Madden 12, Madden 13, MUT, Andrew Luck

I said I wouldn’t do it – no MUT for me after all the temptation in Madden 10, when the Ultimate Team concept was first introduced. This stuff can be like any drug addiction; cash will go down the sinkhole at a rapid pace.

Ah, but in order to earn the Platinum for Madden 12, two trophies require the competition of 10 and 20 MUT games. So now I am slogging my way through the final trophy (currently at the 10 game mark). Looking at my team, the GA TX Falcons, I have a handful of platinum pack Hall of Fame players, some special addition ones, plenty of gold and silver cards, and some rubbish bronze addition cards. All that glitters is gold, right?

In order to keep using my Hall of Fame players, which were procured with the purchase of my ultra-rare (not really) super-secret (not so much), Hall of Fame edition (that’s what it’s called), I have to purchase contract cards. Not just a few, but a lot. These things cost coins that can be earned in the game, or with real life money. A typical 600 coin contract card may extend a Hall of Fame card 1-4 games, a gold card 4 games, a silver card 6-8, and a bronze card 10+.

You can see where this is going, right? Playing against the CPU, I typically earn 800-1100 coins per game. I can either spend a lot of time trying to whore the auctions, or try to work trades, or I could spend some real life money, or I could just not play my most valuable players.

I have chosen the route of not playing my most valuable players, which means I’m slogging through the last 10 games by choice. I know MUT is addicting, and I just don’t want to be an addict.

I would have to do some searches (here, purchase records, etc.) to confirm, but I’m pretty sure that with MUT 10 I game my team an injection of $10 (maybe less, but not more), which is when I said I’m not going to get addicted, spending money on virtual cards, and passed on playing MUT 11.

Here we are, trying to go Platinum with MUT and Madden 12. So far I have resisted the temptation to inject real world cash, but I’m tempted because I want to play with those Hall of Famer players, not a bunch of bench warmers. EA – sneaky bastards!

Madden 13
I decided to preorder Madden 13, and for my efforts Amazon is treating me well. $15 credit, release day delivery, an Andrew Luck card, and more.

Pre-order Madden NFL 13 and receive a $15 promotional credit

You will also get the Andrew Luck Future Stars Draft Pick Madden Ultimate Team Card for immediate use in Madden NFL 12. [… automatically unlocks the Andrew Luck Rookie Card for Madden Ultimate Team 13 …]

Pre-orders also receive the Amazon exclusive NFL legends Joe Gibbs and Lawrence Taylor for use in Madden Ultimate Team and the all-new Connected Careers mode.

Once I hear my ding-ding to finish off the Madden 12 Platinum, I’ll put aside MUT for this year, once again winning my battle with MUT EA demons.

PS: My boys want to spend some cash to get their Madden 12 Platinum (they need the MUT 80 rated deck one). And so it begins …


Madden 13: Vita + PS3 No Cross Play Platform Saves

What a bummer reading that EA will continue a trend it started with FIFA of not support cross play platform saves with Madden 13.

I imagine Madden NFL 13 will be a solid football game on the go, but personally, I know I’m not going to have much interest in running a PS3 franchise and a Vita franchise. Adding to the woes of PlayStation pocket gamers is that when asked if a unified experience could come to next year’s Madden entry, a developer said that they’d see how this year’s Vita version did before investing in the option.

It’s like a Greek tragedy: this year’s version will do poorly because it doesn’t have the mode that EA would add if it did well.

The reality is that I will probably order the Vita version of Madden (in addition to the PS3 version that I already have on pre-order), but this is really just a damn shame. I understand that the franchise mode in the PS3 is ultra-complicated, but you would think that the developers behind the Vita could at least attempt to pull off what Sony did with MLB 12: The Show; bunch of lazy bastards!


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 …


Now Playing (End of May Edition)

As summer starts to bloom, I finally decided to pick up Flower as part of the recent ThatGameCompany sale ($4.89 via PS+ discount). What a wonderful experience; when games become art, they really become immersive media, moving beyond the realm of typical game-playing sessions and evolving into said experience.

I haven’t spent a ton of time with it (too many other distractions as you can see from this post), but I would say that it is a stronger outing than their initial flOw, but not as emotionally captivating as their recent Journey outing. Wow; I’m becoming a softie in my old age.

Final Fantasy XIII (some XIII-2)
I swore to myself (seriously) and told my boys that I wouldn’t start XIII-2 until I finished the mainline FF XIII story. Two years after its initial release, I finally got around to doing the needful.

