End of Year Community Awards: Best New Feature of 2014

Posted January 2nd, 2015 at 12:30 pm


The voting for various categories in the Pastapadre Community Awards continues with Best New Feature. Development focus has shifted in recent years from providing innovative features to creating content for Ultimate Team modes along more avenues to generate digital revenue. Despite that there were a few new features this year which deserve recognition over others.

Previous winners of Best New Feature include Postseason Mode (MLB 13), Connected Careers (Madden 13), NBA’s Greatest (NBA 2K12), and The Jordan Challenge (NBA 2K11). There are four nominees to choose from that debuted in 2014 and they come out of The Golf Club, MLB 14, NBA 2K15, and Super Mega Baseball. 

MLB 14: The Show introduced two features that are related enough that they’ll be considered together as one nominee. Player Lock and Quick Counts made it possible to play through games quicker while still having a fairly significant influence on the outcome. Player Lock allowed you to control just a single player through a game while the rest was simulated. Quick Counts was received in mixed fashion (some loved it some hated it) as it dropped you deeper into counts therefore removing early pitches from each plate appearance. That meant the loss of some managerial decisions and a lack of feel for how a batter was being worked or the ability to set up a batter when pitching but the trade-off were games that would finish about a 1/3 quicker than when traditionally played.

The Greg Norman Course Designer in The Golf Club has been widely praised and deservedly so. There are a ton of options and editing tools at the user’s disposal. Courses can be crafted in very realistic fashion or creatively off-the-wall ideas can be realized. It also allows for the creations to be shared across platforms meaning regardless of which system it was built on it can be downloaded on others. The Course Designer has continued to be improved upon through post-release support.

The Park was introduced in NBA 2K14 but with NBA 2K15 expanded into something much more. Now known as MyPark the feature also includes the Jordan Rec Center and The Stage. In the Rec Center games are full 5v5 with NBA rules and clock. The Stage allows you to wager VC on games. There are also three factions now which, despite some recent balancing issues, has added to a competitiveness within the mode. Conceptually MyPark is smart and innovative but a few design decisions (“Got Next” being the main one) and unreliable servers drag it down. But when actually playing it’s a lot of fun.

The earlier three nominees were cemented and then came along Super Mega Baseball and its “Ego” system and the category had to be expanded by one. Ego is a brilliantly implemented difficulty system that you shouldn’t be surprised to find other companies borrowing from from in the future. Not only does it challenge the player in the right way as opposed to “punishing” them for being good or getting better at the game, but it provides incentive to increase difficulty by distributing more “Starpoints” as the levels go higher. It also led to the “99 Ego Challenge” where people face the CPU on the “Impossible” difficulty level and see who is able to come through with the “best” loss on that setting.

Best Gameplay
Best Franchise Mode
Best Career Mode
Best Presentation
Best Online
Most Disappointing Game
Best Post-Release Support
Breaking Down the Awards Categories (Videos)