Thursday, 28 February 2013

(Feature) Mega March Preview

March hasn't always been a prolific month when it comes to awesome games but this March in 2013 is very different. It's filled with a good 4 triple-A titles, which is a lot for any month. Here's my look forward to these epic games.




Tomb Raider

Release Date: 5th March
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows
To Be Reviewed: Yes

If you follow my articles you'll know I have been dying for months to play the new Tomb Raider. Luckily it is being released very soon. 


There is no doubt in my mind that it can be one of the highlights of the year offering a fantastic, story driven, single player experience that, unless you hate the series or genre, isn't to be missed. 

I've already covered the game and my opinions on it in other, various, articles so I'm not going to recite it all again here. If you want to know more about what I think of this upcoming game then check out some of my other articles like What Tomb Raider Can Learn From Far Cry 3

In the mean time; I will await this game patiently (well not really) and prepare a review for publishing as soon as possible. 

Gears Of War: Judgment

Release Date: 22nd March
Platforms: Xbox 360
To Be Reviewed: Yes

I'm not completely convinced by Gears of War: Judgment to be honest. Sure another Gears game sounds nice but is it really necessary? And is the new style that Epic Games and People Can Fly are going for going to do the game and series any good?


There hasn't been much of a build up to release either which makes me feel like the devs are a bit half hearted about it although I'm sure that isn't the case in reality. 
Either way; it's a Gears game so I'm going to play it. 

Picking up from the very beginning and favouring Baird over the likes of Marcus as the main character, Judgment tells the story of Kilo squad and the various events that they are apart of that, ultimately, lead up to their supposed capture. The story is actually looking really good and going back to the roots of the series may bring back some of the awesome memories that the original Gears Of War game created.  

It's hard not to be pretty excited for it, but ultimately I'm keeping myself from getting over the top about it all. 

God Of War: Ascension 

Release Date: 15th March
Platforms: Playstation 3
To Be Reviewed: Maybe 

I do like God Of War, don't get me wrong, but the series has never necessarily been one of my favourites. There are a lot of games coming out this month that I want to play and review and unfortunately I won't get time for them all; God Of War: Ascension - maybe - being one of these. Either way I'm still excited to play it (I will get round to playing it) and it is a great example of just how awesome this months game releases are.

Set six months after Kratos killed his wife and child and before the original God Of War, Ascension looks to tell a story more focused on Kratos himself and the rage that drives and has driven him throughout the God Of War games.

I really like story driven games and I like it when games go back in time to tell a part of the story that has already, technically, been acknowledged but never truly explored. It gives the developers a chance to create something very distinct and, especially in the case of this game, even moving. 

I'm in no doubt about how amazing God Of War: Ascension's story will be. In fact, the entire game looks completely solid. Will it be better than GoW:3? That is a tough call to make. Maybe for me, but for long time fans of the series the answer to that question is still undecided until the game is released and ready for playing.

Bioshock Infinite

Release Date: 26th March
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows
To Be Reviewed: Yes (With a chance of the review being delayed) 

For a series that has only had two games released and one of them not that great, it's weird to think that this, Bioshock Infinite, is one of my most anticipated games of the year. Surely it seems a bit risky to put so much faith into a series whose last installment (Bioshock 2) was pretty, well, naf? 


But the thing is that Infinite looks damn amazing. And for good reason too. 
Bioshock 2 wasn't great because it's re-representation of Rapture just wasn't, put simply, good. While it tightened up and improved the game mechanics it lacked the freedom, exploration and downright awe that the original Bioshock inspired.

Well Infinite has a new setting, and although it might not be as good as Rapture was (maybe), it still allows for a totally new plot, characters and world to look into and explore. I just simply can't wait to be astounded again as I'm pretty sure that is exactly what Columbia - Infinite's setting - is going to do to me.

Set in 1912 the player assumes the roll of Booker DeWitt as he is tasked with escorting a girl named Elizabeth out of a city in the sky called Columbia. It sounds simple but no doubt the journey and many events that happen during it will confuse, intrigue and complicate everything.


Infinite has received many delays so hopefully Irrational Games and 2K have perfected the formula. 
I can't wait for it myself and while I will be playing it on release day there might be a slight delay in the review time which I apologise for in advance.

These are my game highlights of March 2013. If you have any games released in the coming month or in the future that you are looking forward to then don't forget to mention them in the comments!




Tuesday, 26 February 2013

(Feature) DON'TS: Next Gen Games

Game developers no doubt have their own plans for the future, however the views and opinions of gamers are of the utmost importance. Here is what I do not want from the next generation of video games.




Don't... 