I’m not sure if I will actually Platinum FF XIII; I probably don’t have the time or strength of character to grind, grind, grind. With that said, I am still plugging along and having a good time with it. At some point I will have to put it down and fully focus of XIII-2; until then, I hope to pick up another “you have put too much time into this game” trophy or two.

Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale
Speaking of RPGs, Daggerdale was just released on the PSN. It is the rare purchase for me to actually pick something up day one at full price; in this case $14.99.

I’m a sucker for fun hack-and-slash experiences, and this one carries the full backing of the Dungeons & Dragons 4E rules system.

I’m only a couple of hours in, so I can’t really comment on the game play mechanics, but playing with the human warrior is pretty much what I expected. Pick up a quest, smash barrels for treasure, fight some bad guys (goblins and skeletons so far), rinse and repeat. I’m at level 2, and have only died once by stupidly falling off a high ledge while fighting a skeleton. I forced Mr. Bones off the ledge and thought I would follow; to my death.

Madden 12
I have been playing this one a little here and there in order to satisfy my football gaming jones, but mostly to finish it out and pick up the Platinum. I only need the 2 Ultimate Team (10 and 20) games played and I will score a new shiny. The truth is that I swore I would stay away from Ultimate Team so that I wouldn’t be tempted to throw real money at virtual cards. For the most part that has worked, but I did have one weak moment; money was sitting in my wallet, so I did flip some for a Gold pack. Yes, I’m weak.

For the most part Madden is a super easy Platinum. Over the holiday weekend I finished off a couple of the trophies with help from my two oldest boys – yes, we “gamed” (err cheated) the system by turning down the CPU AI to be weak as a kitten, but we had a good time playing, which is what life (and gaming) is all about. Speaking of quality family gaming …

LittleBigPlanent 2
I haven’t played this one is a while, but it’s a great game to play with my boys (all three – 13, 9.11, and 5). LBP provides infinite possibilities, is fun creative outlet, hilarious at times (watching each other die or do otherwise stupid tricks), etc.

Speaking of LBP, I’m still anxiously looking forward to the Vita version.

Waiting Game …
As I wait on my “Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland Limited Edition: Grand Finale Set” NIS America store, to arrive today or tomorrow, I keep looking at my backlog of RPGs and shake my head. I’ll never get to them all, but it is a nice problem to have. At the same time, I start looking forward to the next round of Gust instant classics (i.e. Atelier Ayesha). I’m hopeless …

Same for Gravity Rush (Vita – June 12); it has received extremely positive reviews, but not sure that it will be a system seller or marketed as such. I’ll be happy with a quality game that provides some new Vita experiences.


MLB 12: The Show (Vita) – What about the gameplay?

Since I was sick much of the past week, I didn’t get any time to dive into MLB 12 (Vita or PS3). I did spend some time last night with the Home Run Derby mode; mostly just to get a feel for batting and of course to pick up the HR Trophies.

I was curious what others thought about the Vita version, so I headed over to Metacritic this morning. At the time of this article, only two reviews offered on Metacritic, which to me is somewhat of a surprise.

What was even more surprising, and honestly I’m not even sure why I am still surprised by this sort of thing, the reviews don’t even bother to tackle the gameplay aspects of a Vita version of MLB 12. Take this example from Cheat Code Central (CCC):

Most tellingly, many of the game’s presentation elements have been removed. While hitting a homerun provides the proper score increases, one does not actually see the players walk the bases. Transitions between pitches are quick, accomplished with fades, as is the case with each fielding play. Once there is, ostensibly, nothing more to be done by the defense, the game fades immediately back to the pitch/at-bat display. I hesitate to call this “lazy,” but it definitely takes away from the overall experience of the game, from the illusion that one is managing a baseball franchise, guiding a player from the double-A league up to the Majors, or running an exhibition match between the Yankees and the Red Sox to see who’s really on top in the Northeast. In the end, though, these elements of the games visuals and presentation, while disappointing, are hardly game-breaking or offensive.

To me, this is actually OK; I want a portable game of baseball to play faster. For that matter, I have been calling for faster playing baseball games, yet ones that still maintain simulation aspects, for years and years. Strangely enough, IGN actually agrees with me on this point; hell just got a little less warm.

Not that anyone really cares, but I do agree with the CCC reviewer about MLB 12 being somewhat intimidating for MLB The Show newbies. For some inexplicable reason, I actually set the game on the hardest mode, and it took me a while to figure out WTF I was doing, adjusted the game according, but I was already down 8-0 in the 1st inning. Ouch!

I really hate the Vita trend of not having a physical manual. MLB 12: The Show is certainly one game that warrants one just to provide some sort of cheat sheet on all the control options and what the various sliders actually do.

