Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NHL 11: Attribute Importance

Back before the game was released I listed the attribute descriptions for NHL 11. Those are pretty accurate but fail to deal with how useful they are in practice so after 200+ games played I figured I would pick a few that I thought were important or different from NHL 10 and discuss the levels I like to have them. New tuner sets are coming every week so my advice might change but right now I am running with this build.

In the offensive category everything is mostly like it was in NHL 10. The only two real differences to my build that I didn't envision are the 90 hand eye and the 90 wrist shot power. Eye hand has multiple uses including deflecting shots and more importantly handling incoming passes including one-timers. Having a 90 lets me corral high powered passes from my center sent through traffic. It is also important to know what kind of hands the person you are passing to has. You are not going to be able to send a bullet cross crease to a rookie grinder with any hope of him doing anything with it so you may want to adjust your strategy accordingly depending on your linemates. Wrist shot power makes a big difference, bigger than last year it seems to me. Just going from an 85 to a 90 has made my shots a lot more deadly and increasing power compared with accuracy will allow for fewer hit posts (one of the oddities of the engine). The higher power also generates more rebounds for my line to put back.

In the defensive category there are a couple of key attributes if you don't want to spend all day in the penalty box and one that I think everyone should have at least a decent amount of. Discipline helps keep you from taking penalties of all kinds. According to the description it would seem it just helps hits but since going from a 70 to a 99 it has reduced my random stick fouls a ton. Along with this having a high stick check also helps with reducing stick fouls. I run a 90 but I would say nothing less than an 85 if you can. Defensive awareness is very important it helps a lot with disrupting and picking off passes. With a low defensive awareness pucks will just fly by you like you are not there. I am running a epic 95 but I would think if you can get a 75 or 80 at least you would probably be ok. The more the better because if you are in position to pick off a puck and it just goes by you are not only probably giving up a good chance against you are also probably giving up the opportunity to turn the puck over and create a chance the other way.

For athletics this year speed is definitely more important this year than last. I would go as far to say that for your first probably two or maybe three cards you probably want to throw most of your points into acceleration and speed with spares into agility. Being able to keep up is second to pretty much nothing else in this game. Putting on the 13" blades early on can help with your straight line speed as well but will hurt your agility and likely your defensive ability if you aren't used to them. The other two big stats are endurance and strength. Endurance keeps you from tiring out so quickly over the course of a period and let's you use the hustle feature a lot more often. It is also crucial for skating at high speeds for long periods of time. I run a 90 which keeps me pretty fresh even at the end of the period not sure what you could get away with, 70 definitely was not enough, 85 might be. Strength is important because it modifies so many other things. It helps shot power, ability to hit, ability to take a hit, hold off other players, etc. I run with an 80. I am, oddly enough, only running a 67 balance (85 last year) because I think other attributes are more important this year. I fall down if I get hit hard sometimes but when I get body position on a defender they can't really push me around if I lean into them due to the strength. I would say favor strength over balance at a maybe 3 to 1 point spending level.

So there you have it a few attributes and my thoughts on how useful they are.

Friday, September 3, 2010

NHL 11: Sample Defenseman Builds

So last post we looked at some sample forward builds this time we will take a look at a few defenseman builds.

You can find a spreadsheet with the defensemen builds here.

Defensive Defenseman: First up is a defensive defenseman who can hammer people in the defensive zone but still manage to make a good first pass and has no real shot to speak of. This class has an insane cost for offensive awareness and thus will need to spend a ton of points just to get to 67 then dump two boosts in to get to 75 to have a vision cone larger than a straw. Puck control even spending two boosts is at 80 and hand eye is a very substandard 60 and you likely can't spare any additional boosts for offense. You better hope the other players on your team know how to pass the puck to you softly or you will fumble it all over the place. The hand eye is not super expensive to raise but you can't really spare the points from anywhere else.

