WWE '12 was revealed with a lot of fanfare. Rebranding the series away from Smackdown Vs. Raw and with a tagline of "Bigger. Badder. Better". With everything they revealed and each snippet of information that came out, it gave wrestling game aficionados such as myself a good reason to believe that a few things that were broken in the last game were fixed as well as adding a bunch of new customization options such as creating your own arena and having your own brands with exclusive wrestlers, but have they pulled off that feat?
SD V Raw 2011 was probably a bigger revolution. It changed the physics model and added a Universe mode, which forms shows and matches for you and keeps a storyline of your wrestlers progress as well as maintaining ranks for the various championships. It's a great idea in theory, but the previous game wasn't exactly coherent in what was happening, seemingly randomly throwing in cutscenes. It seems that in the race to add things to add to the box and keep the yearly schedule rolling, not much has changed.
What they have added is the idea of "Remarkable Matches" and this is a rare occurrence that actually has a storyline spanning weeks or months and they're built into happen, such as winning your first match brings out Brock Leasnar, winning the tag championship bringing out Demolition and winning your first match with Cody Rhodes brings out Goldust. These work well and actually makes it feel like you're on an ongoing wrestling show. You can also now defend a title when you like in any match, so if you prefer to play the role of the show-runner as well as playing the matches, you can now have more control over that. On top of that there is a draft after Wrestlemania which runs just like the real draft, with brand v brand matches with the winner getting a randomly assigned wrestler moving over to the next brand.
Injuries were also added, which is more of a hit and miss affair. What tends to happen is someone will get injured and be out for months, meaning you can't pick him in matches. What ends up happening though is that the logic of the game will cause the injured wrestler to still be booked into matches, even the week after. Poor old Arn Anderson in my game was still wrestling with a career ending injury and saving his friend Cody Rhodes in a match. Interference can now happen by pressing Y and having 1 minute to make whoever you want to win get the pinfall. It's a nice little mini-game, but it has happened where I've woken the referee up and the guy who was being pinned gets the win. Since the first 3 times I've done it though, trying this from then has locked up the entire XBox and required a re-start.
Unfortunately, outside of that, little has changed. Random cut-scenes happen with little or no purpose and it starts to grate you after a while. My CAW came out to the ring after Dolph Ziggler won the WCW championship to celebrate in the ring with him and the commentary saying that it was a touching moment that they're both champions, totally ignoring the fact my CAW held no titles. HHH and Cody came out to celebrate CM Punks win, despite having no connection with Punk and being on a completely different brand.
The biggest offender though was when my CAW cashed in the Money in the Bank contract. This is where a wrestler has won a ladder match to have a title match at any time. In the real world, this usually occurs after the champion has taken a huge beating and he comes out to make an easy pin. In the game, the original match never takes place and the MITB winner walks out with the briefcase and cashes in. It works a little better as the champion is already hurt and they guy cashing in gets a signature, but what happened in my game is that instead of winning the active WCW title, I won the inactive World Heavyweight Championship, making cashing in pointless.
it's a real shame that in the second year of this feature, it still feels fundamentally broken. I'm not sure if the yearly schedule for churning these games out has given them a rush to get new bullet-points on the back of the box and not fix the original features, but if Universe worked like it should, it would be the best mode in any wrestling game bar none.
Other things are broken too. The physics model still isn't right as demonstrated above with people landing in mid-air when a weapon is nearby, the ring occasionally glitches to a black mess which makes the match unplayable, I've had a guy be whipped into the corner, then magically float to the other side of the ring forcing a match re-start as he couldn't be taken out of it and Create-a-Story feels broken as well. CAS keeps bringing up the wrong name of the person that's speaking (although their image is correct) and when you put a match segment in, the camera is zoomed out way too much and any pre-match damage modifiers you gave to a wrestler have no effect. The servers are also unstable right now, but THQ have promised that fixes are coming very soon for that area, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and gloss past that for now.
