Reviewers don’t actually bother with online play

Posted July 26th, 2007 at 4:18 pm
Penn State RB

I've stated this before in write-ups, but media site reviewers don't bother to fully evaluate the online modes of sports titles. Whether it be due to having to push out reviews before the game actually releases or just a lack of caring about it, clearly it is the one area that is routinely ignored for sports games.

Issues such as the distance based lag in EA Sports titles and the broken leagues in 2K titles never have been mentioned in the past. Some games may even end up with nothing written about the online mode.

Most of the time all the reviewers do is look at the what the company says the game has for online play and regurgitate that info along with a generic statement about what they think about those options. They might even add in another generic statement such as it being "solid" or having some lag…as you'll see as you read on.

I've become more strongly annoyed by this in recent days. The latest examples are saying that All-Pro Football 2K8 has online co-op (it doesn't), The BIGS has 4 player online co-op (it only has 2 player co-op vs CPU) or that NCAA Football 08's online play is any good.

I detailed last week how poor the overall experience NCAA Football presents in the online area. Since then nothing has changed or improved. So lets look at a few of the reviews when it comes to NCAA Football 08's online play and see what they had to say.

TeamXbox: The online elements are well-done, too, particularly when it comes to sharing your gameplay videos with your friends…Online options are very solid.

Yes, that is the ENTIRE look that TeamXbox gives you regarding NCAA's online play. How are the options solid? There are no options! No mini-games playable, no leagues. Just quick games. There is no variable weather or night games or even a way to view a player card showing record and statistics. The video/screenshot sharing is awesome but I would hesitate to include that as an "online option".

IGN: The online play is still solid, although it's still disappointing that there are still no online season options included for players to join and play. You're still relegated to ranked or unranked matches, but that's pretty much all that you have outside of the lobby system.

Again, the FULL analysis of online play by IGN. Thanks a lot! I'd love to hear why they considered it "solid"? Games are consistently laggy with disconnect issues, there is horrible menu/button lag especially in depth charts, the clock doesn't allow enough time to choose a play on defense. They do mention the lack of options, but I thought TeamXbox said that was "solid"? I'm so confused!

Gamespot: Online play is OK, but lag makes it consistently difficult to tackle and kick.

Thankfully GS came through and at least mentioned the lag. But they don't go into anything else. They also bring up the Weather Channel feature in a way that makes it seem as if it works in online games. I'm not sure if they actually meant it that way or not. Regardless it could confuse some people as many were expecting that feature to be included online.

1UP: So does anything taint this revitalized gridiron? Yep, and it starts online. Once again, the NCAA series (along with EA's Madden 08, which we'll review next month) are severely slackin' in this area. Sure, the online matchups run pretty much without a hitch — but, man, what do we gotta do for an online Dynasty mode across the Internet? C'mon, EA: It's about time you made it possible for a bunch of online friends to join up and battle it out for the BCS crown and recruits.

Ironically the site that generally gives the most brief reviews had the most written about online. At the very least they do address the lack of attention EA gives the online side, but the statement how it runs "pretty much without a hitch" is baffling.