NHL 18 Review

“EA’s NHL remains the best of the publisher’s sports franchises in terms of its simulation, even as its slow pace of growth becomes increasingly hard to ignore. FIFA’s authenticity fluctuates, Madden plays safe, and NBA Live comes and goes. NHL stays consistent. Frustrating as off-the-puck AI can be (players too frequently seem blind when the puck is loose), in motion, it’s hockey bliss. It’s also apparent that a lack of updates and changes year-over-year is beginning to stagnate things.”

Read my full review of NHL 18 at Polygon

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How Madden ’96 Changed Sports Games Forever

 

“Visual Concepts’ original plans for Madden ’96 included full TV-like production, using the added CD space to bolster Madden’s audiovisual components. Many of the video sequences starred John Madden and co-anchor Pat Summerall, performing pre- and postgame routines. According to Rubinelli, Madden remained deeply involved with the franchise, dissecting rule changes and pointing out mistakes in both offense and defense as the team went on. Madden and Summerall’s professionalism continued into the video interstitial scenes, directed and scripted by Rubinelli.

“I wrote scripts for them by watching probably 100 hours of them broadcasting. … John took one look at the scripts that I wrote and said, ‘This is terrible. I would never say these things. Who wrote this shit?’ … He said, ‘You give me an unlimited number of scenarios, and Pat and I will just freestyle. We’ll ad lib.’ I gave them every possible scenario and they didn’t miss a beat. It was color as only Madden can do.”

Read my full feature on Madden ’96 at Polygon

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Yonder Review

“Yonder comes from Australian studio Prideful Sloth games. For the developer of Yonder, there’s no better name to represent their output. Yonder won’t pressure anyone when wandering the landscapes of Gemea. Without leveling, without health, without time restrictions, everything you do is free of confinement. Yonder is, plainly, a game of almost nothing where you need do nothing.”

Read my full review of Yonder at Polygon.

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Steam & SHMUPs

“Discovery comes easy when wandering a hall of video games, each churning attract screens. Without arcades, those random hubs found by curious Google hunters such as Thacker were it for the shmup’s exposure, outside of certain studios aiming at the die-hard audience. The genre, and with it the shmup’s myriad of sci-fi, fantasy, and military fetishism, fell into disrepair. The mainstream gaming public chewed on ever increasing polygon counts; the dedicated shmup fan sifted through what amounted to back alley digital dumpsters seeking anything of merit still made with scrappy 2D sprites, subwoofer crushing explosions, and mountainous end level bosses.”

Read my full feature on PC SHMUPs at PC Gamer

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On Xbox Live Indies

“In its later years, Microsoft stopped promoting the service as much. XBLIG became a wild west, home to crude zombie shooters, strange MMOs, Minecraft knock-offs, and lurid anime adventures. This became possible via the peer review process. With both Community Games and XBLIG, eager developers uploaded their games, and waited for other developers to go looking for functionality, glitches, or other problems. Those peers either accepted or denied the entry. All 3,300+ games on the service went through this procedure, both a hobbyist projects and serious attempts at making use of this emergent indie service.”

Read my full feature on Xbox Live Indies at Zam

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Sniper Elite 4 Review

“The main hook, that perverse, commercialized violence (particularly in such numbers), can’t sustain Sniper Elite 4 either. Seeing a skull rupture, brain jiggle, and fragments of each scatter with bullet impact rapidly turns repetitive. Larger scaled stage design only means more enemies and more of this one-off gimmick.”

Read my full Sniper Elite 4 review at Polygon

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On Superman Returns: The Video Game’s Development

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“Scripting problems were first in a number of communication and approval problems with Warner. Problems arose with, of all things, Superman’s groin size. “We sent them the box art for the game and [they came back and said], ‘you need to make Superman’s package smaller. That’s a little too big. Superman wouldn’t look like that,'” says Nystrom.”

Read my full story on Superman Returns at Polygon

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