Counter-Strike? Again?

Posted in Action, FPS, Review on August 21st, 2012 by ZekeDMS

The short version is the simple one. Counter-Strike: Global Operations is really fun, and it made CS fun again.

It’s weird in that I’d quit CS utterly as of 3-4 years ago. I played some CS:S when it came out, it was still decent, but I basically did nothing but botmatches. I played again over the winter for some presents and it just…well, it didn’t do it for me anymore. Some of the conventions didn’t work for me, the community didn’t do it, the maps, all of it. Seeing it as it was was a rough experience. Too much waiting, too much imbalance, too many rough edges by modern standards.

A friend sent me his beta gift, I jumped in and did some Arms Race (team deathmatch type mode where you get the next gun for getting a kill, and win by getting a kill with all weapons). The speed was a bit hectic (as expected for a deathmatch), but the balance seemed a lot better. The weapons all felt a little more balanced, except shotguns which are actually useful finally. It’s a fun mode on its own, a good way to feel out guns and a good warmup for other modes. Most of all. It’s got an interesting power curve. Start at SMGs, move to shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns, and then…pistols! It’s a ramp up up up and BAM, you wanna win, you’d better prove you’re so good you can beat all those other guys just with a pistol, and the final kill is with a knife. So, it’s really entertaining.

Next up I tried demolition. It’s a 20 round game, 10 on each side, and it starts players with a mid-level rifle (M4A1, AK-47). If you get a kill in a round, you get the next weapon in the chain. More than one kill and you get a use it or lose it grenade (which goes HE, Flashbang, no idea past that). Again, it follows a power curve of valleys/peaks. It actually drops your power at first, then boosts it back up, then down, and if you manage a kill for EVERY round you end up with an AWP. It’s an on the fly balancing system, it resets at match 10 for team switch. It’s also a bunch of short rounds timed to (I think) 90 seconds, with one demolition site on small maps. It’s a very careful mad dash to the site, the terrorists have to plant the bomb ASAP if they’re going to, and it’s a nice series of quick bites of CS action.

After that I moved into the classic modes (competitive is my preference in this case). It matchmakes pretty nicely even in beta, you pick a map rotation (Demolition, hostage rescue, or Dust (yes, dust maps on their own)), and off you go. There’s a new buy method now, too. It’s a wheel instead of a list, you can use number keys for fast buying, but you can use the mouse and get detailed info on everything. It displays a chart of costs, penetration level, and ratings rate of fire and damage among other  things, so you actually have a clue what the stats of every gun are. It even gives a little more info in text. As an example, the menu explains that the AK-47′s accuracy can be suspect at best, but the accurate first shot and the stopping power are what make it a favored gun. True enough, the first shot WILL go exactly where you’re pointing. Score a headshot on that and it’s already over, but if you’re spraying at anything over a close range you’re losing the fight. Close-mid, though, spray/burst wrecks people.

It feels like everyone moves a little faster now, and the guns are a little tighter in their recoil. The obvious best method is strafe/spray/jump and be a real nuisance basically – it doesn’t work that well. It seems like now it pays off more to actually use a different approach by distance, and more wise to retreat sometimes. Long range encounters demonstrate the importance of crouching and firing from a stable platform in very controlled bursts. If you’re in close it pays to stick and move and know your ammo count. Spray with a p90, burst with a UMP, but the pattern of move, stop, shoot is pretty important.

It also seems to move faster than previous CS versions without breaking the pace that worked so well. High tension marked by short moments of intense bursts of action, high lethality as ever, but the moments come a little closer together and start a little faster, especially in the new maps.

The new maps are very well designed and have a little more verticality in spots (in one, site A is upstairs from site B via several routes). The new things, like the Zeus tazer (a one shot kill that only gets one shot for the CTs) and the decoy grenades (which simulate gunfire, as in the gunshot sounds are played by them AND an enemy marker is produced on the radar) work well. They add a new tactic that doesn’t break the feeling of CS at all. Same for the molotovs/incendiary grenades (I think they’re new, I sure don’t remember them), they light a nice patch of ground on fire. Not a ton of damage unless you score a direct hit, but spectacular for holding a corridor or small area of ground against incursion. Nobody likes to walk through fire!

