Reviews

MLB 14 The Show Is Broken

There are only a handful of games that I play all year long. MLB The Show from Sony San Diego is one of them. It's always missing out on the spectacle of E3, because the latest release has already hit the streets. If you want info about arguably the greatest sports game franchise ever created, you'll usually get it in January as we get closer to spring training. MLB 14 The Show is actually the first baseball game to have no competition on game consoles. With MLB2K finally being put out of its misery, PlayStation owners had the only game in town, literally.

Normally this would not be an issue. MLB The Show is actually worth the price of a PlayStation 3 console for just this one game IMO. In fact, it was the only game I've repeatedly played on the aging console since 2012.  The game is not without the occassional bugs. Online play included a 3rd strike pitch in the dirt that would freeze the catcher allowing the batter to score an inside the park home run while the ball sat a few inches from home plate. Thankfully, that bug is gone this year but what's worse is that the game people consider the best simulation of a sport, has some serious visual glitches and high weirdness that makes the game mostly unplayable online against other human opponents.

This is not a problem for the millions of gamers who buy MLB The Show for the single player and franchise modes. The problem is a result of the developers rebuilding the online codebase from scratch. After a disasterous release in May, the developers issued this statement regarding the horribly sync issues occurring in online games.

This year, we strove to revamp our online gameplay from the ground up. The goal was to provide 100% parity with the feel and input response of our offline gameplay. We have accomplished much of this: input and timing for Batting, Pitching, and Fielding online all feel the same as offline with virtually zero latency. As a result of this overhaul and our emphasis on a minimal latency experience, a number of visual anomalies and issues of synchronization have manifested that we are actively identifying and working to resolve.

It is a process, one with growing pains, but we are confident the significant changes we’ve made this year will help to lay the foundation for a vastly improved online experience, both in terms of fixes we will deliver in the near future and also for subsequent entries in the series. We can also assure you that our highly anticipated PlayStation 4 debut will benefit from many of our immediate learnings and fixes from day one."

Some of the visual anomalies are just jarring, like when a ball disappears in mid air instead of being caught by the player standing a few feet away. Or when a ground ball that seemingly makes it into the hole is magically caught by a time warping 2nd baseman. Other anomalys affect strategy as you see a ball sail past the catcher, which causes you to advance the runner from third to score. But the ball didn't get by the catcher on your opponents screen, so you are called out at the plate. This happens all the time in various ways throughout the game.

The worst problem the game faces is freezing. Yep, frozen players, frozen games, frozen PlayStation. Most times you'll need to power off the PlayStation and start all over, taking a loss and a disconnect mark on your profile.

The development team released a patch, but it didn't fix the glaring issues of freezing, warping, and visual anomalies. Here it is over 2 months after release, and the problems still exist making online gameplay a crap shoot. Spend a half hour playing a glitch filled game, only to have it freeze up and force you to start over.

You can't return a video game for a full refund if the mode you play is broken. The majority of customers play offline modes, so they aren't really complaining that much. It's like having a copy/printer/fax machine that works incredible when directly connected to your computer, but leaves smears, smudges, and streaks on documents when connected via wifi. 

I'm pretty sure I'll be skipping launch day releases in the future, the only way publishers will stop releasing broken games is if people don't buy them. Sony put out a press release about record breaking sales, while the people that bought the game for online play were left rebooting their PlayStations and wasting time

 

5 Star Wrestling Review [PS3]

As the AllGames.com resident wrestling fanatic, which includes video games, and seeing as it's WrestleMania season, I've been tasked with reviewing the new indie game that dropped on the PlayStation Network exclusively for PS3, 5 Star Wrestling. First, to understand the title of the game, you need to know that a 5 Star match in wrestling is the highest ranking you can receive in wrestling. Though, this ranking system was started by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer newsletter, it just caught on and now everyone just kind of follows it. To put this in perspective, the WWE as a whole has only had five 5 Star matches since this ranking system began in the 80's.


The selling point by 5 Star is that wrestlers can/will take damage and that damage will actually affect gameplay. This selling point is what got me so excited for the game in the first place. This was something that no games before it had done, even though the WWE games Wrestlemania 2000, No Mercy, and Day of Reckoning 1 & 2 had damage meters, and the wrestlers would limp or hold an arm, the damage never affected gameplay. The other point, which was also exciting, was unique finisher reversals, some even reversing into the opponent's finisher. This also, to my knowledge anyway, hadn't been done before. So when the game dropped, and I bought it, I had some high hopes. Was I dreaming or did 5 Star Wrestling deliver a 5 star product?