Defensively this build is the best in the game sporting 99s in every crucial category adding 3 +5 boosts. Athletically it is going to fall behind a bit but that is to be expected as this will be a lumbering monster of a build. Acceleration, agility, and speed will be 85 each. Balance is near 80 as is strength. Endurance seems a bit low at 60 so don't plan on using the hustle feature much or at least recovering from it in a timely manner.

Enforcer Defenseman: The next build was probably the surprise of the roundup. It is the enforcer defenseman. I expected it to be completely unplayable like most enforcer builds but surprisingly it is better than the defensive class at some things. Like offensive awareness is cheaper so getting it to 75 only requires one boost instead of two. Hand eye can be 70 instead of 60. The rest of the offense is pretty on par with the defensive D with similar weaknesses but overall you have one extra boost to use somewhere else.

Defensively it is also a very strong build. It can get 99s in Aggression, body check, defensive awareness, and discipline (surprisingly) with just two boosts. Add in one more plus 5 and you have a 90 rated stick check. This is 9 short of the defensive D rating but still very very good. So you have used three boosts here just like defensive defenseman. Oh and if you want to fight your fighting rating is 80 instead of 60.

Athletically it is pretty much identical to the defensive defenseman other than a few points here and there and a big +10 strength advantage for the enforcer. Note that, as mentioned here, strength affects a lot of different abilities in game so that is pretty nice. Also you have your spare boost to throw somewhere else on the build to shore up a weak spot or maybe give yourself a 95 strength. :)

Offensive Defenseman: This is your typical puck carrying, rushing, cannon of a slapshot, jumping in late to create an odd man situation defenseman. This build has very good offensive abilities including a 90/90 slapper, 90 passing, and 90 puck control. I even added a passable 80/80 wrister for jumping into the play to tap in cross crease one timers or when you don't have enough time to uncork the slapper. You could even throw another boost or two in if you want to enhance offensive awareness or hand eye or want that wrister to be more dangerous.

Defensively this build can hit a little but is mostly going to be a poke checking positionally sound build that looks to turn the puck over and get the rush going the other way quickly. A few boosts could be spent here shoring up any weaknesses if desired. Athletically this build is sound and should skate well and have plenty of endurance for getting back into position after forays up the ice. It is a bit on the weak side though so potentially dropping a +5 in strength to boost it to 70 might help.

Two Way Defenseman: This is supposed to be a build that brings some offense but can also be a responsible stay at home defenseman as well. A hybrid between pure defense and pure offense. It succeeds mostly. It has good offensive numbers and with 4 +5 boosts you can have 90s in passing, puck control, and both slapshot attributes. Offensive awareness and hand eye are not as good and are candidates for additional boosts.

On the defensive side it is definitely a better hitter than the offensive variety but not the punishing presence that the defensive defenseman or enforcer is. A couple of +5 boosts to aggression and body check would bring those both to a very good 85 which opponents will feel. Athletically it is identical to the offensive defenseman except it has a 75 strength.

So two way defenseman has the same slap shot and no wrister with worse hands and instincts but definitely better hitting and strength than an offensive defenseman. Comparing it to a defensive defenseman or enforcer it has better offensive abilities, worse defensive abilities, but better athletics (except the enforcer's strength).

Two Way Forward as a Defenseman: I had heard some rumblings of this being a better option as defenseman so I decided to find out. Offensively hand eye and off aware are both better than the two way D, puck control will need two boosts (but hand eye and offensive awareness need none), slapper is less accurate, wrister is a wash. Mostly don't care about deking for defensemen other than throwing some points in if it is cheap. Defensively the two way forward hits harder and is pretty much on par in every other category. Athletically they are almost identical. I am pretty sure though at this point the two way forward probably has spent three fewer boosts than the two way defenseman.

That makes the case for two way defenseman pretty difficult. On the two way forward I can throw a spare +3 on slapshot accuracy and have an 88 vs. 90 accuracy negating that advantage almost completely then still have two more left to improve other areas. Looking closer it makes the case for offensive defenseman pretty difficult as well. That tradeoff boils down to really good hitting and better strength versus having two different competent shots.

