Mike Carabajal


November 16, 2007

No game captures the look and feel of soccer like the FIFA series. With its licenses coming directly from Soccer’s governing body, EA is able to bring your favorite club team, its kits, players and even stadiums to your television in gorgeous high definition. FIFA‘s graphics have always been a step behind in capturing the intricate dance that is soccer, with the games choosing instead to appeal to a more arcade feeling of run and gun. FIFA 08 catches the series up to speed.

Unlike most popular American sports, soccer is a game of placement, skill, and strategy. FIFA 08 has finally captured soccer’s passion and precision. The game play no longer consists of a chaotic onslaught of incredible runs, but is now a chess game of placing balls through and wearing down a defense. Dribbling has also been touched up with a skill button that will allow your player to do some impressive tricks with combinations from the right analog stick. The game improvements are not all on the offensive side of the ball. The player now has a greater control of players off the ball, with a simple flick of the right analog stick yielding a player-switch.

While the game play is now much more fluid, FIFA still suffers in its aerial game. For some reason you lose temporary control over players while the ball is in the air. It is hard, if not impossible, to fight for position on corners or long crosses. This has to be the most frustrating aspect as when you do score a header off a corner, it seems as the game just gave it to you as opposed to fighting for it like you do while dribbling and passing along the ground.

The difficulty is notches above last year’s edition as well. The Pro mode will find you very frustrated, but like most sports games, after a multitude of losses you get to figure what works with your team. You can tweak your roster and customize your player’s runs too. This will help you level the playing field. Semi Pro though will still have you play some close competitive games.

New to FIFA is the “Be A Pro” mode. This mode is a fun aspect of the game where you control a single player. The camera focuses on that player and you are graded as to how well you play your position. Icons show you where to be, where you should defend and, of course, you can call for passes or be the assist man.

While the “Be A Pro” mode is a blast, the real meat of the game is it’s deep manager mode, returning from last year. As a manager, you control the fate of a team through season after season as you try to improve and guide your team and gain reputation for the team and yourself. This isn’t unlike the franchise mode from the Madden Football games. Finding the next great thing from Brazil when they are eighteen years old and bringing them to your squad is very satisfying.

Also back are the Challenge Mode and the Tournament Mode. The challenge mode is where you compete against various scenarios to earn some points to buy new kits, balls, cleats, and skills in the pro shop, while the Tournament Mode has you compete in the various tourneys throughout the world, or create your own custom tournament and play it.

Taking FIFA online, you will find that you can compete in an Interactive League where you play as your team in its real life schedule, or you and some friends can create an online league for yourselves and play it. FIFA is always better against a human opponent, so taking FIFA online is a blast. Xbox Live keeps track of your stats (good or not) for the world to see, or for you to brag to your friends about.

FIFA 08 is deep, immersive, and breathtakingly realistic and beautiful–the pinnacle of EA Sport’s attempts to bring soccer to the gamer. With its rich and varied play modes and its hundreds of teams and thousands of players added to the mix, FIFA 08 is the closest thing to perfect soccer.

Vampire Rain

August 13, 2007

The stealth genre is already well represented in gaming. Heavy hitters like Metal Gear and Splinter Cell have loyal followings and sell well each release. I can understand why a developer would want to get a piece of the pie. In order to do so, you have to bring something new to the table; Vampire Rain doesn’t.

The game’s premise shows some real promise: you are an agent with an elite team of vampire hunters. So, Splinter Cell in a world of vampires. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Unfortunately, the idea failed to transition to execution, because what gamers put into their consoles is dead on arrival.

You play Lloyd, a member of a government agency that handles under-the-table operations. Your mission is to eradicate the vampire problem in Los Angeles before it spreads to the rest of the world. Lloyd is pretty well armed but his best weapon is the ability to remain undetected. The point of the game is to complete a series of objectives; every time you reach one objective you see a cut scene, unfolding the game’s plot bit by bit. In order to complete these objectives you must remain unseen because your side arm and assault rifle do little to vampires. Vampire-killing in this game is pretty much pointless; they are essentially indestructible and will kill you in two or three easy swats.

There is good news in the fight: vampires make lousy guards. The game uses the tried and true cone of vision that Metal Gear made so popular. If you are outside the cone, no matter what line of sight the vampire has on you, you will not be seen. If you do cross a cone of vision, warnings flash on the screen so you have time to back away before the vampires engage. They don’t even leave their post to investigate. Often times the undead do not even have a patrol route. They just stare in one direction, taking in the rainy evening I suppose. This makes the act of sneaking around foes fairly simple. The path you must take, however, is anything but.

