MEMBER PROFILE FOR Big Ben

Total Reviews: 7
Average Overall Score Given: 7.42857 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 80

Reviews
MVP Baseball 2003

Overall: After being disappointed with Triple Play since the late 90s, EA has finally revamped their baseball line-up in a great way. In fact, I would easily say this is the best baseball game of the year out of the big 4 (WSB, ASB, High Heat, and MVP). Normally, I wouldn't jump to a conclusion like this, but none of the other games have changed gameplay at all while this one offers a whole new way to play.

MVP's only lacking quality is no Xbox Live! support. It has a great franchise mode, solid season play, excellent player ratings (based on MLB Scouting reports), and a very interesting home run derby. On top of this, ESPN's Harold Reynolds provides tutorials which are extremely helpful, though somewhat repetetive if you watch all of them.

Obviously, this game is for fans of baseball and if you aren't into sports games or baseball games pass on this one.

Gameplay: The biggest downside to gameplay is the inability to just dive right into the game. Unfortunately, you will have to take 10-15 minutes to read the manual or watch the tutorials with Harold Reynolds. Thankfully, as far as the actual gameplay goes, this is really the only downside.

EA has provided a new batter/pitcher interface which doesn't use a batting cursor. In fact, to hit, it's all timing. Thankfully, that doesn't mean hitting is easy. While you can hit nearly any ball in the strike zone, hot and cold zones that affect the contact, pitch location and swing type (push or pull, gorundball or fly) affect how the ball reacts. If you pull a ball away from you, you may not make good contact. In addition, timing the swing is not easy since pitches are much faster and more realistic in this game than in any I've played. I started by doing a home run derby, which has no pitch limit, but instead has a total distance goal to reach. On rookie, the batting is far more forgiving, while pro and all-star are both much harder. In fact, if you're a little early or a little late once on all-star, we're talking a big wiff.

Fielding is extremely simple and player movement is amazingly fluid. Once you're in a position, to make a play, your player automatically goes into the propper move, be it a dive, a leap or a running catch. Throwing on the move, a leaping catch or a plant and throw as well as crow hops in the outfield are all included naturally, though it may take some time how to get each to work.

Pitching is perhaps the most fun I've had. Even on all-star it only took me an hour or so to be able to pitch fairly well to anyone. Stirkeouts are still extremely difficult (I maxed out at 4 with Pedro Martinez in a game). To pitch, you first select a location, then you hold whichever pitch you want down. A bar will apear much like a swing bar in a golf game and you realease as close to the peak as possible in order to increase speed and movement on the pitch. As the bar swings back, you need to tap the picth again inside an accuracy bar in order to decide if you pitched it in the right location. The more movement you have or the tireder your pitcher is, the small the accuracy bar becomes. If you miss the accuracy bar, not only will the pitch miss, but your opponent will be tipped off with a location on the pitch. Though it's possible to throw a complete game, it's extremely hard since your pitcher will get tired as his pitch count goes up, making it harder to pitch well.

FRANCHISE AND SEASON MODES

In addition to the new batter/pitcher interface, MVP 2003 offers a new franchise mode. Instead of being able to do whatever you want over the course of several seasons, you have goals to accomplish with your team and a GM rating that affects your budget. If you fail as a GM, you can be hired on at another team, though I have yet to reach that point. The downsides are that you have no farm system, only a 15 man inactive list, and computer trades aren't

Graphics: The Graphics are gorgeous. Players look like their counterpart for the most part (at least as much as they can) and the actual motions are beautifully done. World Series Baseball has slightly better graphics, but the animations for MVP are far more fluid. Replays are just like on TV and I have yet to see a clipping error.

During Home Runs there are specific celebrations like fireworks. The number of batting stances to choose from is surprisingly large, far larger than what High Heat has offered.

One of the nicer features is the new radar base with picture in picture. The radar base, for those of you who aren't sure what I'm talking about, is the diamond that shows the players on base. In addition to the diamond with the little blips, it also has the images of the players and the button that controls them. This makes baserunning very easy and provides a nice twist to the classic base.

The Stadiums are done excellently as well. They aren't perfect, but they're close.

