Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer gaming

Traditionally summer is the slow period for new games.  There are pluses and minuses to this tradition.  On the upside it is usually nice out and if you don't have the "new hotness" that you must play, well maybe you'll end up getting some exercise and a nice tan.  On the downside no new games are coming out to play and thus by virtue of nothing else to play, you end up going outside and getting some exercise and a nice tan.

Alternatively, you've got a huge glut of games over last winter and because nothing new (or good) has come out recently, you find yourself finally getting through that pile of shame.  The last few weeks have been a bit of all of the above for me.  I keep finding games that I've almost finished (or have "finished" in the story sense of the game--but need to clean up a few more trophies to get the ever illusive Platinum),  Add to the picking and choosing of older titles, I've won a game or two, got a game for my birthday and my son has found a gem worth playing that he borrowed from our library.

I can say that I typically enjoy all types of games, Action, Adventure, First Person Shooters, RPGs and occasionally a sports game.  Seeing that it is summer and the thick of our Nation's pastime, baseball, I decided to give MLB 11 The Show another swing (pun intended of course).  I'm from Detroit.  I don't follow sports all that closely, but given the chance to go see a Tiger's game, or Red Wings game or the Lion's, I'd accept in an instant (Basketball doesn't count--is that really a sport?).  Sports games intimidate me.  I'm not sure why.  I understand the basic mechanics of the sports, but the big titles all seem to want to add Manager functions, Dynasties, full seasons, playoffs, championships.  I don't care about that stuff.  I just want to play the game.  My first attempt at playing MLB 11 The Show back in April ended abruptly after 3 innings with me giving up 9 runs to some team I don't recall and all of batting attempts ending as strike outs.  Sports games look awesome, but learning how to play them, and play them successfully are different ballgames (again pun intended).

I put MLB 11 in last week and figured I'd give it another shot.  I picked Exhibition Match.  Easy.  One game.  I can survive that.  I pick The Tigers, I pick Comerica Park.  Yet somehow the game threw me for a loop.  The opposing team was the San Francisco Giants.  Even though we were playing in Comerica Park the game decided that the Giants were the home team.  Huh?  The entire crowd in Comerica Park is decked out in Giants fan gear.  Seriously?  To add insult to injury when I finally managed to get a triple and get into scoring position the entire stadium booed.  The whole experience just felt wrong.  Comerica Park is where The Tiger's call home.  Such a disconnect.  How can a stadium can look as good as it does, faithfully recreate the ball park, but then queer the whole experience by booing what should be the home team?  After a fierce battle at the pitching mound I ended up winning the Exhibition match.  Learning how to interpret the game and get a better feel for the controls, I find myself wanting to go back and play the game a bit more frequently.

One of the really cool things that MLB 11 does is the Challenge of the Week.  Each week the game pits you as the League's hottest batter against the hottest pitcher.  Each hit you get increases your point multipler so the incentive is to keep getting hits for a homerun of a score (pun intended of course).  The catch to the Challenge of the Week is that only the first attempt is free.  Any subsequent attempts are unlocked by buying attempts in bulk.  Devious.  Just like crack.  We'll give you the first hit for free but then you need to buy if you want more.  The best part is the additional attempts are cheap.  A quarter will get you 5 more attempts.  Who can't afford spending a quarter right?  So far I've avoided the temptation, but with weekly and monthly prizes awarded I can see how some folks who are really into the finest game ever created (Baseball--not necessarily MLB 11) would easily put down extra money for a chance at winning fame and fortune from playing a video game.

Summer typically means spending time outside, enjoying nature while it is nice out.  Seeing a baseball game with the kids.  In true gamer geek fashion I find myself enjoying spending time in front of my TV and playing a sports game in the dark without having to deal with the crowds, traffic, parking and price of a beer and a hot dog.  MLB 11 is really a great way to enjoy baseball without all the associated baggage.

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