It is a writ of passage that when spring arrives, it is time for baseball season. In the video game world, “MLB12 The Show” (Sony) and “Major League Baseball 2K12” (2K Games) both arrive and ready to crack the starting line-ups of gaming consoles everywhere. Each franchise has been around for a while – 8 years for “2K12” and 6 years for “The Show” – but one is starting it age.
Pitching styles is a big difference between the two titles. “2K12” continues to use their gesture mechanic with the joystick controllers that relies on timing one circle to fit within another. The artificial intelligence has been fine-tuned so that batters will remember pitches and adjust accordingly, thus ramping up the realism level a bit.
“The Show” has added a pulse pitching mechanism that determines how accurate your pitches are within your target area. It’s all about timing, but only utilizes one button as opposed to moving the joystick in a particular way. Saves a lot of wear and tear on the thumbs.
Defense is straightforward. There are animation differences that I’ll get into later, but fielders move and throw with good precision. Both title use a scale to determine how accurate the throws get – “The Show” uses a circle; “2K12” uses a bar. Push a button to the corresponding base and fire the ball. Holding down the button longer makes for a stronger, but possibly inaccurate throw.
Zone batting is new for “The Show,” where the right stick determines your stride and swing while the left allows you to move your “sweet spot” to the area where you think the ball will cross the plate. “2K12” already uses a similar style to determine how hard you are swinging and where. It also will give pitch type hints as the ball is heading for the plate, much as a batter would be able to recognize a curveball from a slider. “The Show” also has a simple button swing mechanic if that is more your speed.
The animations and look of “The Show” really make it shine above “2K12”. Each player has a unique look and fluid movements in everything they do. Pitching, hitting, throwing and catching the ball all appear very realistic and natural. It is a visually appealing game and looks like you are watching an Orioles vs. Yankees matchup on television.
“2K12” looks less like a TV broadcast and more like … well, a video game. There are hiccups and stutters in some of the animation. Most of the players don’t look much different from each other. Balls hit near fielders will make sudden leaps into the glove or outfielders will jump slightly to one side before catching a fly ball. It isn’t as well polished as its counterpart and looks old.
And speaking of TV broadcasts, a tip of the cap to the announcing team of Gary Thorne, Steve Philips and John Kruk on “2K12.” Their banter seemed fresh and timely, referencing the right things and never sounding boring. Matt Vasgersian, Dave Campbell and Eric Karros for “The Show” sounded stale and repetitive. Some of their phrases sounded exactly the same as last year, and there were a couple of games when I wondered if Karros had gone out for a pretzel and just never came back because he was heard so infrequently.
Franchise mode is back for each as well as allowing you to create your own player and work him through the ranks. “2K12” offers a “MLB Today” mode that lets player play games at the same pace as their favorite MLB team. But that means you can only play one game a day in that mode and doesn’t allow you to play past or future games.
The new “Diamond Dynasty” mode for “The Show” seems geared more for a fantasy franchise baseball fan than someone who wants to play a game. There are baseball cards, budgets, and customizable team logos and colors. If you are a stats nut or someone who likes to micromanage, this might be right for you.
The “Perfect Game Challenge” is back for “2K12” with a twist. In previous years, whoever got the first perfect game of the season using the title won $1 million. This year, the first eight perfect games will get the chance to head to New York City and compete in a live tournament for that top prize.
“The Show” is Move ready, bringing motion controls to every aspect of the games. They have also tied the PlayStation 3 game with the new PS Vita handheld console. Games can be saved to the Cloud on one console and downloaded to another for continued playing. For die-hard video baseball games, this mean never having to stop even when you are away from home (provided you have a Vita).
The biggest drawback to “The Show” is that it is a PlayStation exclusive title. If you own anything other than a PS3 or Vita, you can only play “Major League Baseball 2K12.” Fundamentally, it is a solid, but visually underwhelming, title that will be enjoyable.
But if you have a choice, “The Show” brings together realistic mechanics with outstanding animation to create an “at the ballpark” feel that outshines its competitor. All I need now is a hot dog and a frosty beverage to make the experience complete.
“MLB12 The Show” is available now only on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. “Major League Baseball 2K12” is available now for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, Nintendo DS, PSP and Microsoft Windows. Both games are rated E for Everybody. This review was done playing both titles on the PS3 as well as playing “MLB12 The Show” on the Vita.
Yes, the “NBA 2K” franchise is the top rated basketball simulation for 11 years running.
