“Mario Tennis Open” tries to add more than the typical Mario tennis action, but doesn’t sustain the rally long enough to make it enjoyable.
Hoping to introduce the franchise to a new set of gamers, Nintendo released their latest tennis title on the handheld 3DS controller. The original “Mario Tennis” was unveiled in 2000 and only for the Nintendo 64 home console. A Game Boy Color handheld version was also released, but offered entirely different gameplay than the original.
Gameplay is straightforward tennis action. Classic characters from the Mario franchise act as your tennis avatar, and each has specific strengths and weaknesses to differentiate play.
Using the 3DS enables multiple variations on controller set up. Players can use the buttons and joystick to move and create shots. The touch screen is also an option to choose the type of shot you want, and the gyro sensors let players guide their shots left and right. There are also three different shot screens to customize the action to fit the player’s style.
Overhand smash shots, lob shots, slices and top spins are easily accessed. Double tapping a button or the touch screen before a shot can enhance the power of your play. Special Chance shots, activated when standing on colored circles and hitting the indicated shot type, can curve wildly and stun your opponent temporarily.
The physics is solid and very similar to the original version. Shots tend to stay in play and rarely go out of bounds. Directing your shots left and right is easy. Drop shots and lob shots take two different taps on the controller, but can be utilized well.
Circles appear on the court to help players get in the right spot for a rally. However, you’ll have to take your chances against stronger opponents to mix up the speed by hitting the ball while outside of the circles.
The basic gameplay offers single player and doubles tournaments with the console controlling your partner. There are four different tournaments to play toward the World Open championship with each tournament offering more challenging opponents.
There is an exhibition mode letting players choose their opponents, difficulty, type of court and how many games to win. This is good to help you practice against a particular type of tournament situation that might be giving you trouble.
There are also special games that use tennis as a way to collect rings, stars and coins. There is even a tennis version of the N64 “Super Mario Brothers” game. Hitting the ball against a wall as the game scrolls by lets Mario “stomp” Goombas, traverse through pipes and get to the flag at the end. Missing the ball means losing a life.
If you are looking for live competition against other people, multiplayer is available through local and online action. Quick or extended matches are set up through a rating system so one player isn’t so overwhelming against the other.
There is no text chat or voice chat so trash talking is non-existent, but it makes it feel like you are just playing another computer opponent. Your rating rises or falls depending on how well or poorly you do in your match.
“Mario Tennis Open” is addictive in the basic gameplay mode. The action is crisp and responsive, and the difficulty of the computer opponents appropriately rises as you progress through the tournaments.
The other modes are less fun and seem just filler to the great main course. The online play was nice for a change of pace, but without any kind of interactivity with your opponent, also lost its luster after a while.
I couldn’t put “Mario Tennis Open” down when I was going through the single player tournaments, but unfortunately, I really didn’t feel like picking it back up again once I was done winning it all.
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.
Want to play a video game and win $1 million? The Perfect Game Challenge in “Major League Baseball 2K12” is back, but this year, the contest contains a new twist.
The past two seasons, 2K Sports has included the $1 Million Perfect Game Challenge in their baseball video games. The contest revolved around who could throw a perfect game – allowing no batter to reach base — in the video game first. Wade McGilberry used Kenshin Kawakami of the Atlanta Braves to win in 2010 and Brian Kingrey used Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies to claim the prize in 2011.
This season, it isn’t who can do it first, but who can pitch the most perfect of perfect games. A month long contest will find the best eight “perfect” players who will then compete in a live tournament for the $1 million check.
Beginning on Opening Day, April 4, gamers will get their chance to throw a perfect game, submit a unique code to 2K Sports and find out if their game was good enough to make into the top eight. Jason Argent, vice president of marketing at 2K Sports, said the idea was taken from fan suggestions who wanted to take the speed out of the contest and focus on quality.