In short, it’s still Counter-Strike, but with massively improved balance and a pace which has been improved from the original/source versions. Moreover, it’s a big facelift into the modern Source engine. The biggest standouts are the improved lighting/shadow, which CAN give away position, and that everyone is the same “type” of terrorist/CT. All l33t, all GIGN, all SAS, whatever, by map, but it’s 5+ individuals versus the same guy five times. It actually solves an old problem CS had, which is that you never knew what you were looking for. It results in faster enemy recognition without feeling stale, a very good thing. Even the voices are different for each team now. Collected GIGN members, excited SAS Scotsmen, and hyper hooligans running around Office.

If you never liked CS, GO isn’t going to do anything for you. If you really enjoyed CS back in the day, but fell out of it and never got back in, this is the time. It’s absolutely the heart of CS, but the improvements are so numerous that even when they’re not readily apparent, they’re obvious. I just couldn’t get myself to play CS again before now, despite repeated attempts. Now I’ve spent 13 ours playing, and that was in 4-5 days of beta alone. It’s a more responsive, prettier, better version of CS, a modern version of the old game and at $15 it’s priced just where it should be. Above budget “what’s wrong with it?” games, below the $20 “new boxed release” threshold. Enough for a triple A arcade game, basically, without making you feel angry you’re buying Counter-Strike (again). Hell, I hate multiplayer games 99% of the time, and I really did hit 13 hours in beta alone. I fully endorse this game on that value alone, I paid a dollar an hour!

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From Capcom PR

Posted in Commentary on August 9th, 2012 by ZekeDMS

For those out there who haven’t experienced the innovative action RPG Dragon’s Dogma yet, Capcom is pleased to confirm that a brand new demo will be available from next week. Exclusive to PlayStation 3 owners, the demo will feature the game’s Prologue, access to the in-depth character customization screen before the player embarks on a quest to defeat the mighty Hydra and deliver one of its three heads to the castle. As with the original demo, players will be able to carry their character’s save data into the full main game. The demo will be available from August 15th in Europe and on the North American PlayStation Store on August 21st.

Additionally, starting from today, August 9, players will be able to participate in a new competition being held on the Pawn Community website, The Gran Soren Times. Players will be able to submit in-game screenshots taken using the photo sharing feature in Dragon’s Dogma into three different categories: The Fairest Maidens, The Most Dashing Gentlemen, and The Most Unique Myrmidons. Winning entries will receive exclusive avatars for PSN or Xbox Live and 18 very lucky grand prize winners – six each from Europe, North America and Japan – will have their pawns showcased in the “Special Pawn” area of the Rift. For more information be sure to check out The Gran Soren Times at http://game.capcom.co.jp/DD/en/top/

Lastly, to help new players enjoy the world of Dragon’s Dogma, a title update delivering an all new ‘Easy Mode’ is now available on both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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From: GameStop. Subject: Send her flowers so you can game!

Posted in Commentary on January 31st, 2012 by ZekeDMS

In world world is this acceptable? We’re trying to make some god damn progress here, and GameStop is trying to reinforce “Whatever you sad nerd, girls don’t like video games, they like flowers and kittens and if they DID play games it’d be Barbie Horse Adventures I bet.”

Women do play games, the men who play games want more women to play games, and maybe GameStop should stop pandering to the crowd that makes women mute their microphones when they get on Xbox Live.

I think this is actually my final “You know what? Fuck GameStop” catalyst. Turns out shitty customer support and being a glorified pawn shop didn’t quite do what misogyny does.

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Sin and Punishment:Star Successor

Posted in Action, Review on January 15th, 2011 by ZekeDMS

I admit, as much as I love my Wii, I don’t get a lot of time on it. It’s always one of those things where the potential is so much greater than the actual results, especially with third party offerings. Combined with a ton of shovelware for the expected “kids have no taste, grandmothers don’t know better” market I’m always wary.

Sin and Punishment:Star Successor completely bucks the trend.

The name, of course, screams “weird Japanese RPG”, and while it’s definitely got the first two parts covered, the last couldn’t be further from reality. S&P:SS is apparently the sequel to Sin and Punishment. I know, shocking. It was a Nintendo 64 title released only in Japan, and recently enough via WiiWare in the US, and that’s all I know about it. That’s all that matters for backstory. What the game tells you is that you’re in the future, you’re under attack, and some bad people are after the girl who looks, but naturally isn’t, human. So you shoot them.