And yes, this year’s “NBA 2K12” will let you end the debate about what historical team is the greatest by offering 15 classic teams and players to battle on the court.
But what really makes this a deeper game are the enhancements to the My Player mode, which allows you to create your own basketball player and guide his career (hopefully) to the NBA Hall of Fame.
Start off by creating the physical attributes (height, weight, age, etc.) and the game assigns your abilities based off what type of player you want to be (shooter, post player, etc.). In theory, you could create a 7-foot tall point guard with zero post abilities, but I’m guessing the high dribble would make you susceptible to steals.
After finalizing your player, you immediately play in a rookie showcase game. This game shows off “NBA 2K12” improvements on player movements, facial features and unique moves from player to player. It is also where how you do will help determine where you are selected in the NBA Draft.
While you are always referenced by a nickname, the announcers do a good job of mixing your player’s performance in their chatter. If you get on a hot scoring streak, they’ll remark how unexpected this is out of you and how many more teams will be taking a look at selecting you.
There are three expectations per game that you try to match (no turnovers, hold match-up opponent to 5 points, etc.) as well as improve your teammate grade by making good passes, playing transition defense and other skills that lead to victory. Meeting these goals help increase your skill point totals, which translate into improved attributes.
In all the My Player games, action can be simulated if your player is on the bench. Unless you want to watch the action while sitting on the sidelines.
I created a 6’ 6” shooting guard from Marshall University and picked up 18 points and a B- on my teammate grade in the rookie game. Now, it was time to be interviewed by general managers from three teams.
After the rookie game, you get to answer two questions from teams that will be interested in drafting you. They ask questions about your desire to play, your dedication to training or how willing you are to work on an up and coming team. How you answer those questions is taken into consideration prior to the draft.
The Charlotte Bobcats (#9 pick), Golden State Warriors (#11) and Utah Jazz (#12) were interested in my shooting guard. I answered the questions in a way that I hoped would get me selected by each team, but there was an answer choice, “I do not want to play for your team,” that would have automatically dropped me off that team’s list.
The draft starts off with NBA Commissioner David Stern (yes, it was really his voice) announcing the first pick and continuing on until your player gets selected. If you don’t get picked until late in the first round, this can be a rather drawn out process since there is no way to skip to your selection.
Developers wanted to enhance the drama and suspense of being selected. They also said the highest any created player can be selected is number 3 (Utah Jazz) so don’t set your sights on being the top pick.
After walking to the podium and signing your rookie contract, your team’s public relations department contacts you and shows you a new billboard, touting you as the future of the franchise. Having been selected by the Bobcats, it was pretty cool to see my player on some outdoor advertising.
Now it is time to earn that contract.
Players’ skills can be improved through buying skill points with your contract money or by doing individual and team drills. The 8 of the 9 drills are new to the franchise and work on offensive and defensive skills. Do well enough at the fast break skill and additional points are yours to spend.
Skill points are also earned by how well you play in your games, meeting the goals and getting a good teammate score. Your first game as well as other key games is worth double points so keep turnovers low and keep your teammates involved.
My shooting guard decided to take advantage of the new arsenal of moves in “NBA2K12” to put up 33 points in 16 minutes in his first game. Oh, you didn’t think you were going to be in the starting lineup, did you?
After every game, there is a press conference where you are asked about the game action. Your answer impacts what your teammates think of you, your league-wide reputation and how you are perceived by the hometown fans. The answers were tough to interpret and I came off as a jerk sometimes when I was trying to praise my teammates.
While the franchise touts its improved facial features and player movements, my player still looked awkward when he was speaking. His bottom lip didn’t seem to move and it appeared frightening when he addressed the press.
As your season progresses, more playing time can come your way and more endorsements will start coming your way depending on your reputation (those press conference answers are important). Money can be used to buy skill points, increase your reputation through team bonding events and even attend camps to enhance more than one attribute.
Later in your career, you can request trades, negotiate contracts and continue to build a player that will grace the NBA Hall of Fame. How long that takes depends on how fast your become one of the best players in the league.
“NBA2K12” offers many different modes of play, but the My Player mode has depth and versatility to challenge even the best gamer to achieve basketball immortality. It takes the new look of the franchise, the enhanced moves, and the improved shot creation, and personalizes it in a way that will have players cheering themselves on to greatness.
“NBA2K12” will be available October 4 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP and PC. It is rated E for Everyone. This review was done playing the game on the PlayStation3.
