The Line Drive is a weekly collection of news, links, deal alerts, and updates that didnâ€™t necessarily warrant their own postings.
â™¦Summarized all the biggest sports gaming stories of 2016 for Sporting News.
â™¦Continue voting in all the various categories in the annual Community Awards.
â™¦Still to come: Best New Feature, Post-Release Support, New/Non-Yearly, and SGOTY.
â™¦The second Park After Dark event was another utter failure for NBA 2K17.
â™¦The NCAA Football 14 CFP semifinal sims got one of its upset picks right.
â™¦The NBA 2K17 All-Star Tournament competition through Pro-AmÂ is now underway.
â™¦Evidence has been discovered of the dreaded “rubber-banding” in FIFA 17.
â™¦The PSN Holiday Sale with some solid deals only runs until morning of Jan. 3rd.
â™¦Amazon also hasÂ Madden PS4 for $30Â and FIFA 17 PS4 $30 as digital deals.
â™¦Out of the Park Baseball 17Â still on sale for just $10 but deal ends Monday.
â™¦Rocket League on Xbox One and PC digitalÂ is currently on sale for $12.
â™¦Only a few weeks old and Steep is already on sale for $40 on both Xbox One and PS4.
â™¦The deal for a one-time use 99 cent rental of any movie on AmazonÂ is still available.
The next category in the annual Pastapadre Community Awards is one that was warranted as a new addition for 2016. This was an especially great year for racing games, and the three nominees stood above the rest as favorites of both critics and fans, each one appealing to a somewhatÂ different type of racing aficionado and yet satisfying most everyone who played them.
Forza Horizon 3 straddles the line between sim and arcade and provided great variety of racing through it’s various event types and the setting of Australia. Similarly, DiRT Rally has arcade elements but leans sim, and while it’s limited to rally racing the number of stages and various weather effects made each run thrilling. Then there’s F1 2016, which pleased with itsÂ ultra-sim and authentic nature along with an expansive Career Mode.
Every year itâ€™s important to look back on developments within the sports gaming genre, not just as a reminder of what has happened, but as insight into the direction individual franchises are going and the trends within the industry that will impact them all.
2016 was a year that saw strong efforts across the board from major publishers and more independent developers making their way in to cover the abandoned arcade-style games and various niche sports. The broken release schedule remains a major concern, publishers are still struggling to gain traction in the world of eSports, the return of college sports games don’t appear to be any nearer, and post-release support is providing greater value and longevity to sports games than they’ve ever been able to offer before. Check out summaries of theÂ important news stories and developments from 2016 in the piece written for Sporting News!
The College Football Playoff is almost here and, as it so happens, Bryan Wiedey and Rich Grisham both have their teams involved and going head-to-head in the semifinal. The two discuss Washington vs Alabama and NCAA Football 14 simulations of the games before turning to topics such as the Blizzard Mountain expansion for Forza Horizon 3 and a rundown of the annual Pastapadre Community Awards categories and nominees for 2016.
Check out the podcast through iTunes for iOS,Â onÂ Android with the Stitcher app,Â or withÂ Pocket Casts on iOS, Android, and Windows. The show can also now be found on the recently launched Google Play Music for podcasts.Â Subscribe and review to help support the show! You can also listen with the streaming player below.
The College Football Playoff is almostÂ here, with Washington vs Alabama and Ohio State vs Clemson on Saturday. NCAA Football 14 was perfect on its Conference Championship predictions early this month and now it returns to give its picks for the CFP semifinals.
Somewhat surprisingly, the game likes the two underdogs to advance, with Washington prevailing in OT and Clemson cruising despite Deshaun Watson being knocked out of the game due to injury.Â Check out the full results of the simulations over at Sporting News!
The voting is now open for Best Franchise Mode of 2016 in the annual Pastapadre Community Awards. This category was originally controlled by EA Sports with NCAA Football and Madden winning the first four years. The last two however have been taken by NBA 2K after the creation of a highly customizable offline franchise to pair with the online-connected one.
NBA 2K17 looks to make it a three-peat with the offline MyLeague and online MyGM both contributing as unique franchise experiences. The new feature for MyLeague ‘Start Today’ allows for beginning a season on the current date with the real-life updated record and stats. Both MyLeague and MyGM received expansion abilities that can take leagues up to 36 teams.
Madden NFL 17’s Franchise Mode offered a revamped SuperSim called ‘Play The Moments’ which was well-received by those looking to get through games more quickly or to control only the important stretches of games, introduced ‘Big Decisions’ for things like when to bring back players from injury and an in-game score ticker, redesigned the game planning, and is still by far the best Online Franchise experience in the sports gaming genre.
FIFA 17 brought in new goals in the form of board expectations, updated the mode’s financial system, added 11 real-life managers, and offered even more licensed leagues.
The final week of the PlayStation Holiday Sale has delivered some new deals to consider on a handful of recent sports games. This could be a good opportunity to pick up any that were missed out on fromÂ Black Friday promotions or those that were hoped to have been received as gifts. The prices of the games are solid for this point in their respective life cycles, and considering there’s no EA Access on PS4 (possibly preferred alternative to buying them outright now or at a later date) it’ll be some time before the cost is lowerÂ for the EA Sports titles.
Similar deals continue to be available for those with Xbox Live Gold subscriptions on Xbox One with the exception of UFC 2 and (of course) MLB The Show. UFC and Rory McIlroy are already included in the EA Access Vault. Madden could be added as early as around time of the Super Bowl while FIFA will likely require waitingÂ until April or May.
The next category to open in the annual Community Awards is for Best Online Play. This one has naturally been dominated by EA Sports due to struggles online from the other major sports game publishers. NCAA Football took it once and Madden is on a streak of five straight wins.
The number of ways to play online has continued to expand with Madden NFL 17 which just as importantly features one of the most consistent experiences in terms of online performance. There’s regular Head-to-Head, Draft Champions, Ultimate Team, Salary Cap Ranked, and Online Events. Madden also features by far the best Online Franchise experience in the genre.
The FIFA series has always been great online, an impressive feat considering its huge user base which is spread across the globe. Add in online modes that can involve up to 22 players connected in and it’s remarkable to consider how well the games run. Like Madden, FIFA 17 features a number of different ways to play online within its Ultimate Team mode.
As an online-based game Rocket League had to be great to be successful and it has been all the way into its second year. The games almost always run perfectly and the variety in matches – with additions like basketball, power-ups, and unique arenas – has kept the game fresh and immensely popular well beyond the expiration date of most games these days.