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I hate sports game reviews


Ktulu
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Im really starting to hate reviews of sports games.

 

My first example is ESPN NHL Hockey a game that got rave reviews by all the major gaming sites. ESPN hockey ended up being a complete joke of a game and had a countless number of bugs including the 'game killing' injury bug that made franchise mode completely useless. I love hockey games and I even manage to play the crap out of even the worst hockey games(I even played nhl faceoff 97 for 6 months :oops: ). ESPN Hockey was so bug ridden that I played it for a total of 2 weeks.

 

Now the latest game getting rave reviews is MVP Baseball. On the surface everything looks great and you think the Gamespot score of 9.1 is well deserved. Well there is one major problem. You know the 120 years of dynasty mode? Well this is essentially rendered useless by 2 bugs. First the player progression bug where you will never have game generated players develop into superstars, meaning by the time you are 15 years into your dynasty, there will be no star players. The second 'bug', for lack of a better term, is the atrocious cpu roster management. Now bad management is one thing, I can handle the cpu not having the optimal lineup etc. But having the cpu only carry 10 position players in a baseball game is rediculous. Thats right the cpu carries 10 position players meaning most teams will only have one pinch hitter/sub, and in most cases teams will not even have a backup catcher.

 

Now if all you do is play exhibition games none of those bugs will bother you and the game probably does deserve a 9.1 rating. However if you want to play dynasty mode, one of the major advertised features, you are pretty much out of luck if you are a baseball fan.

 

So why do sports game reviews ignore bugs like these? Does the genre get ignored when it comes to certain bugs? Do games with major bugs get a 'free pass' in other genre's?

 

Anyway I just had to rant on the uselessness(is that a word? :)) of sports reviews.

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Without seeing any of the reviews you're talking about, there might be two reasons for the problems you're seeing:

 

1. Some reviews are pretty shallow. Quality reviews are an afterthought to some people and as a result they might spin up the game a couple times and then write 250 words of "me, too" based on something they saw elsewhere.

 

2. Some reviews might not be of completed games. IIRC, one magazine published reviews well before release. I think they assume that bugs will be addressed and rush out the review to be first.

 

I read some of LCVG's forthcoming reviews. A reader might not agree with a review's conclusions, but, I think I can say with confidence that the reviews here will not suffer from being shallow or a desire to push a review out the door to be "first."

 

-j

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However if you want to play dynasty mode, one of the major advertised features, you are pretty much out of luck if you are a baseball fan.

 

You are correct. Very lame on EA's part. I'll be honest with you, I am playing a full season in Dynasty mode and unless your simming every game it s going to take quite a while to finish a full season, forget 15 seasons. I am not disagreeing with your points though.

This is where Xbox owners really get boned by EA because I'm sure this would be a simple patch if EA Sports titles were Live compatible.

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Guest Bryan

As Jay pointed out, I'd be shocked if a single published review actually played a full season in dynasty mode. I have only played exhibition games so far and they have been superb from first pitch to last. Sorry to hear the shortcomings of the dynasty mode.

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Having run a sports gaming site before I know how tough it is to review a sports game, but I did get to know of a few people that I can really trust when I'm looking for a sports game review.

 

William Abner, who has done some writing for Gamespy, is a very good writer who really gets into the nitty gritty of the dynasty modes of a game.

 

Bill Harris, of Gonegold.com, gets more than a bit obsessed by the Dynasty mode of games and spends a good deal of time talking about the tweaks that can be made to make the game as close to perfect as possible.

 

It's really not possible to play a full season in dynasty mode before getting a review out. From my experience with gaming companies, you were lucky to get the game more than a few weeks before it hit stores and then you had to spend every minute going into every detail of the game. Also, you're typically under an NDA, so you can't really talk to others about what they might want you to look for in your review. Also, you're usually writing reviews for more than one game at a time, so that takes even more time away.

 

Usually I wait weeks before I even go out to buy a sports game now, just because I want to really know what the "serious" gamers think of the game.

 

Glen

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I've been disenchanted with "professional" reviews for a while now. It seems as if many reviewers don't actually spend a significant amount of time with their games, but rather get a feel for the game, look at the feature list, and assign a score.