...Focus On Motion Controls

Motion controls and functions are OK and everything but developers need to understand that a majority of gamers don't even like motion controls, let alone use them. Forcing gamers to use this type of control system is not a cool thing to do and is hopefully a line devs will refrain from crossing. 

Whether a game is based entirely on motion controls or just integrates it into the gameplay while still using a controller is, for the most part, irrelevant. The bottom line is that the use of motion controls shouldn't be forced upon gamers at every opportunity possible. Yes the Playstation Eye looks nice and no doubt the next gen Kinect will too, but if every game makes a point to include some sort of motion based functions then that is a step too far.

Moderation is key and so long as devs don't go over the top, motion controls could be a well-rounded and respected way of playing and using games. But if I have to go out of my way to use the next gen Kinect of Playstation Eye to be able to actually play the next FIFA or Battlefield then you can count me out.

...Force Social/Online Interactions

OK developers, are you listening? Well you better, because this, well, this is a biggie. Obviously the upcoming consoles themselves will feature their own, new online options. But games themselves will also be stepping it up. The problem here, though, is just how 'far up' should games 'step it' - if you get my drift?

Forcing social and online interactions is a big no-no in my book. It's nice to get away from it all with a nice delve into the world of single player games, however how 'single' will these stay? Will campaign modes be invaded in weird and not so wonderful ways by other players? Some developers have already noted how they would like to integrate single player game modes more with multiplayer, allowing other players to maybe 'share' campaigns.

Developers are always finding new ways to include online interactions, and it can get very frustrating. MMO's and games like Call of Duty and Battlefield have put great pressure on single player orientated games over the last couple of years, and with free to play MMO's becoming more prevalent it is clear that many developers feel this may be the way to go with video games altogether. 

But it isn't; isn't the right way to go that is. Games need to have single player modes because not only is online not for everyone, but it is also borderline insane to assume that people just want to play with other people constantly without a break. A clear line needs to be kept between what is a gamers own private, personal, playing space and what is the online, social part. The moment you force the two together, then there is no in-between and no body is a winner. Please stop trying to be clever and 'improve' things, and just let us have our single player campaign and career modes without any other people invading our space! If I want to play online, I will do so in my own time.

...Forget Innovation 

Great, brand new, squeaky-clean graphics is OK and everything but developers can't forget innovation. It's always good for video games to bring new things to the table; but this is something people expect when a new generation hits. 

Yes, it won't be easy. But making sure to include brand new ideas and features is vital. Sure, games will look better with their improved graphics, but how will they play? What brand new things will they add and allow you to explore? 

Developers need to make sure they stick with it and really make people feel like they are playing in the new generation. Forget the updated graphics, we want new gameplay options, new multiplayer features, new co-op things and this and that and that and this. Yes, it may sound demanding, but it was the same at the beginning of this gen. People wanted and expected brand new things aside from just the cosmetics, and, luckily, we got it. If devs can keep the momentum going and give us some really 'Wow' worthy things, then the bullseye has been hit. 

After all, remember when Gears of War reinvented the cover system? When Uncharted made platforming cool again? When Bioshock showed us what atmosphere can do? Sure, these things aren't necessarily 'gen' or 'technology' dependent, but people want and expect new things when a new generation arrives. That is just the fact of the matter. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

(Series:1 Ep.5) Ultimate Team Player Of The Week

The "Should you buy him?" part of this weekly feature is now being excluded due to it being totally pointless. Any comparisons or recommendations I want to make will be done so at the end of the article. 





Gökhan Inler



















Club: Napoli
League: Serie A
Nation: Switzerland
Position: CM
Height: 5'11"
Foot: Right
Week Foot: * * * *
Skill Moves: * * * 
Attacking Workrate: Medium
Defensive Workrate: Medium

Average Cost: 400-600


Card Type: Normal Gold


Base Stats:
Pace: 68
Shooting: 75
Passing: 81
Dribbling: 76
Defensive: 78
Heading: 72

Why is he so good?

Inler is a really underrated player in FUT. He may not be the fastest or the best dribbler but he is one of the best all round centre-midfielders I've used. 

As I said, he won't win any awards for his pace, however he is surprisingly quick. He can keep up with most players trying to get past him and successfully push them off the ball, and he even managed to break forward once or twice for me and score. That said, he won't be outrunning defenders any time soon. Indeed, if he gets the ball in the opponents final third it is best to get a shot off as soon as possible as he can't keep ahead for very long.

That's not an issue though, because Inler's shooting - or more specifically: his longshots - are amazing. In fact, only Wesley Sneijder, In-form Frank Lampard, Kroos or Ronaldo have notably better longshots than this guy. That might seem like quite a broad statement, and no-doubt there are a few players with outstanding longshots too that I have missed out, however for the sake of keeping things general, let's stick to that.