Taking a classic video game designed for a two-dimensional, small screen and converting it for display on a larger, 3D screen takes a little bit of fearlessness, a dash of persuasion, and a healthy dose of hard work and dedication to make it look great.
Sony Entertainment is releasing a two game compellation, called “God of War: Origins Collection,” exclusively for the PlayStation 3. The pack contains “God of War: Chains of Olympus” and “God of War: Ghost of Sparta,” games that were originally released on the PlayStation Portable (PSP), but have been remastered in high-definition and 3D for the PS3.
The 3D upgrade was particularly challenging to the Ready At Dawn team, who designed the original PSP games and were given the task of updating their work.
Moving a video game from a small screen in 2D (480×272 resolution and 30 frames per second) to a large screen in 3D (1920x1080p at 60 frames per second) is more than just making things bigger and viewing it from two different angles. Their art team had to go through every single character by hand and increase the resolution by double or triple as well as repainting every texture on characters and environments.
Ready at Dawn worked with the Sony Santa Monica Studio, who had experience moving “God of War” and “God of War 2” from the PlayStation 2 to PS3. Producer Marc Turndorf said the Santa Monica team really pushed 3D, because, at the time, there were a lot of 3D skeptics at Ready at Dawn.
“I never expected it to be really compelling gameplay, but the end result (in 3D) is just amazing,” Turndorf said. “There were a lot of people here who felt like I felt, but we are all converts now.”
Jeremy Nikolai, senior programmer at Ready at Dawn, said the 3D work on gameplay turned out great and other people would stop by to admire how well the game looked. However, Turndorf said there was a drawback.
“We weren’t planning on re-rendering all the cinematics, but the game looked so good and then you plop back to the blocky PSP cinematics and it would take you out of the experience,” Turndorf explained. “It was worth it. Every time you jumped into a cinematic, it would have reminded you that it was originally a PSP game, but now they look fantastic.”
Nikolai said fans that have played the titles on the PSP are going to be wowed when they see it on the PS3.
“It is just a completely different experience in surround sound,” Nikolai said. “3D looks really, really good. We’ve got one of the best 3D experiences with this game.”
The remastered games’ look and feel as if they were originally made for the PS3. Players who want to play the entire series in order (“Chains of Olympus,” “God of War,” “Ghost of Sparta,” “God of War 2,” “God of War 3”) will be hard pressed to distinguish between the remakes and the original versions for the PS3.
Turndorf said when they put a game together, they concentrate on making a great game first and don’t worry about the console the game will be played.
“We were making the best ‘God of War’ game we could make (in 2008) and it happened to be for the PSP,” Turndorf said. “We weren’t thinking PSP-centric in the development, but obviously we were in certain areas technologically speaking.”
Developing the best game they could originally helped when they found out they were going to remaster the titles for the PS3. The roots of a great story were already in place. The team just needed to improve the look and feel of the game.
Turndorf said the focus of their work was to make sure players got as great an experience on the PS3 as those who did on the PSP. While time restrictions limited what they could change story wise (both PSP titles were remastered in 10 months), they did add one important element to the controls.
“(Controller rumble) was something when we were designing the game on the PSP, obviously there is no rumble support. We tried to simulate that with a lot of camera shakes,” Turndorf said. “It was really great to actually add controller rumble and we had to do a little bit of work to make the shakes more subtle.”
It is the first time PSP titles have ever been made available for the PS3 in the US. Chip Blundell, director of marketing at Sony, said the goal was to take fan favorites from the PSP and present them in HD and 3D for gamers to enjoy.
“If you’ve played a game in 3D or watched a movie in 3D, that’s when you truly appreciate how immersive the experience is,” Blundell said. “Content for 3D is really what’s going to drive adoption for 3D. We have great content in gaming that takes advantage of 3D technology and really immerses (the player) in their entertainment experience.”
When the games first were released on the PSP in 2008, some fans were also expecting them to be released on the PS2, even though it was never announced that it would be anywhere other than the Sony handheld console. Now, those fans will get their wish to play all the games on the home console.
“The fans are the ones who told us that. They responded in great numbers in bringing ‘God of War’ to the PS3. That was direct fan and consumer feedback,” Blundell said. “We’ve had nothing but positive in the forums and the blog about these (games).”
“God of War: Origins Collection” will be released as a PS3 exclusive on September 13. It is rated M for mature due to blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, and sexual content.
