--if you so wish--you can take your created character and move on to the game's improved Be a Manager mode and see how well you can manage a squad to championship status.
Be a Manager will see a major upgrade from past years and should offer a more realistic approach to managing a team. Gone are the star requirements to recruit players; now it's all about dollars, pounds sterling, and euros because you need to carefully manage your budget for scouting players, improving facilities, and handling contracts. You'll be able to either begin by taking a smaller club and moving it up the ranks or maintaining one of the better clubs in Europe and ensuring its pedigree stays in tact.
Pedigree also plays into your own position, and your requirements as a manager will factor into how much prestige you earn through your five seasons. If the board's expectations are low and you manage to not only accomplish its expectations, but also greatly surpass them, you will be rewarded with additional prestige and be able to do more with your side. Conversely, though, if you can't fulfill the board's requests, then you can expect to see your ability to improve your squad diminish. Managing a side, such as improving your health facilities and training grounds, not only factors into Be a Manager but also improves your FIFA city status and your ability to take on other cities in Intercity.
Two weeks ago when 2K Sports revealed that three of the greatest NBA players to ever take to the court would be gracing the cover of NBA 2K12, we should have figured there was more to it. Today, 2K Sports revealed a new mode coming to this year's game titled NBA's Greatest. Similar to Jordan Moments from last year, NBA's Greatest lets you play as 15 of the greatest NBA teams in history and re-create some of the best matches ever seen.The mode will play out similarly to last year's game; you will have the ability to re-play various matches and try to complete objectives to unlock additional games. Once unlocked, these Greats and their teams will be available to play against current NBA clubs, opening up the chance to see who is better between Dr. J and Carmelo Anthony, for example.
Matches will be re-created to be as authentic as possible to the time in which they took place. Games will feature commentary that reflects the time frame and that references matches leading to the game in question, and there are promises of extras that should make NBA historians very happy.
Thus far, only five NBA Greats have been confirmed. In addition to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird, the Philadelphia 76ers' Julius Erving and the Lakers' Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be featured in the mode. The other 10 players and teams will be revealed at a later date. Regardless of that fact, debates should commence shortly as to which teams and players should be included and which are better left in the past.