NCAA Football Goes Code Blue

We already knew EA Sports’ NCAA Football franchise was code blue; now it is officially done unless you believe in reincarnation or some other form pagan-like rituals:

Shortly after Electronic Arts announced it would stop producing a college football game beginning next year, the video game company — together with Collegiate Licensing Company, which holds the licensing rights to the trademarks to the majority of the colleges and universities — filed papers to the U.S. District Court in Northern California that it had settled its case brought by former players.

This once proud franchise had grown stale in recent years, so while a part of me is sad to see it go, the gamer in me thinks the series needs a break and hopefully a reimaging in the not too distance future.


Madden 25 – Saying No … Maybe Wait and See

I cannot recall the last time that I didn’t purchase the yearly Madden roster update; I’m certain it has been forever and a day! Two weeks and a day into the release of the 25th anniversary release of Madden, I feel no remorse for not shelling out a few duckets to EA Sports; not even a twinge of doubt or uncertainty about missing out on a new football game.

A few years ago (back in 2009 to be exact) I famously decided to pass on NCAA Football 10. Surprisingly it was actually a difficult decision. Not to trivialize people with serious addictions, but purchasing the annual EA Sports franchise updates is an illness. I survived, which probably allowed me to enjoy NCAA Football 12 and to a lesser extent, NCAA Football 13.

In my opinion NCAA Football 13 was only marginally more interesting than the previous year’s update, so once again I decided to sit on the sidelines. I cannot imagine that EA Sports went all out making their newest PS3 version of NCAA Football compelling when they could be working their way out of various lawsuits.

Not to digress too much, but enough is pretty much enough, which has carried over into Madden. I may look towards a PS4 Madden 25 purchase, but that is still in the air. As it stands now, I can still play last year’s Madden 13 and be perfectly content. For now … until the PS4 Madden itch kicks in …


Madden 13

Times have changed. Many moons ago I would have written a few pre anticipating Madden release articles, and of course the obligatory “it’s shipped!” an “it’s out of delivery!” and a “Madden has arrived” articles. Then I would have put in a few games and posted some early impressions.

First of all, Madden 13 (PS3) arrived late in the day; in fact I was out at the soccer fields coaching my 10 year-old son’s team when UPS or FedEx (I didn’t bother to check which one; yet again another sign of the times) threw the package along with the Ratchet & Clank Collection on the front door.

For now I decided to pass on the Vita game. I’m sure I will enjoy it, but honestly there is only a limited amount of time I have for gaming, much less playing football games. Case in point, I’m actually putting NCAA 13 up on eBay this weekend. I figure the Vita version can wait.

I sent a few minutes with Madden Ultimate Team (MUT), which is sort of my hidden passion, which I try to avoid as much as possible so I do not inadvertently throw chunks of money at virtual football cards. Unless I am missing something, it looks like EA has decided to start your team anew. I had a couple of rookie cards carry over from MUT 12 based on preordering Madden 13. And I have 5 rewards packs. I was too tired to see if my coins carried over, and I didn’t open the packs because I know my boys would like to see what cards I received.

I jumped back to the main menu and I played one quick game; first impressions were that graphics look much better and the new physics engine was convincing.

For anyone interested, I setup a calvertgames community (search calvertgames or CG). Feel free to join. I’m not really much of an online gamer which means I will probably not push for the Platinum this year, but at least wanted to create a community for my boys and their friends.

More to come later; just in time for Labor Day weekend.


NCAA Football 13 – Read and React Trophy

What a joke of a luck Trophy. I hate it when developers put in nonsense Trophies, and the NCAA guys are really doing a job on us in consecutive years.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the Read and React trophy is total garbage BS. Using some tips in this thread, I willfully did the needful a few minutes ago!

This is a great tip. I used it this morning to get this stupid f’ing Trophy. Had my INT within the first 5 plays, but it was a fluke. I missed the ball, but because of the various edits, the receiver dropped the pass, and I caught it before it hit the ground for a nice Pick-6.

I kept squeezing that L2 reaction button for all it was worth (20 seconds is a lot of time) and on my way to the House I received the coveted ding.

