Christmas Gaming Treats

As a kid I always looked forward to getting new videogames in December (birthday and Christmas). I always held out hope that I was going to get a few new games, and they just had to be better than decent because I knew that my gaming library was not going to increase during the upcoming year.

These days I just buy what I want, usually via pre-order, or I watch a game, waiting for the inevitable price drop before finally indulging myself. Either way, my gaming comes to me when I want, and if I happen to get a dud, I can flip it on eBay. No worries, no fuss.

This year, thanks to Santa (and of course my family), I have enough games to keep me occupied until December 2011, or until I decide to pick up the next great, have to play it now spectacular, super special gaming extravaganza. Something along those lines; call me a sucker for pre-release build up hype.

The Gaming Treasure Trove:

  • Batman Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Greatest Hits. I have always wanted to give this game a go, but for whatever reason, I never did.
  • FIFA 11 (Under $30 during Amazon Thanksgiving sales). I wrote a few weeks ago that I have been playing the shit out of FIFA 10. I love the FIFA 10 experience; the virtual pro is a very immersive experience. I am going to stay with FIFA 10 for the rest of 2010 to see how many Trophies I can pick up before flipping FIFA 10 on eBay, and then I will start my FIFA 11 journey. I can only hope that FIFA 11 is as fun and entertaining as FIFA 10 has been over the last six weeks.
  • God of War 3 (Under $35 during Amazon Thanksgiving sales). Because one cannot have enough God of War.
  • God of War Collection Greatest Hits ($10 during Amazon Thanksgiving sales). Are you kidding me? $10 for high-def updates of two highly rated PS2 game? Complete with a gaggle of Trophies for my gaming pleasure. I never played the PS2 versions, but thanks to the PSP God of War games, I am a converted fan.
  • Gran Turismo 5 Prima Essential Track Guide*
  • Rapala Pro Bass Fishing 2010. Some different. Something for the Move.

* OK, so this little spiral bound book is not game, but I figured I would include it in the overall haul. It is getting a lot of flack in the Amazon review listings, however it is exactly what it states – a track guide. If you are looking for a traditional cheat (er, strategy guide) book, then the Prima guide is not your cup of tea.

Maybe all these new games will have an added bonus; getting my PlayStation Rewards status to nudge a little for the first time since the week after Thanksgiving!

Looking Forward To …
With all these new gaming Christmas experiences, plus the current backlog of goodies, is there anything left on my radar?

  • Little Big Planet 2. Of course I never played the first one, but everyone says LBP is a must have experience, which is fun for the whole family.
  • MLB 11: The Show. See FIFA 10 + FIFA 11; I have until March to get my money’s worth from MLB 10.
  • Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. I want to try the newest NFS title, but I am going to wait for a lower price. Plus I still have GT5 to keep me occupied, and F1 2010 is not getting any love.
  • Madden and NCAA Football. Yeah, I know, let’s don’t go there yet.

There are probably other gems lurking out there, but right now I actually do not have anything on pre-order or a “watch list.” OK, just kidding. I have the HD update of the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection on pre-order. But other than that one …

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Move Me

Tomorrow I should receive a new bundle of joy, hope, and expense from Amazon (via Prime Release Day Delivery). Yes, I decided to Move. I picked up the Move Starter Bundle (Move controller, Eye Toy, Sports Champion), Move Navigation controller, an extra Move controller, and a Sony branded Charging Station.

Will this be worth the money? No idea, but I figured just for shits and giggles I would give the Move a go and see where things land.

I decided not to pick up any additional games for now. Something like NBA 2K11 or even Tiger Woods, just to see how this puppy will handle a “serious” sports game, may be worth a flyer in the future. I wonder how that John Daly game is going to end up; garbage quick cash in, or actually decent?

I would love to try something like Cabela’s North American Adventures 2011 with the Move, but for some inexplicable reason, it does not look like the Move is supported. In fact, reviews, info, opinions, or anything else for that matter are hard to come by on the newest Cabela release. I guess it is just “shoot the animals; you know the drill, but this time in HD.”