“We wanted you to not only throw a perfect game but do it the best, the most perfect of all perfect games so that was the impetus for this,” Argent said. “At the end of the day, it is the degree of difficulty of the perfect game that we want to reward. Obviously throwing a perfect game is an amazing feat, but doing it with the highest degree of difficulty at the very, very end is what we want to reward.”
Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander was chosen to be on the cover of the game box this year and he came very close to pitching a perfect game last season. He tossed his second career no hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays in May, but gave up a walk in the 8th inning to spoil his perfect bid.
“You try not to think about (the perfect game), but you can’t help thinking about it,” Verlander said. “As you get closer to the end, the pressure really begins to build. You don’t want to give in to a hitter, but you also don’t want to groove (a pitch) either.”
Verlander said he has played previous versions of MLB2K games, usually as himself, but has never come close in the video game to tossing a perfect game. He thinks if someone does it using him, it would be pretty special.
“That would be cool and awesome. Obviously, I personally can’t enter the contest but to be a part of winning the challenge would be great.”
The contest runs through the month of April. Players can enter as many perfect games as they can throw, but only the eight best individual games will make it to the final round. In mid-May, those eight gamers will gather in New York City for a head-to-head, bracketed tournament against one another to find the new $1 million champion.
“Even people who have thrown a perfect game will see themselves potentially drop down the leaderboard and they’ll pick a pitcher who has thrown a perfect game on the leaderboard and kind of keep at it,” Argent said. “The whole dynamic nature of the tournament is going to be a lot of fun for us and the fans.”
“Major League Baseball 2K12” is rated E for everyone and will be available March 6 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles.
There were plenty of great games for 2011 and all many long-time franchises put bows on storylines that have been going on for years. It was also the year of the shooter (and the number 3) as “Battlefield 3,” “Gears of War 3” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” brought players into combat zones with new and creative gameplay.
As with any top 10 list, many very good games will not make the cut. As I put this together, I tried to include games that I played and never really wanted to put down until the very last scene. Your list may vary.
A fitting finale for Nathan Drake and his adventures, “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception” wraps up the historical adventure franchise with possibly his greatest treasure yet. Not only does the story takes a look back and reveal how Drake got started on his quests, but also tied up many loose plot lines very well. The game feels like an Indiana Jones adventure and Drake keeps a wry sense of humor throughout the most trying times. The designers did their research to showcase several incredible environments, historical references and lost treasures. Players will come away feeling like they’ve been on a grand adventure, which they have.
“LA Noire” puts the story to the forefront in a daring attempt to be different. Action is dictated by the narrative and not by a splash of action to get the plot moving. It looks and feels like a 1940’s style detective thriller with some great voice acting and motion capture animation. It is a great effort to bring the narrative to the forefront without forcing dialog or plot. Expect to see more like this in the future.
[PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC]
Sackboy returns and actually got better. “Little Big Planet 2” has a single-player story that has a good plot, supporting characters and new abilities for everyone’s incarnation of imagination. There is actual dialog instead of grunting or mumbles. The puzzle solving remains fun, but the creation of levels to share with the community raises the enjoyment level. The inclusion of social media connections increased the player’s audience for their newly created level and has spurred some wonderful creations that anyone can play.
”Deus Ex: Human Revolution” allows players to experiment with different augmentations to enhance their human character. Creatively building and upgrading, gamers will discover new ways to complete missions even during replays. The atmosphere of the not-so-far-away future is one of hope and despair. The story is well crafted and keeps players involved with very little downtime or boredom.
[PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC]
“NBA 2K12” offers more basketball action, both on and off the court, and gave hoops fans a great outlet while the real NBA figured out their work woes. Improved animations make the action look more realistic than ever. The inclusion of more of the NBA’s greatest players lets you pit superstars from different era to find out who is truly the greatest of all time. “My Player” mode lets you get drafted, work your way up the depth chart and puts your player in the harsh glow of the media during press conferences.
[PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation PSP, Windows PC, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii]
So many games use sex and violence as a hook to draw players in. “Saints Row The Third” uses it as the canvas of a hilariously funny and sexually charged romp that also offers excellent game mechanics. Missions are ultra-violent, outlandish and filled with tons of OMG moments. Drive around with a tiger in your car. Rescue hookers from a violent gang. Converse with Burt Reynolds and Hulk Hogan. It is a tongue-in-cheek, high-paced game players will enjoy.
[PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC]
An independent title that shows what the “little guy” could do, “Bastion” was a surprisingly stunning game with original weaponry, an environment that players put together as the game progresses and narration that literally tells the story of what you are doing at that time. Dialog isn’t tied to a predetermined set of events. The narrator, known as the Stranger, reacts to what your character does and makes the game seem personalized. It was a game that was very fun to play without taking itself too seriously.
[Xbox Live Arcade, Windows PC]
Let me say that the top three could be shuffled in any order and it would still be right. But this is how I’m shuffling them (for now). “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” is an open world role playing game that literally has over 100 quests to complete. Your character can be trained in any skill at any time, thus assuring that the game is very personal to each player. Sure, there are some minor bugs in it, but they are more amusing than frustrating. And any game that lets me stand at the top of a mountain while more than a dozen dragons fill the sky is a big winner in my book. It is enthralling, addictive and satisfying.
[PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC]
The Dark Knight returns to his beloved city of Gotham and discovers it to be just as violent and twisted as the dark halls of Arkham Asylum. His new adventures, “Batman: Arkham City,” expand the playing field dramatically and take the insanity into the open world. This allowed for more freedom during combat as well as takes the missions away from a linear progression. The voice acting remains flawless, the design and the increase in the number of the classic villains and the sense of foreboding throughout the game made this game a pleasure to play and a difficult one to put down even after the main story line (which was highly dramatic) was finished.
[PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC]
Outstanding characters? Check. Cryptic puzzle solving? Check. Great dialog? Check. Everything you’d expect from a “Portal” title returns in “Portal 2” with some great additions. While the first title was all about the puzzles, this title keeps the puzzle solving portion alive, but mixes in a wonderful story that is fast paced, informative and extremely humorous. Origins are discovered, new alliances formed and there is not a crumb of cake to be had. If that wasn’t enough, a new co-op mode was introduced that allows players to play as test robots that act like Abbott & Costello. A fantastic game from start to finish.
[Windows PC, Mac OS X, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]
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.
While the NBA lockout continues to drag on, it looks like the only good game of basketball you are going to get will be on your gaming console. “NBA 2K12” will be releasing soon, and while there might not be a new season, there are plenty of new features to get your balling action rolling.
A lot has already been said about the new “NBA Greatest” mode that features 15 of the NBA’s greatest stars and their iconic teams. But what you may not know is winning with those 15 stars unlocks other great players and teams.
Play and win as Michael Jordan’s Bulls against the Charlotte Hornets and you will get the opportunity to play as Larry Johnson or Alonzo Mourning later. Want to play Clyde Drexler? Win as Magic Johnson’s Lakers and you can do that.
Unlocking the Greatest teams allows you to match them up against current stars as well. How would Jerry West fair against Kobe Bryant? Historical questions may not be fully answered, but the debate and gameplay will be entertaining.
The “My Player” mode, where you create your own player and guide him through the league, has also been upgraded. Designing what your player looks like can take as little or as long as you like by using preset characteristics or getting into the details and fine tuning the design of your face and body.
Your player is entered in a rookie showcase game with other rookies (not real ones though) and you are given specific goals to achieve in the game to impress the scouts. The goals vary depending on what position you play and what type of player you are.
How you perform helps determine where you will go in the next draft. There is also an interview segment where three or four teams talk with you about your goals and aspirations for your career. These answers also play into what teams will be interested in you when Draft Day arrives.
After you are selected by a team, the development of your player really starts.