So there you have it. The enforcer and two way forward were surprises to me. The offensive defenseman seems to have a very narrow role this time around. The two way defenseman seems mostly like a waste of time given the alternatives. The defensive defenseman seems oddly somewhat worse than the enforcer but that might change if you wanted a shooting build.

Obviously some or all of this could change based on differing tastes, builds, or play style. We also don't know exactly what boosts are going to be allowed where so knowing how many boosts can go to which attributes is tricky at this point.

Monday, August 30, 2010

NHL 11: Sample Forward Builds

I have put together some sample forward builds here. These are all built on legend cards using this spreadsheet from EA dev Jason Rupert (Make sure to enable macros and hit reset before starting a build). I have built these the way I would build them and have not fully optimized them using +8s or even fully taken advantage of their strengths fully. I tried to build these with a certain goal in mind and trying to hit certain levels (listed in the second to last column) on the attributes.

So here they are:

Power Forward: This build is one I basically ran last year at least offensively with a balanced slapper and a weakish but semi-accurate wrister. It does however seem weaker this year defensively. The defensive awareness on this build starts off terribad at 45 so it costs quite a bit to get it a reasonable level. The stick check is also sub par compared with every other build I put together. Also, note I did not take advantage of two of the biggest strengths of the class which are cheap shot power and cheap dekeing (seems odd for a power forward). Balance and strength are both strong for this class and with strength modifying multiple things that could have a multiplier effect.

Grinder: This grinder build is basically a playmaker with an ok slapper for limited offense and limited one on one ability. This build is super solid defensively as well. The grinder can also bang bodies in the corners and has some extra speed to get in on the forecheck. Agility is somewhat less than where I would like it. Strength is one of the best for extra hitting and oomph on the slapper.

Enforcer: This is one I built basically as a powerforward/grinder hybrid. Has pretty sub par offensive abilities including a terrible puck control. Does have a booming if not terribly accurate slapper. Has respectable defensive ability including top notch body checking, aggression, reasonable defensive awareness, and stick checking. Has a very high fighting rating as well for when you just want to pummel someone to change the momentum of the game. The build is a bit slow off the line and less agile but also has the best balance, strength, and endurance of any of the forward builds.

Two way forward: This build is one of my favorites. It has a really nice mix of good base offensive abilities including a reasonable wrist shot (but no real slap shot) and very strong defensive abilities that rival that of the grinder. The athletics are strong as well just being slightly lower than the power forward or grinder. This is a build that should be able to put the body on people, pass well, and score goals.

Sniper: This is your basic perimeter sniper that has a really good shot and overall offensive abilities. This build is passable defensively but will obviously not be taking the body on anyone effectively. Balance and strength are lower than any other class to this point as are durability and endurance.

Playmaker: Suprisingly the playmaker's offensive abilities are even better than the sniper. This was somewhat true last year as well but this year it may even be more pronounced. This build features max passing and puck control plus a really good wrist shot and 90+s in everything else other than slapper. Defensively this build is not going to be physical but unlike the sniper it is excellent otherwise defensively with a very high defensive awareness, max discipline, and a high stick check. Athletically this build has one weakness and that is the lowest strength of the bunch. This build isn't hitting anyone but absorbing hits might be an issue with it setup this way.

One thing to note. I assumed a 70 durability but honestly we have no idea yet what effect durability will have. I am most certainly not putting a single point into it to start to see what the effect is. Also, we still have no idea if what held true last year holds true this year and we have a lot of new attributes to deal with so a lot will change over time and over patches/tuning sets.

So there you have it 6 forward types, 6 sample builds and my takes on each one.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

NHL 11: Attribute Descriptions

Directly from the demo (important parts of descriptions) here you go:

Dekeing: More accurate loose puck dekes and more accurate shot after dekeing.
Hand-Eye: Affects deflections, batted pucks, one-timers, ability to pick up hard passes.
Offensive Awareness: Better vision for passing and a knack for finding the back of the net.
Passing: Passing accuracy, blind passing, passing through traffic, makes passes easier for receiving player to receive.
Puck Control: Control through hits, poke checks, and lift checks. Also, determines ability to do on knees deke on breakaway.
Shot accuracies: Shot accuracy.
Shot powers: Shot power.

