Criminal Girls 2, Censorship and AO East vs. West

As a fan of JRPGs and other niche Japanese games, I always find ratings standards differences between the U.S., Europe and Japan laughable.  Take Criminal Girls 2 as a perfect example.

As with the first in the series, Criminal Girls: Invite Only, “Punishment” will be framed as “Motivation,” and other terminology changes from the first game will also apply here … This reduces the power distance between the player character and the girls in the Reformation Program and makes the activities of the game more consensual.

… and …

Some of this [no Motivation Scene Dialogue]  could cause an issue with power distance, or perceived consent of the activities of the game.

I give NIS America kudos for taking the time to spell out exactly what is being censored, but I disagree with censorship.  Let’s let the consumer decide, and if an anime based JRPG influenced game is really worthy of an AO rating in the U.S., something is very wrong. Violence is always condoned over sexual themes.

Just compare the newest Doom (hint – violence link) to the first Criminal Girls title (hint – sexual themes) to drive the point home …

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Gran Turismo Sport – Car Porn

I continue to be excited for Gran Turismo Sport, reading various opinions from here, there and yonder … this particular comment caught my attention:

Gran Turismo – Car Porn

Sport actually includes slightly more robust race assist options than previous series entries, which should allow those who buy the game primarily for the car porn to cope with Gran Turismo’s demanding, simulation-level racing mechanics.

I know Polyphony Digital is going to focus Sport primarily on online play, but hopefully it will not be ridiculously out of balance with offline modes. One of the GT series pleasures for me is running hotlaps and enjoying getting better, which is a far better racing experience than stressing about online play, where trolls and turds frolic in equal quantities, often ruining the entire experience.

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Gran Turismo Sport – Beyond Eye Candy?

So now that there is finally a release date for Gran Turismo Sport – GTS – (Nov. 15 U.S. and Nov 16 Europe), we can turn our attention to other aspects of the game …

In no particular order …

Will the physics be improved?  It is my opinion that GT6 was a nice evolution from previous games in the series, but the developers remained focused on accessibility, with a hard lean towards a more casual audience.  I appreciate that there has to be a nice blend, a common ground if you will, between casual games (what is the hype about), arcade gamers (the Need for Speed fans of the world) and simulation racing fans. I get that the GT series may never be truly on par with iRacing, but why not?  These days, when I have time to play, Project CARS is my cup of tea. Why?  It is accessible, a nice hybrid racing simulation, that lets me fully customize my racing (game play) experience.  I may want my race to be monkey balls hard or beer in one hand easy.  Let’s hope GTS leans in that direction.

What about I quit the racing AI?  Let’s be honest; the GT series has never been about providing quality AI racers.  Who wants cars that run the same patterns around a circuit, lap after lap, or AI cars that try to re-take the line no matter what (excuse me while I bump the &^*% out of you)?  With the power of the PS4, how hard would it be to make the cars offer a variety of challenges, with some degree of variation instead of the mundane predictability found in previous incarnations in the series?

Damage – beyond cosmetic.  I want to see a GT game where you can cut a wheel and things go downhill afterwards.  Or you drop a bumper or fender, and watch (and feel) your aerodynamics go to hell in a hand-basket.  Or bump a wall at 230+ MPH (Indy Car) and watch your car spin and utterly disintegrate.  All from the safety of my living room.  In other words, GT needs to be introduced into the real world.

Lots of cars.  Seriously, back in the heyday of my videogamedom, back when I had time to write 2000+ word diatribe reviews, LeMans 24 Hours for the PlayStation 2 actually had 20+ cars on the track.  We need some of that on a modern console.

Online is great, but who needs another Drive Club experience.  Besides, random online racers (sorry if this happens to be you) are a-holes.  Let’s please be sure that GTS offers an excellent offline experience, because seriously, others besides me are not ready to be f’ed over with online only GT racing.

Project CARS configurability.  I’m almost going back to my accessibility comments.  Maybe I’m having a bummer of a day.  Maybe I do not want that cut wheel to cause me a race.  Maybe, just maybe, I want the AI to predictably suck … or at least not challenge me.  Maybe I have had one of those days and need to take it out, lap after unchallenged lap.  Then again, maybe I just want to see why I am a software development manager and not a professional racer.  I hope GTS gives me that sort of freedom.  Is that too much to ask?

In summary, Polyphony Digital needs to capitalize on the best aspects of the GT series; all that is pure and holy about the game.  After that, the developers need to focus on the shortcomings from previous versions of the game.  Let’s push things forward, over and beyond the graphics … eye candy is great, but let’s get on with the racing!

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Pre Copa América Centenario Fun

The #USMNT is getting ready for life without Jozy Altidore (down and out again,  with yet another hamstring injury …) as Jurgen Klinsmann’s begins final prep activities for the Copa América Centenario.

Two things stick with me from this article. First, there is an interesting spin on last year’s Gold Cup.  Second, some of the comments are enlightening.