Only Trophies I have left are some of the Heisman ones … so well on my way to Platinum goodness thanks to this tip!

If it helps anyone else, I uploaded the edited roster to my locker. One or two other teams may be jacked up, but for this Trophy you are playing with Texas Tech, so you should be good to go if you download my file.

One thing I did that was not mentioned in the original tip thread, was to lower the minimum speed threshold setting to 0, to help showcase J Man’s amazing speed (99 rated, all the other DBs and WRs were edited to 0).

I’m posting this reference for anyone else needlessly struggling with this Read and React Trophy crap. If you decide to follow this tip, hopefully my contribution of the pre-edited Texas Tech in my PSN jcalvert EA Sports NCAA Football locker will help ease your pain and suffering.


NCAA Football 12 – Platinum at Last

My 4th of July celebration activities included some quality time with Kate, a family trip to Buffalo Wild Wings, plenty of beer and a final go at earning the NCAA Football 12 Platinum.

To be honest I had all, but given up. The final 3-4 trophies just seemed to be too much trouble, but I hated seeing the game at 92 (or whatever) percent complete. Just a little higher …

In between delicious pints of Sweetwater 420 (the nectar of the gods) I spent some quality time in the NCAA Football 12 board looking for some advice, help, cheats; anything to get me over the hump.

I went with a 6 [my Platinum trophy difficulty rating]. For the most part, even with a Trophy guide, the game was fairly straight forward. In Your Crosshairs, Lock and Load, and Ironman (the one which requires you to score an offensive and defensive TD) were a total PITA to me.

I decided that I would finish off the game today. I sat it aside a while back because I was totally PO’ed over these trophies. Finally, decided to proclaim my Independence, and get the Platinum today. After trying to gimp the system with my 13 year old (Crosshairs and Lock and Load) I decided to do it own my own. Took a while, but finally pulled it off doing what others mentioned in various threads. Use a curl pattern and have your CB jump the route. Actually had to do it twice because I didn’t get a TD the first time.

Ironman actually came pretty easy today. I did the 7′ OLB/HB route, and got a defensive TD by stripping the ball on a punt. I gave up trying to block it, so started going for a strip, which actually worked. I thought I wasn’t going to get an offensive TD, but managed one with under a minute to play.

Ding – NCAA Football 12 Platinum goodness with less than a week to spare before I get to take on Herschel Walker’s records in NCAA Football 13. The demo was OK, and I know I will spend more time with Madden 13, but I can’t help myself …


NCAA Football 13 – Enter Herschel Walker

I swore (really) that I would pass on either this year’s (i.e. 13) edition of NCAA Football or Madden. Ultimately I decided that I would skip out on NCAA Football and just do the “yearly update thing” with Madden 13. Then two things happed …

First, the Heisman Challenge mode includes the 1982 Heisman Trophy recipient, Herschel Walker, from the University of Georgia.

Second, Amazon is offering the game for $44.99. I’m a little disappointed that release day shipping (a staple of Amazon) hasn’t been offered yet, but I’m sure that will change in the coming weeks leading up to the July 10 release. Amazon is also offering some exclusive Nike Pro Combat Uniforms, which is not a big deal to me, but the overall deal (lower price, no sales tax, and free shipping) is hard to beat. Even with the “other guys” (i.e. GameStop) offering some bonus DLC, I cannot image that the DLC will cost more than $15, and even if it does, once you add in the sales tax and shipping, Amazon’s offer made the purchase decision rather easy.  Besides, I’ll be playing with Herschel …


Longest Easy Trophy Ever

I find it pretty amazing that it took EA so damn long to patch Madden so that we could finally earn the ‘This one is easy’ trophy.

Fixed issue where previous MUT fans could not earn the “This one is easy” achievement/trophy for creating their MUT team in Madden NFL 12.

Not sure what else to say other than about f’ing time this was corrected. The jaded gamer in me thinks that EA held back the patch for this one in order to wait until the season was at least half over, to less the impact of ‘completed’ games being thrown on the second hand market. I cannot think of any other excuse to wait so damn long to offer a fix.