S&P:SS is a rare new entry into the behind the back shooter, one that never saw a lot of games even in its arcade heyday. All I can think of right now would be Cabal, Nam-1975, Dynamite Duke, and Blood Bros, maybe the Space Harrier games can count. The genre was and is obscure, partially due to being at home brutally punishing players, demanding quarters from them regularly, and this new entry is no exception.

Sin and Punishment demands a split focus of players, making it a demanding exercise to begin with. The player avatar is always on screen and under attack, making step one protecting yourself from damage. Step two, kill everything. Traditionally the cursor and player avatar have been linked on a joystick, but the Wii has either the option of playing a dual stick style, or the more natural analog+wiimote style. It’s the same core gameplay as before, with a spectacularly streamlined control mechanism. It lets players dodge and aim in different directions for once, something that always pulled the genre down.

But the developers, Treasure, love to kill their players, and they take advantage of the new options. Whereas old games of the genre only had movement left or right, this one eschews the Galaga slide for four axes of movement, each one essential to survival. There’s a helpful inclusion of a lockon mechanism, which keeps shots true to the target but lowers their power, allowing players to worry about surviving the assaults first and foremost. Melee attacks have been added in too, which both are powerful and essential to survival in many cases, and have the bonus of reflecting projectiles. Missiles and grenades can be reflected, Jedi style, wherever the player is aiming or to their locked on target for massive damage, but managing the maneuver is always a challenge when energy blasts are overwhelming the screen.

The game’s intro level is a gentle enough affair, intended to teach players the basics, and it does so effectively, only getting a little more difficult at the boss fight. As soon as that level ends, things get cranked up to “ridiculous” even on easy, with what feels like an absolute wall of enemies, gunfire from all angles, and constant danger. Even as a genre veteran, the end boss to level one took me a solid 20 minutes to beat. There are always patterns and weaknesses to bosses, particularly level end bosses, but figuring them out and exploiting them is a real challenge. The same tends to go for mid-bosses as well, of which there are plenty, and they reappear as normal enemies later as is the traditional way of the shooter.

Sin and Punishment:Star Successor is a rare on-rails run and gun affair, and it’s absolutely brilliant. The action is non-stop, the pace is undeniably frantic, and the challenge is massive. This is a game that truly takes advantage of the Wii’s mechanics. The only real problem I had with the game is setting up a good control scheme because there’s so much going on at once, and because the default zapper setup is geared toward a wiimote and nunchuck. Once that barrier is overcome it all becomes smooth, natural, and a ton of fun. Break out the PerfectShot, Zapper, or Clone Blaster, stand way too close to the TV, and feel time melt away as you end up back in a 90s arcade.

It’s a Wiio-Geo game, and I couldn’t be happier to have found it.

9/10

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Reckless Squad

Posted in RTS, Review on January 14th, 2011 by ZekeDMS

Reckless Squad was recklessly released.

The first release from D2P games takes a chance, eschewing the very concept of being a triple-A title from the start, opting for a simpler, fun experience. In some ways it succeeds, but it’s not without issues, some great, some small.

Reckless Squad is a convoy based RTS. Yes, a game built entirely on escort missions, traditionally the worst, or at least most difficult, part of any game. It’s a concept that makes RTS fans hesitate, and Wing Commander veterans cry out in terror. Surprisingly enough, it’s been done here in a way that makes it enjoyable. At first.

It also might be necessary. Reckless Squad takes a lot of pride in being procedurally generated, and when single-player procedural generation is mixed with no goal but “Kill ‘em all”, it can get boring, fast (for those wanting to experience this firsthand, see Soldier of Fortune 2). Procedural generation lends itself to games where the idea is to survive, not to thrive, and Reckless Squad understands that. The convoy, really just a covered wagon that fell off the Oregon Trail, chugs right along obliviously, only slowed occasionally by magic. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, because as long as it reaches the end of a map, it’s a success, on to the next level. It also forces players out of the old habits of clearing ahead, moving, stopping, clearing, moving, stopping, which is a recipe for tedium.

When it works, it’s fresh and exciting. There’s a thrill and a challenge to knowing that the units you have need to last for at least a few more levels, and a boss fight most likely. There’s tension in the decisions that have to be made on the fly. Clear a path ahead while there’s time? Leave troops near the caravan for a rear guard? Send a few into danger for a potentially critical treasure chest? Players have to think fast, because as said before, that caravan stops for nothing. Not you, not the enemy, and not to caulk the wagon and float across. Gaining and maintaining resources is critical, but it’s dictated by time and careful control of your units.