… during the USA’s run to the Gold Cup semifinal.

That is classic. The author calls last summer’s debacle, a ‘run’ – when it should be listed as “… during last summer’s early and disappointing Gold Cup exit.”  There is a difference; no reason to try and spin a better outcome.

From the comments section, there is an interesting debate centered on wondering (guessing) if Klinsmann will play our best players in their natural positions that they currently play for their club teams.  How did it come to this?

As for me,  I expect very little from this team, which is disappointing.  Of course I am ever the cheerleader and will be expecting miracles.  Something tells me I will be cussing and fussing instead.

Go USA!!!

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Motorsport Manager

With a little support (i.e. cash) from SEGA, Playsport Games could have a great niche title on its hands …

As it is an unlicensed product the game will not feature teams, drivers or circuits from the Formula 1 world championship. Instead, “Motorsport Manager “will challenge players to take a second-tier single-seater team into the game’s F1 equivalent, the Grand Prix World Championship.

Honestly, I doubt I would find time to play; or rather it wouldn’t be a priority for me. I still hole it does well …

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Rory McIlroy: PGA Tour (2 Weeks In)

After getting past the poorly executed and clumsy install process, which only took less than 60 minutes once I realized what was happening (turning off Spotify, putting down the controller, and doing something else while EA did their trickery), I have been able to get in some quality time with the latest PGA Tour release.

Let’s just get this out of the way. Rory McIlroy isn’t Tiger Woods, and this game is nowhere near as polished as Tiger Woods: PGA Tour 14 on the PS3. I probably should have held on to my Masters Historic Edition, but I digress. Currently PGA Tour is getting panned on metacritic: Metascore of 61 (20 critics) and 3.7 User Score (51 Ratings).

I’m not sure that things are all doom and gloom, but there are some glaring omissions. Country Club missing; there are far fewer licensed players and courses compared to Tiger Woods 14. This honestly feels like a game that was rushed for a new hardware launch. It is common practice (I’m not saying this is a good thing) that a first generation title on new hardware will be less feature rich than a title that is on its third or higher iteration on the previous hardware. For the PS4, and EA, there doesn’t seem to be any “new console” release excuses available since EA took a year off from the franchise to focus on the newest revision of PGA Tour.

How much is missing? I was scratching my head trying to find how to view a replay. Can you believe that EA didn’t have the common decency to include the ability to watch an f’ing replay? I was stunned to point where I started google searching and came across this “impressions” article from pastapadre, which more or less makes me look like a plagiarists since their article was posted on July 11.

After the first couple of days, I haven’t returned to online mode (Head2Head); both ranked and unranked matches were a mess. I found myself often getting booted out of games, unable to start games, etc. My internet connection is fine; this is all about EA clustering the release.

If it is important to you to create your own virtual self as a custom golfer, the fine folks at EA left us with minimal options. No game face allowed, and only a few customizable features. As was the case with Tiger Woods, you continue to unlock apparel (most of which is EA branded) and clubs. Unless I am missing something, which is entirely possible (plus my virtual badass create pro golfer self is only just past Level 45; 71’ish overall skill), you don’t have the ability to set your own attributes. Not that it adds to the gameplay, but in a cheesy sort of way, it did add to the fun, gone are the sunglasses option.

EA’s newest edition to the series is the interesting Night Club mode. I’m only 15 or so challenges in right now, and while they seem fun, and maybe even downright addicting, I don’t like the lock system; you should be able to jump around between any of the three courses. Since this mode is made for casual fans, this seems to be a glaring miss.

But things are not all shitty in Rory Land …

A lot of gamers are complaining about the Quick Play mode, which allows you to only play the most important holes 6 or so holes in career mode tournament play. I’m not close to being ADD, but I love this feature, but like so much else in this version of Tiger Words, err Rory McIlroy, the interface is so poorly implemented that by default this mode is turned on, which has caused some confusion among gamers – “why can’t I play a full 18 holes” type of confusion. Because of the limited number of courses, and what looks to be a long grind to Level 100, I’m loving the Quick Play mode.

More to come later, time permitting, but at this point I don’t think this iteration of PGA Tour is as bad as the scores it has received. It is certainly not perfect, and is nowhere near the beauty that was PGA Tour 14. It’s just not awful, and has merit. The true test will be if I am still playing it a couple of weeks from now …

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USMNT – Defensive Calamity

Dissecting the USMNT’s 2-1 Gold Cup exit at the hands of Jamaica is really not worth the effort. Plenty of sites have already done as much, including calling for the head of Jürgen Klinsmann.

While the U.S. dominated the game, their defense ultimately let them down. Again. How many times do we have to sing this song?

Disappointing doesn’t begin to describe my feelings on this one …

Go USA … just not to the Gold Cup finals. #ThrowAwayTheCup

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EA Does It Again: Clustered The PS4 PGA Tour Install Process

Un’fing believable. How could EA screw the pooch this badly?