A new game mode called “NBA’s Greatest” will let gamers choose from 15 historic NBA teams and their greatest players for rivalry games from history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius “Dr. J” Erving and other superstars will face off against each other in recreations of some of the NBA’s most storied games.
Jason Argent, vice president of marketing at 2K Sports, said those games in the challenge mode have meticulously been recreated to be historically accurate – right down to the short shorts of the 1970s.
“It will be in black and white if (the real game) was in the 60s,” Argent said. “We focus so hard, in the current day game play, on polish and broadcast style presentation. That will play through to the historic day games as well.”
“These are actual games that took a lot of effort and a lot of internal debate. Deciding the biggest Kareem Abdul-Jabbar game, it is a pretty big list. But a couple floated to the top and we had to make some hard decisions about which of those historical games it would be.”
Each challenge game will have a series of goals to achieve to unlock the historic athlete and teams. Once unlocked, those teams from the past can battle against teams from today, letting gamers pit Kobe Bryant’s Lakers against Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
Argent said the idea behind the new mode was to let basketball fans debate about who was the greatest player or greatest team ever, then actually allow them to duke it out on the consoles.
2K Sports recently announced that the game would be released in the US with three different covers featuring Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. All three superstars will be among the 15 featured in the “NBA’s Greatest” challenge mode.
With the looming threat of no real basketball this year, “NBA 2K12” is prepared to be the only game in town. Argent said some adjustments will be made in case the NBA season is delayed or does not play this year.
“Certain free agents that aren’t on a team may not be represented, but for the most part, we are going to be completely fine.”
In last year version of “NBA 2K11,” the “NBA Today” mode used real time stats to alter characteristics and abilities of players in the game. Argent said the mode has been upgraded this year, but they are ready in case real stats aren’t available.
“If the lockout ends and as the season goes live, the real players will be updated in real time in the game,” he said. But if no real season is played, Argent said the players in the game will keep their initial abilities throughout the virtual season.
“We’ve got some fun other things up our sleeve that will greatly enhance that experience despite what’s happening in the real world. We’ve anticipated every option and the final result, regardless of what happens in the real world, will be great in game.”
“NBA 2K12” will be released October 4 on the PlayStation 3 with optional Move support, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP, and PC.
You’ve got all the “God of War” games for your PS3 and you feel pretty good about yourself. Your collection is complete.
Sony is bringing the two “God of War” titles from the PSP to the PS3, fully remastered and in 3-D. “God of War: Origins Collection” features “God of War: Chains of Olympus” and “God of War: Ghost of Sparta” as well as bonus content, unique trophies and the ability to play the series from the beginning to end on one console.
The collection supports DualShock controllers and a new Dolby 5.1 Surround mix to make the experience more intense.
During this year’s E3 convention, Sony released a trailer that showed off how awesome Kratos will be.
Stay locked in for more information as it comes out.
The latest LEGO block video game (Disney Interactive Studios, Traveller’s Tales) recounts the first three movies and also includes the yet-to-be-released fourth film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” The new movie is scheduled to debut on May 20 — 10 days after the video game is available, so you have been appropriately warned about spoilers.
Each movie is broken down into five gaming levels. It is typical LEGO style with straight platform action involving swordfights, cannons, and collecting “studs” — single connection LEGO blocks.
Items can be smashed into the LEGO block components, and then collected for points or re-formed into another item that can be used in the game. Up to eight characters can be used on each level during story mode, but it can create for a crowded screen.
There were a few times when I couldn’t see what item needed to be collected or was pushed off a narrow ledge because the 5 characters who were traveling with me all wanted to be in the same spot.
Matt Ellison, associate producer at Traveller’s Tales Games, said 70 characters can be unlocked and bought throughout the entire game. Each character has a special ability that makes it unique from others, including Captain Jack Sparrow.
“Jack’s compass is really different from anything else we’ve done (with LEGOs),” Ellison said. “It will point to things Jack can find and also helps point to things to solve puzzles in the game.”
Ellison said the settings are as iconic as they could be and the team tried to put the LEGO spin on the classic movies. Since the films’ characters are so well known, he said they wanted to make sure to include little details to help players relate to each character.
For example, Captain Barbossa is often seen with an apple in his hand and Jack’s running style – arms straight out, waving frantically – is humorously well represented.
“A lot of time went into making sure we got Jack’s running right, his character right,” Ellison said.
The game play is all about exploring the vast scenes during each level. Puzzle clues and treasure are all over the place, waiting to be discovered.