Madden 12 – Not So ‘Easy’ Trophy Bug

When I put Madden 12 in for the first time, and entered Ultimate Team Mode (MUT), I was presented with a message about my super, awesome, ultimate, top-shelf, Hall of Fame edition surprise pack of all 99 rated past Madden cover athletes. Good stuff all around because all this was mine, just for ponying up extra duckets for the Hall of Fame edition of Madden 12.

For my troubles, and by troubles I really mean doing absolutely jack shit, I got an immediate Trophy ding earning ‘This One is Hard’ because my MUT team was over the 80+ rating threshold.

Gold Trophy goodness, but I feel a little dirty. Not to worry because the good folks at EA felt compelled to automatically import my MUT from yesteryear – my Madden 10 GA TX Falcons. Ah how I forgot all about you, but not for long.

It seems that EA has included a nice little bug that prevents prior MUT owners from earning the Bronze ‘This One is Easy’ Trophy for creating a MUT team.

So let’s get this out in the open. I played Madden 10 MUT, but I did not play MUT in Madden 11 because I did not want to be tempted to spend money on ‘virtual’ football cards. I love the concept of MUT, but that is an entirely different article, so before I start digressing, let’s move back to the situation at hand.

After entering MUT for the first time, and getting the before mentioned Trophy ding I noticed that I didn’t get a second Trophy ding for creating a MUT. So I exited out of MUT back to the main menu, and entered MUT again.

This time I was prompted with some info about how grateful EA was that I was returning to MUT. For my loyalty I was awarded some coins, maybe even a card or two, and I was given three free cards for playing the Madden 12 demo. More importantly, I was told that my previous MUT team was being imported, and because EA is so great, they were going to include some BS about when my MUT was established. Thanks, but WTF is my ‘This One is Easy’ Trophy?

I do not see a way to create a new team, delete my old team, start over, or any other nonsense. I’m not about to dick around deleting profiles, trying to establish a new EA ID or create an alternate PSN account just to work out EA’s fucking laziness and lack of accountability when it comes to quality control and customer service.

And why should I at this point just because EA felt compelled to import my previous MUT team without warning me that I was going to be up shit creek when it comes to getting a Platinum Trophy.

Everything I have read indicates that this is a problem with the PS3 and 360 – so it is not as if EA has some random issue that only a few users will encounter. Instead of awarding loyal EA customers, and prior MUT players, EA has decided to bend us over and ram a rod up our collective rears. Of course the good folks at the EA help desk will not acknowledge the issue.

I could go on, but why bother? Just another reason that EA needs some real NFL competition – can’t wait for their exclusive license to expire.


The Return of Happy Madden Day?

In the not too distant past, Madden Day was a big deal, but these days, not so much. Seriously, I have not overheard one tidbit about Madden in the office. Maybe I am just out of the loop. Maybe I don’t hang out in the right online spaces. Maybe it is just a sign that I am becoming (or dare I say have become) an old fart and everyone that use to play Madden has moved on to ‘real life’ matters – family being the primarily extracurricular time sinkhole (err … if you are a gaming mom or dad, you know what I mean).

So the Madden 12 Hall of Fame Edition is set to show up on my door today thanks to release day shipping from Amazon. For my extra money ($89 vs. $59 for the ‘standard’ edition) I am not sure that I am actually getting extra value unless I spend a lot of time with Madden Ultimate Team (MUT). Or maybe I will get that super rare, limited edition 18k gold Faulk card. Probably not, but I do get a $20 Amazon promotional credit, so it is almost as if I paid $10 for the super-premium extra special platinum’ish MUT pack, a (not 18k gold) exclusive Faulk card, and whatever else Amazon threw in for my pre-order dollars.

Soccer practice tonight and tomorrow night, so that is that family time thing I was referencing above. Thankfully this is a long weekend (Happy early Labor Day) so I should get in a little Madden 12 love later this week.

If you are a believer, Happy Madden Day!


Now Playing – The Random Trophy Stuff Edition

I continue on my no longer so torrid tour of Mel B, but with the kids’ soccer I am only hitting one or two workouts a week.