Shooting from distance with him is a pleasure; he will either hit the target or knock one in at such a high power it's a wonder the keeper even bothered trying to save it. His weak foot is also excellent, which is always nice. 

His finishing in the box is almost always as reliable too. Sure, if a difficult shot comes at him then chances are he might miss the target, but if it's a 1-on-1 with the keeper, or he has a clean shot to take, he will score it.

Another that makes Inler such a versatile player is his passing. In a way, you would always expect - or at least want - your CM to be able to pick out players efficiently, and Inler doesn't disappoint. His long passing is very accurate as is his short passing and when using him in one of my squads he was always at the heart of the attacks, often linking up with players to create good opportunities for either a break or just a good shot on goal.

Dribbling can often decide whether or not a player is really worth your time, as it shows how useable when in possession the they are. In fact, I've given up on using a fair amount of players because they just could not dribble to save their lives. What's more, agility plays a big part in how easy to control the player is, which is very important - well, to me at least. Luckily, Inler is actually very good in this area. He isn't very good at skilling his way round players, but his ball control is actually excellent as is his agility. In fact, despite the fact his stats in this zone aren't the highest, he is really great at moving around in tight spaces and in many instances I was able to turn away from players and get off one of his deadly longshots. 

Defensively Inler is the best CM I've used. He is better than Kroos, than Vidal, Pirlo or Lampard. His ability to get the ball back and make tackles is outstanding and I actually missed him in one of my CM spots when I replaced him with Pirlo. Like I said before; he is not the quickest but he does have enough pace to keep up with and tackle players as well as intercept passes. Despite frequently using the likes of Pirlo and IF Lampard as my CM's, I easily noticed that little extra pace Inler brings to the table was missing.

He is basically like a brick in defence that is borderline impossible to move. His medium attack and defending work rate ensures he is never too far forward to get back in time, and never too far back to not get forward. In fact, he always seems to be just where you need him. When a quick counter attack is coming your way, he is there to break it up, and when you are countering yourself he is there to pick out the right passes.

His heading is pretty good too, although while he won't be scoring many, if any, headers in the box. He is very good at knocking a pass towards a teammate with his noggin though, so no worries there.

He is an awesome player and for his price he is an absolute steal. Use him for whatever you want, but just make sure you give him a try, he is totally worth the 600 or so coins he costs.






Thursday, 21 February 2013

(Feature/Review) FUT Special 89 Rated Falcao Review

Fairly recently EA released the new, 89 rated, Radamel Falcao. Being one of my favourite strikers and using the original 88 rated Falcao as one of leading forces in my main squad, I made a point of buying the new Falcao as soon as he was released. Check out my review below which goes through the player by his base stats. 



                                                  


                                               Review

PACE - 79

One of the upgrades this new Falcao has had is to his pace. Both his acceleration and sprint speed have been increased. Admittedly, however, he is still not massively fast. He can't outrun defenders 1-v-1, however he does have a consistent sprint speed of 79 and this, coupled with the truly superb runs he makes, allows him to get a head start on defenders and get in on goal. 

While he won't be outrunning any players, his runs allow him to get ahead first and his overall pace is good enough to keep it that way until he (most likely) scores, or at least gets a shot away. 

If you rely on pace in your team or like to have fast players in general, Falcao will probably not be for you. If you're still interested though, and you should be for good reason too, keep on reading.

SHOOTING - 85

Falcao's shooting was awesome before, but he has had these stats maxed out even more. His Finishing has had a 5-point increase to 96, longshots have been buffed up to 78 and his volleys and shot power have also been improved.

To put simply, he is one of the best shot-takers I've used (excluding in-forms and TOTY players). Only Christiano Ronaldo has notably better shooting than Falcao, and even then Ronaldo's in the box Finishing isn't as efficient. Messi has outstanding shooting all round, however Falcao is arguably better due to his pretty incredible shot power. He seems to have rockets strapped to his feet as his shots just blast past the keeper without any chance of being saved.

His longshot rating may not be the highest, but his shot power drives them into the top corner from long range. So long as he isn't positioned at a fairly awkward angle, he will probably score, realistically, 7/10 shots he takes.

His close range finishing is also mouthwatering. It doesn't matter if he chips it, finesses it, blasts it, or has his back to goal - Falcao will most likely score it in awesome fashion.

Oh and his bicycle kicks are immense too.

Let's leave it at that, after all I've basically said all I can. Bottom line is, he is an awesome shooter - one of the best.

