Archive for the ‘video games’ Category

Aimless whining about NHL ’10

September 18, 2009

Look, there’s plenty to like about NHL ’10. EA Sports added some nice features and the game feels (generally) more authentic than ever. In fact, despite my misgivings I’ll probably play a few games tonight.

Still, there are some serious issues that make me glad that I didn’t end up spending a full $60 on the game (since I was able to trade in games at Gamestop). In some ways, the series takes one step forward and two step backwards. Here’s a random collection of thoughts.

  • The post-whistle shtick is really obnoxious, especially online. It would be interesting if the rough stuff truly carried over during the game or wasn’t something that happened after every whistle. Instead, all it does is needlessly slow the game down to a screeching halt.
(And when you consider the game’s nearly constant slowdown aka frame rate drops, every slowdown is another tablespoon of salt in your wounds)
Besides, it was more fun just to mindlessly bash people after the whistle. Hopefully EA patches this in the update so online games stop feeling longer than a game of Madden.
  • Many people had issues with an unintentional penalty that often happened in NHL ’09. Sometimes you would receive an interference call because the game assumed you were going for a hit when you were actually attempting a one-timer.
Yet, they replaced that unintentional penalty flaw with a different unintentional penalty flaw. Now, if you don’t pin someone against the boards at the right time the game thinks you want to start a fight since both actions share the same button.
In that case, the other person may not choose to fight (giving them a powerplay) or you might get an instigator penalty (giving them a powerplay). Couldn’t EA commit the “start a fight” motion to the select button to avoid confusion and unintended penalties? Bah.
  • The neutral zone passing in this game (and much of the quick passes “into space”) can be downright horrific at times. I tried to make reasonable breakout passes and they would speed senselessly to an icing violation frequently.
Generally, EA’s solution to people scoring a lot of one-timer goals was to force passes into the most inane spots. I’ve tried to pass diagonally down and right and the game would force the past off the boards … which was diagonally up and to the left. The exact opposite of my input.
Few things bother me more than a game “fixing” design flaws by making controls less intuitive and reliable.
  • Is it too much to ask for icon passing or being able to switch to the exact player you want? Sometimes I feel most comfortable playing defense with a forward, but the game assumes that I want to go for checks constantly and therefore only allows me to use a defenseman at crucial times.
This forces me into situations of potential domestic violence, but thankfully there is no wife or dog around to feel the sting of my fits.

I can often realte to Sleek’s duck when it comes to unintended penalties in NHL ‘10

  • The teammate AI could still use some work. If the game is going to hang you out to dry by curbing much of the passing accuracy, then it hurts that much more when a player skates far out of your zone when you’re under durress. That can be VERY frustrating.
But, on the bright side:
  • Despite the unintended penalties, I think the board play is pretty fun. It allows you to stage a much more effective forecheck and also gives you a little more time to set up a cycle game. (Shocking that I’d find that appealing, right?)
  • It seems like EA’s done a solid job of cutting down on some of the more insufferable glitches from ’09. I stopped playing online a while with the last update, since the game devolved into an exploit war.

Good game, but after two quantam leaps from 07 to 08 to 09, this year’s game lacks a “wow” factor and has some serious drawbacks. Hopefully the game will get a serious repair, because right now I will probably not play it online very often (although I’m more likely to play the EASHL than standard team vs. team games).
If you have NHL ’09 and a tight budget, I’d say wait a bit or just rent NHL ’10. I’m sure EA will smooth over some of the rough edges, but right now I’m frustrated with the game as often as I am delighted.
Still, I’m glad I have it and probably will feel better about it once I get used to the tweaks and changes. What are your thoughts on the game so far? Do you share my frustrations? Are there some problems I haven’t discovered or failed to mention? Or should I just rub some dirt on it and enjoy the game for what it is?
Feel free to share your thoughts on NHL ’10 in the comments.

NHL 10 Wish List: Fantasy Draft

July 16, 2009

As the anticipation for NHL 10 mounts, we will put up a weekly post related to the buzz. Perhaps one week we’ll take a look at what the 2K series could do to gain some ground against EA, but for the most part we’ll list an item on our “Wish List.” This could either be an additional feature or a glitch we hope is burned in the flames of polygonal hell. Feel free to share your personal Wish Lists, too.

To start things off, we’d happily like to share the fact that NHL ’10 will feature something we’ve been clamoring for since the series moved to next-gen consoles: a “Fantasy Draft.” (H/T to Fear the Fin for RT-ing that.)

