Tag Archives: EA

Chris’ RROD – Need for Speed: Undercover

With new games comes the opportunity for new reviews – as such, next up to face the Ranting Review of Doom is a purchase I made just yesterday while in a very packed Blanchardstown Centre (fucking sales whores...) – Need for Speed Undercover (360 version).

Note, that although the cover art I borrowed from Wikipedia is the PC version, I’ve been playing the 360 version!

Recently, my driving skills were being both trained, and confused with all the multitudes of driving types I’ve been doing. Whether it’s Warthog escorting the flag carrier in Halo 3, scaring dates off by having huge head-on collisions with civilians that can’t learn to get out of the way of a car travelling very fast and honking its horn in Grand Theft Auto 4 (review of that to come), or racing professionally with realistic cars on mostly real tracks in Forza 2. Now I throw in the whole “glue the accelerator down and use nitrous as much as possible” style of driving. While it’s nowhere near realistic, it does tend to be fun :)

The obligatory new stuff to come with the latest instalment is a mixed bag. Highway Battles involve you racing another driver down one of the main highways in near rush hour traffic (thankfully in the same direction as them), with the aim of being in the lead after a set time, or being ahead by 300 metres. It’s not too bad, but the traffic can be downright rotten at times, and one major crash essentially means you’ll lose. Plus for some reason doing a flip totals your car, even though I could have landed it and continued on...

Also new is the Heroic Driving Engine thing. If you played Underground 2, you’ll remember that to replenish your nitrous, you had to perform fancy driving. Well this HDE is essentially the same, only in now fills your “In the Zone” meter, as well as earning you Wheelman points (mentioned later). Having a high Zone multiplier means your nitrous and Speedbreaker fill up quicker and last longer. But any collision with the walls knocks it down, a lot.

Outrun also makes a welcome comeback, although this is me thinking back to Underground 2 again. Instead of being a set distance ahead, you now just need to get in front and stay in front for a certain length of time. So, no matter if you’re 10 feet ahead, or 3 miles down the road, you just need to be ahead for that amount of time. It also means no more getting to 280m ahead, only for the game to suddenly massively increase the AI’s skill so you don’t end up winning. The AI doesn’t seem to adapt as much now, which is why I’ve won races by about 25 seconds or so...

So, the basic principle of Undercover is the same as most of the other NFS games – race illegally on the streets with other racers with pimped out cars that would usually stand out like a sore thumb in the real world and would have cops swarming all over them as soon as they turned on the engine. But that’s realistic, and nothing realistic ever makes it into these games – except for ProStreet, that is...

In the career, you play an undercover cop who has to try and arrest the leaders of the local street racing gangs, by pretending to be one of the gang members, advancing through their ranks until you get deep enough to be able to take out their leaders. To advance you need to win races, complete cop pursuits with set goals and drive fancily to earn Wheelman points and advance up Wheelman ranks. And “taking out” means driving behind them ramming them until you disable their car. Not quite as fun as it sounds. And that’s really all you do until you’ve taken everyone out as completed the career.

Career mode though, is insanely short. Or at least for me it was. I started playing the game at 11pm last night through to 8am this morning, went to bed, started again around half one in the afternoon and was finished the career mode just in time for The Simpsons at 7pm! So for me, it only took around 14 hours to dominate every race I came across, and complete all the cop pursuits and jobs needed to complete the career mode. Finishing it in one day is not really all that fun. Whoring 610 Gamerscore out of it in the process is, however :)

Speaking of achievements, there’s a good mix in Undercover. Single player gives you 825/42, while those requiring Xbox Live make up the remaining 175/8. However, of those multiplayer ones, I’m none to happy about Among the Best (Win 25 Ranked events – 25GS) or Notorious (Finish 119 events – 50GS). Need for Speed online is not the best of places, firstly with EA forcing you to tie your Gamertag to an EA account before you can play online at all, and even then the party system isn’t the best. So, when I do get to play online, they’re either going to be tough as hell to get, or if the other racers are like in ProStreet – piss easy. (I’ll go through that later)

In short, if you’ve played Most Wanted or Carbon, then essentially you’ve played this. It’s really only a rental.

Ranting Review Score

Gameplay: 6/10. A few new ways to do exactly what you’ve been doing for the past few instalments of the series (obviously excluding ProStreet), but other than that largely the same as before.
Replayability: 5/10. I’m not too sure whether it’s worth it replaying the career over and over, and EA’s usual online bullcrap means you might not want to dig it out again.
Engrossness: 7/10. The story was quite engaging and had me playing it non-stop, with the exception of sleep. But the short career knocked it out of my disc tray early...

Total: 18/30. Seriously, rent.

Blog Banter – Gaming Industry Wishes

Blog Banter – the collaborative effort of blogging gamers to all rant about the same topic at the same time! Today’s topic is: If you could ask for one thing this year from the gaming industry as a whole, what would it be and why? Well, to prevent a huge massive list, I’ll try and focus on one thing in particular...

Well, possibly the biggest and most treasured thing to me that I would like to ask from the gaming industry is the return of the Championship Gaming Series! When the CGS suddenly ceased operating on November 18th this year, I was wondering how the gaming industry would cope with the loss of a really well structured and run worldwide televised and streamed gaming league. Well, taking a quick look around most of the other e-Sports portals showed that quite a few people were actually expecting it to happen...

People said that it was an idea that didn’t appeal to a majority of gamers. Most of the appeal was on watching the Counter-Strike: Source matches between some teams which had evolved from teams that started out with their roots in Counter-Strike, but decided to become CGS franchises and expanded to take in the Forza 2, Dead or Alive 4, and FIFA 09 players. The other games weren’t drawing in the attention that the organisers must have hoped for.

Another thing that other people had to say about the league was the televised broadcast structure. Firstly, to conserve air time, only a very brief part of the first half of Counter-Strike was shown, which surely did indeed turn away those who were only watching it for that particular game. I do have to agree not only with that fact, but also the fact that the quality of the broadcast after it was re-edited for the European market was, to be quite frank, a load of bullshit. Sky should have just kept the programs thwe way they were shown over on The 101 back in the US, especially as it was mainly being shown in the late hours of the night here anyway...

Which brings me to the early part of the US regular season. Those matches were not played in the main TV studio and recorded for TV, but they were played in the EA building in Los Angeles. This meant that all the games could be streamed live over the Internet in their entirety. It’s broadcasts like these that most gamers actually look for – live play as it happens, in a “controlled” environment, with expert commentary and most importantly, no breaks or cuts in the action. This is probably what contributed to the ever-reducing popularity of the TV studio matches and broadcasts.

While the series prided on calling itself a global, worlwide league, that was not the case. North America had the most focus with six teams and a regular season before the world finals. Europe had four teams, and only had a European finals before the world finals to play in the competitive environment. And from the rest of the world there were only six other teams with no games apart from their respecitve regional finals to determine who would advance to compete in the world finals. This distanct lack of teams and organised events outside the US is likely another factor in their downfall. It’s as if STAR and BSkyB put as much effort into it as DirecTV and didn’t get as much out of it...

In order to make a return viable though, the league really does need to buckle down and make it more well-known outside of America. The population of America in comparison to the rest of the world doesn’t justify the amount of focus that was placed on them prevously. More franchises would need to be added in all the other regions and some form of regular season matches to be played between the teams to keep up the interest in the league before a more involved and a more global tournament that could truly be called the World Finals of gaming.

Other n00bs involved

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