Maintaining that control is unfortunately where things tend to start to suffer. The player’s units just don’t listen. In a twist on the norm, where one complains about units that just sit around lazily, like goons in the basement, these units cause problems when they take the initiative. They run forward to enemies, they pick off what they see as easy targets, and they rain down fireballs anywhere that isn’t water. In most RTS games, that would be great, but in a game where the goal is to protect a convoy and units are limited, you need them to stick close and not draw extra attention. Even the mission modes fall victim to this where one actually is just tasked to kill everything. A careful pull honed by years of MMO experience turns into a horde of angry enemies, each one following its friend back to your carefully chosen “Take ‘em one at a time” point, and a quick slaughter of your forces often ensues.

Even more annoying is when a stealth unit runs ahead even as a battle rages around the caravan, picking a target in the middle of a group and ensuring its own demise. The newly alerted enemies just love run back to the caravan and overwhelm the surviving forces at that point, and the fun gives way to rapid annoyance. Once there, the lack of control over individual units combines in with a horrible lack of visibility and unit information. There’s no information per unit, only unit types, and the mass of green lifebars gives no feedback at all when a large group is engaged in a big ball of violence. Even worse is when the fragile units such as achers, mages, and rogues get in the mix. Archers haven’t ever heard of skirmishing it seems.

Another oddity of the game is that units seem to have a strong desire to only move in cardinal directions. Not always, but there’s an odd tendency toward moving only 8 ways. Occasionally a unit will pick a bit of an angle to get to an enemy, but that’s less common than one would expect, more common when intercepting an enemy (regardless of your desire for them to) than actually following a move order.

The annoyances continue to pile on, some major, some minor. The edgescroll is a pain in windowed mode, only reacting at the very, very far ends. There’s no option to switch whether or not the scroll is placed above the UI bar at the bottom, and the shift key is useless, instead relegating all functions of grouping and multiple unit selection to the crtl key. And for those who feel like avoiding the edgescroll, here’s hoping you’re left-handed. The game has a distinct lack of hotkeys, which would free WASD up for control, logically. It doesn’t. Instead, players are stuck with the arrow keys and numpad. Very inconvenient for a game controlled almost entirely by mouse.

When you get down to it, Reckless Squad just feels rushed. There’s typos everywhere, lots of dialogue and exposition that seem like awkward translations into English, despite the studio being Montreal based. There’s no real movement/aggression controls, units are in full aggro mode at almost all times. The controls are minimal, and the feedback virtually nonexistent. The AI is completely lacking, with no concept of retreat or point defense, the most important aspects of an escort. Selecting individual units is as much a challenge as any boss fight, and in the heat of battle, the non-standard controls are an absolute hindrance.

The good news is that most of the problems could be patched out, major as they are. Add some positioning control. Add an attack move, add a hold ground order, add a return fire only setting. Add a critical follow order. Enable the shift key, give better breakdowns with units so it’s not a challenge to rapidly assign each healer to its own squad while under attack as soon as a level starts.

The idea of Reckless Squad is great, but it’s a well formed idea without a well formed game around it. The novelty of the procedural generation wears off rapidly as the frustrations of the many shortcomings set in. It’s an unfinished proof of concept, more suited to Kongregate than GamersGate as is. If the developers take the time desperately needed to fix the critical flaws, it could be great. But for now, it’s just bad.

Final Score: 3/10

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This is a fake page.

Posted in Commentary on August 5th, 2010 by ZekeDMS

A lot of steam users seem to be getting phished lately. http://storesteampoowered_viewprofile48759231215797.9hz.com/ is FAKE. It sure looks like a Steam page at first glance, the URL format really manages to hide the 9hz domain, and the page is a spectacular copy.

But I assure you, this is a phishing page. Please watch out, folks.

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You maniacs! You blew it up!

Posted in Commentary on July 3rd, 2010 by ZekeDMS

Look what you’ve all done to Steam. Look at it!

slowsteam

This is what happens when the hottest titles on Steam go on sale for ridiculous prices. Hell, even the ones you’ve never heard of. “What is this “The Pipe?” Adventure game…looks European. A little odd. How much is it? $1.24? Shit, sold!”