For those of you unaware of what a Fantasy Draft is, we’ll first say that it is as nerdy as it sounds. It’s also kind of cool, if you’re dorky enough to imagine it happening in the actual NHL.

Basically, though, the Fantasy Draft allows users to put EVERY NHL player in one big draft. The fun comes in many forms: who do you pick first? Do you go with Ovechkin, Crosby or Malkin? Perhaps you appeal to your inner Lemaire and draft a defenseman. Then again, sometimes a great goalie can really tip the digi-scales.

If the NHL decided to re-draft its league, would one of these guys be your #1 pick?

Either way, these are pretty fun little activities to do with friends. No longer can your buddy complain that his team sucks since, after all, he’s the one who picked the players. There’s also a “lottery” aspect to it: if I choose player A will player B still be around later?

Anyway, it’s pretty fun and could be excessive/a real blast if they are available in online leagues. Could you imagine screaming at people to hurry up and make their 15th-round pick already? Gold!

Since this first addition of the Wish List feature lacks suspense, check out Gross Misconduct for a fun little post where he took screen shots of newly minted free agents playing on their new teams. (It’s kind of weird seeing Gionta in Montreal)

Not to “bury the lead” here, but if you were starting a team and the league did a real-life Fantasy Draft, who would you pick? Ah, the potential Crosby bashing that will ensue …

How to survive the latest NHL 09 update without damaging your dignity (or controller)

May 25, 2009

Earlier this week, I had it.

After playing approximately one billion versus games in NHL ’09, the most recent update appeared to be way too frustrating to deal with. Every goal I allowed sent my blood pressure to Zdeno Chara heights and even prompted my immature (and unintended) semi-destruction of an X-Box controller. Bad times.

Somewhere along the way, one of two things happened:

a) I figured out how to play under the new restrictions


b) Subtle tweaks were made to avoid the first polygonal hockey-based homicide.

Whatever the case may be, aside from losing an OT game I went on a 7-game winning streak (and a conversely unimpressive vagina-less streak, but fuck you for saying that). While you cannot teach pure, sublime irrelevant video game talent (ugh), here are a few tips for adapting to the latest update:

1. Zen hockey

My winning streak began while chastising my friend for giving up an opportunity for bowling and poontang. Despite being partially distracted by aimless telephone banter, things just started to click.

It made me realize that a Buddhist-like detachment is necessary to get any level of enjoyment out of the latest edition of the game (since EA decided to be dicks and suck all the fun out of playing online). This also goes for winning strategy, though: it’s best to summon your inner- Jacques Lemaire and play snooze-fest hockey. You know that urge to turn Dan Boyle into Bobby Orr? Might want to pick your spots there, champ.

2. Avoid using defensemen whenever possible

Perhaps this is just me, but damn if I don’t get burned by cheap shit whenever I try to play defense … with defensemen. It’s much better to miss a check/clog a passing lane with a forward, I’ve found.

Of course, that strategy’s great until the game decides that you’re not going to be able to switch to a forward no matter how many times you press the button, swear at children or throw dogs at the TV. You made me do it, EA.

3. Fear stick-lifts more than unwanted pregnancies

In the world of NHL 09, every ham-and-egger can stick lift like Pavel Datsyuk. When I was first getting used to the latest update, I’d say that 80 percent of the goals I allowed were based on my opponent lifting my D’s stick and scoring a vein-popping-out-in-your-head type goal.

Every time there’s going to be an obvious puck battle, get ready for some button “A” mashing. It’s lift or be lifted, folks.

4. Cheap behind the net deke moves > too-perfect one timers

For a while, my one timer abilities were absurd enough that I’d often score goals off what seemed like passes. It’s kind of like how Gretzky would score off the back of a goalie’s pad/legs/skates, only I wouldn’t get to bang some Canadian supermodel after the game.

ANYWAY, EA must have read a lot of message board bitching because the one-timer has been rendered somewhat irrelevant. Now it seems like it’s all about waltzing around defenseman and cheap shit like that.


So, hopefully those four guidelines will help you re-claim your game (or compete instead of the typical shellacking you suffer from). If you want to “put these rules to the test” or just want to play a game of versus, my X-Box gamertag is jimbobri (creative, I know).

Warning: I am ruthless and probably cheap as hell. But at least you know my strategy, right?

Crap, this was a mistake.

