Gamer’s Hangover – 09.13.04

Hello, fellow troglodytes. Time to head back out into the sunâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s searing, glaring, cancer-causing, UV-soaked brilliance to make enough scratch to buy Pringles and Coke for next weekendâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s Halo all-nighter. (Something I wouldâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve preferred over watching football this weekend, as things turned out.)

A quick note to my faithful readers: If youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve sent me an e-mail since the move to IP and I havenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t responded, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s not because Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m a jerk. A certain web boss FUBARd the e-mail aliases. This has been resolved, and normal mail service has been restored.

Flame on.

A Thank You To Lucard

I have to thank Herr Lucard for hipping me to the EB Games trade-in special a couple of weeks ago. I traded in eight dog games from my library (stuff that I either never played or had been superceded by newer versions) and even though they had a combined market value of about 32 cents, I still got copies of ESPN NFL 2K5 and Viewtiful Joe free and clear and a card of almost 10 bucks of trade-in value for it.

And that extra $9.82 went most of the way towards picking up a cheapy steering wheel controller for my Xbox. Yes, me of the â┚¬Å”if you canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t play it on the gamepad it sucksâ┚¬Â opinion. That hasnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t changed, donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t worry. I just wanted to see if â┚¬Â¦ there really was a difference. Thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s all. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s hard to hold a good line with a thumbstick (although I do it on Project Gotham Racing 2 all the time), and I wanted to see if the hardware would make an appreciable improvement with a particular EA Sports racing game Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m reviewing Early returns are: Maybe.

Pimp-Licious

A-Will, I didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t believe you until I read it. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m sorry. On the lighter side, Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m thinking a sequel: Captain Novolin vs. Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

It sounds like L.C. should play this game though. Maybe not so much â┚¬Å”weirdâ┚¬Â as â┚¬Å”stupid,â┚¬Â but it all comes out in the wash.

Berg is the master of business-fu. Do not argue, only listen and listen well.

Parfitt, we hardly knew ye.

Misha doles out news and reviews and does more work than the rest of â┚¬Â¦ well me. He does more work than me. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m okay with that.

Oâ┚¬â”žÂ¢Reilly: His mind compels you!

The IP review of Pokemon â┚¬” Fire Red/Leaf Green. And if you canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t guess who itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s by, you donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t read this site enough.

Yeager some how pulled down the review for ESPN NHL 2K5 under Bergâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s radar. I fear Berg may pull an Ulf Samuelsson on poor Matt.

I have a bizarre desire to hang out on election night with Eric Szulczewski. Donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t ask me why.

I kicked Murphyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s ass in poker this weekend, then we watched the Chiefs get their asses kicked. A bummer end to a decent weekend.

Nute celebrates an entire year of â┚¬Å”The Finish Line.â┚¬Â Congrats, bro.

The Final Word On Football: Madden Vs. ESPN

Now, I already talked about the subtle differences between Madden 2005 and ESPN NFL 2K5 and proclaimed a provisional victory for ESPN. Well, Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m here to make that provisional victory a solid one.

It comes down to one very simple thing with gameplay, something that ESPN does well and Madden doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t. Something so seemingly minor, you will assuredly scoff at me for it until I explain myself fully.

Instant Replay review.

Now, I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t mean replaying the last play just for your own amusement. Both games do that comparably well. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m talking about the gameâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s logic for when to call for an instant replay review and what happens when it does.

See, anybody whoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s an NFL fan knows that instant replay calls are not guaranteed reversals. Not even close. Coaches make bad review decisions all the time (case in point: the Raiders using all three challenges in the first half of their game with Pittsburgh on Sunday, TWO of them on Pittsburghâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s very first drive), so an NFL fan playing an NFL game (which is the only situation where Instant Replay review would EVEN be desired) would expect the calls to go roughly 50/50, regardless of who was making the challenge.