My only complaint is that the stat boxes that pop up in game aren't as nicely done as WSB. I would've liked to see a deal with Fox or another network to use thier TV logos and images.

The Menus and options creens are well done, but nothing special. One thing of note is that when you move from one month to another, there is a very nice animation indicating the move. The only downside is that when the music changes in the menu screens, a little screen telling you the track info pops up and it's very annoying, sometimes blocking youur views of what you're working on.


GAMEPLAY CONTINUED

I ran out of room in Gameplay, so this is going here. When you need a new pitcher, you can just bring one in. No Bullpen, no picther warmup. While this is nice for those of us who want a quick game, a bullpen and warmup option would've been nice.

Audio: The sounds in the game impressed me for the most part. The effects match up, including catchers mits popping bropperly, bats cracking or snapping depending on whether or not they broke. Player specific cheers are also there (like MVP for Barry Bonds or A-Rod).

The music is alright. The choice not to include custom soundtracks bothers me a little since the music they gave isn't exactly the greatest. Slightly repetetive and all sounding fairly similar, the music was a definite disappointment.

One of the most important features, the play by play, is some of the worst I've ever heard. While it's not repetetive, it's dry and emotionless. Over the course of 15-20 games, I've heard 2 or 3 funny or memorable things come from their mouths. The commentary is done by the crew from the San Fancisco Giants, and they are terrible in comparison to people like Vin Scully, Jack Buck or Will McDounnaugh. They give nothing to the game and at times detract. I did learn something from them, though: Nomar is named for his father Ramon and has the same name spelled backwards. Interesting stuff.

Suggestions: Obviously this was just a building block. here is what you need to do to guarantee the top spot next year:
1) Add a farm system of at least one level, preferably 2 or 3.
2) Get better commentators. Try Boston, St Louis or Chicago.
3) Add front office contracts to the franchise mode (manager, coaches, scouting directors)
4) Custom soundtrack support and and option for custom batter walk-up music
5) Online Play
6) All-time greats teams
7) Expansion team option
8) Pitcher Warm-ups/Bullpens... it's unrealistic to just bring a new pitcher in.

Those are the feature the other games have that you don't. Get them.

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10 Dead to Rights

Overall: Those of you who own Max Payne shouldn't even bother buying this. In many ways, it's the same game. What Dead to Rights does offer that's better than MP is plot twists. There are more of them, that are, at times, harder to see coming. Unfortunately, it's basically the same premise with the same special features. Then again, if you're dying for more Payne-like action, this game rules.

Gameplay: The controls are hard to pick up on, and sometimes stages are so difficult that you'll never beat them without a friend to bring a new perspective or style to the floor. Plus, the more you play, the better you get, and the better you get, the harder the game gets, and the ahrder the game gets, the more you play, which, in turn, forces it around and around in a vicious cycle. Still, extremely good gameplay, though I wish you could move while in manual aim mode.

Graphics: Graphics are good enough. While not spectacular to the Halo extreme, they're savvy and well-done. Plus, with the speed of things, great graphics aren't necessary except in cut scenes. There are a few clipping errors here and there (like a guard with a shotgun sticking through the wall and shooting me, which luckily only happened once).

Audio: Some of the sound effects are great, especially the conversations you overhear in the prison. The voices are clear, yet distinct, and, thankfully, there is very little speaking during action sequences. The gunshots, explosions, and death sound effects are all very nice, but nothing special beyond what you hear elsewhere. What really works well is the score. It fits perfectly to the mood and feel of the game and helps get the adrenaline pumping.

Suggestions: Three things: Get rid of the vibrating heartbeat at low life. Add different difficulty levels. Allow Slade to move during manual aim mode.

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Arctic Thunder

Overall: Artic Thunder is a snowmobile racing game where you pummel your opponents so you can pass them and win. The game begins with 6 available racers and you unlock more by trading in points gained by doing tricks, obtaining power-ups, destroying the other racers, and winning races. The main appeal is that it's just a hell of a lot of fun.

Gameplay: The handling is tough, but once you get used to it the game takes on a whole new level. It's hard starting out and gaining upgrades is very important to the game. The gameplay is very similar to that of the Psygnosis games Rollcage and Death Track Racing, which feature racers doing laps and trying to win while blowing up the enemy (I am not a violent person). The best part is the violence.