“Eight collectibles in each level and 10 ships in a bottle can be found,” Ellison said. “There is something always hidden to get.”
Using Jack’s compass helps discover the missing booty, but there are also sign postings to assist players in finding key elements in the level. Since the scenes are so big, it would be easy to get lost or frustrated without those helpers.
“The exploration game play ties into the ideology of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’ Plus we wanted to make a distinctive change of pace between the levels, so you are treasure hunting in one level, and then fighting foes in the next.”
Even on ship levels, players will need to go up into the rigging or down into the ship’s belly to find all they need to find. Ellison said each scene has to be solvable for all ages and the game teaches you what to do and where to look as it goes along.
There are lengthy cutscenes and cinematics between the levels to fill in the story. The humor from the movies really shines in LEGO form, which uses its blocky medium to put interesting spins on the tale.
“The humor appeals to all ages. We took the iconic movie settings and twisted them slightly to make them funnier. Plus we took the same slapstick humor from the films and just made more of it.”
As I said, the fourth movie is also included so I was worried about spoiling my future enjoyment. Ellison smiled when asked about it, but assured me no details about the story line would be ruined.
“We will have some of the same locations, but none of the dialog (LEGO characters do not speak, only grunt). We do have some of the action from the movie but it shouldn’t ruin the film for anyone.”
If you remain concerned, then wait to play the fourth level until after the movie comes out.
The one drawback to the game was the two player co-op play. As in other LEGO video games, two people in the same room can drop-in/drop out as separate characters and solve all the puzzles.
Unlike previous LEGO games which forced the two characters to stay in the same screenshot, “LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean” actually split the screen as the characters walked away from each other.
However, the split in the split screen moved around in relation to where the characters were on the level. As the characters got closer to each other, the scene slowly changed back to a single screen.
It was difficult to focus on what my character was doing or where it was in the split screen action. My co-op player and I found it confusing, and, at times, frustrating to figure out where we needed to go or what we needed to do unless we were in the same screen.
There was never a time where a puzzle needed to be solved in split screen mode. After a while, it just gave me a headache.
Once each level is completed in story mode, free play mode is unlocked which allows you to use any of the characters you have available to solve puzzles that couldn’t be previously figured out. Those characters will also get you into previously unavailable areas.
Finding all the collectibles and solving all the brain teasers will keep players playing for many hours after the story mode is complete.
The game is also available for the Nintendo 3DS, but there are only 16 levels and you can only use one character during the level. Ellison said the 3DS version is tailored to the single player experience and everything can be solved by one character.
“LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean” is a fun spin on the blockbuster (pun intended) movies. It ramps up the humor from the films and offers plenty of action for players.
Exploration is the key. While the story mode only took me about nine hours, I barely collected 40 percent of all the items that could be found. Replaying the game in free play will keep players interested for many more hours.
The co-op mode was a trouble spot and disappointing. While I often lamented about being kept in the same screen in previous LEGO co-op versions, the split screen action as presented is not the solution I was looking for.
Overall, the game is lots of fun despite some playability glitches. And following the adventures of Jack Sparrow .. I mean, Captain Jack Sparrow .. is worthy of any would-be pirate.
“LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean” will be available May 10 in the U.S., May 13 in Europe and May 19 in Australia. It is available on the PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, and PSP. It is rated E10+ due to cartoon violence and comic mischief. This review was done playing on the Xbox 360 in story mode, co-op mode and free play.
We’ve got a great battle for you between two heavy hitters, “MLB 11 The Show” (Sony) and “MLB2K11” (2KSports). Both of these titles are vying to be the best and bringing some new features, so let’s get to the action.
1st Inning – Pitching
Both titles use buttons to select the type of pitch and the right analog stick for the delivery. “MLB 11 The Show” is a simple pull back, push forward motion with the analog stick for the velocity and direction of the pitch. The more you use a pitch, the better it becomes. A sliding bar indicates the best time to go from back to forward on the stick for optimum accuracy.
“MLB2K11” uses the left stick for direction and right stick for a series of movements that correspond to the type of pitch you select. For example, a cut fastball might require a move to the left followed by a sweeping motion down. The success of the pitch is based on how well you time the power of the pitch with an expanding reticule and how accurate you are with your analog movements.
For ease of playability and not feeling like I have to contort every pitch, “MLB11 The Show” gets a run.