At any rate, I read the CCC review twice – not once does the subject of gameplay come up. Not that the IGN review offered a better approach. [sigh] I’m getting far too old for this sort of thing.


MLB 12: The Show PS3 + Vita $20 Off Offer (Update)

I previously mentioned how Amazon applied some screwy discount to my order; the PS3 version had a $12 discount applied, while the Vita version received an $8 discount.

If that was not strange enough, imagine my surprise to see new invoices for full MSRP when Amazon finally shipped the game. I promptly contacted customer service only to be told I would receive a $20 voucher good towards future purchases. I told customer support that was not good enough – the deal not only stated that the discount would be applied at checkout (it was), but Amazon actually sent me receipts with the discount, only to later charger full MSRP.

I asked for a $20 credit; no, demanded a $20 credit to my on file AMEX card. For some strange reason Amazon responded with a $20 credit on both orders, which is crazy because that certainly was not what I requested. I consider the “bonus” credit part of my “pain and suffering” – I shouldn’t have needed to contact Amazon customer service in the first place, much less contact them multiple times to straighten the purchase “MLB 12: The Show for the PS3 and Vita and receive $20 off” mess.

Sadly enough, even with the release day shipping, I have not been able to play the games yet. I was sick as a dog, as was the entire family, for most of the week with a dreadful stomach virus of sorts. Nasty stuff!

I should get to crack open both games later today and spend some time with them over the weekend. My nine year-old son, who does not like baseball, is excited to try MLB 12 with the Move. Of course I’m excited just to try to pick up and take on the go with me concept.

More to come later; God willing if the creek doesn’t rise. Of course it is raining, so there is that.

Happy Friday!


MLB 12: The Show PS3 + Vita $20 Off Offer

Amazon finally decided to start offering the Sony incentive to save $20 when purchasing the PS3 and Vita version of MLB 12: The Show during the same transaction.

Take The Show on the road. For a limited time, save $20 when you buy both the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 versions of “MLB 12: The Show.” Save your Season, Franchise, or Road to The Show progress in between games, and upload to the PlayStation Network with your PS3 or PS VITA, anywhere at any time.

Amazon is reporting that this offer expires on April 10, so get it while it is still hot off the press and prior to opening day.

Color me happy; this is a great deal. I really had no intention of getting both, and was debating the merits of getting just the Vita version … then this happy deal sang a song of irresistible purchase to me. Can’t hold back …

Strangely enough, at least to me, the PS3 version received release day shipping, but not the Vita version.

After receiving my email receipt from Amazon, I noticed something strong. The $20 discount didn’t apply directly to the Vita version. While the actual amount of $79.99 was correct, the Vita version received an $8 discount while the PS3 version received a $12 discount.

As I said strange. I am looking forward to some MLB action and then taking my game from the PS3 to the Vita and back to the PS3. Looks like MLB heaven is coming later this week.

[Edit:  Amazon now lets me select release day delivery for the Vita version, but it still has the screwy $8 discount.]


How Much For Two Hours?

So Journey will get critical acclaim and all the typical accolades that come with a fantastic independent title. Two hours? According to PlayStation Lifestyle, the majority of gamers will complete Journey in a single sitting.

Some will be disappointed by how quickly the game ends, but the two hours that mark your journey is the most incredible and unique you can possibly have on your PS3. Flower is often used as an example of how games are art, but Flower is a mere sketch compared to the oil painting that is Journey. With perfect music, gorgeous visuals and powerful single and multiplayer experiences, Journey is the PlayStation Network’s must own magnum opus.

I think I’m still excited about Journey, but with so many other games to be played, Journey will have to have a killer Trophy list or a serious PS+ discount. Based on other outlets saying two hours of gameplay, I doubt that Journey will be a Day One purchase if the price is over $9.99.


Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 Ships

I just received my confirmation from NIS America that they have finally shipped Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 Limited Edition: Gamindustri Savior Set.

This bundle has all sorts of fan goodies: A special oversized Premium Box (because it has to fit in all the fan service), a full color hardcover art book, an exclusive playing card deck (that I’m sure I will never play), and a Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 original sound track (I’m going to have this crap dancing in my head). Almost forgot the actual game is also included, which is of course the best part.

Yummy …


Pre Orders – The Waiting Game …

I’ll never learn; there are way more purchases, potential purchases, and upcoming “need to have that one” targets than I will ever have time to play.

So what’s next?