I've been negative, but the new RTWM is a great little story even if the Outsider story is a lull in the proceedings and the new AI is working very well, actually providing a challenge this year. It's incredibly addictive even with the issues and it's slightly frustrating that a few errors can really hamper a decent effort as it would put me off pre-ordering next year. THQ have been stingy with patches to fix things in years gone by, but I really hope they can fix a lot of this with a couple of them. Maybe take a year off and really hone WWE '14 with a steady stream of DLC to keep the roster fresh.
They've been moving in the right direction with the last couple of games, I really hope they can just nail it all one year.
F1 2010 was always destined for greatness. You take the biggest motorsport in the world, give it to the racing game experts at Codemasters and gold was to follow. Not even metaphorical gold like that tease Abe Lincoln had, but actual BAFTA gold in the form of that creepy trophy face they hand out every year. But now after one short year, it's back, shocking anyone who knows about sports games with years on the end. Is grabbing this worth it, even if you've had more than one season in 2010? Let's slide right in.
F1 2011 (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, XBox 360) Developer: Codemasters Birmingham Publisher: Codemasters Released: September 23 2011 (Europe) / Out Now (USA) MSRP: £29.99 (PC) / £39.99 (Console)
The biggest thing a yearly F1 game has going for it compared to other annual sports games is the fact that the rules change year on year and going from the 2010 season into the 2011 season was almost a total revolution. To improve overtaking, the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) returned and a new Drag Reduction System (DRS) was introduced. KERS works by recharging a battery through braking and then by pressing a button, that energy is released causing a power increase of 80bhp. The regulations allow this to be used for 6.67 seconds per lap essentially making it the real life equivalent of a Mario Kart golden mushroom. You know, without the WAHOO that Toad would yell and make me want to destroy all mankind. The DRS system also improves top speed and acceleration in very specific circumstances at the cost of handling ability and a new tyre compound means that fresh tyres are very grippy, but wear out very quickly making for an interesting pit-stop strategy battle in races.
So what does that mean for the game? As much as you want it to. The KERS and DRS systems are not able to be disabled as such, but on lower skill levels they're not needed to win which is probably for the best. To hit maximum speed on a 360 pad, you'll need to hit Y at the start of the straight to enable the DRS while accelerating with RT and then hold LB for the KERS boost. At the higher end of the simulation and difficulty, this makes it almost impossible to manage all that with a manual gearbox on a joypad and it wasn't until breaking out a wheel with a flappy paddle gear changer and pedals that actually made it even possible to do with two hands, but it's still simpler than a real F1 car, observe the steering wheel:
But all the options are back allowing you to tweak the experience with traction control, ABS, fuel and tyre simulations, penalties and even auto braking assist to help you get up to speed with handling a real F1 car, which Codemasters have taken to the next level with a few additions that were notably absent in 2010. If a big accident happens, the safety car is deployed making all cars bunch together and slows the race down before the track is cleared and racing can begin again and with full penalties on, you can now have penalties that make you drive through the pits rather than the old time penalties which are still given out on reduced penalty mode. All in all, it is a much more accurate simulation of the sport.
But does that make it more fun? After playing a full race, I believe it does. One of the main things that differentiated F1 2010 from other racing games and even the Sony produced F1 games was the fact that these cars are nothing like taking a car out for a spin in Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. you had to use practice sessions to find your braking spots and that has become even more imperative now. The braking feels very different from the previous edition which is something that real F1 drivers have said now KERS has been brought back since the recovery parts actually make the real axle brake a lot harder than they previously did. Couple all this with random breakdowns when damage is on full simulation and this is the best representation of F1 that has ever been released on a console, even nipping at the heels of the highly revered PC simulation Geoff Crammond's Grand Prix and that really is a testament to how much detail they've gone into here.