2nd Inning – Hitting
Analog hitting is something both games do, but again, there is a difference in the execution. “MLB2K11” uses the left stick to indicate the direction you want to try to hit the ball and the right stick to make contact. A simple swing is a push forward and a power swing is pull back, then push forward. Bunting is done with the square button.
Analog hitting on “MLB 11 The Show” is all done with the right stick. Set if you want a normal swing or power swing using the circle or square button respectively. Pull back on the stick to have the player stride, and then push forward to swing. Bunting is just a push forward motion.
Both are easy enough to use although I cannot figure out if there is a timing to striding that helps hitting with “MLB 11 The Show.” However, check swings are a bit easier with the stride, so I’m giving a run to both games.
3rd Inning – Fielding
Fielding in the games is identical. Move the left stick to get your player in position and use the correct buttons (or move the right stick if you are doing analog controls) to throw to the proper base.
While fly balls in each game use a circle shadow on the field to indicate where the ball is traveling, “MLB2K11” changes things up a bit by utilizing a second circle inside the shadow to more precisely tell you where the ball is coming down. That second circle changes in size depending on the fielding rating of the player trying to make the catch. The better the fielder, the smaller the circle.
For that, “MLB2K11” gets a run.
4th Inning – Players
Each game is associated with the Major League Baseball Players Association so all the current players are in the game and their likenesses are recreated in digital format. The rosters are updated online, but when I tried to get the latest Orioles roster, “MLB 11 The Show” didn’t include Vladimir Guerrero in the lineup while “MLB2K11” did. I did find Vlad in the free agent pool however.
Both games try to recreate a realistic look and feeling with their digital players. “MLB 11 The Show” seemed to do a better job at portraying facial features and reactions without being repetitive. “MLB2K11” had a couple instances where players would have sunglasses while walking up to the batter’s box, then suddenly loses them when they stepped in. Also, the quality of their players didn’t look as good as “MLB 11 The Show” and would sometimes repeat the same motion over and over after every pitch.
Movement out in the field felt more natural with “MLB 11 The Show” with fluid action and no noticeable hiccups. “MLB2K11” had more than a few glitches when transitioning from fielding to throwing, but nothing that took away from actual game play.
“MLB2K11” gets a run for the roster update out of the box, while “MLB 11 The Show” gets 2 for a better look for the players and smoother animation.
5th Inning – Stadiums
Both games do a great job rendering the major league parks with all the identifying quirks and traits that make them unique. And both have generic looking minor league ball parks.
Since there is no real difference, no runs awarded. They both do an equal job at stadiums and atmosphere.
6th Inning – Living the Dream
Each game has a mode that allows you to create a player and take them from AA rookie to the Hall of Fame. “MLB2K11” My Player mode provides a mentor that tells you what you need to work on in the minors to get your call up. Skill points can be earned at each at bat, fielding chance, or running opportunity. Increase your skills enough and you will earn a promotion to AAA or the big leagues.
“MLB 11 The Show” also lets you earn skill points and advance your way through your organization but offers more options when setting up your player. You can figure out what type of player you want to be, i.e. contact hitter, power swinger, speedster, etc. Players also receive evaluations and training to make them better and get them ready for the majors.
I played as a 2nd baseman and an outfielder in both. The infield experience was similar, but in the outfield, the camera angle on “MLB2K11” sometimes made it difficult to tell where I needed to go to catch the ball. It got to be really frustrating at times.
“MLB 11 The Show” scores this inning.
7th Inning – Real Life
Baseball is a game driven by statistics and virtual baseball is no different.
“MLB 11 The Show” has developed a weather database that attempts to accurately reflect the real weather expected at each MLB stadium. That weather also affects what happens on the field and each player rating.
“MLB2K11” tries to bring the real game into your virtual game by adjusting player skills as the season progresses. If a player in the real world gets on a hot streak, he will experience a hot streak in the game. Likewise, if he is not playing well, expect his performance to lag in game.
Both utilize real world events to affect the game play, but with the in-season adjustments, “MLB2K11” gets the run.
8th Inning – What’s New?
“MLB2K11” has some improved camera angles, a new revamped fielding system and did upgrade their player models (although it still could use some work). The AI is better, but glitch at times when it misses easy plays or throws to a wrong base.
“MLB 11 The Show” offers a new co-op mode that allows for 1 vs. 2, 2 vs. 2, or 2 vs. CPU. They also support the Move controller and offer a Challenge of the Week, where gamers can earn points toward prizes. They also offer 3D functionality on the PlayStation 3, if you want to see bats and balls flying at you.