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Your wallet is doomed.

Posted in Commentary on June 24th, 2010 by ZekeDMS

It’s a Steam sale again, and just like the January sale this one is utter madness. One day sales, deep discounts, and all the best games for bottom barrel prices. Telltale Complete packs for $50, THQ complete packs for the same, 33% off anything Ubisoft.

Say goodbye to your money.

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Why haven’t we heard about this?

Posted in Commentary on June 12th, 2010 by ZekeDMS

Microsoft seems to be dropping the ball on this one. The most recent Xbox update provided the ability for players to save their gamertags to a USB drive, a great idea for those who play on the go since tag recovery can take an hour easily. Unfortunately within a few days, people figured out how to hack the files to change their displayed names (often to something spectacularly racist), or even unlocking additional prestige levels in Call of Duty. Live had been reasonably free of hacking thanks to the closed nature of the system, but a good idea has gone horribly wrong quick.

Unlike hardware hacks, this isn’t such an easy detection, and I’ve seen no official comment on the problem. Here’s hoping Ryan Treit, aka Treit and True, addresses the problem or Mircrosoft expands the mod teams to deal with this. Most of the gamertag hackers, afterall, just can’t seem to resist flaunting it via colorful display names or ones using system symbols.

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MLB 10:The Show reviewed

Posted in Review, Sports on May 14th, 2010 by ZekeDMS

Disclaimer: This review is based entirely on extensive demo play, which showcases the most important part of the game, the actual game. I have no knowledge of in depth season, career, and other modes.

You know what’s fun? Baseball.

Okay, well…it’s fun to play. And for a long time there were fun baseball video games on consoles, each of which managed the complicated structure in different ways. The Atari 2600′s Super Challenge Baseball had one button and a joystick, but everyone knew to hold a direction during the pitch to influence the ball, and the simple “point and click” method worked for throwing the ball.

Possibly the best baseball interface of all time, intuitive, simple, and effective, Intellivision’s Major League Baseball. Batting and bunting on the side buttons was simple, and fielding was even easier. Every position had its own key on the 12 key pad, correlating right to where it should be on the field. Control runners simply by pointing with the disc. Easy stuff.

Later consoles with fewer buttons would go back toward point and click, but add pitching options. Tommy Lasorta would put his name on a fair share of games, and we’d even go into sci-fi with Super Baseball 2020.

And yet like so many games, baseball has had trouble making the transition to the third dimension. The addition of swing locations really threw a wrench into things, but it started to get worked out by World Series Baseball 2k2. Mostly the challenge was making pitches visible enough for players to read, without becoming more obvious than they would be in reality. Anyone who’s spent 2 minutes at a batting cage knows hitting a ball is hard, but hey, if we can make reliable hail mary passes in football games we should be able to hit a fastball.

So now we’re 10 years past the first baseball game of the modern era. We’ve had the arcadey titles and the sim titles now, and the latest among them is The Show, Sony’s series. 2010 is freshly out now, and…well, it’s a downgrade.

The simplest way to put it is that it’s too inconsistent. What you do, what the AI does, what the crowd does, how the ball moves. Maybe I’m wrong here, but sports games should be past the RPG stage, and that’s just where The Show is.

At the plate or on the mound it’s obvious that there’s dice rolling going on under the hood. Sometimes a pitch goes wild for no reason. Not just a little, a fastball, dead center at moderate speed released at the sweet spot, will shoot far off to the side. Pitching also suffers from a poorly designed meter. The confidence meter is a good idea, as is the variably sized sweet spot. The problem comes in the form of the speed being very inconsistent. Speeding the meter up or down as a whole to show being shaken, exhausted, or somehow affected is fine, but the wind up and the release speeds can vary tremendously. The system is a three press system. Once to start, once to set a speed, once for the release point. Simple, it’s like most golf games. Meter goes up, set power, meter goes down, release.

But the release can be three times as fast as the windup, completely disabling the ability of a player to get any sort of timing down. Naturally, the AI pitchers are unaffected.

There’s also the apparent use of batting averages to determine just how bit someone’s swing influence is, but it’s never properly shown. The size of the representative circle doesn’t change, but players with a high average will often swing well outside of the zone players aim for, to the extent that a completely missed swing, if player influence is any factor, can be a home run.