  • SSX (PS3): February 28. On preorder. It has been a long run since the PS2 Tricky heydays. Hopefully the franchise has a nice rebound, but I don’t want to see a fast follower release. Hopefully some DLC will enhance the experience vs. a second release in 9-18 months.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 (super-secret, premium edition from NIS America store – PS3): February 28. On preorder. Honestly, I try to stop, but I really can’t help myself.
  • MLB 12 The Show (PS3 / Vita): March 6. I’m sure I’ll cave one day this week and purchase one or both titles. Love the idea of taking the game save on the go and then transferring back. I’m not traveling much right now, so it may not be necessary to get the Vita version, but I suspect that I may get in a little more baseball action via the Vita than the PS3 and TV.
  • Tales of Graces f (PS3): March 12. On preorder. Reality tells me that I will not even start this one anytime soon, but I want to send a message to the publisher that this sort of game is still relevant.
  • Dragon’s Crown (Vita): March 31. On preorder. Hack and Slash on the go goodness? Count me in!
  • Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention (Vita): April 17. I want this one, but haven’t convinced myself to hit the order button. Why? Why would I think I have anywhere near enough time to really enjoy a Disgaea title?
  • Gravity Rush (Vita): May 29. On preorder. This is going to turn into the must have title on the Vita, supplanting Uncharted, assuming GR gets some decent airtime and marketing.
  • LittleBigPlanet (Vita): June 26. On preorder. Because LBP is just balls out fun, I cannot get enough, and I’m interested in seeing how the franchise transfers to the Vita.

Of course in addition to my normal backlog, I have the new Vita games, and Twisted Metal. In the words of the great Ricky Bobby, “Well let me just quote the late-great Colonel Sanders, who said…“I’m too drunk to taste this chicken.”

… or have enough time to play all of these games!


Saturday T&A Is Back …

It has been a while since I have done any sort of T&A, eye candy, or similar articles, so why not get things rolling straight away.

The “cheeky” surfer, or as the subtitle says, “pro wave rider” Alana Blanchard is a beautiful young lady, so she keeps top billing in today’s triumphant return of eye candy, Recycle Bin style.

Beautiful? Yes, but Ms. Blanchard just offers a distracting bridge to today brilliant EuroGamer article, “Why Can’t Games Do Sex?

That’s a point. Sex is the most natural thing in the world, and the reason you’re here. Both literally, and because you were interested enough to click through. But we don’t talk about it in videogames, or often in real life, in anything but the most generalised and softened terms.

I don’t want more sex in games. But I think the whole way we consider the topic is wrong: in mainstream games, at least, sex more often than not means clumsily-animated dolls at the end of a subplot in the mission structure. That circumstance will only change with a breakthrough.

My wife and I closely monitor our boys’ (13, 9, and 5) exposure to various media. In fact, while most of what I write is PG-13 at best, I have to think twice because my 13 year-old will start posting occasionally. This article will surely cause a snicker or two.

Depending on which boy sees/hears what, there is mass chaos when it comes to boobies, the “a” word as they call it, as in ass, or jackass, or any other manner of items considered “inappropriate” or off the table.

We are actually pretty relaxed about this stuff; parental guidance is the norm, but we are hardly uptight. For example, my five year-old received Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom for his birthday last month. Mostly because he is really into superheroes and Hawkeye is a favorite. There was glorious rejoicing and giggles when the boys saw “partial nudity” on the back of the box in the ratings section.

Of course in this context, partial nudity means cleavage. Seriously. America is so tight about breasts and nudity that animation that shows some skin, and really nothing more outrageous, is deemed worthy of being flagged.

Me? I say hooray for boobies!


Vita Update of the Day: Vita-PS3 Cross Play.

Vita update time again; don’t hate me for my enthusiasm to actually (God forbid) write daily updates. Been a while.

Multiple sources, including Sony (yet another shock) are reporting on Sony’s promise to deliver Vita-PS3 Cross Play. According to PlayStation LifeStyle

When you buy Hustle Kings and/or Top Darts for PS Vita, you will get the PS3 versions for free. If you already own these games on PS3, you’ll be able to download the PS Vita version for free.

If this really means that I really get Hustle Kings for the Vita for free, thanks to a previous PS3 purchase, color me happy. Should find out more on the 22nd with mainstream release of the Vita.

I hope some sort of deal, discount, or voucher is announced for MLB 12: The Show, but somehow I bet it is excluded since the articles only mention a handful of games, none of which sound like a great baseball experience.


DiRT3 First Impressions

[Editor’s Note: My 13 year-old son takes a turn contributing to the Recycle Bin with his impressions of DiRT3. Look for future articles from Joshua as he tackles the world of gaming and sports (mostly Falcons and UGA). You can find him online via his PSN account jscFALCONS.]