While Mel B may not be the best Move implementation (there are a handful of exercises that will not register correctly with the camera + Move), Sports Champions seems to be really solid. After putting this one aside for a long time, I returned to it in order to get more Move satisfaction. Pretty decent game, enjoyable by the whole family; Trophies are a complete grind.

I finished up Sam and Max (episodes 4 and 5) this week. Mostly because they were sitting on my HDD waiting to be played, partially because I may let my PS+ subscription expire in a few months, sort of because the series is less stress and semi-entertaining. And I would be lying to you if I did not say the Trophies were an easy bonus. Sam and Max episodes 1 – 5 were free earlier this year for PS+ subscribers.

Pixiljunk Shooter – First one; highly addicting, fun shooter + puzzle combo. In this case I have to say that the Trophies add to the overall ‘experience’ – I could just blow through the game, but how would that be fun? I had to get some help for the ‘Coin Collector Trophy’ – for me it was much more luck than skill.

Not to digress too much, but I think Trophies are kind of like those collection JRPG games. You either are into them or you are not. When Trophies were first introduced, I could care less; however now I am card carrying Trophy whore. To me they add a little extra excitement, as in the case of Pixiljunk Shooter; these are actually fun to try to unlock. For other games, some of the Trophies are just meat grinders. These types I can pass on, and typically do.

Just got the Platinum Trophy for Madden 2011 this morning. Yes, I’m still playing the current (old) one. I have become a certified Trophy whore. I decided to ‘finish’ up the game before the new version is release on Tuesday. Technically Madden 2012 is already out for those that spent the extra cash on the EA Season Ticket crap; obviously I did not.

Speaking of those Trophies, the ‘Pick Up 6’ Trophy, which requires you to win a ‘Fight for the Fumble’ in the end zone was a major PITA. It was not going to happen for me during the course of normal games, and while I attempted some ‘cheats’ to make it easier, I just could not close off this final Trophy until I stumbled across this video. Using this technique it only took me two attempts to close off my third Platinum Trophy.

Looking Forward …
Georgia takes on Boise St. September 3 in the Georgia Dome, so I really need to jump back into NCAA Football 2012. It has been years since I was successful at getting some decent value for my money out of two football titles. With three kids plus work, I bet I am screwed.

I have several games on pre-order including the before mentioned Madden 12, F1 2011, FIFA 12, and the ICO Collection. September is awfully full.

I am also considering looking at WKC II, although I have no earthly idea why because I never got very far into WKC:I. I guess I got distracted doing the needful.

We will wrap up with Kung Fu Rider. I think this one will suck, although I hope to get a few hours of family fun out of it for my efforts.


Did I just do that?

Did I really just preorder Madden 12 Hall of Fame Edition with free guaranteed release day arrival? Yep; amazon must love me.

I tried to convince myself that I would skip Madden this year. I swore that I could not play NCAA Football and Madden titles in the same year; time has moved on … too old for dual football games, not enough hours in the day, and all that jazz.

I guess I was just fooling myself …

The nice thing about the pre-order special is that $20 credit, which makes this Hall of Fame Edition a $10 MSRP premium over the standard version. Please amazon offered up the following bonus:

… receive the Amazon exclusive All Rookies Team and All Sophomores Team.

[… coupled with the Hall of Fame bonuses …]

Madden Ultimate Team – Receive the most prestigious Platinum Pack yet, featuring a combination of 13 NFL Hall of Famers and former Madden NFL cover athletes. All cards feature ratings from each player’s most productive season in the NFL.

I loved the concept of Ultimate Team in Madden 10, but did not touch it in Madden 11 because I was worried about wasting too much money on virtual packs of cards, and I did not think there was any possible way for me to keep up with all the school age and college kids. To be fair, I did not really check out Madden 11 Ultimate Team to see if it had any substantial improvements over Madden 11.

It looks like I will be checking out Ultimate Team in Madden 12; if nothing else, my day one packs should be on par with all the kids that invest money straight away on special packs and cards, and have time to burn flipping decks.

EA Sports Season Ticket
Of course the next question you may be asking, is this dumb bloke going to do the needful and pony up $24.99 for EA Sports Season Ticket service?

Right now the answer is no. There was once a time and a place, where I would have done so, but I think that moment has passed me by.

