XBox One – What You Need To Know

The Tuesday that many gamers had been waiting for has come and Microsoft announced the latest iteration in XBox consoles.  It isn’t much of a surprise to hear that they are planning a release ‘later this year’.  While this most likely means a retail release for the holiday season, it would be interesting to see them try to beat the Playstation 4 to the punch with a release prior to that time period.

XBox One

Some of the other details include a BluRay Disc Drive, 500GB harddrive and an 8-core CPU to go with 8GB of RAM.  The system will also have wireless-N tech for networking.  USB 3.0 ports will help for a faster connection for Kinect and other peripherals – it will be interesting to see how far they really want to take Kinect at this point.

In terms of backwards compatibility – none.  This isn’t really a surprise as the 360 and PS3 had virtually zero backwards compatibility after a couple years.

Used games?  The rumors were swirling and they will continue to swirl because Microsoft didn’t address this issue at all.  It does seem that you will have to install every game to your harddrive which would make for an interesting issue when dealing with enormous games on BluRay discs.  Will you have to uninstall old games and then start switching between them after awhile?  The move away from being ‘used game friendly’ isn’t going unnoticed, but many gamers out there won’t do much to prevent this move as they continue to buy big budget titles like Call of Duty and Madden without thinking twice.

Hopefully, the limitations of second-hand games will create a more picky audience of gamers.

(No price points have been discussed, but look for it to be similarly priced to the PS4)

Next Gen Consoles = The Death of Gaming

You don’t have to do a lot of googling to find out some of the rumors pouring out into the interwebs.  The XBox 720 seems destined to be an ‘always online’ DRM machine designed to say, No you can’t take your new game to a friends house.  Make those cheapskates buy the game too.  We are entering what might be the twilight of console gaming as we have known it for the

ok... Maybe it wasn't ever really like this, but it has changed quite a bit.
ok… Maybe it wasn’t ever really like this, but it has changed quite a bit.

better part of 30 years.

Whether or not you want to take the incredibly negative interaction between ex-Micro$soft employee Adam Orth and upset gamers or the non-denial denial from M$ that their console will always be online, the fact of the matter is that this stuff has been a long time coming.

Many of you have iPods that have some sort of DRM protection from Apple (a company that is highly supported by hipsters the world over) and then there are others that have been playing games on the PC client, Steam.  Either way you roll with these different examples of DRM and online functionality it is safe to say that ‘The Matrix Has You’.

While the Playstation 4 seems to be what every angry former Microsoft fanboy is cheering for, it is interesting to see them flock to a console that hasn’t actually been shown to the public.  We have seen videos of games that don’t look much better than current PC titles (or even current console titles for that matter) and we also have yet to hear what type of paid service they will demand for their console.  Sony doesn’t exactly have the best record for internet privacy or security.

If you are set on getting a new console this holiday season there isn’t much I can do to stop you from spending your money.  I personally think you would be better off saving the $500 on a new video card for a gaming rig and never have to worry about consoles running your gaming world from an ‘always online perspective’.

Whatever happened to single player games and other people having some privacy?  In a world full of instagrams and shameful skynetspring break videos it really shouldn’t surprise my seemingly old-crotchety self that consoles are going towards this same style of social networking.  Afterall, it is vital for everyone to know exactly what you are doing at all times no matter when or where.  It seems that John Connor has failed after a long fight against the corporate machines.

Skynet will become self-aware this holiday season.

Madden 25 and Infinity Engine 2.0

As many sports fans finish watching the Final Four tomorrow there will be a new direction for their attention to go in the coming weeks (assuming they are NFL fans).  The NFL Draft is this month and while there aren’t any real high profile ‘must draft’ prospects out there there is plenty of hype to be started for some teams and especially for Madden 25.

