Assassin-Nation: Assassin’s Creed 3 Is Less Than Twenty-Four Hours Away!

Sharpen your blades and work on your parkour.  Assassin’s Creed 3 is coming out at midnight tonight and it looks like it could be the best one yet.  This is the first time I have pre-ordered one of the AC games over the course of its existence, but it recently grabbed my attention with the inclusion of a barter economy and the idea of defending trade routes among other things that may seem small but will hopefully make the game a more enthralling experience overall.

This game is looking more and more like Red Dead Redemption in many ways as well.  The concept of hunting different animals and building your own homestead is something that is quite common in many Rockstar games and AC3 looks to have caught on to that fact.

Have you pre-ordered Assassin’s Creed 3?  If not – you still have some time!

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Developing Players In Madden 13

We recently talked about building your team in Madden 13.  There are many different ways to do this strictly by picking up talented players that

You can help save these players without a team. Please just make sure you take the time to play with them!

are rated as such.  On the flip-side, there are also many other players out there that are diamonds in the rough.  You can make it your mission to take some players out of the late rounds of the draft or even pick them up during the preseason as other teams give up on them because of low overall ratings.

You need to take some chances on players you might not know about and that will often mean scouring the free agent market during the pre-season for a player that could make all the difference for you in the current season or simply develop him into a future star.

There are a few different ways to look for a player that might ‘fly under the radar’.  The first is to look at position specific ratings and determine if they are what you are looking for in a player at that position.  Assuming you even need someone at that position.

Quarterbacks are some of the easier ones to look for as far as ratings go, but they will often be the first ones to go during the preseason.  Look at their Throw Power and Throwing Accuracy ratings.  If you run a West Coast offense you don’t need a QB with 95+ THP, but you do need them to have good-to-great accuracy when throwing short and medium routes.  If you prefer a more vertical passing attack, you will want someone with a higher THP (like 95+) and a better accuracy for deep passes.  The moral of the story is – If the shoe fits, pick up the QB you need.  As you develop a QB you should focus on improving their passing ratings first rather than some sort of speed increases.

Runningbacks are a different breed when it comes to determining what is a ‘steal’ (assuming you need one).  The first thing you will notice is that developing a runningback will be costly if you want to increase their SPD rating.  If you want a ‘fast’ HB, make sure he is fast before you pick him up.  As well, pay close attention to his ratings in Carrying and Injury/Toughness.  A decent HB can have his season and career derailed if he takes a shot from a powerful MLB or Safety.  The ratings for a HB that need to be increased in order to develop their market value are the AWR and Carrying ratings.  Use your XP on these and your HB will be a force to be reckoned with… or traded in his late 20’s.

Receivers are among the most common diamonds in the rough.  They are also the easiest to stock up on and never use… therefore, losing a roster spot just to carry a potential talent.  Receivers need to have the obvious CTH (catch) rating, but they also need to have a few others that you can easily build up if you get them enough playing time and touches.  The AWR rating is something that can effect a WR as he needs to be able to know when the ball is thrown and where to run his routes.  Also, there is an issue of getting your potential diva WR the ball often enough to build him up.  I am currently in a situation where I have eight (8) WRs on my team.  I have turned the Browns into a pass first team, but in the process I have also over-stocked my team with WRs.  Here are a few of my current project players –

Offensive Line is another easy place to upgrade players, but you should really make sure you draft them with great ratings first.  It isn’t often you will put an under-rated O-Lineman on the field to protect your QB.  On the other side of this argument, you can always grab a lineman with great strength and size, put him on the line and try to dominate with the running or passing game (whichever is his focus for XP) and develop him in that fashion. 

The hardest players to develop are Defensive Linemen and Linebackers.  The reason being that they develop most of their XP through tackling statistics.  The issue is that tackling stats are broken in Madden 13 and the interactions between defensive players and offensive blockers is shaky at best.  You will want to increase the Tackle ratings first and then move on to increase every player to ‘Big Hitter’ status so they cause more fumbles as well as increasing their Hit Power ratings.

Depending on what type of coverage you run for your defensive backs you will want to focus on their coverage ratings as well as their press ratings.  If you are running a lot of man-coverage with your CBs you will want to increase their MCV ratings first as well as their Press rating if they are a physical type of player.  Their XP is generally determined by how many INTs they get during the course of the year and if you can develop a talented defensive backfield you will be almost unstoppable.

When it comes to safeties you will want to look at how you have them playing as well.  I have a defense made up of ‘enforcers’ like Laron Landry and TJ Ward… if you come across the middle you will end up with a broken jaw because these are like Honey Badgers… they don’t give a s**t!  Make sure you up their Zone Coverage ratings as well as their tackling and hit power as they are often the last line of defense if someone does get past your front-seven.  The last thing you want are a bunch of DBs trying to ‘tackle’ like Deion Sanders.

Kickers require a lot of field goals in order to increase their stats.  The bad thing about this is that most people want to score touchdowns rather than kicking a lot of FGs.    Whenever you want to increase your kick power you will notice that it starts to get really expensive after awhile.  Your best bet is to pick up a kicker with a high kick power rating starting off.

Punters are along the same lines as kickers.  How many teams really ‘want’ to punt?  Try to pick up these players as you go and hope that they have the high kick power ratings that you need rather than try to build them up.

Medal of Honor Warfighter – Review and Impressions

At first glance you might look at Medal of Honor: Warfighter with a cynical mindset.  Afterall, the original ‘rehash’ of the series was lacking to say the least.  What you will notice right off the bat is recoil in your weapons from the gameplay perspective.  This game is a more arcade-like game from the run and gun perspective on multiplayer rather than the Battlefield 3 perspective of objective based gameplay and XP development.

Warfighter’s maps seem forced and cluttered for the most part.  While the Frostbite 2 engine is a nice addition and it gives the ability to destroy cover, etc. there doesn’t seem to be a lot of longevity to a game that isn’t based on larger maps with a lot of cover to destroy.  Once again, EA is finding a way to put out a game as a stop-gap measure rather than trying to really overtake Call of Duty.

Here is a quick run-down of what you should expect if you are on the fence about buying Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

Pros –

Fast Gameplay – This game plays more like Call of Duty or even the 2010 iteration of MOH, but it is a welcome direction for people that prefer EA shooters over Call of Duty but still want faster gameplay and an overall more ‘reflex driven’ game.  The recoil of the weapons makes for a less point and shoot feel, but the small maps and close quarters along with a more assault driven attitude of game-modes makes Warfighter a faster experience overall.

Full Weapon Customization – You can pretty much build up any of your weapons to your own specifications.  New barrels, new sights, optics, etc.  The best part of being able to do these things is that they give you a feeling of ownership and creativity that actually matters.  Call of Duty has accessories for guns, sure… but for the most part they are unnecessary ‘bling’.  The only thing is that with the maps and game-types in Warfighter, is it really that vital to have all these options?  Only time will tell.

A Somewhat Intriguing Story – It isn’t often that we can say a FPS title has a story worth paying attention to.  Medal of Honor feels more like the movie ‘Act of Valor’ than some sort of half-cocked terrorist fiction.  On the other hand, maybe that is exactly what it is… *shrug*.  Warfighter grabs the gamer by the heartstrings with a story that feels very real in today’s modern terrorist obsessed culture.  However, it is also a game about terrorists being chased around the world.

I think I have played this game before.

Cons –

Feels Like A Stop-Gap COD Wanna-be – The bad part of MOH: WF is that it feels like Call of Duty without the urgency.  Call of Duty is fast paced, run and gun, twitchy and an overall ADHD experience.  Warfighter is all of those things without the twitchy control feel.  This makes for a fast paced game with sluggish handling.  I appreciate the effort to speed up the feel but this game needs to make up its mind.

Too Little, Too Late – With the likes of Halo and Call of Duty coming out in the next three weeks MOH is looking like something to buy if you have $60 to throw away.  This feels a lot like the 2010 release of Medal of Honor where it had a toe-hold for a couple weeks before Call of Duty came out and made people forget about playing a game with a lumberjack on the cover.

A Possible DLC Money Pit – One of the most annoying aspects of this current generation (and future generations) of online console gaming is downloadable content.  Sure, DLC is something that is a must for games like Medal of Honor, but in reality you are starting to see a trend of games that come out with DLC already planned to take money out of your wallet. Purchasing Warfighter brand new comes with access to a couple new maps but in reality it isn’t much of a perk if you don’t plan on being completely devoted to this game for the next year.  I don’t foresee Medal of Honor being played by many people when Battlefield 3 is already successful enough with its community and Call of Duty gamers will get their annual re-hash and pour money into DLC and ‘Elite’.

Have You Seen My Baseball? – Five Reasons To Look Forward to MLB 13

When I was younger I was a baseball fanatic.  Ken Griffey Jr. posters adorned my bedroom walls and every summer consisted of a run down the driveway to see the sports page and look for the latest home run count.  I am either extremely lucky or unlucky to have grown up during the height of the steroid era of baseball.  Thankfully, my favorite player was never implicated in any of the investigations.  Unfortunately, the second half of his career was marred by injuries and he never set the all-time record for home runs.

The moral of this story is that since his retirement I have had little reason to pay attention to baseball.  I chose not to purchase MLB 12: The Show because there were enough changes going on next season that I figured I would save my $60 for that.  Now that we are one day from the World Series and two teams I don’t follow are playing for the title; it’s time to start looking at next year.

