Press Row Hangout: Episode 13

Posted July 13th, 2013 at 11:15 am


On the docket for this week’s Press Row Hangout are thoughts on the critical reception to NCAA Football 14, the inclusion of an NHL 94 mode in NHL 14, and which next-gen game we’re looking forward to most. The show also opens with a spoiler-free discussion on our experiences with The Last of Us. As always feel free to leave any questions or suggestions for future hangouts or podcasts in the comments!

  • graphster

    Your assessment that gameplay got improved dramatically (and the implication that people complaining about the game are only concerned about presentation) is way off. Unless you don’t consider defense a part of “gameplay”, I’m not sure how you come to that conclusion. Pass defense is bad to the point of basically being broken, and the running game borders on being overpowered because the defense lacks appropriate counters to the updated blocking schemes and option plays (gap assignment, etc…). All of the improvements on offense are more or less cancelled out by the fact that defense is so useless that everything feels too cheap/easy on offense.

    • Kirk

      Have you watched college football lately? With the rare exception offenses are way ahead of defenses. Its not unrealistic for defenses to struggle in NCAA 14.

      • graphster

        Hi. I have watched college football lately. Did you happen to notice that the SEC has won 6 straight BCS championship games, almost exclusively on the back of great defenses. Last year, both Alabama and Notre Dame rode outstanding defenses (Alabama had one of the best statistical defenses in NCAA history) to the BCS championship game. The year before that Alabama and LSU played a defensive slugfest for the BCS title (after playing a 9-6 overtime game in the regular season).

        The issue isn’t that scores are high. The issue is that defenses do not work the way they do in real life. Ratings do not matter, and even good defenses will make horrible mistakes on basic plays.

  • Santos

    I think the reason why NHL 94 Anniversary Mode is offline only probably has to do with balancing. Since it’s essentially a no-rules game, how enjoyable would it actually be to play random people? Once a score got too lop-sided, people would just quit. I remember trying to play people in NBA JAM OFE and the moment I began winning by a huge score (10+ pts), people quit out.

    But, EA is holding an event on Wednesday in NYC.( so I guess people can start talking about how the mode really feels. Hopefully someone from the PR Podcast who is in the area (Rich) can try it out. I’m assuming since this is a public event, press should also be welcome.

    • Keith.

      If EA’s holding an event, you can expect at least one of the PR Podcast guys to be there. Some of these guys never miss — why turn down an invite that includes free travel, food, swag, celebrity hobknobbing, etc.? They just never talk about it later when floating out their review scores.

  • Randy

    Interesting rebuttal on the “how sports gamers should play every game”. I doubt people expect a sports games reporter to know every single sport inside-and-out (no one is judging you if you don’t follow cricket or rugby unless you have the queen on your money), they should still have a passing knowledge of those the core sports titles that exist in order to compare and contrast (the core sports games being hockey, football, american football, basketball, baseball and tennis (in no particular)). The sports genre is not exclusive to various sub-genres. RPGs have plenty of sub-genres (JRPG, Western, Turn-based, tactical, etc…), even shooters have multiple sub-genres. Also, if a fighting fan heard you saying that there wasn’t much a difference between games in the genre, they’d probably smack you upside the head (just look at this weekend’s EVO coverage from Vegas)

    But, when people look at a sports pundit, you still expect them to be able to talk about a subject even if they have zero interest in it. Do you really think all the people on ATH (Around The Horn) follow every single sport the same way? Of course not, but they are still on top of things that matter. You don’t have to love hockey, basketball or even tennis games but you should still have some knowledge of what is going on. Considering how EA is using a single engine for all their games, noticing the nuances and subtle differences that are executed between a one-to-one game like UFC and a 11 a side sport like Football or American Football is pretty important.

    Just how Brian was visibly upset when non-traditional reviewers play sports games on a regular basis, I would absolutely hate to read something from someone who reviews Madden without having also played NCAA. Yes, there are differences but there are also similarities that should be touched upon. Just imagine if someone is covering a sports game and makes mention of the “revolutionary” use of the right analog stick in a hockey game when it may have actually came to fruition in a boxing title. We would all make fun of the person for not knowing their facts.

    Again, I don’t think we reading sites like this expect you to have Wikipedia-like knowledge of each and every sport, but it would be nice to at least be able to stay in the conversation.

  • Keith.

    Pretty funny to hear Pasta and Rich continue to defend their buddies at Tiburon — especially since Rich gave NCAA its highest score on metacritic (a 9.0) while he admits to only giving NBA2k13 a 7.0.

    People are entitled to their own opinion, but NCAA’s a 9.0 and NBA2k13’s a 7.0? Yeah, that sounds like somebody whose opinion about Tiburon football should be taken seriously.

    C’mon, now.

    • Its funny to me how talking about what a game does well, to you, is “defending” employees of a company.

