Thursday, 9 February 2012

My kingdom for a good sports game

I prefer sports to shooting people. I can't help it. I'm just one of those far out people who would prefer to reminisce about a good game that recover from death. I'm also a passionate gamer, and here lies my problem.

If one wants to shoot people then the options are plentiful. We can do it in space or on earth, with gritty realism or over the top silliness, one-on-one or team battles. The various subtle rule changes must number in the millions.

If I want to play a sports game? With the exception of Association Football and MMA, I have one option (and even those only give me two options each). If you don't like that, then you're shit out of luck.

Unusually for a Brit, I love American Football (referred to as Football from here on). I love watching it, I love the tactics, the mind games, the formations. I study the sport and it's intricacies. But I can find nothing in terms of gaming to help expand that passion.

Let's compare my most recent attempts at enjoying a Football game.
I started playing Backbreaker last year. The positives of this title are the tactical depths, the intuitive stick controls, the Euphoria based tackle system, the Association Football style Franchise mode, the fully customisable rosters and an enjoyable mini-game based on evading tacklers. The negatives was the vertical learning curve and the lack of a user base (due to not having the NFL license) which lead to NEVER being able to find a human opponent and the total lack of injuries, a real shame considering some the stomach churning big hits that were possible.
Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe the process of learning how to play the game, but it's master stroke was that every mistake felt like your mistake. You had only yourself to blame for every failed play (and there were a LOT of failed plays)

Time for Madden NFL 12. The positives include a full NFL roster of every current player, college star and former legends, a large soundtrack of current rock, metal, hip-hop and indie; a huge online user base, official commentary talent and 3D grass. The negatives would be the soundtrack, the online user base, the commentary and the computer assist.
It's easy to win in Franchise mode, just set the computer assist to full on offence, and hold A (which makes the AI move your player for you) on defence. The downside to this is that when you mess up a play, it always feels you never had a chance to make that play as it's so out of your hands. You'll probably feel more in control watching the CPU play against itself. Coupled with commentary gems such as "They have the ball in good position" on their own 5 yard line, "You don't fair catch on your inside your own 20" when he's on the 38 and "Can he make it?" long after the extra point has gone over the whole thing just makes you despair.

But surely the biggest issue is how the games industry allowed itself to get into a position of no competition? Remember the old days of Madden Vs 2K? For those that can't, it's much like the current FIFA Vs Pro Evo that we get to enjoy every year. Competition breeds success, the threat of being outclassed from the market keeps people making good products and not churning out the same broken shit every year.

The short version, exclusive licenses don't work, and the only people that suffer are the mugs that have to pay for the end product.


  1. Good post and that is so true about competition. I hate when people have a monopoly. It usually shows in their product.

  2. not a huge fan of sports games, but they're cool