With the technology that the Xbox brings to the table, games run faster than ever before, and Artic Thunder is no exception. The downside to the game is that there are times when you won't be able to figure out what's going on. Still, replay value is super high on this game, seeing as how you need to get points individually for each controller.

Be ready to feel the controller vibrations throughout the entire game because there's non-stop action once the light turns green.

Graphics: The graphics, while good, are nothing special. If you've played the arcade version, the graphics have not signifigantly changed better or worse.

Audio: The only problem I've had with this game is the sound cuts out completely after some races. Mostly, the music and sound effects aren't noticable. The best part about the sound is that when you choose your racer, he or she says something. Yeah, it's not amazing, but hey, it's a start.

Suggestions: Allow people to win medals in multi-player and allow for teams in the next version. A system link option would also be nice, seeing as how 8 people can play at once.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Fuzion Frenzy

Overall: Fusion Frenzy is the biggest surprise to me. I took one look at the box and I thought American Gladiators. As it turns out, Fusion frenzy is an extremely fun party game that is meant for multiplayer. Every mini-game and level is slightly different and always fun, plus you can't beat bragging rite amongst your friends.

Gameplay: The coolest mini-game is the waterfall game where you need to avoid going off the waterfall while dodging barrels, mines, the kitchen sink, and your opponents who are all trying to push you off. It's a perfect example of how easy these mini-games are to pick, only needing the directional pad and occasionally 2-4 buttons. And best of all, it's incredably fun! The only downside is there doesn't seem to be a way to hook up two Xbox's and play 8 or more player games, 'cause as fun as it is, the more the merrier.

Graphics: The graphics are nothing too amazing, although the water rendering, the glitter effects, and the light-sourcing are all extremely nice. As one of my friends put it: "This game looks pretty cool. It would rock if I were on acid with all the flashing lights and bright swirling colors." The only downside is that all of the movement on screen can be confusing.

Audio: Three words: It's all good... I'm especially happy they included the "play your own soundtrack" option.

Suggestions: If you added more multi-player support, it would just blow the fun value sky-high.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Airforce Delta Storm

Overall: Airforce Delta Storm looks, at first glance, like a lovely little flight sim. It certainly lives up to it's box, but not much more. It's challenging and very beautiful looking, but without a flightstick, controls are nasty.

Gameplay: The interface you use to get into the game is ugly. Not that it's bad looking, just hard to get through. When you begin, you're only given one plane and one mission to choose from, which makes the game immediately demands hours of play just to get the goodies like the Mig, the Chengdu, and the Harrier aircracft. The manual does promise real jets and a few interesting missions.

Once you get flying, the game defaults to a behind the plane view, which isn't terrible, but it doesn't give a good feel for flying. The controls with the Xbox controller are hard to get used seeing as the plane is sometimes very responsive and other times not. Air to Air combat, even on Novie controls setting, is extremely tough, and it's easy to miss even with locked on missles.

Once you get a handle for the plane, the game is rather nice. It certainly could be a lot worse in every way since it's on a console rather than PC. Still, the gameplay doesn't come close to matching great flight sims like US Navy Fighters, MS Flight Simulator, or even the classic (and my favorite) Strike Commander.

Graphics: The graphics are beautiful. The isn't anything to really complain about or point out, which is a good thing. One of my roommates refuses to play the game based on the fact that no matter what, your plane will not explode when shot down. If you fly into the water, into the ground, or into a ship, we have yet to see an explosion of our plane.

The two points which I saw were lacking, is that the plane is completely missing in !&%$@#* pit view. I miss the days when racing games and flightsims had the trunk in front, like in Daytona USA, when you flew or drove from inside. The other gripe I have is that machine guns with the classic 1 to 6 tracer ratio have been traded for a 1 to 1 ratio, meaning you can see every bullet.

Just a side note: A tracer shot was put in guns in the 1940s for WWII in order to spot where gunners were shooting, but in order not give away location, only 1 in 6 or more were visible.