      • Keith.

        No, you can talk about what a game does well all you want. It’s the belittling of all the reviewers who’ve scored NCAA poorly (including the press row podcast guy from Joystiq) that I find funny. Hamburgler’s team should’ve been fired years ago, and everybody but you, Rich and Owen Good seem to know it.

        • You say that despite my statement either last year or two years ago (has all blended together so I don’t remember when) that EA needed a new frontman for NCAA because he had lost all credibility.

          • Keith.

            Both of you guys’ responses are fair enough. Look forward to listening to the next show. As for topics, I’d love to hear you guys take on the TW14 story that Pasta referenced in today’s Line Drive. Sales for that game are miserable, and it looks like they’ve taken it out on their most loyal customers by abandoning the game without a second patch. I’m not a golf fan, but those customers’ voices should also be heard.

          • I think its interesting because some surmised the year off would mean EA would support Tiger 14 more than a typical year where attention turns to the next version under a time crunch.

          • Keith.

            Maybe it has to do with them still not having a CEO. I mean, how could they can their NCAA team or approve a TW patch when they’re having so much trouble finding the right guy/woman to make those kinds of decisions? How many other companies in EA’s shoes take 4-5 months to hire a CEO? What’s going on there?

        • Rich Grisham

          Few quick things here:

          1) I am not belittling any reviewers (other than good-naturedly Mike, who is on the show and we all make fun of each other all the time) for their scores. My ONLY issue with any reviewer is when they said that there were no real changes to the game this year. In my opinion, there were some significant changes that have made me enjoy it a lot. That doesn’t mean everyone should like it; far from it. I continue to play it every day and am having a blast. I have no problem with low review scores for anyone who backs up their opinion with compelling arguments.

          2) Regarding NBA 2K13, I think I even said on this show that I got that wrong out of the gate. While I was kind of disappointed with it at first, it was a slow burn that gradually took ahold of me and I continue to play it to this day in online leagues.

          3) The highest review I have ever given a game was NBA 2K12, which remains to this day my all-time favorite sports game.

          I love the dialogue on all of this stuff! I don’t mind that we disagree and even understand why you don’t think my opinion is valuable. That’s another reason I love having so many opinions on Press Row as well as the shows we do that reach out to the community. There will be more of those in the future.

          • graphster

            I honestly don’t think that much changed. Defense is virtually unchanged this year, which is a pretty big deal. Additionally, it does not appear to me that there were any major changes to CPU AI (playcalling, etc…) or to dynasty (perhaps recruiting, but this seems like a marginal change). The physics engine was largely in Madden last year, so even though it is new to NCAA this year, it is not a major breakthrough as far as the football genre goes, or even as far as EA football games go.

            The only real new change that materially impacts the game in a positive way is the addition of new option plays and the improvement of the run blocking, but as previously mentioned, this is largely negated by the lack of appropriate counter measures on the defensive side of the ball.

          • Keith.

            Appreciate the response. Again, opinions are always gonna be different, but hopefully you can also understand why I don’t think ANY football game that, after 8 years and the span of an entire generation of consoles, STILL doesn’t have in-game saves, realistic penalties and ball physics, chain guys on the sidelines, etc. (but do have money grab modes like ultimate team) could ever deserve a 9. Not when games like The Show and NBA2k, which nail the small details, are out there for us to see what a 9 game really looks like.

          • Rich Grisham

            I absolutely understand – you raise several excellent points, especially in-game saves for online dynasty and franchise games. For me personally, as someone who plays in these every single week, a disconnection well into a game is a killer.

          • Iown You

            I’ve always felt that game reviews, especially for sports games, are always posted too soon. If you had asked me what the score for NFL 2K5 should be in 2004 when it just came out, I never would’ve said it was a 9 or 10. But over time, as you play a game and start to understand the direction and see all of the little things, sometimes you begin to recognize how great the game is. Likewise, over time you can also start to see that a game is crap, like how at first Madden 08 seemed good then after a week you began to realize it’s actually a broken mess with a ton of glitches.

          • Rich Grisham

            I strongly agree, and have made mention of this several times on the show. While it’s important to have some initial reviews as soon to release as possible, you’re absolutely right that positive and negative things come to light when you have more time to play. Couple that with the pressure of reviewing games versus just playing them, and your true perception of a title can definitely change over time. NBA 2K13 is a great example of that for me personally; I didn’t realize how much I would really like it out of the gate. Luckily – for me, anyway – my opinion of NCAA 14 is still very strong. I am having a blast in my online and offline dynasties even though there are plenty of issues that many people legitimately raise.

    • Iown You

      Wow, a 9? Wow. The game is definitely not a 9, it’s not a 6 either… but it’s definitely not a 9. That’s wild.

  • Casor_Greener