PASSING - 59

There isn't much difference between the new Falcao and the old Falcao's passing. Bottom line is that in game, his passing performs well - very well, in fact. He won't accurately pick out a player on the other side of the pitch, but his short ground passes/through balls and lob through balls are very smooth and consistent. Indeed, so long as you aren't playing difficult or obscure passes, Falcao does a good job of creating opportunities. That said, when it comes to crosses he is certainly better when he is on the receiving end rather than delivering them.

DRIBBLING - 80

There are a few particular attributes that really decide whether a player is a good dribbler or not. The actual dribbling stat is obviously important, but things like Ball control and agility are necessary too.

Falcao has got fairly improved dribbling base stat, with his dribbling attribute itself increased from 76 to 80. His Ball Control has also had a much-needed boost from 82 to 86. Whereas before he used to struggle to control the ball in tight spaces or when receiving a strong pass, now he takes possession in a far more convincing and efficient way without instantly losing it through a heavy touch.

What's more his agility has gone from 82 to 86 too, although this wasn't as noticeable. Either way he is easy to control on and off the ball, however his agility combined with his dribbling isn't quite good enough to ensure he can just dribble his way past a player. He is incredibly agile in the air though, performing all sorts of impressive volleys and kicks.

His strength is not good enough to hold off most defenders, but he can withstand a fair amount of jostling before giving the ball up and can buy enough time for a pass or quick turn to get away.

He comes bundled with 4 star skills moves too, however while he performs them well enough, he can often lose control of the ball when performing things like a rainbow-flick or heel-flick. Certain tricks such as the roulette and heel chop are worth using though.

DEFENDING - 53

He is a striker so don't expect much here. He also has minimal improvements in this area too. His slide tackles are awful, as is his marking and interceptions, however he is really great at closing down and pressuring defenders and stand tackling the ball off of them.

HEADING - 91

The old Falcao had pretty average heading if I'm honest, which was a massive disappointment. However with upgrades to his jumping and heading accuracy is this new Falcao better? Well yes, but he is still not exactly perfect.

Falcao climbs well in the air, and certainly better than before. He jumps higher and reaches balls better, however he still tends to be overpowered by defenders or bigger and taller players in general. From set pieces like corners he is very good, although even at goalkicks he tends to lose out to whoever is marking him. His efficiency from crosses is far better though. He gets into better positions in the box now and almost always gets a header away when a good cross comes in. That said, he isn't the most prolific scorer in these instances. He can get a header on target from a cross but he doesn't always trouble the keeper with it.

Ultimately his heading is still slightly disappointing, with the likes of Miroslav Klose and Christiano Ronaldo being a bit more consistent in the air (especially in Ronaldo's case). He isn't bad, but don't expect to be able to rely on his head for goals.

The Big Question... Should You Buy Him?

He is a very expensive player. You can pick up the original Falcao for about 20,000-25,000 coins, whereas this new card is somewhere in the region of 85,000-100,000.

That said, after using the new Falcao, I can safely say it isn't worth getting the old one over him. The difference in his ball control, heading and even pace is very noticeable. His high price, though, makes this a hard call to make. If you want a lone striker in your squad, you might want someone with more pace, however if you want to pair him with another forward, one who does have that extra speed, then he may be one to consider. 

His price is fairly close to that of Sergio Aguero's though, and you could purchase him instead for only 20k or so more. That said, I personally prefer Falcao's shooting and heading ability to that of Aguero's. 

In the end he is a great striker. He may take a little bit of time to get used to using, and not offer the best pace but he is one of the best all round, consistently good players I've used in the game. His hefty price tag may put some players off, and that is fair enough, but remember; you can always sell him back for practically the same as he was bought for if you don't like him.

(Feature/Blog) My Thoughts On The Playstation 4 Reveal

So Sony revealed the Playstation 4 yesterday, which is great news for gamers and Playstation fans.
Unfortunately, Sony was still pretty secretive about it all and didn't even show the console itself. However, they did show a fair amount of gameplay and weren't shy of letting the specs be known either.


There certainly isn't much to go on yet, but according to Sony, the Playstation 4 will be more than gamers ever imagined, which is a pretty big statement.

The Playstation 4 is looking more like a super-charged gaming PC than a standard console, with a lot of emphasis being put on the specs of the machine. The PS4 will come with an 8-core AMD 'Jaguar' x86-64 and a 'Next-gen' AMD Radeon graphics card. All this has a nice 8GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory to keep it going. Like the PS3 it will come with an inbuilt Blu-ray player, Bluetooth 2.1, USB 2.0 ports and a 'AUX' port(?). The Playstation 4 will feature cross game chat too, which was a feature that, bizarrely, the PS3 didn't come with.