Then again, before the days of amazon, I would shell out an extra $9.99 (or whatever) for release day arrival, and as mentioned above, I did pay premium for the Hall of Fame version of Madden 12. So I have shown signs of hopelessness before.

I don’t normally pay for extra sports DLC, so it would take a lot of spending to make up for that $25, even at a 20% discount rate. In fact, I did not pay for any DLC in Madden 10 (other than maybe $5-7 on Ultimate Team Packs) or Madden 11.

I think the introduction of EA Sports Season Ticket also implies to me that Sony’s PS+ service will be offering fewer EA Sports DLC discounts. How many monthly services can one subscribe to and receive a modest ROI?


NCAA Football – Week 1 Impressions

After a week of time with the game, the one thing I have realized is what I have already described; under the covers the game may have moved forward with subtle AI improvements, but to the casual eye NCAA Football 12 is light years behind other franchises such as FIFA (overall experience; career development), MLB: The Show (presentation; gameplay), and even EA’s own Madden (presentation).

Let’s face it, looks are everything; from a casual gaming standpoint the graphics just don’t hold up. I am not sure how best to describe the graphics engine, it just looks dated. I think so much more could be done on the field, with the animations, and with the overall “experience” – stadiums, crowds, sidelines, etc. The developers looked like they put a lot of time into all the pregame activities – in my opinion that time could have been better spent adding more individual player animations.

I understand that the 360 version looks better than the flat and stale PS3 version; apparently that has been the case for years. Look at MLB: The Show and it is obvious more can be done in this regard on the PS3.

The presentation sucks; plain and simple. Everything about it – commentary, sideline reporting, replays, atmosphere, and so on are lackluster at best. If EA spent the time to overhaul the presentation, I think the game would really hold gamers (casual and simulation fans) attention for the long haul.

Of course graphics are not everything (contrary to what I just wrote); gameplay actually matters if a game is going to hold up and have any lasting power. The only thing I wonder right now is if NCAA Football 12 will hold up past the release of Madden 12. Too soon to tell, but over the years I have a tendency to concentrate on one game over the other; with Madden winning out over the last 3-4 releases, which coincides with the purchase of my Falcons season tickets.

I have not touched online gaming yet; doubt I will as none of my friends have bothered to pick up NCAA Football 12, and I hate playing random games with strangers. Same for online Dynasty; soon enough on that one in order to unlock one of the Trophies. I have also not had time to jump into a Road for Glory session, which is probably just the old Race for the Heisman or Campus Legend mode renamed and tagged as a new feature.

I have spent several hours with the Dynasty mode. I started my career as an offensive coordinator at Mississippi St. In our first year we went 11-1, winning 10 in a row after losing in the closing seconds to Auburn in Week 2. Next up is the SEC Championship game against 11-1 (9-0) Texas A&M. What? Yes, I realigned into a SEC Super Conference (Texas & Memphis to the West; Clemson and Texas A&M to the East) since I am a Trophy whore, and a Trophy or two was on offer just for doing the needful.

Did I mention that we beat Alabama, however a 1 loss Alabama team still managed to end up 4th, while the SEC West best Mississippi St. Bulldogs could only manage 5th?

Obviously the polls (after years and years and years) are still broken, which is really unacceptable at this point. If nothing else players should have an option to override anything that is just ridiculous. In real life everyone knows a strong team can (usually, with some luck) overcome a Week 2 loss. Alabama should not have been able to hold position over Mississippi St. after taking it on the chin in Week 11.

I am enjoying Dynasty mode from a coaching perspective; i.e. just calling offensive plays. It is kind of interesting watching play action, draws, and screens because they are very much indicative of my in-game play experience. Play actions look to be really hit or miss; hopefully a patch will offer some improvements. Draws work great, when called at the right time; i.e. if the defense expects a pass or is presenting a heavy outside rushing attack. Screen plays seem completely broken; when I am controlling the QB, I could understand wrecking the play by releasing the ball too early or too late, but watching the AI controlled simulation unfold shows me just how busted screens are in this game.