NCAA Football 14 just announced through their typical trailer promo that it would have Infinity Engine 2.0.  While this isn’t much of a surprise as Madden had it first (last year), it is something that should make Madden fans wonder what is coming this year.  Now that EA has started to push yet another cover vote (as if it really matters) they are once again pushing the old players into the mix with a bracket that seems to be played out after the Peyton Hillis cover debacle – why I voted for him to curse my

I wonder if they will still keep brittle QBs damn-near invincible...?
I wonder if they will still keep brittle QBs damn-near invincible…?

Browns is beyond me.

Now that the Madden 13 cycle is almost over (most Madden fans will put this game on the shelf until July, when NFL Camps grab their attention and they can’t help themselves) we are looking to the next iteration of the same game we buy in droves every August.  With NCAA’s announcement there are some things we can all but assume for Madden 25’s improvements.

Better tackle physics are something that happen incrementally every year for Madden.  However, now that the NFL is making rules against certain player centered moves (tucking your head when running the ball – IE, The Truck Stick) we will most likely see a trend for Madden to be even more toned down as time goes forward.

Another hope for Madden is better O-Line/D-Line interactions.  This has as much to do with physics as it does with how the game is programmed.  It has been shown on numerous occasions that Madden’s blocking system is broken at best.  There have been multiple occasions in the past where I have had a punter or kicker mysteriously jump into the O-Line and easily handle a 350 lb defensive lineman.  While this goes beyond the infinity engine, it is something that should be made apparent regardless.

Pass Interference has been non-existent in Madden for almost the entire generation of 360/PS3 titles.  There are high hopes that Madden 25 and Infinity 2.0 will actually have this often-called penalty fully functional this year (on both sides of the ball).

As far as gaming goes in 2013, it has been a surprisingly dull start with little to look forward to in terms of games and even the new consoles.  It seems that we have hit a bit of a lull when it comes to this generation’s games.  Everything is a sequel, prequel or some other sort of half-assed effort with a big name company stamp on it (I am looking at you SimCity).  I always start out my year by saying I won’t buy Madden because it is the same game every single year.  Now that we are firmly set to start draft season, I am sure my tune will change for a few months before we are once again asking for patches the day after the game comes out.

As more Madden info comes out we will have it here for you – with completely honest opinions and reactions.

If you are curious about the roster update for Madden 13 – it is in progress and will be out in a couple weeks.
The draft is often a busy time for roster updating, so it will be a good time to get that work started.

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.

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.

Will Games Change Their Digital Approach Next Generation?

Now that we are firmly into the high speed internet age and online functionality has become almost synonymous with every game on the market (including the ubiquitous ‘patching’ of games).  The issue many sports gamers are running into is that they are pouring $60+ into games that come out every year with minor improvements/changes and roster updates.  This has caused sports gamers to generally ask on occasion why developers like EA and 2K won’t simply release a cheaper update to the game every other year BLOPS2or so instead of requiring the purchase of new software every single year.

The most obvious responses are ‘…because people are buying the games in droves” and “Why would you stop milking your cash cow when it is obviously still producing results?”

The issue at hand in the coming generation of consoles is that they will be largely focused on digital content more-so than even these current consoles seem to be.  While the PlayStation Store and XBox Marketplace are doing well and provide services to subscribers/gamers it seems like only a matter of time before you will have to start buying certain content by sections rather than a full-fledged title.

Some games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo could potentially be sold in three different ways.

  1. Online Multiplayer
  2. Offline Story Mode/Campaign
  3. Full Game (Online and Offline Content)

This isn’t the first time that something like this has been suggested.  You can go to virtually any rumor mill site for gaming and read about an industry analyst talking about the likelihood of a game like Call of Duty charging people to play online.   The issue that gamers should be considering is whether or not they are happy with the current state of games.  Whether or not you are paying extra for maps, add-ons or even avatar clothing you have to appreciate how smooth the transition has been between the PS2/XBox to the PS3 and 360 in terms of online interactivity and microtransactions like coins for Madden Ultimate Team.

