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 …


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.


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!


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 …


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 …


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?


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.


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.


PC Batman Arkham Knight Woes

I know console games have their fair share of issues (… cough … Drive Club for the PS4 … cough …), but Warner Bros. suspending PC sales of Batman Arkham Knight has to be considered a huge disaster.

Drive Club’s launch and the lack of the striped dow PS+ version has been a PR mess for Sony, but a miss on a racing game doesn’t carry the same weight as a miss on a flagship title such as Batman.

Every time I consider PC gaming, issues like this (and patching, hardware expense, not having the same comfy gaming spot as my PS4, no large screen TV, etc), I always pause and say “no, thank you.”

One of these days I will do the Steam and iRacing thing …


FIFA 16 Pre-Order Madness

This year, EA is being generous with their allotment of FUT crack. FIFA your way … ? $59.99, $69.99 or $99.99.

I actually enjoy FUT, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see EA offering up FUT goodies in their standard edition, but I have to wonder if EA gimped the ‘standard’ offering in order to give something away for ‘free.’ After all, EA never gives away goodies without said goods being worthless. Case in point, this year all FIFA 16 tiers receive:

Up to two (2) brand new EA SPORTS Football Club Celebrations – The “KO” or the “Bailando Robot”*
*Celebration availability varies by retailer. Check local retailers for specific Standard Edition celebration offers

How generous of EA …

Back to FUT, it will be interesting to see the difference between standard, premium, and jumbo premium Gold packs. Has to be the number of cards, and their specific quality. Gold probably isn’t what it use to be, so with apologies to Prince

Everybody wants 2 sell what’s already been sold
Everybody wants 2 tell what’s already been told
What’s the use of money if U ain’t gonna break the mold?
Even at the center of fire there is cold
All that glitters ain’t gold, no no
All that glitters ain’t gold, no no

Sounds a lot like EA, no?

For anyone that isn’t aware, EA has a claim it or lose it policy with their weekly free packs. Buyer beware. It makes good business sense for EA; give ’em what they want, with a reason to come back weekly for fresh new shiny shit … err … virtual crack (forgot for a minute that this is a semi family friendly establishment). And hope each and every one of you spends some real-life duckets on some not so real virtual fantasy cards.

Count me in! Except for the spending real-life cabbage part. The last 2-3 years I did partake in the deluxe edition madness, but that is different right? I get one of those special Messi cards (5 games; use them wisely) to go with those weekly Gold packs. I call that the good gaming life … and of course the FUT crack causes me to come back weekly to check out my new cards. The cards with coins or ‘free’ packs are the best …

So I’m sure FIFA 16 will find its way into my PS4, but I doubt the super special, ultimate of ultimate, walks on water edition, complete with,

40 FIFA Ultimate Team Jumbo Premium Gold Packs (delivered one a week for 40 consecutive weeks)
Five (5) match FUT Loan Player items of Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, and Thibaut Courtois
Two (2) brand new EA SPORTS Football Club Celebrations – The “KO” and the “Bailando Robot”

… will. Still, if I play my cards right (that was bad), my virtual Calvert should be doing the KO and Bailando Robot at an online match near you.


Is E3 Still Relevant?

Monday night my boys and I watched the Sony E3 press conference via live streaming over the PS4. I came pretty close to skipping the event in favor of watching whatever Andrew Zimmern was going to digest next in the newest Bizarre Foods. Ultimately the boys were so excited over E3, I decided to watch.

Of course there was a time when I was equally excited, and dare I say enthralled with everything E3 related. Getting “press” credentials when E3 visited ATL for a couple of years in the 90s was certainly a highlight. Back in those days I eagerly awaited each tidbit of news, and wrote countless diatribes on the state of the industry, discussed the next big game, and so on and so forth. E3 was an important part of my gaming life, usenet was a popular means of communication and the web as we know it today was very much in its infancy.

These days, while gaming is still an important part of my life, it is certainly not as consuming, and as I mentioned in the opening, I came pretty close to picking watching the consumption of the latest cow balls dish, over Sony’s E3 press conference. I guess that says a lot about the relevance of E3 to this older gamer. Besides, it’s easy enough to follow E3 news and trends; thanks to the rise of social media, you do not even have to be there to be there.

During this year’s long PlayStation advertisement, err, press conference had a few things that stood out …

Gran Turismo. I was bitterly disappointed that we learned nothing about the next title. Surely it has to be in development.

Vita. I have written enough about Sony screwing the pooch and completely missing the mark with their wonderful gaming system. Disappointing does even begin to describe my feelings.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (Square Enix). As soon as the video started, I told my boys to watch for the crowd go ape shit. I’m really looking forward to this one, but Square Enix has to be in a no win situation. This is the game that all FF VII fans want, so it can never live up to expectations. No matter which direction the game takes (remake, reimaging, same script with updated graphics and similar gameplay to the original PSOne title) some faction of the FF VII fan base will fume over Square Enix messing up their beloved title.

Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games). This new IP looks very promising. I like the concept; a nice mixture of low tech and high tech concepts. One of my first thoughts was that Horizon was Gamma World ish … maybe not exactly, but robotic dinosaurs based in a future earth setting looks solid enough to me.

Dreams (Media Molecule’s). Who knows which direction MM will take their next sandbox game, but I can only imagine that it will be a great creative outlet for fans that were disappointed with the last LittleBigPlanet.

No Man’s Sky (Hello Games). Fantastic infinite universe concept, that pays homage to Elite (at least the version on the C64 that I loved ages ago). I can see this title getting dismissed due to poor, or at least inferior graphics. Similar to RPGs, I love concepts where I can take my time exploring a well-crafted gaming universe; I just can never find enough time to sink my teeth into these types of games

Uncharted 4. Good clean fun for the whole family. It is hard for me to say “system seller” because I think die-hard fans of the Uncharted franchise would pick up a PS4 sooner or later. The real trick is getting someone sitting on the sidelines of this gaming generation to take interest, and buy a PS4 in 2016 just to play this Sony Exclusive.

I’ll wrap things up by mentioning PlayStation Vue. The concept of a la cart is very appealing, but even with PS+ discounts, I think the pricing could be high. While I have a gazillion channels with Charter, I truly only watch a select few, but the problem is the wide variety: Fox Sports 1 and 2, ESPN, NFL and NFL Red Zone, NBC Sports (for Formula One and soccer), Discovery, History Channel, Travel Channel (Bizarre Foods), and during football season, whichever channel offers up the Falcons, Georgia Bulldogs and Texas Longhorns. Even if everything I want to watch is offered, I doubt a la cart pricing will work for me.


EA Set For Post Tiger Golf

It should be interesting to see how many patches EA will need to make the game playable, and if any of the trophies will be glitzed, unobtainable, or otherwise broken.

I’ll still pick up EA Sports Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, but I’ll have to upgrade my PS4 HDD first …

With Tiger booted, I’m not sure why EA felt compelled to need an athlete in the title. PGA would have worked fine …