I am not sure about the Super Sim feature; certainly progresses the games really quickly, but time of possession seems way out of balance, and the actual statistics deserve a second look. Then again, how different is that compared to games where I control the action on the field? Like years passed, most CPU possessions are really short, ending in a bomb that I cannot stop, or a long TD rush because I cannot close down gaps, or worse yet, ending in some sort of miracle completion, as a pass bounces off the back of my CB, and somehow into the arms of the AI receiver surrounded by three DBs. Yep, that animation is still (unfortunately) in the game.

Unlike past years, as I play with the sliders, I am seeing a few decent 10+ play AI controlled drives, but these are the exceptions. The sliders for some penalty settings just do not work (offensive or defensive pass interference), while some work too well (off sides, holding). Patch please.

EA has also given Dynasty fans the ability to pay real duckets to improve recruiting. $24.99 for the full pack? No thanks.

I love the option offense; works like a charm, especially with a team like Mississippi St. I like the control over the RBs, although I swear (usually in a loud outburst) that the AI cheats and comes out of nowhere to close down a once wide open gap.

I have read that there is a custom playbook glitz, although I have not come across it. Not that UGA would ever do it in real life (not SEC’ish, not enough quality HBs, offense not run by a scrambling QB), but I added the Wishbone to the Dawgs playbook, mainly to run the triple option. It didn’t hurt that the game offers Trophies for a custom playbook and for have a FB score a TD out of a triple option. Besides, I just like to run option plays.

This article seems mostly negative, and to a certain degree that is the case, but NCAA Football 12 also offers up a certain fun factor. Maybe it is because I have been on the sidelines for a while, or maybe college football just holds a certain appeal. If the developers can patch in some gameplay improvements I can see me playing this one deep into the fall, but otherwise I expect that the wind will eventually blow in Madden’s direction.


Week in Gaming (40? Not so old after all)

NCAA Football 12, what else? It is actually growing on me as I continue to fine tune some of the sliders, but the reality is that under the covers this is still the same NCAA Football that I turned my back on several years ago. Sure, there are improvements, small little niggles that any simulation fan will pick up on, but casual fans are going to wonder why they should continue to “upgrade” yearly.

I have not started farting around with Dynasty mode yet; mostly because of time commitments, and secondly because the developers have taken Dynasty mode in a forgettable direction. Is it really so hard to get this right? Just throw a couple of dedicated NCAA football fans at the helm as “consultants,” find some decent software engineers that understand progression modeling, standard deviation (from walk-ons to blue chip prospects), make it adjustable via various slider settings, and tie it all up with a pretty interface (hire a UI consultant) and we would have the killer experience that we have been longing for since we first fell in love with NCAA Football during the heydays of the 2000-2001 releases.

One can dream, right? Instead, according to Bill Abner at nohighscores, we get recruiting run amuck.

In 2013 we see…

42 quarterbacks rated 90 or higher

41 running backs rated 90 or higher

The country is filled with B+ to A+ rated teams, as progression has simply gone insane. You can make the case that the overall score for these players doesn’t matter, that it is the individual ratings that carry more weight and this argument would hold more water if EA shipped rosters that reflected this. They didn’t. This CLEARLY can’t be how it’s meant to work. EA can’t possibly mean for Ohio U (not Ohio State, but the Bobcats of Athens) to finish 12-0 in 2013 and have an 81 rated HB win the Heisman. That can’t be right.

What this does is effectively make your NCAA Dynasty a crap shoot when games are simmed as truly great programs are likely to go 6-6 because everyone is rated so closely together (unless you are truly a bottom feeder team.) A team might go 11-1 one year, still have a great team the next and lose 5 or 6 games due to randomness.

Is this harsh? Not at all if you admit to yourself that …

(A) NCAA Football is a niche title, which a simulation fan base and mass market appeal. The former demands a decent (that is really the mark at this point – decent) simulation, while that later just wants their beloved team to beat the shit out of everyone else.

(B) While my gaming habits these days are still rooted in simulation experiences, I have shifted (kicking and screaming) into the realm of a semi-casual gamer. This has an interesting impact on my gaming because I can really appreciate the full spectrum more so than at any prior point in my gaming life.

