Category Archives: PS4

EA UFC Reveals Mystery Fighter, Father Of MMA, Bruce Lee

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EA Sports has been teasing the addition of a mystery fighter for the upcoming launch of the UFC franchise and the clues made it immediately obvious that it would be Bruce Lee. Today the company confirmed that Lee will be on the roster available immediately to those who pre-order (unlockable by completing Career mode for those who don’t) and playable in four different weight classes (Fly, Bantam, Feather, Light). The deal is being offered through all retailers including Amazon however nothing has been mentioned pertaining to digital purchases. 

Along with that news the company has confirmed the release date as June 17. That’s technically the last day EA would be able to release it without slipping out of spring – which they have promoted as the scheduled time frame all along.

In 2004 UFC president Dana White stated that he believed Lee was the “father of mixed martial arts” for his blending of styles so with that in mind it’s not a huge surprise that he would look to include him in a game out of respect and for the attention it would generate. The UFC even sells official Bruce Lee merchandise so the connection has been there.

Lee has been one of the most downloaded created fighters in Fight Night and MMA but this year EA removed the feature and those with a cynical point of view will say his addition was the reason why. Regardless it’s questionable whether his presence will make for a legitimate selling point for consumers when he obviously never had any association with UFC (formed 20 years after his death) – and early reaction to the news appears decidedly mixed – but it’s a big name that will clearly be pushed hard in the marketing campaign.

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EA Sports UFC Feel The Fight Trailer

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Last month a trailer focusing on the realism in fighters was released for EA Sports UFC. Today the company has pushed out a new one that centers on the “Feel the Fight” tagline which was described through eight features at last year’s E3. There is still no release date set for UFC, which is coming to PS4 and Xbox One, however it’s now expected to be early-mid June.

The second video in our EA SPORTS UFC Gameplay Series spotlights the different ways a fighter’s body reacts when being pushed to its limits and beyond inside the Octagon. Watch our athletes act, react and compete in with an unprecedented level of realism. Not every win in our game is going to be pretty and you’ll need to pay the price if you’re going to come out on top.

 

More on EA Sports UFC Gameplay Features

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At last June’s E3 eight core gameplay features were revealed by EA Sports for their first UFC title. Quite a lot of time passed – understandable given there was about a year until expected release at that point – before the company followed up with some more significant news on the game. A trailer was recently released going over many of those same concepts and now more detailed descriptions of those areas have been provided. 

Precision Movement
The first step to putting you in control of realistic, world-class fighters is creating believable movement.

Partnering with the EA SPORTS FIFA team and leveraging all new EA SPORTS IGNITE technology, EA SPORTS UFC has created a locomotion system that eliminates sliding and skating around the canvas and instead emulates the complex footwork of a real fighter.

“This new locomotion system creates the sense that when someone throws an overhand right, they’re really planting their foot, transferring the power up through their leg, into their arm, and ultimately into their opponent’s face,” explained Creative Director Brian Hayes. “It sounds like a really simple thing, but it wasn’t something we had really done before.”

Not only will a fighter’s movement create a more believable athletic performance, but the design team also took special care to give the user as much control over that movement as possible, drawing a line between regular locomotion and fight-specific maneuvering.

“We could have just mo-capped a guy moving around like Frankie Edgar, bobbing, weaving, slipping jabs – and all you had to do was move around the left stick to make that happen. But you probably wouldn’t feel like you had that much control and he’d be doing all that stuff on this own,” he continued. “We had to put the onus to be defensive on the user. If you want to slip, move, and bob your head like Frankie Edgar you won’t be able to do that just using the left stick. You’re going to have to flick the left stick to dodge left or right or backwards, or use the left trigger and the left stick, to slip punches while just standing in place.”

Full-Body Deformation
One of the toughest features to realize, but also one that best represents the realism that next-gen tech offers, Full-Body deformation will be the exclamation point on every strike and submission battle. Full-Body Deformation allows a fighter’s flesh to react as it would in reality, displacing or rippling when met with the impact of a blow or the pressure of an opponent’s submission attempt.

“MMA is unique in the sense that we only have two fighters facing each other at a given time as opposed to 10 basketball players on a court, or 22 soccer players on a pitch,” pointed out Hayes. “So we wanted to take the opportunity and ask, what are some things we can do with two human characters that aren’t wearing jerseys, pads, or helmets? We wanted something to show that we were really pushing the boundaries with this new technology.”

Real Damage
Forget always looking up at the HUD. Damage in EA SPORTS UFC will look better than ever and give gamers the perfect ammunition for trash-talking their opponents during a fight.