Deadline dealings thru a video game prism

March 4, 2009

Since every one and their illiterate uncle Ted has this trade deadline covered in the “real world” let’s take a look at the trades that will impact NHL ’09:

  • Calgary Flames acquire Olli “Hokey Pokey Cancer” Jokinen

The digi-Flames always had one glaring weakness: offensive depth. Once you make your way past the greatness of Jarome Iginla and the pretty goodness of Michael “the appetizer” Cammalleri, there just isn’t many other guys to score cheap-o wraparound goals with.

Olli Jokinen gives them a BIG boost. They’re still not at the San Jose Sharks level of three-lines-deep magnificence but they’re pretty darn good.

  • Pittsburgh Penguins acquire Bill Guerin for peanuts

Easily the winner for “trade that will affect video games more than real life.” Guerin gives the Penguins what they’ve needed for a long time: a right handed shot. Plus, BG is WAY way WAY better in NHL video games than he is in real life.

(And will be, until EA starts rating players on “going into the corners” and “caring any more.”)

Off the top of my head, what the Penguins lines would look like

Guerin-Sid CrosbyEvgeni Malkin
Chris Kunitz – Jordan Staal – Petr Sykora
Matt Cooke – Tyler Kennedy – Miroslav Satan
Pascal Dupuis – Max Talbot – Jabroni

Now, if they’d only add a center who can win some friggin’ face-offs.

More to come, maybe. Although there weren’t many big deals after all.

The digi-impact of Mats Sundin

December 19, 2008

When the Mats Sundin saga finally came to an end with the announcement that he would join the Sedins, Sami Salo and Mattias Ohlund in Vancouver, most people were thinking of his real life impact. Will the ‘Nucks go top-heavy with a three ‘dins line? Will they spread the wealth by putting Sundin with some of their hard working, offensively-challenged wingers?

But after just a few moments, I wondered: will the addition of Sundin make for a new digi-power in NHL ’08? The Sedin twins, Sundin, Demitra, Kesler and Wellwood is actually make a halfway decent group of forwards. At least when you consider the fact that Luongo’s alongside Brodeur as the best goalie in the game.

Here’s a completely biased list of the best teams in NHL ’08. Where do the Canucks fit in?

Detroit Red Wings

Would be totally unfair if it weren’t for that flopping sonofawhore Osgood. Stacked with stars, depth and straight killahs in the faceoff circle.

San Jose Sharks

Hate to admit it but they’re kinda cheap too. Two stars, some very solid depth guys, interchangeable D and an elite goalie. DAMN, Gina. Damn. Gina.

Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens seem like a team for NHL 09 connoisseurs. They don’t have one outrageously good forward, D or goalie and the lack of top scorer does hurt them sometimes. But their real life breakneck style translates well into the digi-arena.

Anaheim Ducks

Not my first choice, but they’ve got some good forwards, two ridiculous D and an elite goalie. They were once the ultimate cheese team but they’re not so bad now.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils are the ultimate video game team. Let that sentence soak in for a moment.

They’ve got a bizillion solid forwards: Elias, Parise, Madden, Rolston and Holik (really). The D’s better than last year and Brodeur’s still a beast.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Even though they’re my boys, the Pens aren’t my team. They are just AWFUL at faceoffs and I can’t seem to ever get their lines right.


So, those are the best teams in the game IMO. Which teams do you like to use? Is it best to use your favorite team, the best team overall or to take the high road and use a more workmanlike digi-group?

Join my digi-team (repost from BoC)

November 26, 2008

For the first week or two of its release, I bandied about the interwebs playing NHL ’09 with a group of whacky Canadians. Aside from their silly accents, these guys were GOOD. They played like … dare I say, a team.

Soon enough, though, Time Warner Cable put it in my pooper (metaphorically, I hope). That meant an internet connection as consistent as Oprah’s weight and a tragic inability to fight for the polygonal Cup with my Canadian pals. Eventually, the team either dissolved or decided that it would be best if we saw other people.

Enough background, here’s the deal: I started an EA Sports League team called Battle of Sedins and my roster includes only my doppelganger Sad Panda. This saddens and enrages me. So, if you have a copy of NHL 09, an X-Box Live account and a modicum of digi-talent, message/friend request/whatever me on X-Box Live so we can represent for our blogging gangstas.

Not sure what kind of demand there will be with this, but at first it will definitely be a first come first serve thing. (Naturally, BoC contributors will get on the team even if they suck balls) Eventually, we might get to the point be a B-team or some roster cuts, but that’s another story for another day.