Extra Wild-Card Game For Playoffs – This year we saw an addition to baseball that was a long time coming.  The addition of an extra playoff series (even if it was only one game) that allowed for another reason to hope for the unlikely to happen with a second wild-card slot.  162 games in a season can often prove to be a marathon that most people stop paying attention to in the months of June and July.  This year we saw the likes of the Indians and the Pirates have hopes of the playoffs dashed in the middle/late-middle of the season.  The fact that they still had some hope was largely due to the extra playoff spot.  In MLB 13 we should hold this as a sign that playing a full season of 162 games might not be a complete waste if you can squeak into the playoffs with an underdog team.  Look out for my Tribe next season as we will be making a push with a new manager and hopefully a few new players.

Houston Moves To American League – One reason it was easy to pass up on MLB 12 was due to the fact that the move of Houston to the American League was announced.  It takes away from a Franchise Mode when you know that after the first season you will not be able to realistically move a team to another league.  This is minor from most perspectives, but it does take away from the immersion if you are in a sports game for the long-term.  Even if it is one of the worst teams in all of professional sports.

Harper, Cespedes and Trout – These three players are bringing me back to baseball.  It has been a long time since baseball has had a face to bring people to the sports page every day.  Bryce Harper is arrogant, sure… but he is one hell of a ball player and his talent is finally more than just some sort of YouTube homerun derby video.  Yoenis Cespedes almost saved my fantasy baseball team this year and let’s face it – he plays on Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s.  I love the opportunity to watch teams like Oakland play moneyball and develop talent however they can.  Mike Trout almost gave me faith that a rookie could win the MVP award and deserve it just because he is a solid player all-around… rather than some sort of brutish homerun king that can’t play defense.  Next year could be the year that Trout really jumps to the fore-front as a true MVP contender.

Spring Time – Face it, baseball starts during the springtime.  It is one of the few signs that the weather is about to get better after a long winter.  I am already dreading the arduous drive to work every day during January and February.  Opening day in baseball is unlike that of any other sport.  When we see MLB 13 on the shelves it should give us hope that the snow is about to melt and we can get back to enjoying the weather outside… not to mention some of America’s past time.

Faith In Sports Gaming Renewed – Every August we are blessed/cursed with EA Football games.  America’s favorite sport is largely football.  However, when it comes to sports games – MLB: The Show and NBA 2K are the best ones out there.  After the NFL season has come to an end we are often left with that pit in our stomach that there is no more football to watch.  However, when we get that first smell of baseball it is hard to let it go.  The smell of the leather with a baseball glove over your face, the sound of a hanging curve getting smashed into the bleachers and the feel of freshly mowed grass under your cleats should be enough to make you forget about football… at least until the draft.

Building A Team In Madden 13 – More Than Just ‘Overall’ Ratings

Now that Madden 13 finally has the patches needed to make it a truly complete game we can start talking more about how to approach different modes.  In the case of Connected Careers Mode there are numerous ways to approach how to build your team as a coach.

Building your team starts with getting the right pieces in place.

I started a career with the Kansas City Chiefs and somehow took them to a Super Bowl victory with Romeo Crennel in my single player Online Franchise ‘Romeo’s Thinkin’ Arbys’.  After winning the big game in my first season I wanted to move on with a new coach in a new (and more challenging) situation.  Naturally, I went with the Browns and started my first off-season by trying to get players to fulfill stop-gap roles for my first season.  Then finally, I got to the draft… aka – the best part of building your team.

Drafting Your Team

It is more than simply taking the best-available player.

You need to consider what your team truly needs when you start drafting players.  This includes scouting during the season as well.  As a coach, you will need to pay close attention to the contract statuses of your players and how they are performing for you.  Taking a Quarterback when you really need a Defensive End or Linebacker could make your team suffer.  In this same breath, you should also compare the players by their ratings and their size.

Also, if you want a cheap way to scout for players that will be highly rated on your team, make sure you spend the 25 scouting points on ‘Scheme’.  This will be something you can use as you go through the year to set up your potential draft picks.

Free Agency

Over the course of my current CCM I have come across a few free agents that intrigued me.  The best pick-up I have made is WR, Leonard Hankerson for the Browns in 2013.  He came in as a replacement for my injured rookie WR and ended up leading the team in receiving yards, TDs and got himself a huge contract in the off-season.  Keep your eyes open for players that perform well when playiing for you.  Sometimes a player might not be ‘a good fit’ but he could end up becoming exactly what you need to turn things around.

Release Failed Project Players

One of the hardest things to do in sports games is to part with players that you either like in real-life or simply want to develop in the game.  Some of them just don’t pan out or under-perform over the course of time.  You have to make those tough decisions and understand that the betterment of your team is the long-term goal.

Pick A Starter… and stick with him

One of the parts of CCM in Madden 13 is progressing players based on their performance on the field.  Make it your mission to look at the goals being set for all of your starters and try to develop your players through that system.