For ESPN NFL 2K5, this is the case. The A.I. coaches are not infallible and theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll make bade challenge decisions about as often as they make good ones. The end result is that youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re not terribly pissed when a call actually IS called back, because there was a chance that it wouldnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have been.

This seems to be a no-brainer, until you sit down and play a few games of Madden 2005 against the A.I. Do this, and youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll dread every time a call (usually an offensive play of yours that would give you a first down) is reviewed. Because every time. EVERY SINGLE TIME the A.I. calls for a review, it will get a reversal. I have played entire seasons of Madden and I have yet to see a case where the A.I. boned a review call.

This is simply unacceptable. I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t care how flashy the game looks, or whoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s on the cover, this sort of A.I. harkens back to the days of â┚¬Å”cheapâ┚¬Â computer victories (see also: NBA Jam. Goodbye Acclaim, and in some areas, good riddance) where controllers were thrown and broken and simple entertainment became frothing obsessive/compulsive behavior just because there was no way this MACHINE was going to get away with this CHEAP STUFF ON ME!!!!

*deep breath*

There are other differences that Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve noticed in the last few weeks: ESPN is far more realistic in terms of both running and passing the ball. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s easier to run without resorting to a Barry Sanders-esque juking display, and itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s harder to pass without having a basic clue about when your receivers are actually open. ESPN has a way more difficult defensive A.I. than Madden, and ESPN hasnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t been crowing about improving their defense this year.

But the glaring difference is summed up nicely with the Review issue. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s just evidence that EA wants to put out a good looking game, but ESPN (SEGA!) wants to put out a good NFL game.

Quasi-Random Thoughts

If youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re wondering what my thoughts are on the losses by K-State and the Chiefs, Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll get into that in my Wednesday sports column on this fine website. Until then, just think of a particular expletive, starting with the letter f, written over and over again about a thousand times. That pretty much sums it up right now.

F***.

The Halo 2 pre-sale boxes are all over the place now, even though the game wonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t be released until NOVEMBER. So, for the next two months (at least) I get to say that THERE IS NO HALO 2 and be technically correct.

Oh, and The Boy LOOOVES the new steering wheel. He thinks itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s the neatest thing since PB&J.

Valley Center Chess Update: Went to the Kansas Class Championships on Saturday. Went with a 3rd grader, a 4th grader, 3 5th graders, 3 8th graders, 3 sophomores, and 3 seniors. By the end of the day, the 3rd grader had dropped out (it was a bit overwhelming for him, poor guy), we had to form a search party to find the 4th grader (he turned out to be in the crowd, waiting for his medal, right where he was supposed to be), watched the kid I thought to be a lock for winning the sophomore class drop to 14th, watched the kid I thought to be the weakest of our three 8th graders win three games and place top ten (and Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m very happy to have been wrong in this case), and did it all without the backup of the club sponsor to wrangle these 14 kids, although I have to thank the parents that showed up, even just for part of the time. They ran and got lunch for us and kept the new kids from freaking out and made everything run just a little bit smoother.

You donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t understand, I CANâ┚¬â”žÂ¢T buy a GB-SP. Do you realize what owning a Game Boy would do to my already precarious work/family/play balance? Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d have to go into rehab. Seriously. My EB Games store even has one of the old-school NES colored ones in stock. I have to say a prayer for strength every time I walk in there.

We (me, Roni, Cris) are probably going to try a local (free) Poker tournament this week. If you see me, twenty years from now, sitting at a lonely $5-10 Stud table on a reservation casino, wrapped in clothes that look and smell like they were soaked in my filth, and missing my front teeth, Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d appreciate you sitting down and saying the Lordâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s Prayer with me, and then taking a brick chisel to the back of my skull while my soul was right.

Doubt thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s going to happen, but Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll clue you in on what did â┚¬Â¦ er â┚¬Â¦ will â┚¬Â¦ er â┚¬Â¦ you know, happen next week.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory