How I Would Improve EA Sports NHL ’13

(ed. note: Intrepid contributor ViciousPjuraHead is spending the summer in Italy and will be filing dispatches of a gaming or comic related nature, when he gets around to it.

Every year sports games try to add innovation to keep their titles fresh, something innovative and interesting to play. I’ve been playing the EA NHL games for the last three years but I think this is the installment I skip, even with the improvements they’ve made to  Hockey IQ (via Digital Trends).

Look, I’m a HUGE hockey fan whose always looking to see the game itself improve alongside the game franchise.  Every year the new version of NHL is one of the games I’m most interested in playing.  However, during these past few years I have found myself getting more and more frustrated keeping up with the strategy it takes to play these games.  Even though the playbooks, general controls and strategies of the Madden franchise are much more complex, I am more familiar with the sport and can hold my own against both  computer & online opponents.  NHL is the complete opposite. If the game’s complexity keeps rising and even avid fans can’t play it anymore, who are these games for?

Now I understand that these games are more and more being made for the die-hard fans of the sport and the series.  You would think that, by my earlier description, that would be me.  Yet it’s not.  Then when EA swings the other way, like they did with Madden 11, it’s equally terrible. EA tried to make the game more for casual gamers and it actually ruined the experience for me because the game was way too easy, incredibly unrealistic, and the online scores were in the range of almost 100 points between both players. The dilemma for EA is how do they straddle those two worlds, between the diehards & hardcore and the casual, “Hey, I used to play NFL Blitz” crowds? Judging by their recent releases, I’d say that the casual gamer is being left in the dust with nary a look book.  Forget it Jake, it’s just videogame sportstown.

**UPDATED** What Do You Think about OUYA?

OUYA Kickstarter page

A $99 Android based, hackable video game console.  Is this the future of gaming or is this the next OnLive?  The goal is admirable: to disrupt home console gaming, which let’s face it,  could probably use it.  But, is this just mobile apps blown up for the TV? It initially seems that way but it also seems ridiculous to limit what this device could be to what it will be initially.

Ultimately, this feels like it will be successful.  It’s already beaten it’s funding goal on KickStarter.  The desire to merge the app game creation space with what is still the center of the living room in the television is a tremendous opportunity and with such a low barrier to entry; how could this not take off?  I could see it moving in a similar fashion to the Xbox Kinect hacker movement, but even more so with a $99 price point as the entry.

Speaking of removing barriers to entry, the OUYA has even fewer than just the low price.  Every console is a dev kit! No licenses. No SDKs.  For programmers & developers who have Android experience, they can jump right in.

The interface (shown in the intro video on the Kickstarter page which WordPress will not  let me embed for some reason) looks like a cross between an AppleTV and Netflix, though maybe to you it looks like Roku or Boxee.  It’s tiles that flip around! Everyone uses flippy tiles!

The specs:

  • Tegra3 quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB of internal flash storage
  • HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth LE 4.0
  • USB 2.0 (one)
  • Wireless controller with standard controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button), a touchpad
  • Android 4.0

So, what do you think? Answer the poll or leave comments!  Maybe this is the future; instead of consoles and cable boxes we just collect sub-$100 set top boxes, stack ’em all up and use which one is applicable to our interest at that moment.

**07/11/2012 Update: Kotaku chimes in to throw a little bit of cold water on OUYA, arguing that “History is littered with the corpses of failed game consoles“. Definitely an interesting read and worth considering.

Poll: To Complete or not to Complete

With very few exceptions, any game I start I have to finish, regardless of whether I’m enjoying it or not.  Which is silly, really, as video games are supposed to be an enjoyable hobby. If you’re forcing yourself to slog through something you don’t particularly care for out of some misguided sense of “completionism”, what exactly are you achieving? All that being said… I still find myself going through the motions with a game I just do not like. Last game to fit that bill? Shadows of the Damned.

How about you? Participate in the poll below!