The new Dualshock 4 controller has had a pretty big upgrade too. It now supports touch input allowing for some new, most likely game dependent, controls, a button dedicated to allowing gamers to quickly and simply upload gaming videos, and also a 'Light Bar that connects with the Eye sensor.

The Eye sensor itself will have a 1280x800 pixel sensor and capture video at 60fps, however its full use has still not been fully explained, although it will no doubt be involved with the way games are played on the PS4.

Oh, and if you were worried about used games being blocked; worry no more! Sony have said that the PS4 will not block used games at all, although the developer/publisher integrated online pass codes will no doubt still be relevant.

So that is pretty much the PS4. Some games were shown off too, however there was hardly a full gameplay demo to analyse and not much about the games themselves and how different features of the PS4 or Dualshock 4 would affect them.

The games looked mostly gorgeous, however, especially when it came to Killzone: Shadow Fall, it didn't exactly, well, astound. In fact the likes of this generations Crysis 3 didn't look much shabbier at all.

Overall, the PS4 reveal felt a little more like consolation that there was actually going to be a Playstation released this year rather than a total information fest. Quite like with the Wii U reveal, I don't feel totally drawn in or shocked by it. The console still has some pretty alien features that will probably remain that way until more information about them is revealed to the public.

However, one thing that did impress me was the specs. I'm glad Sony have put some extra emphasis on the actual internals rather than simply saying: "This is what it does and this is how good the games look, now deal with it".

The specifications themselves looked good, mainly where the processor is concerned, however in the case of the 8GB of RAM, it looks a little bit wobbly. 8GB is good, more than enough to run all games on a PC, however consoles are supposed to be long, drawn out affairs that last at least 5 years. No doubt in a couple of years gaming computers will be shipping out with 16GB of RAM as standard and, yet again, consoles will be miles behind.

More than anything, it's the prospect of new features and the little things that have got me properly excited. The new controller, the obvious update the online service will receive, the new ways to play games and connect with friends; these are the things that have me fidgeting with anticipation.

Now that Sony has shown their hand, the ball is in Microsoft's court. How they will respond to the likes of used games, Playstation Eye, the Dualshock 4 and the impressive internals of their competitors console is going to be very interesting indeed. There is no doubt that it will be a struggle for Microsoft to dominate the next generation like they did this generation gone by, but only time will tell.

Friday, 15 February 2013

(Blog) My Apologies!

Hi people, I want to quickly apologise for the lack of Articles on MichaelTheKyle over the last week; I have been very busy with various things including my birthday, which was on the 14th of February (yes, my birthday is on Valentine's day!). 

I will be publishing a special FUT player review soon about the new Falcao that was released, another feature on MTK and a blog on MTE about my experience with a particular film that you might have seen me tweet about. 

Another quick note I want to make is that hopefully some commentaries and podcasts will be arriving shortly as planned by the end of Feb to early March!

So there you have it, just a quick update to all yo peeps! 
On another note, how did all of your Valentine's days go? Luckily I have my birthday on it so I have a diversion away from not having a date =D

Aside from that, remember to follow me on twitter so you can keep up do date with any updates I issue as I tend to use twitter for that a lot. 

So yeah, remember to do your shiz and I will talk to you shortly in my next blog which I want to get out by the beginning of next week!

See ya later troops!


(Series:1 Ep.4) Ultimate Team Player Of the Week



Mesut Özil





















Club: Real Madrid
League: La Liga BBVA
Nation: Germany
Position: CAM
Height: 5'11"
Foot: Left
Week Foot: * * 
Skill Moves: * * * *
Attacking Workrate: High
Defensive Workrate: Medium

Average Cost: 12,000- 20,000

Card Type: Rare Gold

Base Stats:
Pace: 77
Shooting: 75
Passing: 85
Dribbling: 88
Defensive: 43
Heading: 55

Why is he so good?

Ozil is fairly underrated on Ultimate Team is I'm honest - I mean; 80 long passing, 77 pace and 79 free kicks? Are you kidding? Luckily, though, he performs excellently in the game itself, so this isn't that much of an issue.
 
If you want a prolific goalscorer as your CAM, you might want to look elsewhere. Ozil won't score every match, or even every other match, unless you make the effort to get him too. Quite simply, his goalscoring ability isn't the most admirable. His longshots are actually very good, though, although he does need a fair amount of time and space to set up for the shot due to his low shot power which, if not powered up enough, will cause the ball to slowly and rather embarrassingly roll towards the keeper. His finishing is decent, although while he will put away most good opportunities he gets, he won't be scoring any difficult shots.
The thing that makes his shooting so lacking is, as noted above, his poor shot power, which comes in at a mere 70. This means that first time shots, longshots and even a lot of standard, in-the-box chances, will not be taken. He just can't get a good shot in unless there is enough time to power it up. It is a pain to say the least.