Skill points, which can be earned or purchased with your paycheck, will help improve your attributes and abilities. New drills will also increase your playing characteristics and increase your chances at becoming a superstar.
You can also curry favor with the league, your team or your fans by doing things off the court that reflect positively on you. This adds a bit of a role-playing element to the game.
Suppose you don’t want to start out as a raw rookie, but want to see how far you could go as an established player. You can do that as well using the same criteria in the “Create A Legend” mode.
Step into the sneakers of a current player and help guide them through their career. The mode is similar to the “My Player” mode, but you don’t have the pressure of being new to the league.
Can you turn a sixth man on the bench into a perennial All-Star? Or make yourself as one of the NBA’s greats? “NBA2K12” is prepared to let you find out – when the game is released on October 4.
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.
If one legendary basketball superstar on the cover of your video game is great, what about three?
2K Sports announced the cover art of their upcoming NBA simulation game, “NBA 2K12,” will feature the return of Michael Jordan (did we heard that before in 1995?) and also include hoops greats Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Each athlete will be shown separately on three distinct covers of the video game packaging.
The artwork of each athlete is stylized and unique for 2K Sports and was created by artist Adam Larson. Larson’s work on sports has been highlighted in a cover of “ESPN Magazine,” featured in art galleries, and won numerous awards.
Jason Argent, vice president of marking for 2K Sports, said after the huge success of Jordan on the cover for “NBA 2K11,” the company signed His Airness to a multi-year partnership, but they felt fans of the game deserved more.
“We are constantly focused on breaking the mold, not falling into any sort of pattern,” he said. “We wanted to make a big statement and a big departure and continue to evolve and grow this franchise, which has been such a great level of success for us.”
Argent said the three covers for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions will be shipped equally at launched to each retail location in the US. He said at this time, all other platform version and non-US locations would only get the Jordan cover.
“The idea was to keep doing things bigger and better and continue to shake things up.”
Argent said he thought the multi-cover approach was a first in the sports video game genre and extends the strong legacy established by “NBA 2K11.” Last year’s game sold more than 5 million units worldwide and won 14 Sports Game of the Year honors.
He said they weren’t ready to release gameplay details at this time, but the philosophy and success of the Jordan Challenge in “NBA 2K11” would be continued and expanded on in the new version.
“NBA 2K12” will be available on October 4, 2011, for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation2, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP and Windows PC.
Nearly one year ago, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay took to the mound and threw the 20th perfect game — allowing no batter to reach base — in Major League Baseball history, beating the Florida Marlins, 1-0.
Five months later, Halladay nearly did it again, pitching a no hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Division Series.
Fast forward to this April and “Halladay” throws yet another perfect game, except this one was a video game and earned 25-year-old Brian Kingrey $1 million in the MLB2K11 Perfect Game Challenge.
Kingrey, a music teacher from Louisiana, used Halladay in “MLB2K11” (Visual Concepts, 2KSports) to beat the Houston Astros on Opening Day and win the contest. He said he did his research on opposing batters, and while Halladay wasn’t his first choice, it turned out to be his best choice.
“I didn’t know about the Astros too much but when I was looking at batting averages, they like to swing at the ball. They’re really aggressive. They like to swing at balls they probably shouldn’t swing at.”
He said the combination of Halladay’s nasty slider and only a few left handed hitters in the aggressive Astros’ line up (Halladay is a right-handed pitcher) gave him the advantage he needed.
“I put my outfielders all as far to the right as possible, because I would use that slider. They would hit it to the right a lot. And if they did hit it, I would usually have somebody over there to grab it. I hardly had anybody on the left side of the field.”
Kingrey admits he wasn’t into baseball or sports games, but he is a competitive gamer with other genres. He said his wife “forced me to go out and get (the game) immediately.”
He practiced about four to five hours a day and got the perfect game on his third try on Opening Day. Kingrey said he watches more baseball now and is a new Phillies fan.
