Lightbox Interactive Senior Designer Andrew Weldon joins us for an EXCLUSIVE interview, where he spills the beans about the Starhawk 1.04 Update & DLC. Get comfy. Because we don’t leave anything out.
Southern Pines NC – August 7, 2012 – Independent games publisher, Special Operations Forces Studios, Ltd. (SOF Studios), is honored to announce the hiring of 22-year games industry veteran and AAA Creative Director, Mr. David Troy Sears.
David, the visionary Creative Director behind shooter entertainment’s pioneering franchise, “SOCOM: US Navy SEALs” and most recently ground-breaking Creative Director for Ubisoft’s unreleased shooter title, “Rainbow 6: Patriots“, resigned from Ubisoft Montreal last month and joined the SOF Studios team in Southern Pines, NC.
David is an award-winning creative who has designed and directed the development of shooters, racing games, brawlers, action-adventure games, and platform games on a variety of consoles for publishers/developers including Ubisoft, Sony Computer Entertainment of America, Virgin Games, Zipper Interactive, Foundation 9 Entertainment, Kronos Digital Entertainment, Looking Glass Studios, and Pseudo Interactive.
I love baseball. I mean, I really, really love baseball.
As a kid growing up in Detroit, Michigan in the 70s, I remember loving the Tigers before loving just about anything else. Through the years, my passion for the game has only grown, and as a father, it’s been the source of great joy to share my love of America’s past time with my 10 year old son.
As it turns out, I had the privilege of coaching his Little League team a year or so ago. And one day before a game, he asked me, “Dad…why do you love baseball so much?”. As I struggled to give him a sufficient answer, I realized that it’s the sum of many different things that makes me love baseball so much.
The sights, the sounds, and even the smells of the game are what caused me to fall deeply in love with baseball. And to me, that’s really what baseball is. It’s more than just a game. It’s an amalgam of Geometry, Physics, history, culture, memories, or the anticipatory pause before every single pitch, that all come together to create this magical, uniquely American experience.
As a gamer, I’ve played almost every baseball game ever created. And while there have been a few franchises that have gotten close to capturing the “spirit” of the game, none have done so as aptly as Sony’s MLB: The Show franchise. Without question, MLB:The Show is the only baseball franchise to consistently hit it out of the park with each iteration.
And MLB 12: The Show is no exception.
It’s one thing to focus on the basic geometry & physics of the game. Which The Show executes masterfully. But, it’s another thing altogether to really focus on the little things that actually make baseball great.
For instance, if you play at Wrigley Field in Chicago, you’ll hear the el train going by during the game. Play an entire season as the Cubs and you’ll be able to watch Wrigley’s trademark ivy go from a dingy brown in April, to a lush green as the season winds down.
And it’s like that for each and every team & stadium.
Considered by many to be the most authentic baseball simulation available, Sony’s San Diego Studios continues to deliver an award winning take on America’s game.
This time around, they’ve combined the feel of the classic Zone Hitting interface with the Analog Hitting interface to get something called Zone Analog Batting.
You still use the Right Analog Stick for the stride & swing, but if you choose to, you can now control where you actually swing in the zone, by using the Left Analog Stick. It seems insignificant at first, but once you get the hang of it, it feels like you’re actually “steering” the ball like a real hitter.
While the Analog Pitching system remains virtually untouched, the Classic pitching interface has gotten an upgrade. MLB 12: The Show introduces a brand new pitching interface for the Classic Pitching Style, called Pulse Pitching. Players still pitch using a simple “X” button press, but now must time the press with an on-screen display, to ensure pitch accuracy.
But don’t freak out. If you prefer to just use the Classic Control System for either pitching or hitting, you can do that too.
MLB 12: The Show also introduces True Ball Physics. Again, it seems insignificant at first, but once you get into a game, you’ll notice that the baseball now acts & reacts more realistically than in previous installments. Using actual math, the ball will now behave like a real baseball, making hitting and fielding a bit more challenging.
Also making a return to The Show are Franchise Mode and the “fan favorite“, Road To The Show.
Franchise Mode is basically the same, with the exception of a few tweaks they’ve made to team logic. Teams will now make decisions including drafts and trades that make more sense for each specific team, depending largely on which market they happen to be in.