Both games earn a run this inning because the new enhancements do add to both games.
9th Inning – Bonus Item
As our contest ends, each title has one more bit of excitement to offer.
“MLB 11 The Show” has a limited edition DualShock3 wireless controller that is white and has baseball seams where the left and right buttons are located. It is very nice, but only worthy if you have a PlayStation 3.
“MLB2K11” is once again offering $1 million to anyone who can pitch (and record) a perfect game using specific criteria. Last year, Wade McGilberry won the prize using a spring training roster and game. This year, the contest does not actually start until Opening Day, so the challenge level has been raised.
One run for the awesome DualShock3 controller and one run for the potential of winning a million dollars.
Both games want to reach for as much realism as they can. Overall, the smoother animation and player renderings make “MLB 11 The Show” a better choice in achieving the immersion and realism. There seems to be more variation in movements and reactions with “The Show” and appears cleaner that “MLB2K11”.
That said, the in-season adjustments in “MLB2K11” are an interesting real-life addition to your season. The contest was a close call, but either game could be a winner in your collection.
Both games were reviewed on the PlayStation 3 using the DualShock 3 controller. “MLB2K11” is available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP, Nintendo DS and PC. “MLB 11 The Show” is available on the PS3, PS2 and PSP. Both are rated E for Everyone and available now.
This exclusive title for the Sony handheld console was developed by Ready At Dawn, the same team that worked on the other “God of War” episode for the PSP, “God of War: Chains of Olympus.”
“Ghost of Sparta” falls between “God of War” and “God of War II” in the mythos timeline.
In fact, the video game starts off with Kratos sitting on his throne — the closing scene of “God of War” — and finishes with the opening scene of “God of War II,” where he prepares to lay siege to Olympus.
Game designer Mike Deneen said the story is designed to be a deeply personal one for their lead character.
“It is about his journey from mortal to god after killing Ares,” Deneen said. “Players will start to understand his anger at the gods.”
Haunted by visions and nightmares of his family, Kratos sets off on a quest to rid himself of the horrors.
He is propelled through scenes of fire and ice, water and air — all done with the idea of making the game bigger and better than the first PSP title.
“We had to make sure there was something awesome to look at,” Deneen said. “Always.”
Players are also treated to levels showing Kratos as a boy.
“We feel we pushed the PSP to its limits,” he said. “We actually filled up the UMD (Universal Media Disc). We looked at locations where we haven’t visited before and wanted to visit them.”
The PSP screen is constantly filled with vibrant and expansive scenery, from the watery lands of Atlantis to the depths of fiery volcanoes with lava that almost seems alive.
The scene gets frantic once the enemies appear. Cyclops, minotaurs and medusa all return to pester Kratos through the levels. But it’s the boss battles where the game really shines.
Huge mythological creatures dwarf the new “God of War” and it takes combinations of might and magic to defeat them.
“We have twice the enemy count as before,” Deneen said. “The bosses are 10 times as big and the AI (artificial intelligence) is smarter.”
Kratos gets a shield and spear to use in addition to his trademark Blades of Athena, but there is very little new in combat abilities. New magical skills like electricity, fire, ice and soul-eating round out his offensive skills.
“We wanted to bring the old fans back with having new additions to his combat,” Deneen said. “First and foremost, this is a ‘God of War’ game.”
While all the bloodshed does make it feel like a typical “GoW” game, there are personal moments that show Kratos’ humanity. It is a change of pace that is absent in other games in the series.
Gameplay should last 7-10 hours, which translates to about a week of in-game time.
There are actual night and day scenes, although Kratos never sleeps or eats (he is a god now, after all). Overall, if you’ve ever played a “GoW” game, this will be a welcome addition to your collection.
The story fills in some of the blanks about Kratos’ past and answers questions that were left dangling after “God of War III.”
The new abilities and expansive scenery are enjoyable to explore. The new monsters will challenge even the most experienced player and the scenes will make you wish you were playing it on the big screen with a PlayStation 3.
If you are new to the franchise, go play “God of War” (or “Chains of Olympus”) first then pick this up before getting “God of War II.”
The story will make more sense and the action will be just as entertaining.
“God of War: Ghost of Sparta” will be available on November 2 for the Sony PSP and PSPgo. It is rated M for Mature (Blood and Gore; Intense Violence; Nudity; Sexual Content).
