Thursday, February 06, 2014

New Sports Games

Sports gaming is a generally neglected genre these days, but three new games have been announced recently, so let's take a look.

The first, and what I think is the most interesting, is The Golf Club. That link goes to the game's website, and it looks fantastic. Even better, it features an incredibly robust course architect, and "incredibly robust" may not be enthusiastic enough--it looks far, far more powerful (and easier to use) than any previous course architect I've ever seen.

The only feature this game doesn't have that I want is a single-player mode. This is intended to be a collaborative experience in terms of online tours and tournaments, and while that's not ideal (for me, anyway), everything else seems so outstanding that I'm not even going to complain (a first!).

Here's an example of how forward-thinking this game appears to be in terms of courses: procedural course generation:
With four clicks of a button from the main menu the game will generate for you a never been played before course. The variation is infinite! 

If you don’t like the course that’s been generated, one click and you can generate a new one. 

 If you want to tailor the courses a little more there are high-level options available to you. Examples of these are the number of holes, par distribution, fairway width, number of bunkers, green size, green slope and rough coverage.

If you think that means a bunch of generic, boring courses, not so. The landscapes in this game look utterly stunning.

Platforms? PS4, XboxOne, and PC. If you want more information (in a very interesting interview), here's a link to a podcast interview over at The Blog For The Sports Gamer: Riding the Pines: Peter Garcin - The Golf Club Game.

Oh, one more thing: release date this spring. Bonus points for not announcing the game too early.

Next, the makers of the Out Of The Park series announced a pro football simulation: Beyond The Sideline Football. It's so deep and has so many simulations features (like OOTP) that I'm not listing them here, but it's comprehensive. Even more importantly, a former Sports Interactive (Football Manager) developer, Francis Cole, is the lead developer for this title.

OOTP is a deep, deep simulation. It's not for everyone, but if you gravitate to that style of simulation and presentation, having a football game in that same vein will be fantastic.

The release date for this game is unfortunately not until some time in 2015.

Last is a new entry in a sometimes-beloved franchise (the first one was beloved, the following entries progressively less so): RBI Baseball. Expect an arcade-style baseball game with full season mode. 

In truth, the last few entries before the franchise took a 10+ year hiatus were not well received, and none of previous code bases will be used anyway (man, I hope not), so this is basically an entirely new baseball game with an old name stamped on top. 

Because of that, the developers are particularly important, and MLB Advanced Media (as far as I can tell) is the same group that developed mobile platform games MLB Ballpark Empire and MLB.Com Home Run Derby.

I played MLB Ballpark Empire after RBI was announced, and there's good news and bad news. The good news is that it's clearly a very competent game in terms of design and development. The bad news is that I couldn't play it for more than an hour because it represents the absolute worst of IAP and social media crapware. Every time I sold a hot dog (I exaggerate, but not by much) the game was asking me if I wanted to share that critical moment via multiple social media platforms.

Um, no. Stop nagging me!

Also, the game used the timer-based mechanism to demand that you spend additional money buying resources instead of being able to play the game for any decent length of time. 

So like I said, it was competent, but not in a good sort of way. 

Hopefully the new game won't have the same tendrils of evil. A new, well-made RBI Baseball could be loads of fun.

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