#FixWWE2K20 — I’m Preston from Silver Soul Gaming, and WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

If you’re a gamer and avid pro-wrestling fan, this week has most likely been a rough one for you.  WWE 2K20 was released this Tuesday, and its customers have been in a complete uproar about not only the missing features, but also the sheer amount of bugginess this game contains.  Whether it’s bad hair physics, messy targeting, game crashes, or characters getting stuck in the ring, 2K20 has been viewed as an absolute jobber by wrestling-gamers around the globe.  It is unknown if the team at Visual Concepts got lazy or the game was rushed out due to contractual obligations with the WWE.  Regardless of the main reasons, we can only hope that 2K manages to release a patch that pulls the game out of its nosedive.  WWE 2K20 has the ability to be in the wrestling-game title picture, but it must first be able to get into midcard status.

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Review of Grid (2019) — I always race to win

I know I’ve said this at least several times before, but I’m gonna have to say it again  — Codemasters has a long resume when it comes to racing games. Whether it be rallying, Formula 1, or even over-the-top off-roading, the British publisher has done it all. But while Dirt and F1 have still been going strong, fans had been wondering if/when the Grid series would return to the track.  Well, after five years, we don’t have to wonder anymore.  This self-titled reboot is the series’ debut on current-gen hardware, and I’m here to give you the full synopsis on everything it brings to the table.  So with that out of the way, let’s drop the green flag and get this review started.

Turn the car into the wind

Like other established series such as Gran Turismo and Forza MotorsportGrid tasks you with making a name for yourself in a variety of racing disciplines.  You won’t find rally racing or modern Formula 1 in here, but you get to race sports cars, open-wheelers, touring cars, tuner cars, and stock cars from different eras of the sport.  During your career, you must not only place high in the standings, but also manage your race team properly.  It’s your job to collect prize money, buy (And paint) the cars you want, and hire teammates.  No virtual racing career would be complete without a diverse track roster, and this game delivers a hefty number of road-course, street-course, and oval configurations.  There are only 13 locations at the moment, but more will be added in free updates.

GRID-dle cakes

Of course, all of the above would be meaningless if the racing itself wasn’t solid, and the folks at Codemasters have once again delivered solid racing in spades.  While not an arcade racer like Need for Speed or BurnoutGrid tries to be a little more accessible than Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport.  Despite the car-setup functionality being quite simplified, the driving does have weight and realism on both gamepad and wheel.  Flags and pit stops are non-existent, but you still have to drive carefully to avoid crashing out or being penalized.  If you race an opponent too aggressively, they’ll become a Nemesis and try to give you a taste of your own medicine.  Like the previous game in the series, you have the ability to ask your teammate to charge through the pack or play defense, not that they’ll always be able/willing to do what you ask them to do.

Online multiplayer is a bit shallow in this game, as you only have quick-match and private-match options.  Without any search options for public lobbies, you basically jump into public races hoping that the events found are to your liking.  If you want an online race that can be run the way you want it, you have no other alternative but to invite 1-15 friends who have the game.  It’s not a dealbreaker, but I do hope this online-mode drawback can be sorted out.

Pedal to the floor, lap is runnin’ faster

After sitting in its garage for the last five years, the long-running Grid series has made a satisfactory comeback in the form of this reboot.  It may occasionally bust a flat or drop some horsepower, but it still belongs on the shelf of any type of racing-game junkie.  Checkered flag, here I come!

Review of FIFA ‘20 — Where the street is named VOLTA

The whistle has blown, and it’s once again time to lace up the cleats and jugar futbol.  EA Sports’ global juggernaut in FIFA has hit the pitch for the 27th time, and while it’s certainly not completely different from its predecessor, it does include a handful of obligatory refinements, not to mention a throwback to its spin-off series.  Do these new features make FIFA ’20 worth the $60 price of admission? Let’s dust off our vuvuzelas and find out.

You held the world in your arms

This iteration’s most hyped-up feature is a mode that replaces the Journey mode from the last three games.  Known as VOLTA Football, this mode is essentially a callback to the FIFA Street series.  The two teams have 3-5 players apiece, and you get to choose whether or not the match has goalies and walls.  The pitches are set in some of the world’s most famous cities, and they come with commentary spoken in the native languages.  If you prefer matches that emphasize showmanship over teamwork, this mode is tailor-made for you.

Don’t worry, the VOLTA mode isn’t the only addition to this year’s game.  The ball physics, penalty kicks, and free kicks have been given some tweaks, making the on-pitch action more fluid than ever.  The Mystery Ball and King of the Hill match types are now not only in single games, but in Ultimate Team as well.  The offline career mode has been updated quite heavily, featuring interactive press conferences and player convos, the ability to fully customize your created manager, and a very streamlined user interface.

I am just a copy of a…

Despite facing the usual tough competition from Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, EA Sports’ globally-iconic FIFA series continues to nail its headers and volleys.  Whether you prefer team-based strategy or fancy footwork when it comes to how you play soccer games, this installment won’t disappoint you.