“If someone’s laying into your legs, you’ll be able to see the really painful looking contusions on your fighter’s legs. Same with the body – you’ll see a lot of bruising there. And of course on the face we have a variety of cuts and swelling. It’s all there and it looks better than it ever has before,” said Hayes. “The blood is also physics-based, so if a fighter gets cut on the bottom of some ground and pound, you don’t just see random blood appear on the ground – it actually flies out of a fighter’s cut, lands on the mat and you can watch it the whole way. “

No matter how much damage a fighter absorbs, gamers can rest assured they’ll always be able to go the distance, so long as they manage to stay conscious.

“We decided not to have any doctor stoppages in EA SPORTS UFC. People will have different opinions on this, but we ultimately didn’t want to rob the user of the chance to make it to the end of a fight or score a wicked comeback because the AI of an Octagon-side physician decided they couldn’t continue,” he added. “You’ll recoup right away after your fight, so if you’re playing in an online tournament, you won’t carry that damage over to your next bout.”

Exertion
A staple of any great fighting game, exertion will be a lot more intuitive in EA SPORTS UFC and like Real Damage, provide you with the visual cues to know your fighter is expending a lot of energy without having to glance up at the HUD.

“Aside from being a lot more intuitive, we’ve also made it specific to fighters,” added Hayes. “At the end of a five-round fight that had an incredible pace, you’ll still see veins bulging out on Frankie Edgar, but you won’t see him sucking wind. Hector Lombard on the other hand might have to take some time off here and there otherwise he’ll be pretty tired by the end.”

NCAA Ordered to Talk Settlement in O’Bannon Case; Eventual Resolution Will Determine Future of College Sports Video Games

Last week the judge in the Ed O’Bannon class-action case vs the NCAA ordered the two sides to enter settlement talks. Naturally questions have started to come in about whether this could accelerate a return of college football (and other sports) video games.

There is no longer a video game element to the case – although Sam Keller has continued to argue that he was not a part of the earlier settlement that got Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Company out of it. A conclusion to litigation that would provide an outline for players to be paid (whether from share of broadcasting rights, personal endorsements, and/or merchandising) could open the possibility of video games back up. 

It’s very unlikely that a settlement will be reached which would mean the case proceeding through the lengthy process that with appeals could be five years away from a conclusion. There is no requirement that the sides attempt to reach one in good faith – just that they attend the required mediation. Even if a the two sides came to a settlement the specific terms would be critical.

EA could manage paying collegiate athletes $50-$100 a season. That’s essentially what they did with the $40 million settlement. With NCAA Football establishing a successful Ultimate Team mode they could afford additional costs especially when being able to promote real players officially in the game would likely increase sales of the product. Going much higher than that though, or having a system where players negotiate their own appearance fees, could make it more difficult to financially justify.

Earlier/Summary Below

The player likeness lawsuit against the NCAA, CLC, and Electronic Arts is the culmination of two high profile filings that were combined as led by Sam Keller and Ed O’Bannon (and O’Bannon now heads it up). It alleges improper use of player likeness through various forms of merchandise and media including video games in which the parties in question conspired to avoid paying players for their rights. Some interesting details and claims regarding the case at hand were revealed when EA was reentered as a defendant after initially being dismissed.

EA originally won a previous case regarding player likeness with the courts ruling video games are artistic works rather than commercial speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court in 2011 established forms of media, producing expressive works of art, are not subject to judgments based on incorporating someone’s name or likeness. That dismissed case however, involving Ryan Hart, has resurfaced after an appeals court reversed a decision based on that argument.

Recent uncovered emails have shown that NCAA representatives were well aware that players in games were based off real-life players. At one point the NCAA and EA had nearly reached an agreement to have actual player names included in the products. The EA Locker / Roster Share feature was a fallback option. With momentum clearly on the plantiffs’ side NCAA reps have begun to publicly express concern over the future of collegiate sports. A former EA Sports producer admitted players in NCAA games were based off real athletes.

The discovery of Tim Tebow’s name being in NCAA Football 10 could throw another wrench into EA’s series of arguments. Depositions from former Alabama wide receiver Tyrone Prothro and UConn basketball guard Tate George support the defendant’s reasoning for denying class action certification. The class action hearing resulted in the judge heavily questioning the legitimacy of a potential class and insisting a current athlete be involved. The judge required current athletes be added as plaintiffs for that party to have representation if the case is certified as class action. Six current college football players were added as plaintiffs in mid-July.

EA is now arguing to be dismissed as a defendant in the suit. A major defense for the company however was recently struck down by an appeals court.

