Madden 25 – Six Months Out

Now that the NFL Combine has started there will be a few weeks of excitement before the actual NFL Draft and the announcement of who will be on the cover of Madden 25.  Until that time comes, we are going to take a look at what this game looks like from the standpoint of ‘what is already known’.

Simms

The first aspect of Madden that most fans are interested in is whether Connected Careers Mode will be updated and fixed.  CCM was a step in a somewhat new direction for Madden and while it provided many gamers with a new wave of interest in playing multiple seasons it also presented new problems and brought into focus (yet, again) some of the biggest short-comings of Madden.

  • Trades Are Still Broken – In case you haven’t noticed, you can trade away your draft picks and easily get between seven and ten future first round draft picks.  Player for player trades are a bit more difficult to pull off but that isn’t enough to save the atrocious draft pick trade logic that still plagues this game.
  • O-Line/D-Line Interaction – Every time I play Madden it feels more like I am playing Tecmo Super Bowl and the linemen are going through the suction motions.  This is certainly one aspect of gameplay that 2K mastered back in NFL2K5 and All Pro Football 2K8.
  • Commentary – Phil Simms is a jack-ass.  Okay, this isn’t something limited to Madden (as he exhibits this in every broadcast in ‘real life’) but his commentary is often out of place and even hypocritical.  When a Quarterback gets sacked from the blind side (Enter your Sandra Bullock joke here) he will say one of two phrases “Boy do they hurt” and then he will say a few plays later “They don’t hurt at all”.  Which is it Phil?…  or rather – Madden Devs?
  • Injuries – One of the most annoying aspects of Madden is that it doesn’t have realistic injuries.  While the NFL is trying to make it seem like football is safe, we know otherwise.  EA needs to make a decision as to whether they are going to make a representation of real football or some sort of football farce.

Keep your eyes and ears open as Madden 25 starts the annual hype machine.  You are destined to get excited and eventually let down by the beginning of September.  If you want a sports game that will make you feel like Madden is lacking – go get MLB 13 the show next week.

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PS4 Specs For Your Viewing Pleasure

Sony

CPU – x86 Format AMD Jaguar (with 8 cores)

GPU (Video Card) – 1.84 TFLOPs AMD Radeon

Memory – 8GB GDDR5 RAM

HDD – Size Unknown (built-in)

Optical/Disc Drive – BluRay/DVD (Read Only – No Burning)

I/O – USB 3.0 (Amount is unknown)

Communication – Ethernet (10BT, 100BTX, 1000BT), 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1

A/V – HDMI, Analog, Digital Out (Optical)

* While these are what have been provided by Sony, you should keep your eyes and ears open for any changes or new details as the Holiday Season gets closer.

Playstation 4 Announcement Coming Today – What Does It Mean To You?

The Sony Playstation 4/PS4/Orbis is going to be officially announced today in New York.  While many gamers are considering the exciting news about updated graphics engines and gaming innovation there are other things to consider and look for as the new console(s) are announced.

Remember the Duck Demo from the PS3?…  Don’t let them fool you today.

  • Pricing – Will Sony make up for their pricing mistake with the PS3?  Most analysts believe that the PS4 will have a price tag around $400.  This is a fair price point in terms of how systems have been priced since 2000.
  • Online Functionality – PlayStation Network has been an embarrassment in terms of service and lag in gaming experience.  Add the fact that Sony became a target for hackers and were subsequently hacked to the max should be a sign that they must improve there service and more importantly – security.
  • Motion Control – This is a niche function that shouldn’t be considered in terms of controller functionality.  They tried to push the Six-Axis early on and then the ‘Move’ to no avail.  They should try to make more use of the Eye-Toy camera (like the Kinect) if they want to do anything with motion.  Even still – it is a novel concept with little to provide to gamers.
  • Design and Engineering – While Sony fanboys like to make fun of 360 users for the RROD (Red Ring of Death) they were victims of similar failings from Sony.  The YLOD (Yellow Light of Death) and over-heating of PS3 Slim consoles was a common theme that should scare any day-one console purchaser at least a little bit.
  • What Else Can Be Done… Really? – Console gaming is hitting a peak plateau because graphical improvements are becoming more and more detailed in non-gameplay scenarios.  We may see improvements to physics (which is doubtful in Madden – call me cynical, but you know it is true) but we are getting to a point where developers of games are moving towards microtransactions and forcing you to buy add-ons rather than any sort of true improvement in the game itself.  Don’t let Sony (or Microsoft, when the time comes) to get you drunk with graphics and take advantage of your wallet with fancy videos.

Gears of Boredom – Why Gears of War Judgment Isn’t Worth Your Time (or Money)

Once again, we are entering the realm of yet another sequel prequel.  The Gears of War saga has been one of the best selling franchises during this generation of consoles.  If you never played the series it can be best summed up as a cross between the 1980s movie Tremors, Predator and The Descent – with more blood, GOWTREMgore and chainsaw bayonets.

Epic Games and Microsoft did an amazing job of supporting the game with patches and developing it into one of the most compelling storylines in recent shooter-game history.  Much like the original Star Wars Trilogy was enough to keep fans satiated with what many consider to be the best cinematic story/opera of all time, it is being plagued with the corporate desire for profit rather than creativity and finality to a great story in the form of the godforsaken prequel. 

Quite a bit has changed at Epic since the conclusion of the Gears trilogy as well.  Primarily the departure of Cliff Bleszinski and other longtime members of the development team.  While it isn’t surprising that people come and go in the world of gaming and game development it isn’t exactly boding well for a series that has really lost a lot of its luster now that the story is over.  Not to mention the fact that the ‘improvements’ and tweaks being made to GoW Judgment seem to be cosmetic at best.