There's a few things that I'm not sure if they're design decisions or bugs though. I've had a 20 car pile-up only to watch CPU cars drive through other CPU cars like they weren't on the track and I'm unsure as to whether or not this is a design decision to let traffic through and the race resume, or something that should not be happening. I'm more inclined to say bug at this stage because I've seen it on corners too with no pile-up occurring. Also, with all simulation options on, sometimes the game will turn my car into a ghost car to stop a nasty crash because I'm reversing and this should be something I can turn off. Why would I pick a full simulation if I didn't want to be disqualified for being an unsafe driver?
As for the bells and whistles, they've evolved, just not as much as the race engine. Career mode does feel more immersive simply by adding emails to receive and by making your motorhome match the colours of your team and other than adding a co-operative career mode where you both take race seats on the same team, allowing you to have an inter-team battle while racking up points for the constructors title, very little else feels new. Multiplayer has been bumped up from 12 players to 16 and now supports AI drivers to round it up to the full 24 car grid if you so choose, which is nice, but not the mind blowing increase to 24 human players would be. Graphics are still gorgeous and have had a slight bump on the PC from the last version, especially in terms of how reflective the cars are and how much detail is in those reflections.
This does such a fine job of being a brilliant representation of the sport on track that I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone with even a slight interest in in Formula 1 or even racing simulations in general. Once you get the feel of the cars down to an art, there is just no better feeling than nailing the apex of a fast corner and it is worth spending the money to upgrade from 2010. There is just this feeling that they could have done more and while I appreciate the fact the actual racing is the main focus, 24 player races and a more robust career mode really would have made this the perfect game. The 2012 season promises to have a stable ruleset, so with that set in stone, 2012 might bring the improvements those areas need, but it's not something I would wait for. Even if this game only has a lifespan of 12 months, it's going to be a very fun 12 months.
Final Verdict: 8/10 Great: 8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but worth your time and cash.
The PES/FIFA rivalry has always been slightly odd. After Konami's arcadey International Superstar Soccer and FIFA's simulation FIFA games almost switching in styles once the 32-Bit consoles rolled around. ISS really cemented it's quality dominance with ISS: Pro Evolution in 1999 and all the PS2 games up to PES6. From there with the releases of PES 2008 and FIFA 2008, alliances were split and then come the 2009 games, FIFA really took the lead in gameplay stakes while adding features and that's where we're up to now.
This year, Konami are promising a return to the old gameplay mechanics, with a new passing system to try and re-appease their fans while FIFA is talking defensive revolution with new mechanics to stop the opposing team and new physics engines for collisions to bring the game more to life. Both teams have brought out a PC demo and amazingly, the PC demo is now based on current-gen consoles rather than the PS2 version. So, after 20 matches on each, which one's looking the most promising right now? Let's Czech it out and without further ado, LOL SPORTS.
Starting with the control method and a tutorial on the new defence mechanics, it throws you into the arena and into the men us for the game, in these matches, I picked the blue side of Manchester to take on Arsenal. The new defence mechanics work thusly on the alternate control scheme using a 360 pad: Left trigger makes your body perpendicular to the ball to jockey the opponent, B slides in to tacke, X either takes a stab at the ball with your foot or reaches out an arm to slow down the opponent if you're behind them and finally the A button homes in on the ball carrier. There is a big difference with that A button though, instead of pressuring the ball carrier, you now hold your distance automatically and do not try and tackle, that needs to be done separately.
For me, the new defence system was terrible and a step backwards. It felt like I was playing FIFA 97 again where I just took wild stabs at the ball now and again. After 10 games, I delved into the options and thankfully, "legacy defending" was there as an option, back to basics which is much, much better. Also, there are lots of options in there like what shape the nets on the goals are and how tight the netting is and even handball this year. However, FIFA 12 still has one more ace up it's rectum.
As an avid WWE games player, 2011 added a physics system to it's weapons which just turned the matches from fun, to having some amazing spots where a persons body would react to the world around him. FIFA has done something similar here and while it only seems to add to the gameplay in small doses such as set pieces and running into people during crosses, it does bring the world further to life by seeing players react to each other. Like the moment pictured above, a simple lunge tackle that managed to make Van Persie straddle my players shoulder and as he stood up, kind of lifted him up in the air and dumped him on the floor. There's some polygon clashing issues where people merge into other people, but they are minimal and not really noticeable at standard game camera angles.