Audio: My problem is coving both the ground and the air enemies with no support, so when the bad guys start making land fall in Mission 1, I hear the same transmition over and over again. Besides that, the sounds are very nice, with machine guns rattling, explosions matchin distance and radio transmitions having static.

The music isn't special. In fact, it just sits there in the background. While you don't really notice it, it's not good or bad. If you want realism, there should be no music in the game, and for the most part, I believe there isn't any, but I'm not sure. I got bored and fed up with game pretty quickly and returned it after 1 day.

Overall Score: 4.0 / 10 Azurik: Rise of Perathia

Overall: At first glance, Azurik: Rise of Perathia appears to be a deeply involving action RPG following the tradition of the Legend of Oasis series that dominated the genre 5 years ago on Genesis and Saturn. Unfortunately, while similar in gameplay style to Munch's Oddysee, it just doesn't quite pull it off as well as it should.

Gameplay: The gameplay wouldn't be so bad if there were so many problems with camera angles. Every time you try to turn a corner or jump over a rock, adjusting the camera to see what is happening is a pain in the butt. When running up ramps in the water zone right at the beginning, it's far to easy to lose control, and often takes 5 to 10 minutes just to complete a simple jump from one platform to another.

The actual fighting controls aren't bad and the idea of being able to power up the elements to aid your attack was a brilliant move, but the general movement control destroy the entire experience and make playing a chore, rather than fun.

Graphics: The graphics in Azurik are stunning. From the first moments, of gameplay, the same detail seen in the movie sequences can be seen in the actual game. Water has waves crashing and fire flickers in the wind. The sprites are amazing and the detail put into the face of the main character (when you actually get to see it due to a camera mistake) is stunning. The dragons and their animations as well as the general scenery and textures in the setting are inspirational. Sadly, the graphics are really the only reason to even bother looking at the game.

Audio: The sound, while fair, was nothing great. The grunts of your character get repetitive quickly and the same noises are used over and over again without remorse. The game is almost painful to the ears after long periods of playing.

The music is the one redeeming feature of the audio. It's as seemless at the classic midi tracks from Final Fantasy III (or VI in Japan) and do justice to the fantastical setting. Hopefully, the composer will be able to use this music for something worthwhile.

Suggestions: If you're going to make another game like this, stop now, before you cause more harm to the world. No one should have to suffer through such poor controls.

Overall Score: 4.0 / 10 Cel Damage

Overall: Cel Damage is a mix of Twisted Metal and the cartoon Sam & Max, featuring outrageous antics straight out of a Chuck Jones cartoon combined with fast-paced racing and massive destructio
n.

When
you start, you're only given 4 tracks to choose from and one mode where you need to get 500 smash points before your opponents to win. Each zone has a different specialist: the vampire Count Earl in Transylvania, the lizard T. Wrecks in the Jungle, the bull Whack Angus in the Desert, and the alien Brian the Brain in Space. These characters can be unlocked by winning every level in their zone in every competition, but as of yet, I've spent too much time playing multiplayer.

Gameplay: Cel Damage isn't amazing to look at and it's gameplay isn't revolutionary, but the something about it that hooks you and makes you beg for more. Single player games are a riot, but the ultimate challenge and fun is going up against friends, making Cel Damage a perfectly designed party game.

After smash mode, players can gain access to my personal favorite, gate relay, as well as flag rally,

Graphics: The graphics in Cel Damage are extremely lacking. The animation is so fast that rendering fancy textures is a waste of time. The cartoony feel to the world even extend to the way drivers interact with the enviornment, meaning that if you go off a cliff, you fall with a zip and a cloud like Wyle E. Coyote.

So what? The graphics don't blow you away. The gameplay more than makes up for it and the cartoony and simplistic look to the game is not amazing, it fits the mood and feel of the game perfectly.

Audio: The sound and music complement the game wonderfully. Not only do your characters taunt each other with clever bards, but the sound effects match up to the visual style of the weapons. The only feature missing, like many of the Xbox games, is the ability to inport your own music. It would be extremely nice to be able to play the Desert to Will Smith's Wild Wild West or the Jungle to Guns N' Roses's Welcome to the Jungle. While it's something to consider, the gameplay is so involving that it's easy to forget what your listening to anyway, making custom music a moot point.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10

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