I have to say, except for about 3-4 fouls Ghana flagrantly committed that weren’t called, and the typical Third World ‘throwing themselves on the pitch and bringing out the stretcher,’ the game was very good.  The USA simply got outplayed and didn’t get lucky with any of their shots on goal.  If I could critique the play of our side, I’d say that the mid-game long-balling was simply a waste of time by the goalie and the defenders.  Time and time again the ball was simply handed back to the Ghana side after a long ball, and with very few set ups of worth coming from the defense to the midfield, this was a recipe for disaster as the score sheet shows.   Looking at Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Argentina and Brazil it’s almost as if they are playing a different game than the US team is still, but the US is getting there.

All in all this USA team is by far the best we’ve had and they looked fantastic in most of the games. They’re no longer afraid of the pace, nor the competition at this level.  All of them go all out and nothing like what happened the last time Ghana and USA met where the team captain stayed on the ground ‘injured’ after the ball was stolen from him while flat footed and a goal was scored happened in any of the games.

Rackham announces "City of Thieves"

Rumors of Rackham’s demise are yet again being proved a gross exaggeration.  City of Thieves looks like it picks up where Caldwallon left off, but as board game.  Even if it’s quite bad like Rackham’s last card game, will still be awesome for the miniatures.  Looks like some sort of multiplayer war game ala Necromunda but with more of a board game structure.  We’ll see where the bear shits in the buckwheat with this one after it’s released at GENCON.

Link with more info from Table Top Gaming News.

Two Worlds, One Cup day 2

The USA vs England game went as well as could be expected from the American point of view.  If you count both goals as being sort of flukes, it evens out a bit.  The US goal was on target and you just can’t expect every one of those to get picked up.  Howard for the US was nothing short of amazing during the middle of the second half: especially shaking off a kick to the ribs that left him sprawled on the pitch for a few minutes.  Rooney was again shut down by Howard, and I think he should just give up and not play in games that Howard is in.    Sensless let me know that England was ranked No 3 right now and I was really shocked– we can trust that as good as England looks on paper, they always choke in the big tournaments.  This is their curse for inventing the game.

The other games I saw showed a lot of mediocre play.  South Korea ran a clinic on Greece and France, known for squeaking by with sub-optimal play until the tournament portion, just didn’t have what it took to really even make Uruguay sweat as they should have defensively.

As much as I love soccer, I have been absolutely enthralled with this video of beatings called in a game I’d never even heard of: Australian Rules Football.

UFC 2010 Demo review

I spanned some time with the UFC 2010 demo on Xbox360, spending about about three hours delivering beatings.  The short version of this very short review is that I am hopeful that the price of the 2009 game will go down when this comes out as I see virtually no reason to get 2010 before thoroughly playing through 2009.

Awesome but stodgy. The model’s skins, the blood, the sweat, the damage– it’s all beautifully rendered. However, the animations and especially how the fighters react to hits is very strange and remind me more of rock’em sock’em robots than a real life UFC match.  I guess the best word to describe the fighting physics as they relate to the models is: contrived.  Nothing looks natural, these are beautifully skinned robots fighting.

Slow, Methodical, technical.   The fighting engine is much slower than most, if not all, fighting games out there: there’s no other word for it, but it’s quite a change from Virtua Fighter 5 and especially the lightning fast 2D fighters I’m used to.  Positioning is key to get the opportunity for big hits– and when you do there is always a chance that one left hook will be the end  of the fight.  I spent most of the time played striking and kicking, but found the ground game very engaging though it probably has the biggest learning curve.

However, the game, at least against the AI in the demo, is extremely easy, on anything but the EXPERT setting (which I certainly am not). I was able to beat all the other fighters on the second highest AI setting using the following: Takedown from medium distance, move to side mount, punch face until opponent escaped, repeat.  After the opponent is semi-bloodied (end of round 1 or beginning of round 2, start punching when both are standing up and you will get a KO rather quickly.  That was every match.  Very little deviation was required unless the opponent got a reversal or moved in too close before the takedown.   Expert AI counters and combos a lot but it’s the only level that gives anywhere near a challenge (even to a n00b).  Compared, again, to Virtua Fighter 5’s incredible AI scaling, this is a disappointment.

It’s a demo
There are many features the game offers outside the actual fights and some of them actually matter I suppose,  like the graphics, extras are important but nothing could make up for a bad fighting engine– something I can’t tell without playing extensively with a human opponent.  It’s a tough call on this one at full price– but hopefully the 2009 version will drop 10-20$ due to this release.

Faster than I can finish them!

Shogun: Total War 2 just announced by Creative Assembly.  Sadly I haven’t been able to get through a full campaign of Empire Total War (though I’ve already fulfilled the victory conditions, you have to wait until 1799 to actually win).  With Rome Total War and Empire Total war being some of the high points of modern strategy PC games for the rest of us who find Civ a whole lot of zzzzzz…. Shogun 2 is awesome news and it shows that the developers are doing something right as with games and expansions popping out right and left the series must be maintaining sales.  With Napoleon Total War it was only a matter of time before Creative Assembly veered away from the looming late 1800’s where the game would have to change drastically due to rifled barrels and especially artillery.

And another one

As a follow up to last week’s post on the old school cRPG’s, Spiderweb Software has announced yet another title in their growing line of Ultimaesque RPG’s: Avadon:The Black Fortress.  Though the creator make a big deal of not wasting a lot of time on new graphics, the screenshots from this one look a good deal better than their predecessors.   Again, given the fact I have about 45 minutes per day to devote to playing any sort of game, and can’t even get through my borrowed copy of  such proletariat gruel as Dragon Age Origins, it will be decades before I am able to play, much less review any of these games, so again, I lean heavily on my single reader, who is also a contributor, to pen a review of this when it comes out, in the fullness of time.

Two Worlds, One Cup

Europe and South America, separated by a vast ocean coming together to see who is better at England’s game. Spain is looking good as usual from Europe, Argentina seems to be the favorite overall at the moment, but I have Spain/Brasil picked in the final on my bracket with the proponents of the beautiful game FTW (that would be Brazil). However, I love the current Spanish style of play and would love for them to go all the way. Teams that may shake up the standard teams in the final for in my humble opinion would be USA, South Korea, Ghana, Greece and because it’s home turf, South Africa cannot be discounted.