My gamertag is jimbobri. Since this team is for the BoC as well as my fledgling blog, I decided a BoC-team neutral logo would be best (so it’s a European league mascot – a polar bear biting through a stick … fucking sweet, right?). While I’m here let’s discuss a few things:

  • Goalies will be treated as prima donnas, second only to myself and BoC writers. If you’re really good at goalie in this game, you’ll probably not going to need to worry about going on waivers.
  • Douches aren’t necessarily barred. It just depends on what type of douche you are. Being the wrong kind of douche will get you kicked off the team. Want more specifics? Eh, fuck you. Remember, I make the rules.

(the power’s already going to my head)

  • Don’t be a dick about playing defense or a position you don’t want to play. Not everyone can be blond haired, blue eyed quarterbacks, you know.
  • Use a headset. Yes, the headset is ridiculous and its use means you don’t deserve to get laid for a week … but it’s necessary. C’mon, you know you want to hear me burn the roof of my mouth with a grilled cheese sandwich and admonish you for my own mistakes. Don’t be delusional.

So, right now, that’s the criteria. If you’re tired of your team, looking for your first team or just want to hear my awful voice and even worse jokes, let me know. Most likely I’ll be on and off for much of Wednesday and probably for a bit on Turkey Day (anything to get away from my dreadful family). It would be pretty kick ass if we could get at least 3-5 people on at the same time before my brother says something crazy while eating stuffing. God, I hate Thanksgiving.

Anyway, it’s time for you to rejoice. Finally, your meaningless lives can be temporarily satisfying!!!

Ilya Kovalchuk would look great in a different uniform … the news cycle!

November 14, 2008
Barry Trotz graciously accepts his Goofiest Looking Coach Award
  • Puck Daddy spotlights yet another great Russian interview, this time with mercurial sniper Ilya Kovalchuk. When Alex Ovechkin burst onto the scene in his rookie year, he was first compared to Kovalchuk and then to Pavel Bure once it was obvious who was the bigger impact player.

While he burnt me the year he was my first round selection in fantasy hockey, he still grabs my attention like few others. Really, with Ovechkin’s bumper car checking mentality, Kovalchuk might be a better analog to Bure. He certainly relates to Bure by playing in a struggling Southern US market without much help from his mediocre teammates.

His response of choice to the Thrashers-related probes was to say “wait until 2010,” the year he will become an unrestricted free agent. It’s obvious why there are trade rumors but the Thrashers would be insane not to throw all their resources at Kovalchuk. Honestly, he’s the only reason the franchise deserves to exist.

If he was in a better market or on a decent team, he’d be just a rung or two lower than Crosby-Ovechkin. It’s a real sin that he’s never been on a hockey video game cover as he ranks as one of the most unstoppable digi forces the polygonal world’s ever seen.

He brings up the fact that Barry Trotz works miracles with a Nashville Predators club that always seems to persevere through any number of calamities. It’s obvious why people do not want to bring this up very often: Nashville is a place meant for country music and inbreeding in the eyes of many. But Trotz is much like the NFL’s longest reigning coach Jeff Fisher, and not just because they’re both coaching teams in Tennessee.

They both enjoy and earn startling longevity in a sports world where “What have you done for me lately?” is the ultimate management question. (Eddie Murphy must be rolling in his grave.*) Also, Trotz wins the Goofy Looking Coaches Cup in a heated 7-game series with Jacques Lemaire and his comb-over.

* He’s not dead you say? Well, I say he died after Beverly Hills Cop and was replaced by an unfunny money grubbing robot. We all miss money grubbing but genius Eddie Murphy with his politically incorrect stand up and his fashionably incorrect loud leather suits.

  • Fans wrote in a request for the Penguins to play WHAM! for Alex Goligoski goals (man, how did people not know that George Michael was gay???). While that song will probably gain more support, I’d like to recommend a dark horse candidate in The Go! Team:

Miami Five-O for the win.

  • Am I the only one who gets annoyed that NHL 09 allows people to interfere so much? Every time there’s a loose puck, some online douche hits me illegally while trying to retrieve it. And a little part of me dies.

Cleavage: nature’s billboard

  • A lot of people are annoyed that Habs fans keep stuffing the ballot box. My main reaction is a whole lotta “Meh.” Although I agree that Habs fans should focus their efforts on continued bra stuffing instead.

  • During the switch from Time Warner Satan Cable to Hopefully better Verizon FIOS, I’ve been without Center Ice for at least three weeks. Every steak tastes less juicy. Every morning less crisp. Every wound less gaping.