I know that Heavy Rain will get an update; same for HVB, which should invigorate this PSN classic. I am not sure if any of my other titles will receive Move patches, but MLB 10: The Show would make for interesting Move support.

I will try to post a few updates over the weekend.

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Out of the Park Baseball carries me through a dry spell.

I may going into a more detailed off topic (“Stuffs”) post over the weekend discussing what I have been up to and how I spent my time during my recent sabbatical … er Spring Break.

The PS3 has not been on except for some Blu-ray goodness, and the PSP has been stowed away since my last business trip the first week in March.

I have been play OOTPX/OOTP10 (online league) and have been getting familiar with the new OOTP11. I never would have guessed that a PC “game” would carry me during a down gaming cycle, but the OOTP series has legs. After taking a few versions off from the series, I have really enjoyed OOTP10 and I believe that OOTP11 may be the most exciting version since OOTP6.5.

When I have some time I will post some comments on OOTP11; or maybe at least see if there is a review or two that cover most of my opinions on the game. Believe it or not, I have not even looked for a review, jumped on any forums, or done any research on OOTP11. Strange times indeed.

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MLB 10: The Show vs. MLB 2K10

For some random reason I was looking at the MLB 10: The Show (MLB10) review scores this morning and noticed this review from GamesDaily (8/10).

For the past couple of years, The Show has dominated with a superb presentation, in-depth options and unmatched gameplay. There’s still plenty of that to go around this year, although Sony’s grip on baseball superiority has loosened, as this game is about on the same level as 2K’s. That’s good news for baseball aficionados (with two quality products to choose from), but not-so-good news for Sony’s San Diego team.

My first thought was “hmmm, I did not realize that Major League Baseball 2K10 (MLB2K10) had made such major strides.”

The reviewer offers a few MLB10 critiques: The pick off system is a nice addition, but difficult. The catchers’ inability to throw out some runners is also mentioned, along with some minor issues with the AI in franchise mode. Finally the reviewer wraps things up by complains about the install process using 5GB of storage space, along with the menu load times, and the commentary that can often be grating.

To each their own; after all opinions are opinions, so I have no real quarrel with the reviewer’s criticisms. I agree with the reviewer’s comments on the menus, especially when navigating online.

I decided to check out the scores: MLB10 vs. MLB2K10. While there may not be enough of a sampling to make any final conclusions, it is obvious that the majority of critics consider MLB10 the superior game; the fans are clearly attracted to Sony’s product. MLB10 currently has an 88% (12 critic reviews) with a 9.7 user rating (51 votes), while MLB2K10 has a 74% (12 critic reviews) with a 5.0 user rating (2 votes).

While I have not played MLB2K10, much less one of their baseball games in recent years, the majority of reviews indicate that this year’s version has made significant strides; great visuals with solid gameplay. The good news is that gamers have two choices, but are both created equally as the GamesDaily reviewer claims?

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MLB 10: The Show – Briefest of Impressions

I did not get nearly enough time with MLB 10: The Show (MLB10) over the weekend. There was just too much other stuff to do and catch up on after being out of the country for a week. Besides, the weather was spectacular and it was opening weekend for youth soccer, so we spent as much time outside as possible.

I did get to activate my code of the six classic stadiums. I guess this was a nice enough extra from the folks at Amazon, but it was not as if I grew up watching baseball at the Polo Grounds. Of course these stadiums are better than the cement circles that were popular when I was growing up – Fulton County, I call you out. Still; gift horse, so I will not complain.

My first thoughts are that MLB10 has an overwhelming assortment of options. With my thirty minute gaming sessions, it will take me a while to figure which options best suit my style of play.