What's more, as you'll most likely want him for his passing ability, you may be inclined to play him on the left side of midfield or down the middle. This means that, even when playing in a centre CAM position, he will get a fair amount of shooting chances on his weak foot, which isn't good because it is only rated a mere two stars. He's actually scored a good few goals for me on his right foot in the box and he can get a shot from distance on target with it, but he isn't exactly, well, very, efficient with it.

But none of that to do with his shooting matters much, really, because he is a playmaker at heart. He is a fantastic one, too. 
His passing is actually brilliant, even if he does have underrated long passing. His short passes are always accurate, especially his through balls, as are his long passes. The thing that really makes his playmaking so special is his vision. He can see pretty much any pass you want to play as well as obscure ones that you probably didn't think could be played but did so by accident. On top of that, his crossing is also very good, although not as great as his real life crossing if I'm honest. In truth, a lot of players in FIFA 13 tend to cross exactly the same, and although Ozil tended to pick out players better and more accurately, he far from convinced me that crossing is an efficient and enjoyable way to play - even with him on the wing and Falcao in the box.

His ground crosses were actually brilliant, though, and he always seemed to find a player in the middle of the box unmarked or send it down the front of the goal so fast the goalkeeper and defenders couldn't react in time.

When playing on the left side of midfield in a 4-2-2-2 formation he didn't really have enough pace to outrun most players down that wing. It took the use of his four-star skills and great dribbling to make it past players to send in a cross or pass. He can break away pretty well, but doesn't have the pace, or strength, to hold players off. 

His dribbling is very good though. His actual ball control didn't seem completely consistent though. While in real life he always seems to have the touch of a God, in Ultimate Team his ball control could be a bit iffy now and again. Not all the time, but sometimes it felt like 85, others like 80 and sometimes like the 91 it is actually rated as. 
His actual dribbling is good too, but he is a bit cumbersome on the ball and can't get round opponents as well as the other players like Eden Hazard or even Turan. 

When it comes to the final two other parts of his game, heading and defending, he is awful at both. He wins less headers than Di Natale to be honest and has worse tackling and defending too. He rarely even bothers to get back and make challenges. Neither two attributes are something you'll want to focus on with Ozil.

Should you buy him?

I would like to instantly recommend him without a second though, however there is, well, a second thought. He is one of the best attacking midfielders I have had the pleasure of using in Ultimate Team, however there is at least one other player of the same position who is considerably better, despite being rated the same. Wesley Sneijder is one of the best players in his position and he kinda, well, kicks Ozil's ass. 

They are both around the same price, and with longshots to die for, a five star weak foot that performs like his strong foot, somehow superior finishing (despite it being rated lower), even better passing and defending and, yes, heading too (even though he is only 5'7"), Sneijder is far the better option. He is better in basically every way. That said, if you already own him or don't want him for various reasons, Ozil is still an awesome CAM. He performs extremely well, it's just important to note; before I recommend you spend up to 20,000 of your hard earned coins on him, that there are better options available. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

(Series:1 Ep.3) Ultimate Team Player Of The Week



Lora




















Club: Real Sporting de Gijón
League: Liga Adelante
Nation: Spain
Position: RB
Height: 5'6"
Foot: Right
Week Foot: * * * *
Skill Moves: * *
Attacking Workrate: High
Defensive Workrate: Medium

Average Cost: 600 - 800 Coins

Card Type: Rare Gold

Base Stats:
Pace: 87
Shooting: 62
Passing: 73
Dribbling: 71
Defensive: 72
Heading: 64

Why is he so good?

Lora is fast. That is the first thing that is noticeable about him. He has an outstanding ability to make it back to grab the ball before even having to commit to a physical tussle with another player, which is good, especially as he has minimal strength for a RB. 
He may only have an 85 rated sprint speed but due to his height and low weight he moves faster than normal. He darts around the pitch, intercepting balls and making passes. His pace is truly excellent. 

Obviously defending is pretty important for a defender (no stars for guessing that) and his 72 rated base stat for this area of his game doesn't do well to represent how good he really is.
His tackling is fantastic. He won't really make many unprompted tackles unlike higher rated guys like Kompany and Ivanovic, but if you go in and tackle manually he will win the ball most of the time. His aggression and height aren't really high enough for him to give fouls away often which is good. 