Life will go on but the question is: should it?

A suggestion for the ad wizards at EA

October 24, 2008

One of the scenes that still holds up in “Swingers.”

ANYWAY, an idea hit me like a lightning bolt of enlightenment yesterday. EA Sports started a tradition of pumping about $10 extra per game into its pockets with Madden anniversary/premium editions and at least one of them included a classic version of the 16-bit games.


Considering that NHL ’09 probably earns the title as “the other best hockey game of all-time” it would be a genius idea to include an emulation of NHL ’94 when they release NHL 2010/’10.

EA needs to look no further than sites such as NHL to learn that there is still an active, rabid community that loves these games. Imagine going on X-Box Live or Playstation Network to teach some Swede the painful truth about wraparound goals? I’d gladly slap down $10 extra clams for that opportunity.

Naturally, there would be a few questions to answer. Would EA port the SEGA version or the SNES version (The Genesis copy held my heart, but Earl Sleek seems to think that the SNES version is the bees’ knees. Psh.) My guess would be the SEGA one since Nintendo and Microsoft/Sony are in a blood feud at the moment.

The other big question is: would the game use the classic superhuman Jeremy Roenick rosters or the current rather human Jeremy Roenick rosters? The best guess would be the latter, in which case Alex Ovechkin and Jarome Iginla would be the spiritual pixelated successors to Roenick with their similar combination of high-end scoring and barbaric checking.


If EA were brilliant enough to pack NHL ’94 in with the game, it brings up an interesting philosophical question:

Whose head would you like to make bleed?
Expect my list (and hopefully, the lists of others) to headline next week’s Bertuzzday.

Nitpicking NHL 09’s Be a Pro, even if it’s totally kick ass

October 9, 2008
Anyone who owns NHL ’09 learns to love that arrow

On some level, it was luck that allowed me to avoid considering the question of NHL 09 vs. NHL 94 when working on my Top 5 NHL video games of all time for BoC. Really, though, it would have come down to those two games and it’s hard to say if nostalgia would defeat flat out brilliance.

But as much as I love NHL 09 (and believe me, aside from a few family members and getting BJs in my car, there are FEW things I like more than NHL 09), it isn’t without its flaws.

The first place to look is its awesome new addition “Be a Pro.” Even if it’s not the most original or innovative mode (it was in Madden years ago – it feels weird to refer to Madden as “innovative” by the way), NHL’s realization of a hockey fan’s wet dream is perhaps unmatched in sports games. Whether you’re playing with four or five goofy Canadians online or hogging the puck in the offline version, chances are you’ll whimper once you notice that 3 hours went by and you still wanna play one more.

Still, as awesome as it is, it can bring out that controller lobbing, punch-a-hole-in-the-wall rage that seemingly only surfaced during those awkward years of puberty.

Positioning is a great category and stats are cut-and-dry but the category that drives me nuts is “Team Play.” Since you seem to play 40 minutes per game, it’s natural that you’re going to make some mistakes. And if you’re the hockey world’s version of the Ultimate Warrior like myself, that means a ton of points but also a ton of turnovers.

My patience in Be a Pro is Warrior-sque. God, that guy’s a fucking nut.

Even if you hit everything that moves and have a plus 3 with perfect positioning … you could still have that God Damn C grade in Team Play. Even if you pass it to Sergei Fedorov for a goal a fire hydrant could have scored. Even if you make those AI defenders bend at your will like a Herb Brooks archetype.


So that’s definitely a minus for that mode. Also, the progression could be a LITTLE faster – or at least take into account a great season.

Digi-James won the Calder Trophy, the Hart Trophy, the Conn Smythe trophy and the Pearson Trophy along with a Stanley Cup in one season (!) and the biggest contract offer was $2.2 million or so.

$2 million for a guy who earned the two most prestigious trophies in the NHL? As some British comedy bloke would say, “Are you daft?”

Are you DAFT?

And considering how harshly the game judges you for turnovers, you’d think it would provide you with a perfect view of the play but the camera can often be a disaster. Sure, the graphics look fantastic from this point of view – especially on an HDtv – but there are times when you have no idea which team has the puck.

Ultimately, these complaints are almost a perk because they give EA something to strive for in NHL ’10 (2010?). The amazing thing is that such a clunky, often enraging game mode could also be the coolest freaking thing in video game hockey since … the skill stick.

But, seriously EA, would you add a fucking fantasy draft to the dynasty mode already? I get the feeling that they simply figure no one wants it…