What More Do You Want From Shooter Games?

The best-selling games on consoles seem to come down to First Person Shooters every single year.

While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does drive me to wonder what else I really want from my FPS gaming experiences.  There seem to be three choices when it comes down to decision-making.

Arcade/Deathmatch Style – Call of Duty is the quintessential example of shooter games that revolve around picking up the controller and smacking other gamers in the face.  It is a fast-paced game with slight differences between weapons.  Not to mention a huge group of core gamers that are dedicated to the game they have come to love (or even sometimes, hate).

What More Do I Want?I have been hoping for years for the sniping in this game to be nerfed.  However, that is the ‘charm’ of Call of Duty games…  the weapons are subjectively rated and designed.  In many cases there isn’t much of a difference between using a magnum side-arm and a MK-14 as long as you ‘know how to handle them’.

I don’t want Call of Duty to change, primarily because I know that every time I turn it on I will be able to play it for an hour or two before I get so fed up with connectivity or quick-scoping spawn trappers that I turn it off and put in a different game.

Objective Based/Simulation – Battlefield 3 is designed with huge maps and team-play as the primary components.  While some of the interactions with vehicles is far from ‘simulation’ the weapons and handling of the game in-general present a much more ‘realistic’ feel to the game.  The recoil of the weapons makes for tough decisions to be made at times when you try to determine if you want more power or more control.  This is a primary difference between BF3 and COD games.

Also, objectives are the primary gametypes for Battlefield games.  This is something that tends to escape the common COD player than ventures into the land of Battlefield.  They will often try to come into a game of Rush or Conquest and try to turn it into some sort of Team Deathmatch.  While this is quite useful in Conquest, it is far from useful if you are the attacking team in Rush.

What More Do I Want? –A preventative measure to keep teams from spawn camping with vehicles like helicopters.  This is a great game, but people that are new to it will find that it is unforgiving when you play Conquest mode against seasoned teams of gamers.  It is one of the biggest downfalls in game design when you make it nearly impossible for a losing team to recover.

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy – Halo, Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series all fall into this category for the most part.  They are either based in a realm that doesn’t exist or in some sort of alternate universe.  Fallout is the only potential threat to this category, but in reality it still has ‘laser’ weapons.  Much like Fallout, Skyrim has magic and other spells that make it fantasy related.  Halo is based on other planets or regions of the universe and uses weapons that either don’t exist or close to that description.

What More Do I Want?–  This category is difficult because there isn’t a lot to base anything off of in ‘real life’.  The issue I have with Halo is recoil with weapons feeling non-existent.  In general, Halo has a feel to it that makes it seem like the gamer is playing the game with a lot less ‘motion’.  There is almost a floating sensation when playing Halo.

What’s the point?

When thinking about any of these things it leaves me thinking that any of the things I wish would happen in FPS games are subjective at best and pointless at worst.  Most of the games we choose to play revolve around what we have had time to find a love for over the years.  Chances are good that you have already pre-ordered a game this fall or at least plan on asking for one of them during the holiday season.

Take that as a sign that you really don’t have a lot more you want out of a shooter game.  Otherwise you wouldn’t pre-order something before you hear about, let alone see any real changes.

Spawn Camping, Connectivity and the Potential Pitfalls of Black Ops 2

Call of Duty:  Black Ops suffers from tremendous issues that should cause many gamers to wonder if they should expect the same problems that plague the predecessor of Black Ops 2.

After recently popping-in  the original Black Ops for a refresher on Treyarch’s digital cash-cow I was greeted quickly with the reasons I sold this game after owning it for only five-months.

Connectivity

Black Ops seems more like a low-budget, poorly supported online title that could be easily discarded and replaced by any other online title.  Firing automatic weapons like the Galil seems to result in a largely disappointing task of dealing with poor frame-rates.  Is it really so hard to give such a widely purchased game a decent server system?

It seems almost laughable when playing Black Ops that it has the hit-detection problems that I remembered from ‘so long ago’.  I was under some sort of delusion that it would have been patched, but apparently this is something either created ‘by-design’ or strictly overlooked as they moved on with their Call of Duty rehashing development cycle.

Spawn Camping

Another issue that plagues the Domination game mode is spawn camping.  If this is an issue in any game they should be firing game-testers.  Some of the biggest problems in multi-player gaming is when the logic of spawning is broken.  In Black Ops you are almost guaranteed to experience a mind-numbing round of spawn camping by some group of ‘try-hard’ clan kids.

While being the victim of such a childish tactic is annoying, it is more annoying to be a paying consumer of a product that isn’t designed well.  You can always quit out of a match that is populated by these internet tough guys, but it is a bit more difficult to quit out of a product you have already spent $60+ on.
Hopefully Black Ops 2 will fix these issues.  If not, it could be a long year in the Call of Duty kingdom.