His interceptions are also awesome; however this is less the stat itself and more his great pace allowing him to reach balls first. He isn't great at sticking out feet automatically to intercept balls himself.

His dribbling also appears fairly underrated on the card. He is a very efficient dribbler and while he may not bet Di Natale or Eden Hazard, he does well to get round players. It is good enough for a right-back at least, maybe even above average. His ball control was also very good and he very rarely loses the ball after winning it by taking a heavy touch.

In terms of passing; his crossing, long passes, short passes and vision were decent enough but, frankly, they were normal. He didn't seem to excel or be particularly bad in this area so little to say about it if I'm honest.

His shooting wasn't above what is to be expected of a right-back so, again, not much to say. His heading was also mediocre.

The core point of why he is so good is the way he plays. Sure, he can have pace and defensive ability, but he never seemed out of position and he was always back fast enough o make that critical tackle. 

Should you buy him?

It is often pricey to get good, fast, RB's. Abate is awesome but is just under 10,000 coins, while Lahm is often more than double that. Lora is fast and, generally speaking, performs like a top player. I definitely recommend him for any Spanish squads, cheap teams and starting out teams. He is really a beast of a RB and one to keep in mind. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

(Feature) 5 Things That Can Make Or Break A Game

Creating a video game involves a lot of complex planning, but there are a few things that can make or break any game, regardless of genre. Here is my take on 5 things I think can make or break a game. For the record; I avoided going for directly obvious choices, such as 'Gameplay' because it is such a vast genre to include. Instead I've singled out more specific issues.



Audio Quality

Sound is as, if not more important, than graphics in a video game. It is often, wrongly, underrated when considered, with other aspects being put first, when in reality it should be near the top of the list of necessities. Audio quality is of the utmost importance.                                                                                   

 Many games have hollow sound that lacks good meat and bass and it can pull you out of a game in an instant. This is especially relevant if you use a headset or headphones, because when using normal speakers the sound simply goes out into the room and drifts to your ears, whereas when using a headset it goes directly to them, giving them the sound right from the core. There is no sound loss here, as it is on a one-way trip through the cable and to the receiver's ears. 
This means it can be incredibly easy to pick up on poor audio.

There are plenty of culprit games here. Red Dead Redemption had mediocre sound quality, as did the likes of games like Enslaved: Odyssey To The West and Fallout 3. It doesn't matter if the games are made by big or small developers; poor audio is a much too common issue.

While the sound effects might actually sound good, it can often be the actual dialogue that sounds particularly poor. The actual quality of the talking may be shallow and echoey and unenjoyable on the ears, often sounding like it has been recorded in a big, crowded room with a £20 microphone.

If a game does have good audio quality, I guarantee immersion will increase by a large percentage. Games like L.A Noire, Halo 4 and Far Cry 3 have great, if not, in some cases impeccable, audio, and it does wonders for the involvement.

Story and Characters

Not all games are story orientated, so that part of this section may not necessarily completely and directly apply to all games, however a lack of story can still result in a poor and not that enjoyable experience, regardless of what the game focuses on. What's more, characters are essential too. Bulletstorm, despite being a generally awful game and having too many other faults to count, also had a God-awful story and characters who you just wanted to punch in the face.  

The whole plot was a shambles and even if the dialogue hadn't been full of excessive expletives, most of the characters would still be as unlikeable as they were.

I'm not saying had it had a better story it would have naturally been more enjoyable, but it would've helped a bit with the 6 hour slog that was the campaign.

A game has to have something interesting to play for in the story as well as a good cast. Alan Wake, Uncharted, Red Dead Redemption, Catherine, even Gears of War, all had interesting plot lines and characters. Sure Gears of War wasn't as dedicated as Uncharted in terms of really hammering home the story, but it had a great cast and the plot was definitely interesting and involving enough to be sustained throughout three (soon to be four) games.

When it comes to games like Uncharted itself, then you have a series really focused on making everything story related truly work and it helps a ton with how fun the overall game is. It's so important for games to have more time for the story because not having something deeper than just gameplay to play for easily makes the experience more boring. 

Some games actually suffer from poor characters too. There are a fair few games that include almost no likeable or involved characters leaving you wondering why exactly you're playing the game. If there is no one to like or miss when they die, what is the point?

While not as much of a focus for all games, story and characters don't have to be, they just have to be portrayed well enough to involve the player. Whatever you do devs, don't, and what's more, stop, getting lazy over these things.

Controls

So you probably thought of your own list of things that can make or break games the moment you read the title of this feature, and I'm also guessing it didn't feature controls - after all, it's not the first thing that likely pops to mind. 