Catherine Demo
I spent a little time with the strange and curious Catherine; what will those crazy Japanese developers think of next? After watching this game for a while, I was interested to get my hands on the demo. It is really just a block pulling/pushing/manipulating puzzle type game, with an interesting story. While I like interesting (i.e. different) games, I am not so sure that I am going to keep this one on pre-order. I would actually like to see how the story plays out; could probably save $60 and just wait for the eventual youtube videos to make an appearance.

The Sly Collection: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus
Still working my way through this one; currently in the Mesa City section. I missed these games the first time around (PS2 releases) and am glad I am giving the HD versions a go. The Sly games, at least the first one, are all about classic platform gaming action; however a little on the easy side. The cartoon cell-shaded graphic style makes the game appear to be a kiddie outing, but I think adults that grew up in the Mario world should enjoy the Sly games.

Where to from here?
Any gaming time this coming week will probably be spent with NCAA 12, exploring the broken Dynasty mode, looking to see if it is really as bad as has been reported. I’ll probably also turn back to LBP some; have given it a rest the last couple of weeks in order to recharge my appreciation for this true gem.

I also need to decide if I am going to take the plunge on any of the PSN Summer Sale games. I have such a huge backlog of games that I will probably pass; have to admit that Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is tempting me.

40 is just a number … although a scary one!
Speaking of 40, while it’s really not so old, it’s darn hard to believe that my household now features a 40 year-old better half. Cheers to Tonya; 40 is really just a starting point, a silly number if you will.


NCAA Football 12 – Very First Impressions

After skipping NCAA Football for the last couple of years, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was semi-excited. Not “I’m about to get laid” excited; let’s call it curiously enthusiastic.

This is going to sound awful, but my first thoughts while beating down the dreaded bumblebees from Tech 35-14: “The game has not progressed; at its roots, this is still the same NCAA Football that I stopped playing due to discontent in the game’s direction.” I gave up on the franchise a couple of years ago because I thought it had been on a downward spiral since the glory days of NCAA 2000-2001, never really captivating me during the PS2 days and of course somewhat lackluster PS3 offerings.

Maybe I just expected too much. Maybe as a former reviewer I stopped appreciating fun, always concentrating on little flaws and gameplay defects. Maybe NCAA Football gave up on me, its core audience from the original PlayStation days.

So here I was last night listening to the same stale and forgettable (dare I say terrible?) commentary that seems to be impossible for the development team to improve. The in-game presentation does not at all seem fresh; far from an ESPN Game Day experience. Did I just see frame-rate stuttering as the players ran to the line of scrimmage? I know I did not just see one of those crazy-ass superhuman, no way that could happen in real life, CPU ball carriers speeding up, skipping multiple frame rates, just to make a first down. Say it’s not true …

I know I am only a few games in, but what’s the point of sportsmanship points when the game’s AI doesn’t seem to understand the concept? As an example, my beloved Dawgs were trashing the fighting chickens of South Carolina (hey, I can dream of future days), 38-0 deep in the 4th QTR; I did a quick out play … mainly because I was still learning the playbook and wanted to practice the play to get the timing down. I got docked -75 sportsmanship points. A few plays later, as time was running out, I kicked a FG, just because I could and I am all for knocking the Gamecocks’ in the teeth. Guess what? +12 sportsmanship points. That makes sense.

I am sure (probably) that as I play more, I am going to uncover actual gameplay elements that make me looked bemused – wow, the gameplay is really improved. Look at those attack angles, look at the closing distance; those DBs are really playing zone defense correctly. Or maybe not; such is the life of a jaded, former reviewer.

Hopefully under the covers, I will actually discover some fun. The greatest compliment to this game will be me falling in love enough to start a Chronicles series, and maybe, just maybe pass up Madden 12.


NCAA Football 12 – Finally Off The Sidelines

For the first time in recent memory (since NCAA Football 09 to be exact), I preordered NCAA Football. It didn’t hurt that Amazon offered a $20 promotional credit (already applied to my account). They also offered up some sort of PDF “starter guide” – have not looked at it to see if offers anything of note.

Enough of that; I happen to be home this afternoon. Strange coincidence that UPS just showed up with NCAA Football 12? Probably not …