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Archive for March, 2009

A few things I want to cover before I get to the point of this post. One, yesterday was a crazy day here at the Nest, with my take on Fifa UT getting lots of traffic from the EA Forums and we broke all the single-day records here in our little spot. Two, my apologies to regular Nesters, who had noticed that I had taken an unannounced sebatical for a few weeks where there was no new content. I know Pat’s review of MLB 2k9 was excellent, but I’m sure you’re sick of the mullet after a week or two. Third, a friend and co-worker has a pretty funny sports blog that you might want to check out. It’s called The Dome Factor and for a Syracuse fan, he’s got some really good stuff up there. Check it out when you are bored and/or there’s nothing going on over here. It’s over on the blog roll for future reference.

Ahh, that felt good to get out of the way. Now, there’s something way more important to be discussed. You may know that two of the favorite games here are Fifa and Fallout 3, both of which had DLC released within a week of each other. The Pitt, which has been covered in several different posts over the last few months, was finally released today. Now, first reports are that there are so many glitches and bugs in this DLC that it is unplayable. There are missing textures, sudden crashes, and is a general disaster.

Add this to the server and database debacle found in FIFA’s Ultimate Team launch last week and we have two immensely popular games dropping the ball on what should be momentous releases for each of them. I’ve been looking forward to both the Pitt and FIFA UT for quite some time, and after spending 1600 Microsoft Points on them, you’d expect them to work. Alas, both companies have disapointed their legions of hardcore fans who downloaded the DLC as soon as they could, only to find it completely worthless.

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For any sports gamer, there has always been one company worth a damn. Electronic Arts has been both the prime example and biggest failure in all aspects of sports gaming over the past 2 decades. We’ve all made our friends heads bleed in NHL 95, and have all thrown controllers in frustration at the 7th drop of our stud receiver in Madden. And as frequent Birdnesters know, the most played game at The Nest is FIFA 09. And since the Ultimate Team DLC was released last week for it, it’s been an exciting time here.

But not really exciting in a good way. Granted the mode itself is set up beautifully. A quick recap for those not in the loop: Ultimate Team combines Collectable Card Game elements with traditional Manager Mode style of gameplay. Starting with a basic Bronze pack of cards, players create their “Ultimate Team” buy purchasing packs of cards that contain players, tactics, managers, training options, kits, shields, and contracts.

By using these cards, you work to assemble your best squad to be put to the test in either online or offline tournaments and single matches. After every game you get awarded an amount of coins, which are then used to buy more cards. The three levels of packs contain increasingly better cards, ranging from Bronze to Gold (with Silver in between, obviously.) Bronze packs cost about one win’s worth of coins, with silver being about 4-5, and gold being even more expensive.

What’s really cool about this mode is the secondary market that EA is creating, allowing gamers to trade their unused cards for more useful ones. Your entire midfield is Spanish but you just picked up Stephen Gerrard in your first gold pack? Sure you can play him, but if you want, try to trade for Cesc Fabregas and give yourself the morale bonus that comes with having players from the same country. The options are endless and EA is really trying to let the gamers develop their own market. Without setting prices, there is a real feel of the invisible hand in pricing trades. EA has been devoting message board threads to trading giving users a chance for negotiations and Craigs List-esque advertisements.

Now you know what Ultimate Team “is” and is “supposed to be,” here’s what’s been happening since it dropped on Thursday morning. It can be summed up in two words: SERVER FAILURES. As can be expected in any major upgrade, especially something as popular as FIFA, there were major server failures in the first 48 hours of release. I’d like to say that this ended after the initial night, but alas even when I logged in yesterday to check out my team after a weekend at my parent’s house, there was nothing but a frozen menu.
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MLB 2K9 Review

Grapefruit League.  JD Drew’s back hurts.  The MLB Network finds its way into your rotation.  Manny at home drinking margaritas.  All signs that Spring is around the corner.  And with the approach of Spring comes the release of baseball video games.  I own a 360, so that means MLB 2k9 for me.

I’m gonna be honest.  When looking at the screenshots and demo of this game, what really stuck out was Beckett’s mullet.  Well, the official release has Beckett sporting an official Billy Ray Cyrus haircut circa ’81.  It’s tough to tell if that’s Beckett or a scruffy Jesse Katsapolous in a Sox uniform.  To be fair, most of the players look legit (e.g. Carl Crawford and his neck tattoo & ARod’s cousin looks good, too.)

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Here at the nest, with every landmark you get a free rant.  Unless you follow me on Twitter, you are probably wondering:  “Did Jpark die or fall off of the earth?”  The answer is neither, I have just been taking some other life goals (none of which will be discussed in the presence of our precious gaming site).  Anyway, today I have just won my 100th ranked game and I did it in style.  I have actually accomplished two personal landmarks by also getting my 100th win on a streak of 12 straight wins. Am I tooting my own horn?  ABSOLUTELY.  Why is that ok?  Hit the jump to get some of my feelings on hitting landmarks in gaming.

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Over the weekend I was fairly bored with the games in my possession so I downloaded a couple of demos with the hopes of picking a new game to purchase. XBL Marketplace has added a bunch of new content since Resident Evil 5 and Halo Wars came out and it was time to get my hands dirty with them. Now, none of these came carry the same hype as RE5 or Halo Wars, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have great potential. I was pleasantly surprised with some, disappointed with others, and after a few hours of demos, nothing really stood out as a must-buy. However, Monsters Vs. Aliens, MLB 2k9, Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X., Afro Samurai, and NHL 3 on 3 Arcade offered varying game experiences that could appeal to any number of gamers.

Afro Samurai

This bad boy is one stunning game. And it’s a cartoon. But it’s a gorgeous cartoon. Somewhere in the past decade, developers have realized that you can make a visually incredible game without rending real world graphics or realistic physics. That if you immerse the gamer in what is essentially a super slick Anime title, and you make it look good, they won’t care that it’s a playable comic book.

The game itself reeks of Ninja Gaiden, but the controls and camera were easy to negotiate and the game play itself was just complicated enough to want to try more techniques. The best feature was the “slow down time and kill all the bad guys” button. Basically, press LB and the color goes to black and white, the enemies slow down to a crawl, and your damage is multiplied. Remember bullet time in Max Payne? Same idea, only with swords and black Ninjas. I had a lot of fun with this, and very well might make the leap into full game status in the near future.

The rest of the demos are after the jump…

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