Video Game Impressions – NBA Elite 11

(Note: The term “Impressions” is used because it constitutes the writers’ opinion on an upcoming video game that will be released within a month. IT IS NOT INTENDED AS A FULL GAME REVIEW, hence certain parts of the game may not be mentioned at all. The reader is advised to take any advice and use it as part of their own research into deciding whether to purchase the game.)

Back in the day I used to review video games and animation and initially this blog was supposed to be a vehicle to get back into that area. Fast forward to the present where I haven’t written a single piece on either in like eons. Funny how things don’t work out the way you want them to… why do I bring this up? Well remember that theme for later.

NBA Elite 11

I was checking out the PSN Store the other day and decided to take a look at the NBA Elite 11 demo, which is EA’s latest offering in the basketball game war vs. 2K Sports’s NBA 2K11. First, some background: NBA Elite 11 basically reworked the franchise from the ground up, even getting rid of the old NBA Live name it used to have. This year the development team decided to go with new control scheme that maps most of your actions (crossovers, layups, etc.) to the left and right analog stick. It’s something that EA has implemented in the Madden Football games and toyed with in previous NBA Live editions, and I’ve heard a lot of talk about how it would be received by basketball fans. Consensus seems to be that the moves feel nice when you pull them off, but the overall scheme is so hard to control.

After downloading the demo I spent about a couple hours going through each tutorial (Dribbling, Shooting, Layup/Dunk, Defense, and Practice), Become Legendary Mode and the Game demo (2nd half of Game 7 Celtics vs. Lakers). The tutorials are pretty good, although I found myself pulling off alot of dribbles that I hadn’t meant to do. The graphics and player models didn’t really seem that good, despite EA devs calling Elite 11 “the next evolution in basketball games”. I also tried to see how real the physics in the Practice Mode where when controlling your player, and the results started raising immediate red flags. It was also hilarious to watch my 5’9/175 lb. PG take off from close to the FT line on a dunk in the middle of a crossover, and further research unveiled this awesome gem.

Putting the “Harlem Shake” aside, I pressed on to Become Legendary Mode. Become Legendary is single-player career mode where you can use a created player and take him from the Jordan Draft Showcase (pre-Draft camp) through an NBA Season to possibly becoming the next Jordan, aka “Legendary”. I will say it was fun to go against John Wall and Derrick Favors, but going by the new controls the game was somewhat of a chore. Even with a decent skill level shooting felt a bit harder than it really should, but I chalked that up out the learning curve. I will say by the 4th quarter I switched off the Elite configuration (new control scheme) and fared a little better. Become Legendary should appeal to everyone as it’s basically your standard “put yourself in a sports game” mode (similar or MLB: The Show series’ Road To The Show).

I then played the Game Mode about 30 minutes, playing the first 3 times as The Boston Celtics and once as the Lakers. I made it a point the use the Elite config, since I’d be playing with real NBA players. I have to say the experience was … a bit weird. First, the graphics/player models just seemed like they could be better. It’s not a major source of contention with me but in comparison to NBA 2K11 you can’t take a step backward in that department. The AI offensive gameplan seemed a bit random, giving Derek Fisher and Ron Artest as many touches as Kobe Bryant. This was also the case with playing vs. the Celts, as apparently Rondo taking jumpers was as good an option as Ray Allen/Paul Pierce. In the game the realism seemed to play out ok as Rondo had his dribbles and jukes, Ray Allen was deadly when distant, and KG worked inside with his array of turnaround jumpers and layups. However, a few times I saw a player do this (props to TheRealCaCHooKaMan for the cap).

Now I’m not a hater on KG (though he IS a little bit of a bitch); but that dude couldn’t dunk from just inside the FT line in the year 2000, much less in 2011. For a game that boasts new improved physics that just amazed me. If they have gimpy KG doing that, who else? Carlos Boozer? Amar’e Stoudemire? Hell Kobe Bryant should be taking off from the 3 point line (I actually did try several times)! However, that wasn’t the game’s most egregious flaw. Again props go to Hard8times for finding this massive flaw. I’d watch the whole thing for maximum LOLZ, but otherwise just skip to 2:24 in the vid:

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… I have seen some glitches in my life, but that’s horrible. It’s possible to actually get a player stuck at halfcourt, apparently trying to part the Red Sea or something. This is worse that the abysmal MLB 2K9 with its A-Rod Quicksand and Barrell Roll glitch. And EA intends to release this October 5th? Seriously, what the hell?

In conclusion, I have seen many games promise radical new innovations and they actually turn out well. Remember when I mentioned in the beginning about things not always working out the way you want them to? Well I’m looking straight at you EA. From the graphics, control scheme, physics… it’s a disaster. At least the controls can be switched back, too bad the game itself can’t be. This is a classic case of the company looking to make sweeping changes and making everything worse than before. It’s sad because between the soundtrack and announcers the presentation is decent, although after awhile Mark Jackson will make you hit the “Mute” button. I feel worse for Elite 11 coverman Kevin Durant, whose name is affiliated with this dreck. People, stay away from this game and if you must buy a basketball game get NBA 2K11 or try and get NBA Jam w/o getting NBA Elite 11. I repeat: unless something changes in the next ten days DO NOT BUY THIS GAME.