Similarly, Road To The Show has been tweaked to the point to where your progression feels more natural & balanced. Most noticeably, the reward / penalty ratio is more balanced, so you feel like you succeed almost as much as you fail. At-Bats also seem a little more forgiving than in previous versions of RTTS.
What may have been considered a Poor AB in MLB 11, may now be considered an OK AB in MLB 12: The Show.
It’s not really easier, just more balanced.
New to The Show, and maybe 2012’s biggest upgrade, is Diamond Dynasty.
Diamond Dynasty juggles aspects of team management, player progression, and online competition with more creative freedom than any other sports game to date. Gamers create a completely customizable team, with thousands of options that include, team name, team colors, custom uniforms, and customizable logos.
Once created, the team is given a handful of MLB baseball cards and Dynasty baseball cards that, when activated, add the players to your team’s roster.
The fundamentals of Diamond Dynasty revolve around the difference between MLB and Dynasty cards and the unique reward system that support each type.
A Dynasty player is a long-term investment that requires training similar to a Road To The Show player. While an MLB player is a short-term investment that is ready to slot into your roster ready to play at their current attribute levels.
Like real baseball cards, completing collections of MLB players will reward you with budget bonuses. Your budget is used to train players, purchase card packs (Dynasty or MLB), and purchase cards from other users on the marketplace.
Most of your budget is earned by playing ranked/matched head-to-head online games or vs. CPU against MLB teams. Every fifth game played, your custom team is re-evaluated for placement into one of five competitive divisions:
Spring Training, Season Series, Division Series, Championship Series, or World Series.
Clearly, Sony understands that baseball fans want an accurate simulation of baseball reality, and anything that detracts from that, can shatter the illusion of playing in, or watching, a real game.
MLB 12: The Show‘s TruBroadcast Presentation once again blurs the line between reality, and the in-game experience. If you didn’t know it was a video game, you’d swear it was an actual network broadcast, of an actual game.
Which, in my opinion, may just be the one thing that needs to be revamped in the entire franchise.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Vasgersian well enough, “Soup” is a baseball encyclopedia, and Karros is a former Cub, so he gets a free pass from me.
But, the fact that I can actually recite the booth dialog word for word, or predict the dialog in almost any scenario, is just unbearable at times.
In fact, I often turn it off “in-game“, which is disappointing in and of itself. Mainly because the booth dialog does add to the overall experience. For a franchise that has went to great lengths to create such an in-depth simulation, they seem to be neglecting what I think is an important aspect of the game.
Outside of that single criticism, it would be hard to find anything wrong with this game.
Overall, much like the real game of baseball, MLB 12: The Show is an amalgam of many different things, that all come together to make a great game.
And I guess that’s as it should be.
After a year of major game releases, the game industry & gamers from all over the world are set to pick the best of the best for the 2011 Video Game Awards.
Shane Bell (Urgent Fury CIO) & Doc (The Tester (Season 1) & Replay w/ Doc) join Commander Fury to preview a few of the categories & make their 2011 VGA picks.
Commander Fury is Urgent Fury’s “boots on the ground” for the biggest game release of the year!!!
As he finds himself braving the cold & crowds at his local GameStop to celebrate the launch of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for the 2nd Annual Urgent Frequency Veterans Day Thanksgiving Call Of Duty Midnight Launch Party Episode. Get all the intel about the most anticipated game of the year…including gametrailers.com‘s full review of the game, and an overview of Call Of Duty: ELITE.
Plus, we wrap things up with the Thanksgiving classic….Arlo Guthrie’s – “Alice’s Restaurant“.
Well the eagerly awaited game event is here, and as I and many other games fans made our way from the Underground to Earls Court I couldn’t wait to see and more importantly play the new upcoming games.
The atmosphere was amazing as we all made our way into the arena, which was broken up into seven zones with the centre area dominated by the hot topic of conversation outside – Onlive.
Not surprisingly this is the first place everyone headed including myself, there were a number of consoles set up around the stand with both wired and wireless controllers with demo’s of some of the 100 games that are now available as of Sept 22nd (that’s in the UK of course, Onlive has been running in the US for a while now). As well as getting to play some of the games on offer, there was also the chance to get your hands on a free console once you had registered, needless to say I managed to get my hands on one and I’ll be posting more on the Onlive console and the games on offer in a separate article.