Looks more like a member of GWAR or the Legion of Doom than a Locust.
Looks more like a member of GWAR or the Legion of Doom than a Locust.

If you are a fanboy/girl of the series none of what has been mentioned will convince you to part with your favorite franchise.  It is one of the things that makes you what you are to corporate gaming studios – the dedicated lemmings that also populate the Call of Duty and Halo sales charts are the same… numbers on a graph.

This is why it isn’t surprising at all to see Epic pushing out one final (or first?) chapter of a game that has had a conclusion for awhile now.  They are coming up on the end of an entire generation of consoles; and there isn’t much time left before they start pursuing some sort of new blood-soaked trilogy that will impress us graphically, theatrically and monetarily.  It is almost a certainty that Epic will design some sort of new GoW-esque title for the next generation but that isn’t going to stop them from milking their cash cow one more time before laughing their way to the bank with the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Is It Time To Move To PC Gaming?

Now that we are coming to the beginning of yet another console generation you are most likely asking – “Should I wait this out?”.  That would be a good option if you could stick to it.  Considering the growing rumors that the next console generation will not allow you to buy games second-hand (used) or even bring a game over to a friends house to play it on their console;  It is starting to look more likely by the day that the PS4 (Oracle) and XBox 720 (Durango) are going to focus less on hard copy media (discs) and move further towards downloading and cloud based gaming.

This feels an awful lot like the console version of Steam/Origin.  Both of these game hosting services allow you to play your games through an online based client that essentially acts as a proxy game library.  Instead of actually having a collection of games on your shelf, they are in the Steam application under – you guessed it – Library.

With Microsoft’s online service already requiring users to pay $60 per year for online play and other features it will be interesting to see how they go about forcing people to do most of their gaming based on the ‘always online’ capabilities and the apparent desire to get rid of second-hand gaming.  This isn’t really that surprising in terms of the direction that gaming and entertainment have been going in recent years.  The sales of CDs and DVDs have plummeted because of services like iTunes and Netflix.  The question remains as to whether or not this is a good thing when it comes to gaming.

Console gaming is nice for many reasons, but one of the best reasons is the fact that you don’t have to sit at a desk on your computer to play these games.  You can sit on a comfortable couch, beanbag chair or even on the floor in front of a flat screen TV and game out.  That is slowly becoming a less exclusive reason as PCs are becoming easier to incorporate to your TV rather than a monitor.  The biggest downside to moving in the direction of PC gaming remains the initial investment and upkeep.

If you consider the amount of money people pour into their console gaming it isn’t really a good argument to say that it is cheaper than PC gaming.  XBox users are paying $60 a year on top of their initial console purchase.  Then there are DLC packages that often add another $20-50 to the price of the games they are playing.  After all of these expenses there are batteries for controllers or new controllers if the console is used regularly.  By the time you add up all of the costs a hardcore gamer might put into a console they could have easily bought a PC that could be used as a work station and gaming rig.  Not to mention the fact that most PC games feature free online play and more consistent patches and user mods.

A PC gaming rig also costs as much as you are willing to put into it.  You don’t have to have the same set up as someone else if you can’t afford it.  The best place to spend your initial money is going to be on a sizable case and motherboard.  The case is vital for multiple reasons (ventilation, size for expansion and video cards, USB ports, etc.) but the motherboard is the most important aspect when it comes to ‘future-proofing’ your PC.  Make sure that you have plenty of room for video cards and a powerful CPU to power everything.  You will need to also invest in a power supply to give your rig the needed juice to run.  Other than that, you can typically piece together everything else.

GPUs (video cards), RAM, Optical Drives and Hard Drives are all replaceable and changeable once the main components are installed.  If you are looking for a way to stick it to Microsoft’s XBox division and Sony’s Playstation division you should consider moving to PC gaming.  The time has come to take gaming to the next level and that means putting your PC in the living room and using your HDMI/DVI cord to link it to your television.

Looking for a few ideas on how to build a budget rig or a monster gaming PC?  Check out the wishlist section over at Newegg.com.  You should also talk to your computer savvy friends for advice or ideas on what could be the best build for you.  If you want even more input shoot us an email at officialnoobtubetv@gmail.com and include PC Building in the subject.

Happy Gaming!

 

What Does The Madden Name Change Mean?

What’s in a name?  Apparently EA Sports thinks the 25th anniversary of Madden is deserving of a trip to the social security office for a tweak in the name.

Madden 14 Pic

Madden 25 was just announced to be the official name of the only NFL game coming out this year (just like it has been since Madden 06).  The only thing that might have made people happy was hearing that the developer was working on Madden 2K14.  Keep dreaming.

Chances are good that Madden 25 will also signify a change-over in consoles just like the switch from Madden 2005 to Madden 06 also greeted the next hardware generation.  The idea of a new console is always exciting because of the possibilities in graphics and physics; but if one thing is certain we can expect one thing to dull our expectations for new software – bare bones games.

Madden 25 for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 will most likely prove to be another slight tweak or change from Madden 13.  Maybe there will be a few new animations or the ball will be a shade darker or smaller.  Otherwise, you shouldn’t expect much to change.  The new consoles that are rumored to be coming out this Christmas will most likely be priced between $400 and $500 with a pipe-dream hope of $300.  The unfortunate truth is that most of the games that will be released with the consoles will be bare bones in their offerings.  If you played Madden 06 or any of the other games that came out with the current generation you will notice how lacking they are in features.  Also, many of them don’t take advantage of the graphical capabilities of the console.

This isn’t a complaint at all.  It is merely a point to be raised in order to lower expectations for the next generation.  Not to mention the cynical view that Madden hasn’t changed many things in the 25 years it has existed.

Would love to hear from the fan boys out there.  2K and Madden alike.

Keep it civil.