MLB10 looks like it has superb presentation; the game looks real, the announcers seem to do a good job, and the game appears to have all the other intangibles that go into making an immersive baseball experience. One of the things I noticed right off was the ability to speed up the time it takes in-between pitches. When I actually spent a lot of time playing console baseball games, my favorite experiences where those that I could actually wrap up in 30 minutes; 45 minutes tops. I am not sure if a quick game is possible with MLB10, but any options to speed up the game are always appreciated. I almost feel guilty for attempting to bypass some of the wiz-bang side effects that the development team put into the game to make it appear as a realistic baseball experience.

I played a couple of three inning games; both times as the Braves. I lost 1-0 to Seattle and 2-0 to the Dodgers. I managed a single hit. I suck.

Thankfully there is a practice mode, so I can get some much needed practice in the batting catch. I am not sure if I should keep at it on the default batting Veteran level, move down to Rookie, or maybe change from the Catcher view. I will have to experiment and see if I improve; cannot stand seeing a .105 average. Ouch.

I am sure more impressions will be forthcoming throughout the week. I am cautiously optimistic because I actually have a console baseball that I want to play. It has been a while.

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MLB 10: The Show Arrives

I am far, far away from my home, so hopefully my wife will make sure MLB 10: The Show (MLB10) does not sit neglected on the porch too long.

It has been a couple of years since I embraced a console baseball title; I want it back – MLB10 will pave the way. MLB 10 looks to do everything right. From online leagues, to a more realistic gaming experience, MLB10 looks to set the stage for the greatest game of console baseball ever produced.

Sony’s boys and girls in San Diego have been incredibly busy this year, refining the game, and making little adjustments that put the game into a whole different ballpark from what we have experienced with past titles. This 30 minute gamer [I need to TM this quickly] will appreciate the warm up features.

Among other options to note, we brought back the classic L1/R1 baserunning controls for you old-schoolers. The RTTS Baserunning option will default to New, but if you prefer the single button press style controls, be sure to change it to Classic. We’ve also added in the ability to take pregame batting practice when you’re in the starting lineup for that game. You can step into the cage and take ten swings to help get your timing down before game-time. You won’t receive any training points or attribute improvements, but this will definitely help get you into a nice rhythm. To ensure you participate in batting practice, set the Pre-Game Batting Practice option to On. Lastly, we’ve added a new Mound Warm-Up feature that will give relievers a chance to throw eight warm-up pitches on the mound, after coming out of the bullpen. Just like pregame batting practice, you won’t receive any training points for this, but it does give you the chance to get a good rhythm before facing live hitters.

Hopefully the statistics engine will be spot on. While I have OOTP for statistical simulations, it would be pretty damn impressive if MLB10 could satisfy my twitch urge, and keep the stat-head in my happy.

Cannot wait until I get to get my hands on this puppy!

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OOTP 11 – Preorder Special

I decided to preorder Out of the Park Baseball 11 (OOTP 11) while it was $15 off. Getting OOTP 11 for $24.99 is actually $5 cheaper than I paid for OOTP 10 back in November!

It has been my experience that OOTP typically goes on sale for $10 off throughout the year, and maybe drops to $15 off at some point towards the end of the year (or at some point before the next version is released). I am not sure if I have seen the upcoming version this cheap. While I am really just getting into OOTP 10, having recently joined an online league for the first time in ages, I just decided that I could not leave well enough alone. I guess the addiction is back in earnest!

There were several items in the preorder announcement that caught my attention.

A Player Comparison screen, in which you can compare two players side-by-side

I know this is not much of a “feature” however it is about gosh darn time this is included. I guess by this point in the franchise the developers should concentrate on refinements.

More customizable news subscriptions, so you can get just the news you want in your inbox

Another one in the category of small nuances; I hate having to shift thorough all those messages and news items.

A handy comparison tab, where you can compare your simulated results with the actual real-world results from that season

This should be a fun way to see how bad I muck up Braves seasons!

Truth be told, I could have been perfectly content with OOTP 10, but OOTP 11 should be worth the money, especially considering I am getting it at a near bargain basement price.