Aggressiveness: Bonus to hitting intensity. Big hits intimidate. Intimidation affects opponent shot quality, pass accuracy, and aggression.
Body Checking: Allows bigger hits and affects intensity of hits.
Defensive Awareness: Ability to take away passing lanes, lower susceptibility to being deked, and greater effort on back check.
Discipline: Affects likelihood of taking penalties like elbows (may apply to trips and high sticks as well, does not say).
Faceoffs: This is one of several factors in winning faceoffs (others being strategy and timing).
Fighting: This along with strength affect punching power.
Shot Blocking: Higher shot block means getting up quicker from shot blocks also means doing a diving block rather than standing two leg block more often.
Stick Checking: Ability to take the puck with poke and lift checks and likelihood of getting penalized while doing it.

Acceleration: How quickly you get to top speed.
Agility: Ability to turn and ability to turn with speed. Helps with back skating on defense.
Balance: Increases resistance to being knocked over on a hit and improves puck control.
Durability: Decreases chance of being injured.
Endurance: Rate at which players recover energy when not skating with high effort. Fatigue is a bigger factor if a player has a low endurance. Fatigue affects skating and shooting.
Speed: Top speed. A player can't sustain top speed without high endurance.
Strength: Affects shot power, fighting, checking, resisting hits, and boardplay. For boardplay affects ability to pin players and ability to slip free.

Friday, August 27, 2010

NHL 11: EASHL Developer Chat Highlights

The chat took place today here. There is also a new blog post on EASHL improvements here. I will hit some of the highlights in no particular order:

  • If a human player quits he will be replaced with a regular computer player not a computer controlled version of his ramped up player (good).
  • Custom jerseys are available now (good).
  • Three leagues Amateur, Pro, Elite. Based on percentage of teams. Elite is top 20% of teams.
  • Practice is 6v6 game mode or you can do just you and your teammates for line drills etc. (just what I wanted).
  • Leagues should be matched against similar leagues (good).
  • Quitting affects grades and DNF and they are tracking team DNF (like this).
  • Only one dressing room this year to promote more 6v6. Only one team can play at a time. (good for small teams like mine, bad for teams that have 2 full sets of 6 playing)
  • XP is based on your online level and how many games you have played and having good grades but you can get to 2nd highest level much quicker, legend is still 150 games and A-. (good)
  • Playing games with more players means more points in the standings. Beating teams with more points means more points in the standings as well. (good)
  • DNF wins will count but as they happen more you get less credit for them, to avoid cheaters. (good but a lot of teams bailed on us when we started killing them last year)
  • DNF is tied into matchmaking so you are less likely to be matched with teams that quit a lot if your team doesn't quit a lot. (good but obviously mostly good teams don't quit a lot so tougher competition overall)
I am liking these changes overall. We will definitely try and run more 6 man teams this year. Last year we played a lot of 2 and 3 man.

Edit: read up on practice mode, it is what I wanted, chat was not clear.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NHL 11 Demo: Impressions

You can get the demo (360) here (stick tap to MajorNelson).

There are a few things that have changed from 10:

  • How hard you pass depends on how long you hold in the pass button, learning the nuances of this will be one of the keys to 11.
  • The new faceoff system adds a new tactical layer. I am envisioning a lot of down by 1 goal 5 second left offensive faceoffs being tied up by the defensive center so that nothing can happen.
  • The new aggressive offensive zone faceoff layouts are far better than the old ones.
  • The new physics engine makes everything feel like it has more weight and the hitting is fantastic.
  • They slowed the game down a bit which allows more time to make plays (now this may just be the fact it was on Pro and not All-Star).
  • When you go to check someone who goes into the self boardplay you boardplay them automatically now. No more Y button cheese!
  • I was able to score some charged up forehand wristers still but not all the time and again this was on Pro.
  • The new Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT) mode is really neat and can be played against the CPU. I will definitely spend more time in here than I originally thought even thought EASHL will still be my number one focus.
A couple of tips for the demo. One quit out of the play for the cup game with 5 seconds left or you are stuck with a good 2 or 3 minute unskippable Stanley Cup awarding display. To get the most time and fun out of the demo try the HUT mode, you can play 3rd periods of like 6 maybe 7 games with a randomly generated team you get to organize. Also, if you don't like your initial mix of players back out of HUT and reenter and you get an entirely new set.