Gaming companies are looking to get people into the game more by virtually inserting the player into the action.
While the Move controller for the PlayStation 3 and the Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 have garnered all the headlines, Sony has developed a camera that attaches to its PSP-3000 handheld console in an attempt to bring real-world gaming to the small screen.
The first title to use the new PSP camera, “Invizimals,” is an augmented reality game that has players using the camera to survey their real surroundings for invisible animals. The Invizimals are then projected onto the screen and players are tasked to capture and collect the animals.
If this sounds a bit familiar — *cough* Pokémon *cough* — the concept of catching fantastical creatures is not new, but how players catch them is.
“We’ve been working on augmented reality for quite a while,” Senior producer Petro Piasecki said. “One of the guys (on the development team) was driving through the streets of Barcelona with no glasses and saw neon lights and thought they looked like ghosts of lights.”
Piasecki said it took about 2.5 years before the “ghosts of lights” idea would become a viable game. Advancements in technology helped get the game more in line with their vision of a monster capture/battle game. During that time, the technology to make the camera’s picture clearer and help build the augmented reality got cheaper and ultimately more affordable for the consumer.
With the tech in hand, the team worked on developing a game that would hold new appeal to gamers while highlighting the new abilities of their camera.
“We don’t just cater to kids with magical creatures that are cartoonish with attacks and moves,” game producer Emerson Escobar said. “There is also a little bit of strategy in the game and some multiplayer aspects where you can battle your friends so it appeals to everybody.”
During the game, players use the PSP and the camera to scan their surroundings. Visual and audio alerts let gamers know when they are getting close to spotting an Invizimal. Once one is found, players have to capture it by stunning it with a slap, tickling it, feeding it, or even whistling a tune to calm it down.
All of these actions are done in the augmented reality by the player’s hand appearing on screen and performing the needed task to capture the Invizimal. There are more than 120 different creatures to collect.
Technically speaking, the camera reacts to different colored objects to place the Invizimal in the virtual reality. During play, the game will prompt you point the camera at certain colors to trigger the capture moments so make sure to play where you have brightly colored objects to help.
“We really used (the PSP-3000) to its fullest capabilities,” Escobar said. “We use the microphone. We use the thumb stick. We use motion sensing. We really wanted to create unique capture mechanics for each creature.”
Rotating the thumb stick creates a hurricane attack. Blowing into the handheld console generates a blizzard attack. Piasecki said ultimately, the bottom line was it had to be freaking cool.
“If you can create a really compelling looking creature with crazy attacks and uses all the input options of the PSP, we were able to create a lot of cool stuff,” he said. “In a nutshell, this game is every 12-year-old boy’s fantasy dream.”
The new PSP camera also works as a still or video camera which can save pictures and videos to the PSP. The images and videos can be shared with friends and family via an Internet or Wi-Fi connection.
“People are already carrying around their PSP and the camera is just an added cool feature,” Escobar added. “It really does produce some great quality images.”
“Invizimals” isn’t the only game ready to use the PSP camera. “EyePet,” a game initially featured during demonstrations of the Move controller, is going to make an appearance on the PSP in early November, and games using augmented reality are planned.
“Invizimals” is rated E for everyone and is only available for the Sony PSP handheld console.
2K Sports made news last month by putting Jordan – retired since 2003 – on the cover of the new title, “NBA 2K11.” The company revealed that MJ will be inside the game as well as on the outside.
The Jordan Challenge is a game mode that allows players to play as Jordan during 10 iconic moments in his career. They range from a 1986 playoff game against the Boston Celtics to the dramatic ending of his Bulls career during the 1998 finals against the Utah Jazz.
Players are required to meet goals inside the challenges such as scoring a certain amount of points, have a high shooting percentage, and of course, win the game. Three regular season games, six playoff games, and one finals series against the Los Angeles Lakers are part of the challenges.
Jason Argent from 2K Sports said whittling down the career of the greatest basketball player ever to just 10 challenges took some time to decide.
“There was quite a bit of spirited discussion and debate among the crew members,” Argent said. “In the end, we chose the games that our players would have the most fun playing.”
Argent also said that his team tried to reproduce each arena consistent with the era in which the original game was played. Even the short shorts make a return in some of the earlier games.
“Jordan’s body and appearance also changes through the years,” Argent said. “We wanted to strive for authenticity – something Michael insisted on.”
“NBA 2K11” is due out on October 5 for the PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii and Xbox 360.