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MLB 10: The Show – Atlanta Braves Rankings

As we draw ever closer to the March 2nd release of MLB 10: The Show, I read every new article with anticipation and excitement. Yesterday, pastapadre revealed the MLB 10 team rankings. I was happy to see my beloved Braves garnered an overall ranking of sixth (22nd Defense; 4th Pitching; 9th Batting). I’ll be tickled pink if the Braves can carry that over into real life; back in the playoffs again?

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MLB 10: The Show – The Waiting Game

After skipping a year [really seems like I skipped the last 2-3 years of gaming entirely] I am really excited about this year’s game, which is set to arrive while I am out of country for work!

The “official” PlayStation Blog site, like any good official mouth-piece runs some great articles pimping their first party offerings. MLB 10 is not an exception.

This year, we have added “calling pitch selection” and “calling pitch location” to your RttS catcher’s responsibilities. When you are in the game defensively as a catcher, you will be responsible to select the pitch that you want thrown. The system works just like it does for selecting pitches as the pitcher does. The pitcher might shake you off, or he might accept that pitch. If he does shake you off, you choose a pitch again. If you choose the same pitch, he will figure it’s really what you want and will accept it, at this point. Once you have selected the pitch, you will be responsible to select where you want the ball thrown. You can choose any of the nine zones within the strike zone, or you can choose eight areas outside of the zone if you want the ball off the plate (four outside edges and four outside corners). Now just like in real life, this doesn’t mean the pitcher will hit his spot. It just means this is where he is aiming. The better the pitcher you have throwing to you, the more effective your location calling will be.

MLB 10: The Show is going to be the real deal and will be a system seller for console baseball fans. I cannot wait to get my hands on this one!

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A Long Race …

I have been posting and posting and posting, for a long time. Maybe too long; maybe not long enough. For better or worse, I have thrown up daily content for something akin to 7+ months, which is a pretty nice achievement, but I am going to have to end this run sooner or later. But not today.

I considered not posting today. It would have been a good day to end my streak because the 6 hour marathon called the 2010 Daytona 500 was rather draining. So it would have been easily excusable. The Daytona 500 had a great ending, so I figured I had to at least go down swinging. Congrats to Jamie McMurray.

Sunday Gaming
I got in some quality time with Out of the Park Baseball 10 (recently joined an online league), and of course continued my assault on the surprising good White Knight Chronicles: International.

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Final Fantasy XIII – And A Whole Heaping Helping of Incoming Games

Speaking of not having enough time to play games, I just pre-ordered FFXIII from amazon, which has a nice $10 off a future video game purchase promotion.

Get a $10 Video Games Credit
Order Final Fantasy XIII and get $10 off a future video game purchase. The promotional code will be placed directly into your Amazon.com account within 2 business days after the product ships. Offer valid when shipped and sold by Amazon.com. Promotion valid on all existing orders. Limit one per household. Amazon reserves the right to change or terminate this promotion at any time.

It is about to be a crazy-stupid time for videogames. Besides being loaded up on current games, an unbelievable amount of gaming goodness is headed my way over the next few weeks.

Upcoming – Preorder and “Watch List” Games:

  • White Knight Chronicles International (will arrive today)
  • MLB 10: The Show (March 2)
  • Heavy Rain (February 23) – Interesting title; will probably wait for a sale, price drop, or other buying incentive.
  • FFXIII (March 9)
  • God of War III (March 16) – I should really play God of War Collection before jumping on the GoW bandwagon.
  • 2010 FIFA World Cup (April 27) – Probably do not need this and FIFA 10.

Good grief! It looks like I am all set for gaming for a long time except for a new quality racer. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue just never did it for me. I guess F1: Championship Edition and Ferrari Challenge can hold me over until the next great racing title lands in my laps.

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MLB 10: The Show

I decided to pre-order MLB 10: The Show earlier tonight. Of course I used Amazon, which gives me release day delivery for a total of $56.99. No shipping, no tax, same day service, what a deal.

As part of the pre-order special, a bonus code will be made available, which will unlock six classic stadiums.