Your progress is dictated by how well you complete the missions that are assigned to you. Usually your team will instruct you to go alone and complete a certain task; take down a satellite to destroy your enemies communications, for example. The objectives are pretty straight-forward, and a map clearly shows you where they are. The problem is just getting there.

Vampire Rain hardly lets you use multiple paths. Trial and error reveals exactly how you must get past a certain section. The game takes away almost any ability to A

Touch The Dead

June 27, 2007

Odds are that the visitors of this website are familiar with old light-gun arcade games. Games like House of the Dead, where you stand there and take aim with a friend as you shoot off screen to A

You have to love the good old days when you would go down to the local pizza joint and play some NBA Jam. The game’s over the top nature made the (ouch don’t touch me) game of basketball a fast and frenzied game of half court shots and insane dunks. Although along the way something happened to the series, and it got dull, thus you would see it less and less in the coin op world. Fans didn’t have to worry too long as NBA Street hit consoles in 2001 and once again captured the fun that NBA Jam once had. The series mixed the And 1 street ball style with NBA superstars. Now in its fourth incarnation, powered by Next Gen technology, NBA Street offers up a small slice of NBA heaven.

NBA Street Homecourt‘s brand of basketball is part And 1 show-off fest and part Run DMC music video. Developer EA Sports BIG created a perfect rendition of three on three basketball where your control of the player is matched only by how amazing he looks.

The basketball that is played on the court can look artistic in the hands of someone with a good grasp of the controls. You have the ability to mix your tricks with the use of both shoulder buttons in coordination with the X and Y. The output is a bounce passes off the opponents face as well as killer crossovers. Your teammates will even get on all fours so you can use them as launching pads, then while you are in the air pass off to a teammate who will in turn pass off to another teammate for a triple alley oop slam. Did I mention that if you time the slam right, your player will dunk, grab the ball while holding onto the rim, then dunk again for two points. I would watch the real life Dunk contest if they pulled these tricks off.

Above all tricks and air walking is the new Gamebreaker. By using your tricks and scoring, you can increase your Gamebreaker bar. Once it is filled, you can enter a Gamebreaker mode where the already awesome moves are turned up even more. You can pretty much rain in a shot from anywhere in this mode or perform even more amazing dunks. Although it’s not unstoppable; if you lose the ball, the Gamebreaker becomes the opponents’, and they can use it against you.

I can’t describe how amazing it all comes together; you simply have to see for yourself. It’s EA BIG at its finest.

The game’s graphics are pure Next Gen goodness; the players look very much like their real life counterparts, their jerseys sway like they should, good stuff here. The game’s music is a throwback mix of Motown and hip-hop, and along with the court chatter, the audio really adds to the overall atmosphere. The designs of the game’s menus, loading screens, and other visual elements are amazing. As a designer in real life, I immediately fell in love with its A

Gaming on the DS is a blessing to some and a curse to others. On one hand the DS offers innovative two screen game play that can utilize its touch pad to enhance the overall gaming experience. On the other hand the DS comes with less than stellar graphical capabilities. This is bad news to sports fans who want a portable solution to their football (err soccer) appetites. Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 brings its brand of soccer to a portable audience; the result is an overall fun soccer game if you can look past its “scaled down” makeover.

Living up to a very high standard?

Lets be blunt, Winning Eleven is the “purists” soccer game- you know, the type that go out of their way to call it futbol here in the states. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but the series does have a very prickly following. Its DS incarnation still bears the prestigious title, but what players find once the game loads up is a heavy focus on the National Teams, very few clubs, and atrocious graphics.


The game is missing a few things. How FIFA on the DS managed to include leagues from all over the world, their club teams, and club teams’ rosters while Winning Eleven only offers ten club teams is beyond me. The rest of the playable teams come in the form of National Teams. The heart and soul of soccer is the club teams, and selling soccer fans short is disappointing.

The graphics are another story. The DS is limited to its own graphical power. It’s no PSP; that is for sure. The character models are boxy, resembling legos more than their real life counterparts. The sound and most media are very mailed in as well. As far as aesthetics go, this game is not on the top of its game.

The actual soccer being played is very fun. While it’s not the A