This consolidated case in California if certified as class action would go to trial – barring a settlement – and ultimately be the determining factor of how the NCAA proceeds in the future handling broadcasting rights, merchandising, and video games. Should a negative result come down, which one analyst has pegged as being a potential loss of $1 billion for EA, it would likely not just end the NCAA Football series but also with it any realistic possibility of college sports games being made in the future. The trial now is slated to begin June 9, 2014. Appeals following a decision could extend the fight through 2020.

[RESOLUTION] EA and the CLC have settled the lawsuit. EA Sports will no longer produce a college football game. Getting out of the lawsuit only cost EA and CLC $40 million.

New Golf Game Coming to Xbox One and PS4 This Spring

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While there will be no usual golf game from EA Sports this year – as they transition away from Tiger Woods and attempt to launch in strong fashion on the new systems in 2015 – the new generation won’t be going without golf after all.

 

HB Studios, who has partnered with Electronic Arts in the past, most recently developed Rugby World Cup 2011 and the infamous NBA Baller Beats. They have also contributed to games like Madden and FIFA on the Wii and other EA Sports tiles that made their way onto secondary platforms including PS2, PC, and PSP.

Their latest effort is The Golf Club which will release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC this spring. Being described as a simulation the game will include a course creator with final designs able to be shared and used in online matches. Tournaments and Tours can be customized and shared as well. Also touted is practically zero load time between holes, challenges vs friends, and social media integration. Check out some early videos highlighting gameplay and the Course Creator.

Lack of NFL License News Raises Questions

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Almost two years have passed since the NFL extended the exclusive video game license with EA Sports. At the time the events made it obvious that the satisfied partner in the relationship was the NFL and not EA. It was evident that EA would later seek to secure much more favorable terms come negotiation time.

An extension to the exclusive license has still not been announced. In the past that news has come in February (2008 and 2011) each time two years in advance of expiration. Now though the current deal is set to expire next month and there have been no updates from either side on how things will proceed. 

EA had the leverage going into the process. The NFL has been happy with the partnership to date. The exclusive deal has brought in four times as much money each year as when multiple licensees paid in and they’ve been able to enact a level of control over the product that projects the image the league desires. The NFLPA loves the arrangement too because it brings in the most money possible. For the league to turn to a different company would mean likely no NFL game on the market for at least two years and that is an unthinkable scenario.

Unlike partnerships related to apparel, uniforms, beverage, and the like there is a turnaround time and a greater sense of uncertainty that would come with switching video game developers. Though now they are expected to extended NFL Sunday Ticket with DirecTV at one point they strongly considered going elsewhere with it when DirecTV questioned its value. That is similar to how EA Sports has felt as development costs increased coupled with shrinking sales. The common thread however with how the NFL handles its brand is exclusivity. It would go against their M.O. to open up a license to multiple parties.

That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. EA Sports has no reason to pay a premium for the exclusive when the threat of competition is thin even if other companies had the opportunity to buy in. The investment for a new company to begin from scratch would be enormous beyond whatever enter fee there would be for the license and then there would only be the potential of splitting the pie with EA who has one of the strongest brands in gaming history with Madden. Still it’s a more realistic scenario than new serious competitors entering the field in other sports.

EA Sports continues to develop Madden NFL 15 and there have been no indications that the license is in question for this year. At the very least they seem to have secured a limited extension yet there has been no official announcement of details. That they have avoided addressing the topic suggests there very well could be a change to the status quo and the news on that being held until the completion of the NFL season and the expiration of the previous deal. Neither side gains from the perception of uncertainty so if an agreement for extending the exclusive has been reached there would have been no reason to hold an announcement back.

No one should get their hopes up too high of a change to the way the NFL license is handled and who will be involved developing officially licensed games. However there is reason to believe that a change of sorts is plausible. February or early March would be the time when details will have to be shared regarding any parties attached through a deal.

NBA 2K14 Next-Gen: Hands-on Impression of Graphics, Gameplay and Features

Article Courtesy Of Bleacher Report & Columnist Brian Mazique

After attending the media event held for the next-generation version of NBA 2K14, the overwhelming impression I came away with was: wow. Obviously, we knew the graphics would be stellar. It is easy to see from the feature image the attention to detail is on another level.

Because it is a next-gen title and this was expected, it says something that most people I spoke to at the event were still impressed with what they saw. These weren’t newbies on hand. Besides myself, other hardcore sports gamers like Shakedown2012 and Da Czar were in attendance. Here’s a taste of what they had to say about what they saw.

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These positive vibes extended beyond the initial look at the “flashy” replay screens. Once we got an opportunity to play full five-on-five gameplay, the raves continued. There was obviously more to discuss than just the visual excellence in the game, but as long as eyeballs are the organ most prominently used to enjoy a video game, things will always begin with graphics.