If I think of other things I will throw up another post later. I will definitely be spending more time with this demo getting used to the new passing and other mechanics in preparation for upcoming EASHL season.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

NHL 11 Developer Chat Highlights

You can get it all here:

But here are some highlights:
  • Fatigue and injuries in EASHL, injuries will last less than half a period
  • Question: Is pass-speed online now determined by how far you push the R-Trigger (so passes happen on "release" instead of "press")? Answer: passing is now based on how far you hold the trigger and release, instead of the press.
  • Can skip 3 stars after the game
  • Faceoff is not exactly rock/paper/scissors but certain moves work better against others, timing definitely matters
  • Kick in goals may be reviewed
  • Interference is more realistic now
  • Wraparounds are harder to score on
  • No multiple builds but easier to change player types and swap attributes now
  • Game is going to have hip checks
  • No more interference off of faceoffs
  • No more poke check on RB if your teammate has the puck
  • Easier to take away the puck in front of the net with positional play (not sure if free hitting zone is still in)
  • New feature called Hustle Button, small boost of speed and acceleration that burns fatigue quicker, can be used on offense and defense (mapped to L3 button)
  • Because of this endurance attribute is now in play
There are a lot of videos and other stuff in that chat as well so go check it out.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Are Games Giving Us Less Value?

A few weeks ago Bill Harris of Dubious Quality fame wrote about the Dead Rising 2: Case Zero prologue basically calling it a paid demo (it's apparently three hours long). He says based on this:

"Again, and I hate to harp on this, but it just seems to be the dominant theme day after day after day: big gaming companies are giving us less and less value."

He then goes on to complain about prices of games going from $50 to $60 and that this prologue might cost ... $5! And based on that he wasn't going to buy Dead Rising 2.

Obviously it is up to the individual to decide what they are going to buy but are we are getting less value? I will tackle some of the issues he brings up in his post one at a time. Starting with game pricing.

Game pricing is something I see brought up all the time. Games went up $10 they are ripping us off! Let's take a closer look at this. Games were traditionally priced at $50 since the beginning of time. They just recently went up to $60 for some consoles and the occasional PC title. In real terms the price of games was really going down over time since they never increased the price and everything else increased in price. It is rather surprising game prices haven’t increased or content gone down well before the past few years.

Game content. I am not sure what I think about paid demos but I am not sure a three hour piece of content (half the length of the new Splinter Cell game BTW) even qualifies. However, in every other industry we pay more and get less over time. Look at something as simple as say peanut butter. I can guarantee that the jar of peanut butter you are buying now looks the same size as 10 years ago but probably has a dent in the bottom or some other trick to give you less PB per jar while still charging you the same price. Add in the fact the costs for developing games has gone way up and it is not surprising they want to charge more/give us less per game.

Now to counter what I just wrote I am in the middle of Assassin’s Creed 2 (360 version, no dopey DRM for me), Dirt 2, Forza 3, the Saboteur, Dragon Age, Kings Bounty, and Grid. I like to complete things and each of those has so much stuff to do that I am almost stymied by the amount of content. So while some games may be five or six hours and not offer much more if you aren't interested in multiplayer there are still tons of new games out there with more content than you can shake a stick at.

I think the conclusion here is that while the gaming industry is a lot like other industries in that they will try to give you less for more there are still plenty of games that give you good value. The key, as always, is to be a smart consumer and don't buy games that don't offer good value. Also, for games with less value wait until they come down in price, rent them, or just skip them all together. The industry will get the message.