For those of you that are only seeing 2 menu options in the game, it is because the game has not completed the install and you are in the pre-installed version of the game that has limited features. I know this can be frustrating on PS4 because there is no progress bar of any sort to show you how it is doing and if you go to your storage it is going to say the full size of the game there cause that is what it says as soon as it starts installing. So here are a few things you should keep in mind:

– The game takes ~40 to 60 minutes to install while nothing is running on the console.
– If you suspend or shut down your console the install will stop.
– If you are playing the game or using other applications while the install is taking place then your install can be greatly slowed down.
– If you are downloading the game then the process will be even longer cause you have to download all 29 GB and install it all too.
– Make sure you have enough HD space to fit the game on your HD.

My best advice is to let the game install and leave your console running at the consoles menu. Go away, let it be, come back in an hour and boot the game up.

If you are still having issues having done all of this then please contact EA Customer Support for further assistance.

Should I really have expected anything less from EA?

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Incoming, Rory Mcllroy PGA Tour

I rarely get all hot and bothered these days over an IGN review, but this tweet caught my attention:

Stacked up against the two-year-old Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, the new game has roughly half the number of courses to play on, about a quarter of the licensed players to choose from (with both the Legends and the female LPGA players gone entirely), and a create-a-player tool that ditches the customary eyebrow shaping and body sculpting of the older game in favour of a handful of set templates that are almost guaranteed to look absolutely nothing like you.

That sounds like EA’s typical first generation releases on new consoles, only EA took a year off from the Tiger franchise. BTW, why does it need Rory in the title? Why not just PGA Tour with Rory on the cover?

The metacritic scores are all over the map at this point. My copy should arrive tomorrow, and hopefully the game will not be a let down. If it is, I’ll (hopefully) flip it on eBay before its stock drops like a can of beans, and I can always go back to the enjoyable The Golf Club, which received undeserving sub-par metacritic scores.

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Gold Cup – Will the USMNT Sort Out Defensive Woes?

Over the years, how many times have I written about Team U.S.A. being let dow by an awful defense? I’m not going to go there yet, but I will let Matthew Doyle take us to that special place in his latest Armchair Analyst article:

But we won because Michael Bradley serves in sick set pieces and because Clint Dempsey is an American badass. It’s been a very good combination over the years, and if you’re struggling to take something overly positive away from the game… well, you’re not alone. Just don’t take those two guys for granted – as long as they’re around, the US have a chance.

2-1 over Honduras, taking the three points home last Tuesday night. Haiti is next, tomorrow night. We should secure the group, but the boys better be ready and not allow Haiti to think the have a chance.

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Blowing Off Steam. Time to Reconsider?

It is pretty well established in these pages that I don’t care for PC gaming, but that could change with the advent of Steam Machines.

These PC in a box ‘consoles’ could change my perspective, with several different options across a wide spectrum of prices, the only issue I see is market confusion. With 14 (and I assume more on the way) options, it is difficult to know where to start. Picking an ‘open’ hardware version, that allows for future upgrades (which may be every version being offered) is a great place to start. With the $500 getting started price point, I just have to reconcile a dedicated Steam Machine over a multi-use laptop that could also be connected to my TV.

The only reason I would even consider one of these boxes is to break into the world of iRacing. With the Steam iRacing listing showing Windows as a requirement, and the new Steam Machines being built to support ValveOS (Linux flavoring), I probably need to take a wait and see approach.

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Point. Counter Point. IndyCar, Fontana, and Danger.

If you are a racing fan and care about IndyCar, you have probably already read these two great op-eds on what occurred last Saturday at Auto Club Speedway. Robin Miller said:

And what we witnessed Saturday at Auto Club Speedway was somewhere between the measured insanity of the 1960s and a jaw-dropping display of reflexes and reaction at 220mph.
It was incredible theatre, with a record 80 lead changes among 14 of the 23 drivers and three hours of intensity that’s hard to be imagined or duplicated.

Mr. Miller’s main point being that the element of danger, was the compelling hook that made the race so exciting.

David Malsher has a different view:

In terms of entertainment, last Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, was a hit. As a piece of sport, it was almost entirely without merit. Once the track gripped up, not long into the second stint, and every driver’s throttle was planted on the bulkhead, it became a slipstreaming crapshoot. Yes, it required the same bravery as Indy car racing has always demanded. No, it did not require the same skill as we’ve seen through the decades from the likes of A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, the Unsers, the Andrettis, Rutherford, Sneva, Mears. They had to balance their cars on the edge of adhesion, decide how much throttle to apply, how much room they had to correct the slide, how to balance tire life over the course of a stint. What we saw last Saturday was about balls and a lack of imagination.

There is inherent danger in the sport; Mr. Malsher thought the danger was too over the top.

I’m really not sure where I stand in this debate, but I do think the continued conversation is good for IndyCar, and it was worth pointing out here because RACER deserves some positive press for their outstanding work.

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