 

A perfect example is Steel Battalion:LOC. Most reviewers simply said "It's Steel Battalion and it's online" and then assigned a score based on how much they liked the original Steel Battalion. They completely ignore the added layers of depth, both from the more complex combat engine and the online strategizing, as well as the persistent online world. Considering that the first round is only halfway through and new mechs and levels are released weekly, I wonder how much time any reviewer really spent with it. Furthermore, few reviewers even mention the major problems with the game, including crippling lag, server glitches, and gameplay glitches that can be abused by cheaters. If a review doesn't discuss the successes and drawbacks of a game, why even write it? I wish sites/mags would simply not review a game if they don't have time to do it well, rather than churning out crap with mistakes and omissions.

 

Gamespot's Romance of the Three Kingdoms 9 review for instance, provides no more information than could be gleaned from one of Koei's press releases and the back of the game box. I'm sure they could have had a fan of the series who could give an informed review do it for free, but for some reason it suits them better to pay someone to write a review with 0% worthwhile content.

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William Abner, who has done some writing for Gamespy, is a very good writer who really gets into the nitty gritty of the dynasty modes of a game.

Yes Abner is one of the best, probably the best IMO.

 

As an example check out his MVP PC review on gamespy and then go check out the gamepsy review of the ps2 version of MVP. Abner nails the PC review but the guy who does the ps2 actually lists the 120 year dynasty mode as one of the pro's to the game :roll:.

 

It's really not possible to play a full season in dynasty mode before getting a review out.

Yes its impossible to play out a full season but it doesnt take much effort to sim a few seasons to check out the off season features etc. Also for reviews that are not done before the release of a game, reviewers could take the time to visit message boards where they can get a pretty good idea of the major bugs in a game within a few days of its release... in other words let others do the work for you ;)

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Ktulu,

 

I agree with you there. It is pretty easy to sim out a few seasons. In fact, it's still something I do to this day even though I'm not reviewing games.

 

When I pick a game up, I want to see how the game handles new talent and FA/recruiting (depending on college or pro games).

 

If a game does those things badly, it's not even worth picking up in my book. Single games might might get me some short term value, but over the long term, you need to get the dynasty stuff down. (Tecmo Bowl is the obvious exception to this rule)

 

Glen

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It all depends on the type of information you're looking for. Of course it would be nice if they could mention every little bug or annoyance in a review, but they rarely have the space in the review, or the time to find them. For me the problems you have mean little to me as I don't do any of the dynasy/franchise stuff. What matters to me in a sports game is how it plays, how it feels, how it conveys the atmosphere of the sport.

 

I'd much rather read, in detail, about how the game controls, what options you have in customization, how the AI reacts, how varied the goals are and how much you're rewarded for setting up a play over getting lucky. I think generally that the majority of gamers are more interested in that over why the dynasty mode never produces any stars.

 

But this is really a case for just about any review. If you're extremely familiar with a game type, or series of games, no print review is going to get into all the details you want to know, properly convey how the game will be different from others, or get deep into the nitty gritty... a web review might get a bit closer, but you'll probably still be let down most of the time.

 

Today I read a "review" of MVP in XBN that was completely worthless. There was really only one topic about how it uses the MLB license to it's fullest. I can't remember a single mention of the graphics, sound, gameplay, options, new control features or anything. The fact that it barely gets any space for text means they can't get too much into depth, but still....

 

ESPN hockey ended up being a complete joke of a game and had a countless number of bugs including the 'game killing' injury bug that made franchise mode completely useless.

 

ESPN is probably the best hockey game overall that I've played, and far from being a joke. There were some bugs (especially in the PS2 version) and it does need work in some areas.... EA's 2003 was a joke.

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What good are gameplay, graphics and sound if all you can do is play exhibition games?

 

That is the equivalent of a racing game where you only have one track to race on and no new cars to acquire. Sure the gameplay is great, the graphics and sound are top notch but where is the long term value?

 

There is none.

 

If I wanted a baseball game that was just plain fun to play I would break out my TG-16 and play some World Class Baseball. But this is 2004 and I want a little depth in my baseball games.

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I would much rather see the games get online play working better over big franchise modes.

 

Sadly, I believe this will be the death of the sports game, for me at least. Once they develop a 30 person online franchise mode for games, they won't spend time on the single player component anymore.

 

It's my belief that the online component will allow developers to become "lazy" in sports game development. We'll see 4 different shades of hair on a players arm, but the game will never know that it shouldn't trade it's first round draft pick for a backup QB.

 

Glen

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