All the big names in gaming were showing off their latest creations, including the big 3’s Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3, Resistance 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3. My first port of call was the Forza Motorsport 4 stand, Turn 10 have raised the bar even further with this latest in the franchise, the graphics were stunning as has been the case with previous incarnations and the controls were very responsive. The demo for Forza 4 is coming for Xbox LIVE Gold Members on Oct 3 and will be available for Silver members on Oct 10 for those who want a taste of things to come.
Another of the games I sampled was Battlefield 3, due for release on Oct 25th which was tucked away in the over 18’s area. This had a long queue of people waiting to play as you’d expect, but it was well worth the wait. It was certainly an amazing sight seeing banks of people all working their way through the trees and undergrowth, utterly absorbed. It wasn’t hard to see why, EA Games with Frostbite 2 have created very impressive gameplay and the headphones allowed the low hum of Earls Court to be blotted out in favour of the crackle of gunfire and the shout of orders.
I’m sure you have seen all the advertisements and coverage of the 3DS but you may have been like me and wondered just how good it is. Well they were showcasing the latest Mario and sonic releases as well as a demo of Sky 3D. The latter to try and show people that the 3DS has more to offer than just a handheald gaming console. I was curious as to what the experience would be like and chatting to some of the others there, they felt the same. Its true to say that as this doesn’t rely on glasses, it makes it feel a more natural experience, although I did find the need to keep your viewing angle steady took a bit of getting used to. The 3D effect was very good and the adjustable 3D slide on the side made a noticeable difference.
It wasn’t just all game and console demo’s of course, there were a host of developer sessions throughout the weekend as well. Among those giving talks were Michael Denny from Sony talking about the Playstation Vita and Dr Ray Muzyka from EA Games on Star Wars: The Old Republic.
To sum up, there was much more at Eurogamer Expo 2011 than I am ever going to be able to write here, that said, the Playstation Vita, 3D gaming and the prospect of on-line gaming like never before with Onlive makes the next twelve months a very exciting prospect indeed.
We are only 2-Weeks into the first Urgent Fury Socom 4 tournament and we are already halfway complete with the first campaign. With 36 wars played, the standings are as follows: TNU leads with 10 points followed closely by 101, ReD, $K$, cKs, and 26* with 8. In the middle of the pack we have LPK with 6. Rounding out the field we have RVN, <N>, and WDA each with 2 points and IX still looking to pick up their first W. This tough field of competitors proved to be too steep as R2H never made it in by failing to submit their roster.
Going into week 3 of the first campaign, TNU looks to continue its winning ways after a rough start due to typos on their roster which cost them their only loss. Being the highest ranked clan in the tournament on the Socom in-game ladder, TNU has proven that they know how to win by leading the field with the most points.
A match between the current #2 and #3 seeds, 101 and ReD, resulted in a tie during the second night of wars when there was an glitch in the ladder system. Each team took a match in the first two but for some reason the game sent both teams back to their lobbies instead of sending them to the third match to determine the overall winner of the war.
$K$, cKs and 26* all locked up with 8 points each will be working to catch the current leader in hopes of capturing the top seed and a bid to the playoffs later this fall. After a close match against TNU and ReD, LPK looks to bounce back after a bumpy start. With only 6 wars remaining RVN, <N>, WDA, and IX hope to make up some ground after a very tough 2 weeks.
The Endurance format is much different than what most UF clans are used to. Previously each night would feature one war on a predetermined map and mode. Due to the lack of a party system, UF was forced to use the in-game ladder system to conduct the wars. When asked about the best-of-3 format for wars a few of the clan reps had this to say. darth_cedaus from Canadian Killing Squad said, “Love the best of 3 format. Much better than the 1-map wars back in the day.” ShadowOfaSolja from Threat Neutralizing Unit said, “Best of 3 is the only way to go :)”
With a party system just around the corner, we will found out whether or not traditional 1-map per war formats will ever be possible again.
None of the clan reps had too much other to say about the tournament other than they really appreciate the great sportsmanship shown by UF clans. Respecting all of the rules set forth by tournament staff, participating clan are able to play Socom 4 without having to worry about exploits, cheating, Grenade Launchers, or Double Rounding in Bomb Squad.
Time will tell as we see how the wars play out to determine the winner of the first Socom Endurance Campaign.