Sunday, January 4, 2009

Recapturing My Youth

I spent several hours with NHL '09 yesterday, and I must say that I can see why it's being held in such high regard all over the web. I do of course, have my complaints. One of my favorite things about hockey games in the past was taking my player of choice and turning him into some kind of god-like super star... and I don't mean Wayne Gretzky good... that guy is an absolute pussy when it comes to the kind of stats you can rack up in a hockey video game. Hat Trick? Fuck that, I'll give you a hat trick of hat tricks. I would make sure every man on my starting line had a hat trick (I call that a hat stand). The Pittsburgh Penguins were an unstoppable juggernaut. I would play through entire undefeated season and with a Stanley Cup in 4 games outscoring my opponent 80-0 and injuring every player in their starting 5 (I couldn't ever hurt a damn goalie).

This is not the case with NHL '09... and it may be for a couple of reasons. 1) I'm not that far into it, and 2) I've been playing the "Be a Pro" mode. You see, traditionally in hockey games you play as a team... you control whoever has the puck. When on defence you can easily switch between players to take control of whoever is closest to the puck. This is certainly an option in NHL '09, but I get the impression that this isn't entirely the single player experience they want you to have. I say this because all of the achievements in the game are based around advancing your "be a pro" character (and uploading pictures/videos to EA... guess who already racked up THOSE little guys). This mode revolves around taking a single player from a 3rd string minor league player all the way to the pros. This means you only control 1 player in a game... which also means that to rack up your assists and goals, you have to rely on the computer to pass you the puck, OR worse yet, actually put the damn thing in the goal. I've set up an ungodly amount of nice 1-timers, only to have my teammate run right up to the goal and trip over the goalie. I win almost every face-off... only to see whoever the puck goes to immediately turn it over. I'm not faulting the game for this... I'm sure I just picked a shitty team... I just don't understand why I can only control 1 player in the Be A Pro mode. The game even goes as far as to give you a view from the bench when your player isn't in the game (easily fixed by turning off line changes... but COME ON).

As I stated before, I really haven't gotten all that far into the game yet. My player is still on the minor league team and thus surrounded by idiots. I have only played 1 game in the traditional way I mentioned earlier, where I control every player (which was a blast by the way). I've only played with the controls set up to use this "skill stick." That is fun, but I have a feeling I may be more successful with the old school controls.

I realize I've only put complaints here, and that's not at all fair. The game does look amazing, it's got a good learning curve and the game is certainly challenging. I just really need to spend more time with it. So, that's about all I've got.

Oh, and I played a little more Fallout 3 tonight... I can't believe how long that game is... wow.


Tagurit said...

The Pro Mode is what attracted me to Fifa 09 as well. The idea of developing your player from scratch and "nurturing" him into a pro is awesome. EA did some major tweaks to the goalies about 4 years ago that made them much harder to beat. That's fine, I figured out how to beat them anyways. They still haven't figured out defense yet. Scoring was too easy. Then they introduced the skill stick which, in my opinion, made the game worse. Sure you can dribble the puck however you liked but if someone did stuff like that in real life, they'd get railed. It seems like they are just forcing the use of the right analog just because it's there (ie Too Human), making the rest of the controls shift around into an unforgiving cluster. The PC version of the game doesn't include skill stick and I'm happy to play that untainted version.

AirstrikeRhino said...

But, like I said, it can be reset to use the old school configuration. This is apparently something new in the '09 version... I imagine there were a lot of people like you. I'm probably going to try out that control scheme tonight. I'll let you know.

AirstrikeRhino said...

Oh, I also meant to add that I have learned a lot about hockey strategy and positioning with the Be A Pro mode... which is pretty awesome. It has arrows that show up telling you where your player should be at any given time to be "in position." I'm getting to the point now that the arrows almost never show up because I've learned where to be. I've always liked hockey games, but honestly never knew much of the below-the-surface elements of it.

Poops said...

You have learned nothing, and you will be shunned until further notice.