We will soon be entering a new realm of digital content distribution.  Considering the actions of developers in the last 18 months, you shouldn’t be surprised if you will have options to buy games by piecemeal or some sort of full-game combo.

If you disagree about the outlook or attitude towards some aspects of games (such as story mode/campaign) you should ask Battlefield or Call of Duty gamers if they have played more than 45 minutes of the campaign mode.

The fact that Battlefield has a disc for campaign mode on 360 says a lot (even if it is simply due to space)… my campaign disc has been in the system for less than two hours – total.

Get ready for some big changes next gen.

XBox 720, Playstation 4 and Madden 14 – Why They Could All Disappoint

The latest rumors of Microsoft having intentions of announcing the XBox 720 during E3 are almost as surprising as the fact that Madden 14 will be announce during the Super Bowl.  A lot of gamers like to sit on the edge of their seats waiting for the next big thing to happen in gaming.  The issues that comes with this latest set of next-gen console rumors are many, but we will start with just a few.  After that we will pour some sugar on top for the hopes that many people have for what could prove to amaze gamers.

Happy New Year – Here Comes The Rumor Boom!

What Could Disappoint?

1. Poor Hardware Design – The Red Ring of Death and the Yellow Light of Death are now synonymous with bad console design and ventilation for GPUs (video processors) that get more powerful and hotter as they run.  While both consoles (the XBox 360 and the Playstation 3) were able to eventually fix some of the design issues the numerous consumer issues will not be easily forgotten.

2. Release Day Games Will Be Bare Bones – For those of you unfortunate souls that got Madden 06 on the XBox 360 it will be fairly fresh in your head how terrible bare the game was as it came out for the 360.  The worst part about the excitement of a new console is that once you start paying more attention to what is lacking in sports games the more you will resort to playing the game  on your older console.

3. More Lazy Gaming Development – If the 360/PS3 generation will be remembered for anything it will be for the complete dependency on patches for almost every game.  Some games were rendered unplayable by some bugs.  Other games were had glitches that simply made gamers laugh.  The moral of this sad story is that now that many gamers have the ability to download patches console developers are using this as a crutch to release half-cocked efforts for millions of consumers.

Madden 14 – You Already Know It’s Coming

We will start with the acknowledgement that Madden 13 has been the best Madden game released this generation.  While there have been numerous issues with broken CPU AI and some of the animations – it has been a decent game after all is said and done.

The Madden series has proven to be one of the more hit or miss titles during this generation of consoles.  What should worry Madden gamers the most is how much the game has started to fall into the depth of corporate decision-making and microtransactions.  Madden 13 had some new physics added but it was so overexagerated at times that it could almost make you wonder if you were playing some sort of war game with small nuclear explosions.

Madden 14 will be announced during the Super Bowl as it always is and that is really the downfall of sports gaming (and now even FPS games).  Developers know that many gamers will be okay with some annual polish to the same game they have played for years.  EA Sports is starting to become the first of what will be many studios to move to a complete assembly line structure of putting a new stamp on an old product.

What Could Be Great?

The one thing many people are hoping for is a movement towards smarter AI and better physics in games as they come out.  While no one should expect release date games to be among the best that the console will ever have, there should be hopes for new consoles to come out with games that will make us put our old consoles in the closet (or on eBay).

We will talk more on some of the hopes and dreams for the next console once they start leaking more than just pretty pictures.

Our Next Generation Console Demands – Part 1

Hoping for advances in technology is like hoping that tomorrow will come.  While it is a 99% certainty that it will happen, we really don’t know how it will turn out.  We usually hope for tomorrow to be amazing.  It is human nature to desire more and better for the future.  As we get closer to the next generation of gaming, we will be talking about some of our favorite parts of this generation’s games and what we hope to see in the future.

In Game Graphics Vs. Screenshot Graphics

If you have read any of our coverage of Madden 13 and real time physics you will see that it is one of the more important parts of gaming at this point. Players and characters have ‘looked like’ their real-life counterparts for a couple years now. While EA Sports has taken awhile to get more face scans, it is something that will indeed improve for the next generation. However, physics and processing power are going to be more important than something just looking pretty.

Take Battlefield 3 for instance – not only do you see guns and enemies, but you see buildings and vehicles that can easily explode and remind you that some things look cool but they just aren’t ‘super real’ just yet. That is where the physics and actual graphical ‘processing’ are going to be more important than some sort of glorified screenshot that we see even this generation.

PC games aren’t necessarily held back like console games in this way. Well, they aren’t held back ‘as much’… and it is something that PC gamers are always happy to point out to console gamers. Console gamers shouldn’t expect ‘real life’ realism yet. If you take a look at the game from id Games that made everyone see just a glimpse of the graphical future of games – Rage certainly amazed gamers on PC and consoles alike. Even with a bunch of driver problems on PC it is still a great benchmark graphically. The issue XBox 360 users got to see as they opened the game for the first time was the fact that it came on 3 discs. While PS3 owners got to snicker and laugh because they have Blu Ray playback, XBox 360 gamers simply had to enjoy Rage with a couple swaps of the disc.

Other gamers might even recall having to switch discs on their 360 while playing Rockstar’s L.A. Noire. This game, while running on the same engine as Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption pushed a new era of facial structure and movement in games. Never before have you had to interpret whether someone was lying to you based on their facial expressions, but in this case it made the game incredibly innovative even if it was quickly disregarded as a must have title. L.A. Noire still ranks as one of my favorite titles that came out during this generation of consoles because while it was in development for what seems like forever (nearly 7 years) it was still incredibly innovative and risk taking from a graphical and gameplay perspective when it game to interrogating suspects. There is still something to be said for games that take a chance to amaze you and that will never go away.

Even with these amazing achievements in graphics, there is still something to be desired. The PS3 was marketed almost solely on ‘The Cell Processor’ and its amazing 7-Cores. Yes, it was and is an amazing processor, but the funny part of this really goes back to the fact that many developers actually stated that games were easier to develop for the XBox 360 (which had issues with their own processor – RROD). Metal Gear Solid 4 was delayed on numerous occasions and if you pay close attention to Solid Snake during a cinematic scene you will notice that his hair still moves around in little chunks. While details like a character’s hair are something that some people might scoff at, take a look at some of the things people are getting caught up about with Madden Football. (wrong facemasks, helmets and shoestrings, etc.)

Real Time Physics (aka – The Sports Gamer’s Pipe Dream)

Perhaps one of the most famous hits in NFL history is the one that Lawerence Taylor put on Joe Theismann. While this is an extremely gruesome hit (please don’t watch this video if you get queesy) – it is a fine example of something that isn’t in Madden NFL football – real time physics with real time injuries.

Perhaps one of the most desired and denied wishes of gamers is realistic ‘real-time’ physics. This basically means that if a character is moving at a high rate of speed and tackles someone going a different direction you should see a collision that makes you go “oooohhh!”. What we have been seeing instead are animations that are ‘canned’ and play out in an expected fashion almost every time.

Even if you don’t play sports games it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a fighting game or an action game that had better real-time physics. Games like Assassins Creed or Mortal Kombat could become some of the most amazingly technologically advanced console games ever made (from the standpoint of physics). However, where many people want to see this drive improvement is in sports games.

The current generation of consoles has been pushed to the limit with physics processing. Many games look good in this fashion (All Pro Football 2K8) and others look simply ‘overblown’ (Backbreaker). What we are really hoping for is something in-between that will give us true physics in regards to player size, speed and strength (with other such variables). It is our hope that someday we will be able to play a game of Madden, MLB, NHL or NBA 2K and see hits, throws, catches, shots, passes, interactions and injuries that genuinely make us feel like we are watching/playing a real game of football.