If I was to pick at nits, I've gotta say that the game still feels much too fast on the default setting and too slow on slow. It's playable on the default, but just exaggerated compared to an actual match. The physics also cause one or two issues where it is far to easy to run past people as you leave a leg out when you turn and mr. Stupid AI will roll over it instead of easily stepping away from it. But it's all looking so delightful, especially with other unplayable changes so far such as storylines being added what's the competition looking like?
I'm just going to cut to the chase, it's back and it's back in a big way. This is the PES we loved before they started adding years to the end. It plays almost exactly like a smoother more refined version of the older games, which is great news. The passing also works brilliantly and in the settings you can change the level that the ball homes on on a fellow player when you pass the ball. When the level is down, you can pass the ball into space fairly easily and use it more effectively than the through balls.
That leaves the old right stick method of manual passing sent straight out to stud, leaving it free to make off the ball attackers make runs. Point at a player and click to make them run or if you're feeling really skilled, take complete control of the with the right stick as you move the ball player with the left. It takes some getting used to, but the level of control it leaves is fantastic.
The other thing it has over FIFA is the tactical side of the game. Maybe it's just me being an anorak, but I do love being able to easily position everyone anywhere I like. You can grab any of those spheres and position them anyway, then fiddle with as many sliders as possible to come up with any tactics. It is something that sets it aside from FIFA, along with arcade style training challenges to try and top your high scored.
Collisions are a lot more jerky after using the engine from FIFA and seeing how everything reacts with everything else, but it has so many animations that it doesn't become a big issue. The biggest question ever since PES went to the year in the title format though is the netcode. It has been worse than terrorism in the past and this demo doesn't have online features to test it out. If that code works though, Online Master League awaits which has the potential to be a brilliant feature.
So which one's on top? Based on the demo's in isolation, it's tough. I was originally going to write this to say "PES IS BACK, SORRY FIFA" but then I figured out you could turn off the horrible new defensive system on FIFA and I was back to square one. Perfect world? FIFA's overall engine with PES's new passing system which just about gives FIFA the edge. If I had to pre-order one and only one right now based on what I know, that would be FIFA too. Online Master League is just a delicious sounding concept, but I can't trust Konami's netcode right now. It may seem like an anti-climax, but PES is back and we should all be happy it will be pushing FIFA to be better in the future and that PES may be king once again in the future. I'll drink to that for sure.
It's a classic story told since the dawn of time. Boy has money, boy spends money on XBox Dev Kit, boy finds prototype version of a game, boy announces discovery to the internet. The big difference here is that the game in question was never even announced. Just developed and quietly cancelled in the night.
Yes, Sonic Extreme from unknown developer. Not "Xtreme", the ill-fated PC/Saturn game that was quite far in development and never finished, but some completely unknown-until-3-weeks-ago skateboarding game. According to the finder ProtonX (Unsure if that's his real name or online handle), the game uses art from SA1 apart from the crates which are from SA2 and Shadow in 2-player mode, music from SA2 and has Mega Drive Sonic item boxes littered about.
As for the gameplay, the goal of the missions is to get a key and then open a lock, combat mode is a small area with 4 sub-zones. There are 4 keys, 1 for each zone. There are grenades, firecrackers, homing rockets and mines that can be picked up and used against the other player or to destroy crates. This version doesn't have a way to win/lose/leave without quitting. Finally there is the race level. It feels a lot like Sonic Adventure 2 battle- the first level. You go around a seemingly never-ending track, then when you finish it boots you to the game screen.
There's some videos below. overall, I love these finds and hopefully I'll get to play this sometime. It's very rare a unique find like this happens, so I hope some of you get a kick out of seeing something that will never come to light.