Game Room: August Roundup
Madden NFL 12
The most popular sports franchise in all the land takes its game to the next level yet again, just don't expect to be blown away by one single element of this year's build. Instead of breaking out an entirely new mode or game-changing new feature, Madden NFL 12 chose instead to sprinkle a variety of solid upgrades throughout the game. For Franchise Mode you get the new Dynamic Player Performance. Instead of your players behaving like robots throughout the course of the season, this year, your players' ratings will fluctuate from week to week based on confidence and consistency. The feature brings the game one step closer to becoming as real as the games you watch ever Sunday. Online Communities let you create or join groups of up to 2,000 players where you set the rules and play with like-minded gamers. It's all a great response to help honest gamers monitor cheaters and quitters who affect online stats. There are over 100 new big-hit animations incorporated into gameplay, plus 32 team-specific stadium intros, Soldier Field for the first time, and 3-D grass graphics. The game also worked with NFL Films to roll out real-life broadcast camera angles for a presentation like we've never seen before. NFL Madden 12 is definitely a step in the right direction and you will spend countless hours running your own franchise. Still, without a game-changing new feature this year, hardcore fans of the franchise will be anticipating something huge for next season. Score: 8.5 out of 10
NFL Sunday Ticket on PSN
Sony has announced a partnership with DirectTV to provide NFL Sunday Ticket as a pay service on the PlayStation Network (PSN) for the upcoming season. The service will cost $340 for the season, and will be available for customers "who do not currently have access to DirectTV". It’s unclear if that will exclude customers that choose other providers over DirecTV in markets where that service is available. We really hope that’s not the case as this would be the first time Sunday Ticket was available to folks that don’t use DirecTV’s satellite service. Sunday Ticket on PSN will allow customers to get up to 14 out of market games in HD and access to the Red Zone channel. Existing DirectTV customs will be able to access the service on PSN for no additional charge. Sony has yet to announce when the service will go live on PSN. Sony also announced a price drop for the 160GB PS3 down to $250, so this could turn into the must-have bundle of the year.
FIFA Soccer 12: Three's Company
EA has teamed up an impressive trio for the cover of its newest soccer title. The cover features Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, LA Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan and Rafael Marquez of Mexico’s national team. FIFA Soccer 12 is scheduled for a September 27 release on the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PSP, 3DS and PS2.
Hands On: NBA 2K12
As a player Michael Jordan was never one-upped, but as a video game feature, he might have just been outdone. As awesome as it was to re-create Jordan's most historic moments in NBA 2K11 , 2K12 takes it a step further by introducing a whole new batch of playable legends with the NBA's Greatest mode. Not only can you play as Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Julius Erving, but if you win, you also unlock the team you're playing against as those legends. You know what that means: Craig Hodges on the ‘86 Bucks! Seriously though, in addition to Magic, Bird and Jordan, you also get guys like Orlando Magic guard Penny Hardaway in his prime -- as well as thin Shaq, Larry Johnson (Grandma-ma!) and Alonzo Mourning, and Atlanta Hawk Dominique Wilkins at his backboard shaking best. The games range from the 60s (Russell's Celtics) to the late 90s (Stockton-Malone's Jazz), and the appearance changes accordingly. The early games are broadcast in grainy black and white with tin-like crowd noise and no three-point line. All of these match-ups feature the same smooth gameplay the 2K series has perfected in the last couple of years plus new animations like players jumping over the scorers’ table while chasing loose balls. Kudos to 2K for not resting on their laurels after bringing MJ back from retirement last year. There's a lot to look forward to here. NBA 2K12 is scheduled for an October 4 release on the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, PSP and PS2.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
In Deus Ex: Human Revolution you play as Adam Jensen, a security specialist embroiled in a military industrial complex conspiracy set in the gloomy, but technologically fruitful year 2027. Early on, Jensen is nearly killed and his company rebuilds him with cybernetic augmentations. As this role playing game progresses you earn points that are used to upgrade Jensen’s augmentations with abilities that enhance stealth, combat and social abilities. How you choose to upgrade your character defines how you’ll play the game. If you build up stealth skills you can actually accomplish all missions without any fatalities, with the exception of scripted boss battles where heads will roll. If you want to always shoot first and ask questions later, you can do that, too. How you play, and the decisions you make along the way shape the outcome of the game and how the characters within it perceive you. The augmentations are all pretty cool. They allow you to punch and see through walls, hack security terminals, cloak in plain sight, and to dish out some serious whooping on the bad guys. Whichever path you take with augmentation upgrades won’t leave you disappointed and opens the door to replay the game. The visuals in the game are a nice mix between Blade Runner and iRobot, combining dark, rich exteriors and sleek, shinny interiors. The voice acting is decent as well, though it pales to the sound effects and excellent musical scoring. Score: 9 out of 10
3DS Price Drop
With more handheld competition on the way from Sony's PS Vita , Nintendo has taken a shot at expanding its market share with a price drop for the 3DS. The price is now $170, down from the launch cost of $250. With Legend of Zelda already out, and a slew of high profile first-party titles ( Star Fox 64 , Super Mario 3D Land , Mario Kart and Kid Icarus) on the way, the price drop could be a strong incentive for holiday shoppers.
God of War Origins Collection
If you're a God of War completionist, the Playstation 3 just got a lot more interesting. PS2 classics God of War 1 and 2 were released as a compilation for PS3 back in 2009, and now Sony has brought the junior members of the family -- Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta -- from the PSP platform to the PS3 on a single disc. Both games show subtle graphical improvements, mostly in the area of improved framerate, texture enhancements and HD resolution, though they don't come close to touching the graphical splendor of the PS3-only God of War 3 . Gameplay is identical to the PSP versions, albeit with the considerable advantage of a second analog stick to make dodging much more fluid and natural. The graphical improvements are welcome, though seeing the game rendered so sharply on a big screen does make some of the PSP polygon work look a little dodgy. Players will also likely find themselves fighting with the camera, as it has a stubborn tendency to aim itself where ranged enemies aren't. Minor quibbles aside, these games were among the finest on the PSP platform, and fans of the series will definitely lap up the opportunity to play the entire series on a single console. Parents should take note, though, that this is definitely not a game for the kids: the ports retain the notorious button-pressing sex sequences and the gore factor is through the roof. Score: 8 out of 10