He and his wife got married last October and just bought a new house. He said they are going to get a new refrigerator to replace the dorm-room sized one they are using right now.
Kingrey plans to meet Halladay later this year and thank him for helping him win the contest.
Last year, Wade McGilberry won the Perfect Game contest using Kenshin Kawakami of the Atlanta Braves to record a perfect game against the New York Mets.
“MLB2K11″ is available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP, Nintendo DS and PC.
It has been three years since 2KSports put out a tennis game in this series and they decided to go back to the drawing board for their latest. They wanted to keep the elements that made the “Top Spin” franchise great while still tweaking some things to be easier for new players to join the fun.
Shot selection is done using a press and hold system. Each button on the controller corresponds to a particular type of shot – slice, normal, top-spin, lob.
The power of the shot is determined by how long the button is held and the effectiveness of the shot is determined by the release of the button and timing of the swing. I did spend some time in the practice area, but the controls became second nature very quickly.
There are refinements that can be added to each shot, like making it an inside-out shot or utilizing a drop shot when you want to draw in your opponent. But if you never use these, you will still play a solid match.
Opponents include 25 professional and legendary tennis players. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters are included as well as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi (the bald version). Sadly, John McEnroe and his world famous outbursts were not included.
Each tennis player is true to their real world style of play and looks really life-like with their movements and facial expressions. Expect Novak Djokovic to be super aggressive and Michael Chang to run all over the court.
Game developers doubled the number of animations from their previous titles to over 4,000 to provide as much realism as possible. Even the background noise during the virtual matches was recorded from real matches, including specific cheers for specific players.
The real fun is making your own player and see how well you can do. Gamers start off by designing their player’s look, and then refine their beginning skills in several different categories.
Created players can build on three different tennis styles to suit their particular game. Serve and volley, offensive baseline play and defensive baseline play can be improved as experience levels are earned.
Think of it as a tennis role-playing game with powers unlocked as levels increase.
Coaches can also boost certain skill sets for added bonuses. They also provide skill challenges (for example, hit 50 slice shots) to increase those skills bonus points.
How you choose to play, what coach you use and what skills you buff offer a wide variety of unique players to create. And it doesn’t matter what game mode you use your player. Skills are built no matter if you are playing against the computer or competing online against a human opponent.
Online, the Top Spin World Tour allows you to take your player and really see how well you can do against players from around the world. There are also weekly seasons to challenge your skills over a shorter period of time.
The men’s and women’s tournaments are separated so don’t think you can garner some easy experience points by picking on the weaker sex (you figure out for yourself which one that is).
There is also the 2KOpen that features matches against star players, quicker matches and random venues. Experienced gained here also contributes to the overall growth of your player.
The entire game was designed to be immersive, realistic and authentic. “Top Spin 4” hits all three of those points with a powerful overhand smash.
The play is addictive and earning experience points makes me feel like my player is truly growing towards becoming a star. My only gripe is the AI curve as I won 44 matches and 9 tournaments in a row before falling to my first defeat.
While I like winning as much as the next guy, even opponents like Federer and Andy Murray fell easily to me as I was building up my player. However, once I got to level 18 (there is a level cap at 20), Nadal crushed me in straight sets at the French Open semi-finals and played like he hadn’t in previous games.
That lack of consistency was a little frustrating, but is easily overlooked. It forced me to work harder on perfecting my shots and timing.
Winning the minor tournaments should be easy. Winning the Slam tournaments should feel like I need to bump up my game and “Top Spin 4” aces that.
The game is deep and fulfilling for tennis fans while still remaining fun for the afternoon for beginning players. And the signature shots (between the legs while running away from the net) are still as awe inspiring as they are in real life.
“Top Spin 4” is rated E for everyone. It is available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. The PlayStation Move controller is also supported for the PS3 version. A 3-D display is also supported for monitors that can use that function. This review was done with a review copy for the PS3 and used the DualShock 3 controller.