Pre-order MLB 10 The Show, for PS3, and gain access to six classic stadiums (Shibe Park, Forbes Field, Polo Grounds, Crosley Field, Sportsman’s Park and Griffith Stadium). Access code will be e-mailed within ten business days after the game releases. Offer valid when shipped and sold by Amazon.com, while supplies last. Limit one per customer.

With the newest installment of MLB on the way, plenty of FIFA action to be had (in the form of FIFA 10, the upcoming DLC Ultimate Mode, or 2010 FIFA World Cup), and of course Madden Ultimate Team action, I think I have sports games covered for the immediate future!

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MLB 10: The Show – Preorder Fervor Over Free DLC

After skipping out on last year’s MLB 09:  The Show, I am considering a return to PS3 baseball. As much as I enjoyed MLB 07 and MLB 08, I was just not convinced that I got my money’s worth.

It is highly entertaining (in an ironic sort of way) reading the fanboy fervor over a preorder deal that includes instant access to DLC for several classic ballparks. Why such a negative reaction? Apparently The Show fanboys expected instant access to the classic stadiums based on some press release propaganda that indicates the stadiums are included in the game.

The kicker is that while the stadiums are included, you actually have to unlock a whole heaping helping of trophies and stuff in order to actually “earn” the use of said stadiums. Imagine that; an incentive based unlocking system.

The developers realized that unlocking the stadiums may be an intricate task, involving many hours of gameplay, so they decided to offer up this “bonus” content as an incentive to preorder MLB 10: The Show.

You would think that would be a win-win for everyone; Sony gets better preorder numbers and gamers get quick access to some content that would typically not be available until after hours and hours are consumed trying to unlock certain trophies.

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OOTP Baseball 10 on sale – $24.99

If you have been sitting on the fence thinking about purchasing OOTP X, now is the perfect time as the game is $15 off to close out 2009.

It’s a perfect time to buy OOTP Developments games, because from now through December 31st, we’re offering discounts on THREE different OOTP Dev games: $15 off of Out of the Park Baseball 10, $10 off of Inside the Park Baseball, and $15 off of Title Bout Championship Boxing!

Baseball season may be over, and OOTP 11 may be in development, but $24.99 is a great deal if you are looking for some hot stove action to hold you over until spring (or the next OOTP release).

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OOTP 10 – Just Getting Started

I have been attempting to get into OOTP Baseball 10, which I purchased on sale for $29.99 a few hours after the 2009 World Series ended. I say attempting, because the game in damn complicated. Maybe insanely in-depth is a better description.

I skipped the last couple of iterations of OOTP. Going back a few years, OOTP 6.5 and to a lesser extent OOTP 2006 were the last versions I played extensively. I have not played any version of OOTP in the last 18 months (probably longer). After being away from the game for an extended break, OOTP 10 is different, much different than the versions I used to play (that night vs. day thing), but at the same time sort of a welcome home experience. My biggest issue is just finding the time to really concentrate on learning the game.

Simple things can often be a chore, but for now we can chalk it up as user error. For example, during one of my games I received a message that one of my pitchers had been suspended for two games by the commissioner. Why? I clicked on the message, but that did not give me much info. After clicking around for a while I finally found what I was looking for under the player’s history section. Apparently he was a key figure in a bench clearing brawl.

OK, so the above example has nothing really to do with the game, but that is sort of the point. OOTP 10 is deep. Lots to do, lots to learn, and I have not even scratched the surface. Hopefully I will have some time over the next week or so (Thanksgiving) to really plug in deeper.

Right now I am just messing around with a Quick Start league with the 2009 MLB rosters, but I would like to start a season directly after the 2009 season (or at least with rosters more current than the start of the 2009 season) and play around with managing the Braves, just controlling the line ups, depth charts, and pitching. Of course this means that I have to find new rosters, and then figure out how to switch the game to use the new database. All of this use to be old hat, but assuming I can get a little free time, I am sure I can figure it out.

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