Controls are so vital to the enjoyment of a game that it really baffles me when a developer screws it up. Some games naturally have more complex controls because they are of a different kind of genre than usual, but even then it is ridiculous that some games get released with awkward, weird and borderline broken control schemes. 

Sometimes the variant, replacement, control layouts are just as rubbish too. 

Having to click an analogue stick to gain access to the ADS (aim down sights) action is outrageously annoying for almost any game. Halo focuses almost entirely on hip fire aiming with only a few weapons utilising the use of aiming down the sights, so it just about gets away with it. But in many other games it is one of the worst control decisions ever.                                                                          

There are tons of control problems games can have. Non moveable camera or poor camera control (for third person games mainly), stupid crouch and go prone buttons, awful accelerate, break, gear up/gear down controls, rubbish get in cover button (I'm looking at you L.A Noire), poor aiming, sensitivity that still sucks when turned up to full, terrible sprint button too and a host of other ridiculously common design flaws. And they are design flaws. There are no 'we were just experimenting' or 'it compliments the style of the game' excuses here: poor controls are stupid, avoidable, practically game breaking flaws. 

Oh I forgot the stupid button combinations too, and no, I'm not referring to fighting games (I'm looking at you, Enslaved. Take a good hard look at yourself. I hope you're happy. What the hell was up with those awful button combos? Really? REALLY?) 

Pacing

If there was ever anything that made me get bored of a game, it was pacing. Poor pacing is not only an issue in itself, but when a game has bad pacing it highlights other issues with the game too. For instance, in the case of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, the game had pretty bad pacing, to be frank, and when it started getting boring due to this, I found it hard to keep playing because it highlighted how there was little else in the campaign to keep me going either. With poor pacing, which makes it tiresome to play anyway, and a mediocre story it became a chore more than anything.                                          

Pacing really is make or break. Gears of War 3, Final Fantasy XIII and Spec Ops: The Line are great examples of games with bad pacing - especially Spec Ops. 
The game started off pretty slow, and then it included a couple of fight scenes before going quiet again. Sounds OK right? Not really; it soon swung the other way. The more you got into the game, the less breaks there were until it got to the point where it was basically fight scene after fight scene with one cutscene or remotely quiet patch every half an hour. 

It got to the stage where I started dying in one section and just walked away from the game - not because I was angry, but because it was so wearying. Luckily the game had an incredible story so it balanced itself out in the pros and cons department. 

Pacing can easily destroy a good game, though. The games mentioned above were all really good in other ways so it wasn't completely one sided, but when a game lacks the finesse in its story, gameplay and other attributes and overall isn't as high quality, then bad pacing can make it far from worth playing.

It doesn't really matter what form of poor pacing a game might have, whether it be too many fight scenes or not enough; in the end it still makes it become a tiresome to play, so it's a lose lose situation. Having well laid out action and cutscene/quiet time pieces are essential in making a game as good as it can possibly be and avoiding these all too common issues.

Lack of Co-Op

I didn't really want to make this article about multiplayer because unless a game is multiplayer only or completely focused on that part of the game, it isn't really relevant to making or breaking a game. That said, a lack of offline and online co-op can be a killer for good games. 

Games that don't offer good or even any cooperative play should take a good, hard, look at themselves. Not that all games need co-op, but many game that should offer this sort of feature but don't suffer as a result.
Offline split screen co-op isn't catered for as much these days, which is baffling given how useful it can be. There is nothing like playing with a family member or friend and having a great time. Yes, online co-op and multiplayer is the focal point of many games and gamers but split screen should not be ignored, at all.

Unbelievably, most of the recent Need For Speed games lack split screen, which is a total shambles because pretty much every racing game should offer this ability. That is what makes racing games so enjoyable to play with other people. Having a laugh with a mate while playing on the same console is rarely replicated in the same way online. It's unique really and needs to be included.

Games like Gears of War, Halo, FIFA and Call of Duty don't cut any corners when it comes to this area of co-op and they do well from it. It adds so much to a game when it includes split screen play or/and online co-op and definitely increases the length of time you may spend with it.


If games don't feature split screen when it seems pretty necessary, if not essential, it doesn't effect the overall enjoyment of the single player; but a lack of added modes for two players can really bring it down. I've abandoned plenty of good games early because after finishing them there is just little to do. 

Aside from their stupid reluctance to offer split screen, some games still lack online co-op too, which is just as absurd. In the end, regardless of whether it is offline or online cooperative play, it is necessary and developers need to learn this.
While it may not determine if the game is actually good or not, lacking this feature certainly can cause issues.

So there you have it. What are your thoughts on what can screw games up? Give your opinion in the comments!