As for Dead Rising 2: Case Zero $5 for three hours of quality gameplay sounds pretty good to me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Fall of NHL2k

I missed this last week but it culminates a complete reversal of fortune for a company that at one point had the best hockey game around. For me around the time NHL 2003 and it's slapstick commentary and loose arcadey controls arrived is when the balance of power tipped. I was disappointed in EA, they seemed to be mailing it in, there were few new features and the gameplay was slipping badly. It was hockey in name only.

EA had no competition until this upstart company 2k released several competitive sports titles for the Dreamcast including a couple of iterations of their hockey game NHL 2k and NHL 2k2. I had not played either extensively but both got pretty good word of mouth. NHL 2k3 came out in fall of 2002 and looking for a change I picked it up for my Xbox. It was a revelation. It looked and played like real hockey. It wasn't perfect but it was far better than NHL 2003. Defensemen would cover the points so you could drop it back to them on the power play. The controls were tight and the speed of the game was right on. I was sold. 2k had by far the better game and I was not looking back.

For the next three years 2k innovated adding great new features like lift passes, online co-op, and online leagues with web based stats tracking. The basic gameplay was tweaked and refined while EA seemed stuck in the mud. 2k5 was one of the best hockey games ever made and sold for a bargain basement price of $20. 2k6 slightly tweaked the formula but was good as well. 2k was on top and it seemed they could do no wrong.

Meanwhile EA was losing market share in a big way. I don't know the exact numbers but it was bad enough that when the Xbox 360 came out EA did not put NHL 06 on it. They took a year off to regroup and revamp the franchise.

In the fall of 2006 2k released NHL2k7. It was a prettier version of 2k6 and an all all around solid hockey game but really not much different than 2k5. Was 2k getting complacent? EA apparently thought so and answered with the Skill Stick in NHL 07. The Skill Stick was a new way of controlling your hockey player. The left stick moved the player and the right stick controlled the stick. It was revolutionary and dynamic and most importantly intuitive. As it turns out NHL 07 was a middling game but with an incredible mechanic that made it fun to play. As the season wore on I found myself drawn to NHL 07 over 2k7.

In 2007 both teams readied their yearly releases and rumors were that 2k had put in their own skill stick like controls. But when the demos hit 2ks skill stick system was cumbersome and unintuitive while NHLs had been even more refined. Also, the overall gameplay, graphics, and animations for NHL 08 were much improved making it the clear winner. At the point it was released I called NHL 08 the best hockey game I had ever played.

2k was in pretty bad shape heading into 2008 they were clearly chasing EA again and there were no rumors of any killer features for their new version. Meanwhile EA was poised to go for the jugular. 2k9 may have been a decent game I am not sure anyone knows because for NHL 09 EA launched the EA Sports Hockey League (EASHL). This allowed you to create your own player, form your own teams, and play against other teams of human players in up to 6 vs. 6 play. This was the dagger in 2k's chest. EA had managed to take the best hockey game of all time and take it to an entirely new level. In one year.

In 2009 EA released NHL 10 and added a bunch of microtransactional bullshit to the game but improved gameplay again. Meanwhile 2k with NHL 2k10 did nothing to counter the EASHL, signed Alex Ovechkin to be the cover star, and were the only company to release a game for the Wii. It was clearly not enough as next year they will just release a Wii version of the game and skip the 360 and PS3.

Is this the end for the NHL 2k series? I would like to think no. They are certainly at rock bottom. Being relegated to the the Wii is like being kicked to the kiddie table at Thanksgiving. Despite this I believe there are opportunities in the online hockey league space. EA certainly garnered some ill will from adding almost mandatory microtransactions to NHL 10. Players mostly put up with it because the game is good but if there were an alternative without microtransactions I am sure a lot of players would at least take a look. I for one am hoping 2k is revamping much like EA did for NHL 07 and that NHL 2k12 is something special.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why Uncharted Sucks

Ok, that title is a bit inflammatory but it gets your attention. Does it suck? No. Is it really poorly designed from a gameplay perspective? Yes. Uncharted is a very pretty game with a good story that received many positive reviews when it came out. Where it breaks down is the gameplay.