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IGN shanked the game Kingdom Hearts 2 . . . BC.net discovers why

On Tuesday, March 28th 2006 a great rejoicing was heard around the land. Hundreds and thousands ran to their local videostores to pick up Kingdom Hearts 2, a game produced by the unlikely bedfellows of Disney Interactive and Square-Enix. Raving American schoolgirls and Disney aficionados held their copy of the latest adventures with Sora, Donald, Goofy and looked forward to interacting in new worlds like Tron and The Pirates of the Caribbean (umm, has anyone noticed yet the last one ISN’T animation?). The reviewing community was ready to welcome in the game with a parade of 9s, 10s, As, A+, SuperCompuMegaGlobul A++ to the third power or whatever stupid numeral system the establishments use to rate games nowadays. But all was not well . . .

As the gaming sites of the world like Gamespy (4.5 out of 5), 1UP.com (9 out of 10), GameSpot (8.7 out of 10), Gaming Age (A), and Game Zone (9.4 out of 10) all paid homage to the game, one site dared to differ. With the power of the keyboard, they committed an act so amazing that the disturbance was felt by the Jedis themselves. Out of the darkness a lone website decided to challenge the reviewing status quo by giving the extremely-hyped title a score of 7.6! That site . . . IGN (Read their review here). An excerpt from the review is as follows:

“Personally, I understand the eagerness behind KHII — I and many other guys in the office were really excited when the game arrived, and as someone who’s played and beaten the original and GBA title a number of times, I was definitely looking forward to this one. However, once I, and some of the others, started playing the game, it was a definite let down. The combat was way too simple, and while the number of attacks and abilities gives the player a lot of ways to kill opponents, it’s eventually unfulfilling and boring. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful title with a great story, but literally turning it’s back on most of the RPG elements and explorations of the worlds does the game a great disservice.”

Now, the first thing I thought is probably what you people thought: HAVE THEY LOST THEIR GODDAMN MIND??. Did the one good writer they have go out on vacation?? I mean come on now, 7.6! However, I decided to be tolerant until I delved deeper into the mystery of Review-Gate, so I decided to assemble a crack team of hardcore gamers, testers, and street researchers to find any reason they gave the game such a low score considering they gave the first game a 9.0. Maybe they found some fault everyone else didn’t. Maybe they struck upon a proverbial gaming equivalent of a “merlin” . . . or maybe IGN really did stand for IGNorance (Note the scoring disparity between the site, press, and gamers as up 3/28). After three days of extensive testing and rigorous examination, my team was stunned to see the results. What we found in the game . . . was blaxploitation.

First, we compared character designs and story from the first Kingdom Hearts game and compared it to the second. We noticed that Sora’s red/white/blue ensemble was replaced with an almost all-black outfit a.k.a “gang” colors — even his shoes are black! It was a look a whopping 75% of gang members we polled liked. Not only was that change apparent, but we saw a change in Sora’s happy go-lucky attitude and fighting style, which combined with the attire change meant his transformation from Disney wimp to badass was complete. Second, there was a trend we found in both KH games that we never could explain until now. At times in Kingdom Hearts munny becomes a factor when trying to buy newer, stronger items and accessories, and to do so you’ll need to sell of you own equipment. Donald and Goofy could do so easily (with the exception I believe of their starter weapons), but with Sora it was impossible. Considering he could receive like 20+ different ones, Why could you never sell Sora’s old unused Keyblades? The answer hit us like a bolt of lightning . . . collectable bling. Besides the in-game benefit of a stronger in-game weapon, we found out younger Kingdom Hearts fans who collected the rarer Keyblades used it as a symbol of status and superiority. Surprisingly among the elementary school students we talked to, almost half (46%) said it was more important to find every Keyblade than it was to beat the game.

After much testing of the games’ fighting mechanics, we still we unable to uncover a smoking gun until one of our testers struck gold Thursday. After popping in a GameShark and using a code (we can’t tell you it here, sorry), you can unlock more characters to accompany Sora on his quest. However, we were stunned by the choice of characters used as unlockables. As this image clearly shows, somehow Disney and Sqare-Enix got permission and used Lil’ Kim and 50 Cent as secret unlockable characters.

We tested their combos as well as their magic attacks. 50 Cent’s is a strong playable character that doubles as a summon. When your party is overwhelmed, you can use his Summon ability Perfect Gangsta Rap Shield: When damage is about to be received, summon him and he takes all battle damage, dies, revives, and starts rapping. His magical freestyling about life on the street damages all enemies for 10 secs and can only be used once per battle, only when 50 Cent is not in your party.

Lil’ Kim has a balance of strong physical attacks/magic. Besides a bevy of kicks and punches, she only has one combo attack but it’s powerful; Naked Booby Beatdown. Since she had plastic surgery she likes to show off her chest, and one boob in particular. In KH2 she uses it as a weapon and swings it at an enemy. We obtained a sample of the attack which Black Entertainment Television planned to use in an upcoming movie seen here. She starts out with one magic attack but it’s a doozy: Crab Wave. When spreading her legs, crabs escape for her pants and an wave of them attack all enemies on the screen for ten seconds.

Based on our research, we believe IGN found out the same thing my staff has discovered, and this their way of punishing Kingdom Hearts II‘s shameful use of blaxploitation, trying to get the game more appeal in the African-American community. Therefore, the game falls into such hip-hop exploited titles like 187: Ride or Die and 25 to Life and gets what it deserves. Even though I think IGN is a fairer site than most people and Kingdom Hearts 2 is WAAYYYYYY too easy, I would think it would’ve received above an 8 at least. I just hope that a lesson has been learned by both the good people at Disney and Square-Enix.