Eye Candy Galore

The closeups during replays and cutaway scenes are simply the best you’ve seen in a video game. The emotion captured in players’ faces brings them to life. The sweat, jersey movement and seemingly endless amounts of animation are jaw-dropping. According to the developers, nearly every NBA player in the league had their heads scanned with this level of detail.

Even I had my head scanned. Because of the enormity of my cranium, they had to bring in HD widescreen lenses…I’m kidding..I think.

Here’s a look at one of the images the scanners took of me in the game. This is not a photo, this is just how detailed I would look if I were in the game. It captured every blemish and hoops-related scar on my mug. I was sitting too high, so the top part of my dome was cut off a bit, but you can see the imprint my tight Chicago Bears hat left.

This type of detail translates to the on-court action.

Once the camera is panned out to a realistic and playable camera angle, the game looks just as good. You know how parents, spouses, girlfriends and other non-gamers mistake some games for a real broadcast on current-gen games? This could easily happen to a person who plays the game on a regular basis now.

From a TV-style camera view, the action looks just that real. Take a look at more screenshots and full gameplay here:

Gameplay

NBA 2K14 is powered by a new engine called Eco-Motion. The game plays similar to current-gen, but there are noticeable enhancements. Foot planting is a big deal, as it eliminates the sliding that was prevalent in current-gen games.

There was a solid demonstration shown with LeBron James and James Harden. This technology goes a long way in bringing home the concept that every step counts and is realistic. This is really noticeable when you’re guarding a man one-on-one. The over-exaggerated momentum doesn’t automatically throw you off course as it did before.

The Eco-Motion system also brings home an almost endless array of shot releases. There was a video shown of Kevin Durant launching three-pointers from the wing. Each release was different with the variations caused by how he landed and the impact the closeout defender physically had on him.

True sim gamers will love and appreciate this type of detail.

While I can’t completely confirm this in the three quarters of gameplay I experienced, it would appear that the new Point of Emphasis feature brings out the influence of a coach, and his philosophy, more than ever.

The POE ties into a coach’s tendencies and approach, and it can be switched mid-game. If you believe the inside game needs to be taken away, you can direct your team to shut down driving lanes and post entry passes.

There was visible proof given of this type of change via screenshots in the demonstration, but in all honesty, during a whirlwind of gameplay, I didn’t think to try and implement it. The menus and options were definitely there, though.

Overall, I came away impressed with the A.I., especially as it pertains to off-the-ball action. Cutters moved realistically, and more importantly, defensive players sought to deny passes more aggressively.

Last but not least, on this front is the new feature called Emotion Plus. Senior designer Rob Jones introduced this option. It captures the impact and effect a player’s personality has on the game.

Some guys are leaders and alpha dogs like Kobe Bryant, while others are seen as volatile personalities like DeMarcus Cousins. Depending on the events of the game, these personalities shine through in players facial expressions, mannerisms and on-court performance.

Guys like Bryant and Chris Paul were shown counseling and leading their teams on the way to the sidelines. Cousins was shown getting very emotional after a call didn’t go his way.

It was pretty awesome.

My Career

Per the NBA 2K14 presentation, My Career is by far the most-played mode in the series. There seems to be a lot of work put into making the next-gen version of the popular mode standout from its predecessors.

From a customization standpoint, there were at least five new hairstyles to choose from when creating your My Player. The player on display was a spot-on recreation of community manager Chris Manning, aka @LD2K on Twitter.

The hairstyle he was sporting was a fade with star graphics carved into the sides of his hair. It was over the top but cooler than the outside of an igloo to see.

Aside from the new customization options, an entire storyline has been added to the mode. We saw a snippet of LD2K’s character, aka Chris Cross, interacting with his agent and rival during some awesomely rendered cutscenes. There is more than 40 hours of gameplay in your My Player’s first season alone.

Essentially, all of the things you’ve come to expect from My Career appear to be present, it’s just that a personality and story have been given to hopefully enhance the experience. Some gamers may not welcome the story line as it could create an identity for their character for them, thus taking away the option to carve their own niche.

There could be some validity to that, but it is too early to tell. More information is needed before we can make a true assessment as to how the story-driven direction and the old setup will mesh.

My GM

Because I’m an Association/franchise mode guy, this mode was of major interest for me. No matter how good online play or single-player modes like My Career are, if a game doesn’t have a solid franchise mode, it is almost always a no-go for me.

My GM takes the place of Association in next-gen and there are some distinct differences. I got an opportunity to interview senior producer Erick Boenisch, the man in charge of the mode. He shed some light on his vision for My GM now and in the future.

