NHL 17 is surprisingly easy to jump in and out of even in the mode dedicated full season and career modes. Its simple controls for beginners and unobtrusive tutorial system make it a very accessible game that still has a lot of depth.
Now in the third year of the newest console generation, Madden NFL 17 finds itself served well by the combined efforts of the past as well as a number of great small improvements.
Destruction is fun. A few years ago, we were remodeling the upstairs bathroom and I spent a few hours with a sledgehammer busting wall tiles and tearing a ceiling down. It was cathartic and wonderful. Games do a good job of replicating this same sense of satisfaction whether it’s launching a rocket launcher at a pile of cop cars in Grand Theft Auto or deconstructing every piece of a building in Red Faction: Guerrilla. Destruction is a fun time. Dangerous Golf should be, but it isn’t.
WrestleMania will rock the professional wrestling world this Sunday, pitting the biggest names in sports entertainment against each other in front of a predicted crowd of over 100,000 people. As I steel myself for what should be (emphasis on should) be an epic night of wrestling, I want to take a moment and honor some professional wrestlers who found their fame in another art form: video games.
EA UFC 2 is one of the most realistic UFC games since THQ reinvigorated the MMA genre with UFC Undisputed back in 2009, and I'm still not sure if that's good or bad. On one hand I have to plan out each fight as if I were mapping out strategies for a real MMA fight — which will never happen in a million years — and that requires thought and quick decisions on when to strike and when to try a takedown. On the other hand I'm really bad at planning for MMA, preferring to just punch and kick the crap out of an opponent as opposed to clinching or going to the ground, and that approach gets me beaten up a lot.
As the fight enters into the championship rounds, Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald look like they've already been through hell. Their faces each carrying massive battle scars in the making, their bodies weakening by the second due to the high volume of punishment taken. Neither combatant looks like he can take much more, but both will gut it out for the gold and reverie awaiting at the conclusion of this historic and memorable night. The respective teams leave the Octagon and the referee summons both fighters to the center of the cage. The normally excited Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg are tentatively speaking about the carnage that's about to ensue.
If Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash were a book, it would have the cover of an epic novel and the pages of a children’s book. What was billed as a fun and engaging Mario sports game is lacking in both, and instead presents a shallow game that takes all of twenty minutes to fully experience. In a year where Nintendo seemed to make massive strides, delivering a major new IP and finally showing some understanding of how DLC can make games better, Mario Tennis Ultra Smash serves as an unwanted reminder of how Nintendo used to work.
The spectacle of sports entertainment is difficult to perfect in a three-hour Monday night time slot every week, let alone an interactive video game, but 2K Sports sets out every year to bring the professional wrestling experience to gaming consoles everywhere. WWE 2K16 is the studio's latest endeavor, and while there are a lot of improvements from last year's title, the game just can't get the job done.
The music, a generic, 2001-esque rock tune, cuts in and out on the loading screen, then restarts entirely when the level starts to load. Objects pop into view haphazardly, and most textures only start to think about showing up for work. Your character is last to appear, an undetailed blob that vaguely resembles Tony Hawk; you feel a vague unease to go along with his blurred features. The objective: using your skateboarding skills, knock 25 giant balls out of a pool. There are actually 26 balls, but whatever. You struggle with the controls, flailing and flopping on maneuvers you swore you landed, all while the timer counts down with a corporate logo hanging heavy above it. You've nearly gotten all of the balls out when you jump. Tony goes ragdoll for no reason and launches twenty feet into the air in grotesque slow-motion until he tumbles down, into the ground, and jams there like a twitchy tombstone. The textures of his clothes and face finally load; his face is an expressionless, joyless mass with eyes more dead than Gravelord Nito.
Mr. 900's return to console gaming isn't as smooth as we were hoping, given the glitches plaguing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5's launch.