Now, it’s expected the stats of the real players are a factor, but they’re only that, a factor. A player making bad plays should pay the price, and vice versa for good plays. It just never seems to work that way, though. Throws routinely go high for players, runners stumble, fielders drop a ball. There’s a real bias toward the AI in The Show, particularly in terms of the umpire calling strikes. It’s even more obvious with the power hitters, who get clear favoritism from umpires, at least on the AI team.

None of this is helped by the awful controls for baserunning, or how non-responsive the swing controls feel. There’s also the poorly thought-out mechanic for swing checking, where you simply let go of the button. Sounds great, but in a video game where you can’t really see the proper depth or direction of a pitch, or where we’re used to just tapping the button to swing, it results in a lot of strikes or a lot of unchecked swings that you wanted to stop.

Stealing bases, going for extra, or just leading off, all of those require odd combinations of buttons and stick presses, easily done improperly or just not quickly enough to save a play. So you set the baserunning to automatic, but that results in players often NOT running when they should because of AI errors.

The camera angles just never quite work for the batter. It needs to be up or down a little to provide some idea of depth perception, rather than memorizing the timing of a pitch. They also never work for the fielding, often switching to an angle that reveals where a ball is going too late to react properly. The fielder selected is often counter-intuitive, leaving players to turn on assisted or automatic fielding. Another part of the game slips away from their control.

The sad statement of MLB 10:The Show is that it’s at it’s best when players do the least. If it played the whole game itself it’d be pretty damn good, but frustrating batting and pitching, the core of the game, just provide too much trouble. The fielding is fine when it’s working as it should, but when something goes wrong, and it often does, it’s just a frustration.

There are, of course, bugs aplenty, usually related to clipping planes. The screen behind the plate to save fans from getting a Liberace blocks balls (this website is classy) and nothing else. A pop-up foul straight back can go up and over the screen, dropping back right behind it, where most of us would call it “out of play.” But not The Show, or the catcher, who can and will stick his gloved arm right through the screen. Does he go through a gap at the bottom? Does he have superhuman powers to allow himself to shrink his arm to fit through the wire mesh? Does he have superhuman strength? Judging by the throws he’s made to stop a base stealer, I’m going to go with the shrinking thing.

Players routinely run through each other, both teammates and opponents. I’d complain about umpires, but to be fair they’re supposed to be out of the way. Still, for a simulation, once in a a while one should take that hit. The home plate ump does sometimes, but apparently it’s based on a forcefield he wears. Replays reveal that the ball’s impact on players, umps, bats, and fences is around three or four inches away from the actual object. Maybe everything is actually made of rare earth metals, it’s just a magnetic effect we’re seeing. That would make sense, right?

There are plenty of miscellaneous complaints to be had, really. Players don’t look like their real life counterparts, the animations are terrible to mediocre, particularly when it comes to errors, and there’s absolutely no clipping planes in the game. Balls often move right through the backs or sides of gloves to be caught. Sometimes they even make 90 degree turns to the left, moving two feet into Jeter’s hand, clearly visible both live and in the replay.

Balls will bounce through the fans, be that the fans leaning over the fence to catch a foul or the ones in the stands. No kidding. It just passes through them. Sometimes a ball can hop over the fence on a bounce and nobody moves at all, but the ball bounces like it’s hitting a trampoline. Again, I’m going with the “rare earth supermagnets” theory here.

When players are angry, they all look exactly the same. Their noses flatten like they’re shihtzus, they all have a kind of snouty-pig look, and appear to stretch and become two-dimensional, which is a constant problem with the game’s FOV anyway. Some players look like middle-aged men for no apparent reason.

The real shame is that at first, the game is fun. And sometimes there’s an urge to play, but not at the price of buying in. The demo is long enough and provides enough content to just play it. At least that way when a bug causes you to lose you didn’t pay for it and long term, it doesn’t really matter. It’s fun for about 30-45 minutes, maybe for 8 innings (aka, two full demo plays), but after that, it’s just gotten frustrating.

It is, ultimately, less of a sports sim and more of a baseball RPG given the constant stat-checking under the hood and the fact it’s better to just let most functions automate. There’s plenty of bells and whistles and extra touches. It’s nice to have the replays, the player reactions, the fully realized stadiums, but with the core game having the deep flaws it does, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a budget title promoted as a flagship.

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