Riding on the conversation engine is a great platform and it leaves tons of room for growth. As great as the game looks and feels, this is just the first version on the next-generation consoles. Boenisch mentioned to me how this was just the beginning of the way he plans to have the mode evolve.

There wasn’t much discussion about drafts or controlling multiple teams in My GM, so those are two major components of the mode we still have to learn about over the next two weeks.

My Team

Very little if anything was discussed on My Team. It will be in the game as it was present on menus and the screen shot above confirms it, but there is no word on what differences—if any—it will have from the current-gen version.

It would seem logical to assume the mode will function almost exactly as it does on current-gen, which conceptually is very solid. We’ll have to wait to see how this evolves as well in the days leading up to the Nov. 15 launch on Playstation 4 and Nov. 22 release on Xbox One.

The Park

Mostly every mode was on full display at the media event with a good amount of information shared on each, with the exception of My Team and the purposely teased mode called The Park.

Many fans balked at the announcement that Crews mode would only be available for current-gen systems, but little did we know something potentially bigger and better might be on the horizon for next-gen.

The mode was only discussed and shown for about 45 seconds, but from what was shown and talked about we know it takes place in a blacktop environment, and up to 100 online gamers can interact at once.

The short footage showed a park with multiple courts with games taking place simultaneously. Taking it beyond that would be purely speculating and running the risk of leading folks down the wrong path. At the very least, I can say the concept and subsequent execution of the idea is intriguing.

Parting Shots

This game could seriously take over my life in a way a game hasn’t in a long time. It will be difficult to restrain myself because the graphics and gameplay are so tight. If the full details on the modes included are verbose enough to provide long-term enjoyment, this could be the game of the year.

New Next-Gen Trailer for FIFA 14

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The latest trailer for the Xbox One and PS4 version of FIFA 14 was released earlier today and puts the spotlight on the environments, atmosphere, and gameplay enhancements. At this point more specific details on all the features, demonstrations of the improvements, and direct feed gameplay video should be on the way for FIFA with just three weeks until the PS4 arrives. There is a good deal of gameplay footage out there but all having been captured off-screen from conventions which is not ideal for consumers seeking to evaluate a product.

 

First NBA 2K14 Next-Gen Gameplay Footage & New Screen Shots

The first video featuring direct feed gameplay footage from next-gen NBA 2K14 comes from Gamespot on the heels of all the feature reveals today. While the reviewer expresses thoughts after playing briefly what is more valuable is that first look at the game in action. Graphics certainly look significantly better and the foot-planting evident but otherwise it looks a lot like the 2K basketball consumers have been drawn to in recent years and not as drastic a change some may have envisioned with the talk of a new engine. Also below the videos be sure to check out some of the new screen shots from the next gen NBA 2k14. Continue on to check out the videos and leave any thoughts in the comments! 

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First NBA 2K14 Next-Gen Feature News

At a press event held earlier today 2K Sports finally revealed details on what to expect from the next-gen version of NBA 2K14. There is only a little over three weeks until it arrives for the PS4 and under a month away from Xbox One. The biggest news is 2K14 will not be a current-gen port but instead was built specifically for the new hardware with a game engine called “EcoMotion”.

There are four areas of focus for next-gen NBA 2K14 in terms of modes: MyCareer, MyGM, MyTeam, and NBA Today. MyCareer and MyGM (formerly Association) are taking what appears to be dramatic departures from the traditional career and franchise mode. Online components were not touched upon today. 

MyCareer is going in more of a story mode direction – some elements have appeared in the LeBron Path to Greatness mode or other games like Fight Night Champion – while MyGM sounds closer to the ideas implemented in Madden’s Connected Franchise. There’s the managing of team chemistry, fan expectations and so on while also factoring in the various interactions with the owner, other GMs, and individual players along with facing job uncertainty.

Of course visuals are a big part of the advancement being made with the new systems – the level of detail was a significant part of the presentation from the player scans and their emotions to the surrounding environment –  and there will be far more detail available in crafting a MyPlayer. AI (coaches will adapt during games), physics, animations, and foot-planting were also discussed.

2K obviously put a great deal of resources into making NBA 2K14 a spectacular launch product and along with FIFA 14 they look to be way out ahead of the other two sports offerings. However a lot of what they talked about is technical in nature, and that was EA Sports’ strategy back at the previous console generation transition when they rebuilt titles completely and 2K ported theirs. EA stumbled mightily then and they never fully recovered from it. It was time for 2K to make that leap – and in doing so there will be some current-gen features that don’t make it in which EA suffered from as well then – but until it is all seen and experienced it would be wise to temper expectations somewhat despite how great a lot of it sounds.

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