The first problem is there is no crosshair when you are in cover. This means you can't line up shots more than vaguely while hiding from enemies. So it turns into an exercise of pop up, see how far off you are and then either correct while popped up or crouch down and try to adjust and pop up again. This oversight is criminal considering how much shooting you do in this game. I can't count the number of times I have been shot popping up to try and correct my aim. I find this completely unacceptable and severely limits my enjoyment of the game.

My next issue is with what I like to call insta-flanking. I am making that word up but it describes being flanked almost immediately at the start of a fight. This happens several times during the game. The fight that made me want to break the disc and made me give up on the game is a great example. Imagine a square room with a bunch of pillars at like 10x10 intervals in it and you are entering on the bottom right corner. You drop down and are immediately shot before you can get to cover of any kind (this is on normal and after having died multiple times so you know the enemies are coming). Then you manage to get into cover behind a low wall facing one direction, lets call it north, and start to try and pop up and kill the enemies with the fiddly no crosshair in cover aiming system. So you are doing this for like maybe 10-15 seconds when you start getting shot from the west. There are still enemies to the north (even after killing a few of them) and now there are enemies to the west and you can't find cover that will allow you to not be shot from some direction. The circular pillars seem like you could hide on those and slide around one way or another but no they only let you stick to one side of them so they don't help. At this point it seems like your only real option is to get out of cover and try to free shoot enemies to the west. I have tried this, it results in me being shot and killed pretty quickly. I tried this section maybe two or three times the first time I was playing it and another four to five times when I decided to give it another chance yesterday. Being put in tough situations is one thing but situations where you are going to have to repeat it over and over because of poor design is another.

My final complaint is the wedging of the Sixaxis controls into various parts of the gameplay. I get Sony forced them to do this but it is annoying and pointless. The log walking parts? Ok, it sort of fits there but the grenade throwing? Who thought that was a good idea? It basically makes grenade throwing impossible in the heat of battle.

Just to forestall the inevitable "Learn not to suck dude!" comments or thoughts I will point out I was playing on Normal difficulty. I will also point out I finished Call of Duty 4 on Veteran and ended up as a level 55 gold cross in multiplayer. My gamercard is linked on the right of the page, you can check out the CoD4 on Veteran achievement and also check out all the other shooters I have played.

I had a friend of mine call Uncharted his Game of the Year for 2007. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it did score fairly well in reviews but I have to believe that being a PS3 launch title allowed him and others to ignore the major flaws in the game. Uncharted is a pretty game with a good story that is ultimately let down by egregious design decisions.

Monday, February 22, 2010

NHL 10: Hidden Attributes

In NHL 09 there were two attributes called Offensive Awareness (OA) and Defensive Awareness (DA) and they varied by skater type. They were mostly ignored and no one was quite sure what they did for the longest time. As it turns out OA gave you better passing vision and DA allowed you to get your stick on more pucks defensively as they were passed (EA Sports forum). I liked to run with DA higher on whatever build I was playing to be able to defend better.

When NHL 10 came out these two attributes were no longer listed. Did they remove them or just hide them? After playing nearly 700 games of NHL 10 I can tell you with some certainty they hid them. I find it easiest to notice when trying to pass or watching others try to pass with defensive verses offensive defensemen. Even with the exact same passing attribute the defensive defenseman can struggle to connect with forwards up ice. It can still be done just there are more passes that go off target. I suspect this is due to the hidden OA attribute. In 09 there were 20 points difference between the two.

The other thing I notice is how different skater types feel to play especially power forward and defensive defenseman. I can have the exact same agility as another build and it feels slower to turn and react. This leads me to suspect there are other hidden attributes that are specific to each skater type.

While I appreciate more delineation between the player types so they don't all play exactly the same and there is not one killer build (say hello dangler from NHL 09) I also very much like to have all the data in front of me so I can make rational decisions. Having the hidden attributes in there muddies up the decision making process and I think that hurts the game overall.