DiRT3 is an amazing off-road racing game featuring tons of cars and events, mostly Rally.

DiRT3 has a career mode, single-player modes, some multiplayer modes and online mode. The career mode,  DiRT3 Tour, is divided into four seasons each with different events.

I liked the variety of events to choose from. There is rally, rally cross, land rush, trailblazer, gymkhana and head2head. Rally is WRC style racing from one part of the track to another. Rally cross is like the X Games rally races with laps around a track. In land rush, you race with trucks and/or buggies. Trail blazer is very similar to rally, but you don’t use rally cars. I really don’t know what you’re using, but they are the fastest cars in the game. Gymkhana is a freestyle arena type event and you do tricks to get points. Finally, in head2head you go one on one with rally cars. You get to play these events in all modes.

I also liked the graphics and physics of the game. It looks very realistic, almost like real life. The cars in the game handle very realistically. I didn’t like gymkhana so much.

I like pretty much every part of the game so far except gymkhana.

DiRT3 is a really good game so far. I would give it 9/10.


Vita Countdown (Four More Sleeps)

February 15 is tumbling towards us quickly, along with the start of soccer practice for my nine year-old son (and yours truly co-coaching), Valentine’s Day, the newest Twisted Metal, and of course the Vita.

How are these all connected you may ask? Let’s take these in quick succession.

Soccer practice will be Monday and Wednesday, meaning that I will not be sitting on my ass playing the Vita Wednesday night. That’s OK, said ass needs a workout.

Valentine’s Day will also see the release of Twisted Metal. Play it too much, and no needful for me. With the Vita arriving just a day later, I figured I better hook my wife up with something nice – can you say jewelry from Blue Nile? Some nice garnet earrings and matching pendent; Blue Nile is truly a best friend, always helping me out of those tough spots like new a Vita and a host of games showing up as bookends to V-Day.

Which does in fact bring us to the Vita. While the anticipation is building, one of my burning desires is that the Vita turns into a quality RPG producing machine, along the lines of the PSP, which was really underrated in this respect. Hopefully the next Atelier receives a U.S. localization effort.

It was confirmed earlier this week that long suffering U.S. Vita fans will not receive a UMD Passport offer, allowing PSP owners with large UMD libraries to quickly port their content to digital media for a modest price.

While the lack of a U.S. UMD Passport program is disappointing, I can accept that the Vita will not offer a means of being directly backwards compatible with PSP UMDs. I find it very disappointing that as of right now, the Vita is not compatible with PSOne titles.

I’m not sure why Sony would not at least attempt to flip a few bucks on a limited UMD Passport offering, which would obviously be restricted to the PSP titles available via the PSN store. There are so many ways that Sony could play this, and capitalize on PSP owners converting (upgrading) to the Vita, and their desire to have some of their favorite UMDs still accessible on the Vita.

My approach will be fairly simple. I’ll keep a few of my favorite PSP titles, flip a few more on eBay, and the rest will go to one of my PSP owning boys.

I’m sure there are all sorts of licensing issues to overcome, but if Sony could in Japan, there is reason to think that Sony could have managed some limited UMD Passport effort in the U.S. It is really too bad because this sort of short sightedness could cost Sony some much needed sales.

The Trophy whore in me loves that I can now (on Feb 15th at any rate) rack up trophies on the go. I can’t imagine spending much time with Little Deviants, except to get some trophy boosting, but since it is a throw in with my early release bundle thingy, boost I will.

Whew! That’s enough for early Saturday morning. Time for another cup of coffee; truly the nectar of the gods. Happy Saturday!


MLB 12: The Show PS3 – Vita Integration Looks Fantastic

The real question is going to be if I want to spring for $90-100 for a copy of MLB for the PS3 + Vita. The integration between the two versions looks very promising.

I know there’s a lot of interest out there about our PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita integration this year so I wanted to make sure I touched on our Cross-Platform Saves functionality. This feature allows you to take your Franchise, Season, and Road to The Show save files up to the cloud where you can then access those files from either your PS3 or PS Vita. You are limited to one file per mode per PSN user account, which can be overwritten as many times as you’d like.

Now I just have to commit to getting a Vita; I have three different Amazon pre-orders on file, but have yet to order a game. MLB 12: The Show for the Vita looks like the perfect way to waste away time on a portable system, and a 3G Vita, coupled with PS+ auto save updates, sure would come in handy for anytime, anywhere MLB Cloud retrievals.