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When starting, and playing this game, I feel it's important to note that this is an indie game. A small team of passionate people came together to make what they felt would be an awesome wrestling game. So keeping that in mind, I also feel that it's completely unfair to compare it to critically acclaimed games like WWF No Mercy, and current games like WWE2k15. I mean, WWE2k15 is basically working off a backbone that was started and has been refined since 1995!


I'm not going to bore you with basic stuff, there's a menu, there's music, language select, all the good stuff. The game menu music is just a randomly played wrestler theme song. Getting into the meat of this game, there's 8 wrestlers, "Raging" Andy Organ, Harvee Dee, Gregg Hearty, Dynamite Pegasus, Jonny "The Bull" Miavia, Mike Iceberg, Curtis Angel, and Ragnabrok. Since the name of the developer IS Serious Parody, I'm sure you can figure out who each wrestler is a parody of. Personally, I find the goofy names pretty awesome because it feels like a throwback to the old Fire Pro Wrestling games that had to come up with a bunch of goofy names for the wrestlers. As for match types, there's 7, with 6 being locked, they are:

  • Wrestling Match*
  • Pin Fall Only
  • Submission Match
  • 2 Out Of 3 Falls
  • No Holds Barred
  • First Blood
  • Last Man Standing


*Available at start

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There's also 1 alternate attire for each wrestler that can be unlocked. You can unlock match types, attires, and arenas by going through the Challenge Mode, and earning coins.


Challenge mode is the main mode of this game. Challenge mode is what it sounds like, a lot of different challenges, each challenge comes with 3 (or more) objectives, and tracks whether your match is a 5 star classic or not. To be honest, the first few challenges I did, i was just killing the objectives and then finishing the match, which lead to 1 or 2 star matches. You'll get more coin for higher star matches.


Graphically, this game is better looking than a lot of stuff out there right now, and it doesn't do the typical indie game thing where it's either pixel art dubbed "retro" or some weird artsy style. While the character models are far from realistic, they'd probably fall somewhere in like with cartoony muscle guys. But it works, so I can't knock it, i like the look of the characters and the arenas. Oddly, there's crowd noise piped in by speakers that you can see in the arenas if you really look, because there's no crowds. I kind of hope they add crowds via a patch or something, but really it's not that important.


Gameplay wise, this is where I have a lot of conflict. The controller scheme is something completely new to me, so it takes some getting use to. After a few playthroughs I really like it now, as you only need to press, at most, 2 buttons (at once) and flick the right analog stick to pull a move off, but mostly you'll be pressing one of the shoulder buttons and either hitting the right analog for grapples, or X for strikes. Working the limbs of your opponents, and seeing their knee give out under their weight while trying to perform a move, or favoring their arm, it's really nice to see that stuff. This game is probably the most cerebral wrestling game on the market right now. Oh, you could use psychology since the N64 days. Working body parts, even now in the 2K games, helps to win matches quicker. but the PRESENTATION of it. The way working the knee affects a match, it's never been done like this before, and it's a breath of fresh air. The problems with the gameplay come with glitches where grapples cause wrestlers to teleport and switch places to finish the move. But, I mean, that's really the biggest, consistent, problem I've seen. And that's not bad.


The sound of the game is typical wrestling sound, though I give immense credit on not using generic rock music or public domain music or something to cut cost. The music in this game is all original, all be it parody of real songs, but even if they're parodies they sound pretty great. My favorite is Harvee Dee's theme.


Considering this is their first outing, and their own original engine, they've really powerbombed it out of the park, and into a table. Is it a perfect game? No. Is it the fabled second coming of No Mercy, no. But it doesn't need to be. Once the little problems are patched, and once whatever planned DLC is implemented, it'll carve it's own niche in wrestling video game lore.It's not the greatest game, it needs small work in a lot of areas. I think once it's patched and everything's working solidly, it'll be one of the greatest wrestling games in the past 10 years.


Score: 3 1/2 Stars

GH101 Xbox 360 and PS3 Restrospectives

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Fred is joined by an all star list of guests as Gaming History 101 looks back on the longest, most successful, and most diverse generation of consoles. Steve (R9cast) and Norma (Knuckleballer Radio and Zombiecast) come on board to discuss the beloved Xbox 360. They take a deep look at the console launch, launch titles, significant advances, hardware setbacks, and a bunch of other ups and downs in Microsoft's second, and currently most notable, console.

Then Fred is joined by 42 Level One host Andy and Video Game Outsiders own Matt (@MattoMcFly) to reminisce on the Playstation 3. They look back on the launch, early titles, and myriad of ups and downs that Sony struggled with on its third console

 

Click Here for the GH101 XBOX 360 Episode  

Click Here for the GH101  PlayStation 3 Episode

 

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