Ever wanted to be a Shonen character? JUMP FORCE Review

JUMP FORCE, a fighting game developed by Spike Chunsoft and published by Bandai Namco, is now available via Xbox Game Pass (on console only). I’m interested in anime games, so I figured I’d take a shot at it. My childhood was fueled by these shonen comics, and I’m glad that they made a fighting game where they can go head to head against one another to see who comes out on top (I’m rooting for Naruto).

The “Tweet Review”

JUMP FORCE is a fun game on its own, and better when fighting with friends. A lot like Dragon Ball Xenoverse, the animation and fights are well done. Non-story missions lack a bit in content, but free fights are fun. I also fought as Josuke. Fun times.

7/10

The “Normal” Review

Okay, if you’re still reading this, you want some more details. I’ll be happy to oblige.

Beginning of the Journey

The story begins with your character being saved from the brink of death by Trunks and being transformed into a hero. That’s really what happens, by the workings of a magic cube. Bare with me here.

Create your hero, using standard anime guidelines of course

After this, you fight off the invading forces of soldiers called Venoms led by Frieza and various other shonen villains, and then are transported to the home base of the Jump Force, or J-Force as they’re called in the game.

You are tasked to join a squad- Alpha, Beta, or Gamma- and team up with them to go on missions. Alpha fights off the invaders (Dragon Ball captain, Goku), Beta retakes control of lost territory and finds new fighters to join the J-Force (One Piece captain, Luffy), and Gamma is in control of espionage (Naruto captain, Naruto clearly).

They’re all itching for a fight

Missions/Items

There are three different mission types: Free, Extra, and Key. The team you join determines what kind of story (Key) missions you will go on. However, because your character is an important asset to the J-Force, you will regularly be given Extra Missions where you will join members of the other teams to complete them. Example: You do a mission to rescue Vegeta, who then joins Beta team, and then you do a mission with him later on regardless of if you’re on Beta team or not.

Free missions work a lot like the system in Dragon Ball Xenoverse where you can go fight teams of enemy combatants to earn money and items to make your characters stronger. They range from easy to very hard difficulty, and the higher difficulties give better rewards. You’ll have to do these missions multiple times to get all the items, or you can buy most of them from the shop at each team base at a premium price.

The Extra and Free missions are one and done fights as far as I’ve experienced, but I’m still relatively low level, around 15. Once you complete a mission, another higher leveled one may come up after it. I hope that they will have more steps or waves of enemies to each mission, like the mission system in Xenoverse, with the higher difficulties.

Combat/Animation

Skills

With skills available from multiple shonen universes, you can create a character specific to how you want to play. My current character has a move each from One Piece, Naruto, Dragon Ball, and one more that I can’t remember off the top of my head. He plays really well for being a beginner character, good mix of close and ranged attacks. He’s also wearing a Josuke costume, because he can.

Some skills have you dash towards your opponent to make impact, others fire projectiles, and some are ranged attacks. Still others have an initial button press to create an effect or attack, then if you hit the button again, the attack goes off, like Hellzone Grenade. The large number of skills you can unlock allows for a ton of customization, so don’t be afraid to try out new skills.

Chargin’ my attack

Ultimate skills aren’t something that can be used all the time. You need to fill your Awakening gauge to at least 50% to use one. You do this by preforming combos, and taking damage. Awakening causes different effects for each character who uses it; for example: Goku goes Super Saiyan and Gon gets that impossibly long hair and ages like eight years for a massive power buff.

Actual Fighting

Combat is done in teams of three, and you’re able to call in the others for support attacks and to switch to them when you wish. There is a cooldown on this so be careful. There is no guard limit (so far that I’ve encountered), so guard whenever possible because it can even block ultimate attacks. The CPU likes to spam guard though, so break through it with a Smash attack (that’s actually what it’s called). Use your skills, keep the combo going, and you’ll get the win in no time.

You can also fight against other players online and in local offline battles, but I haven’t tried this out yet. I’m waiting on my friend to wrestle it away from his brother so we can play together. If it’s anything like Xenoverse, these battles are the highlight of the game because it makes you think on your feet, not follow the motions of the CPU.

Animation

The animation throughout the game is well done, and it shows in the details they put into the combat. Breaking ground, particle effects from attacks like Spirit Bomb, and the smoothness of movement make it just plain fun to play, and that’s what I like about this game.

Did someone say ZA WARUDO?!

Final Thoughts

Despite the missions being run-of-the-mill fights for rewards, the fights themselves are what make this game great. The combinations of skills and teammates, paired with how well combat flows (when the CPU isn’t spamming guard) make it fun to play. Will I play this game all the time? No, because I would get bored really quickly. But, I will play this game whenever I’m in the mood to fight Dio as Josuke, or just kick Frieza around as Kenshin or whoever else I want to play as at that time.

7/10

Silver Soul Gaming is not affiliated with Microsoft, Xbox, or any other affiliates. This is not sponsored content.

Review of NASCAR Heat 4 — I want you to build me a car

For what’s felt like a long time, the NASCAR gaming market has endured a bumpy ride.  There are plenty of really good racing games/sims out there that happen to include stock car racing, but games that are dedicated to NASCAR have been very rough around the edges lately.  And due to low budgets and game-engine difficulties, 704Games has had a very tough time giving the NASCAR Heat series the successful pit stop it’s been in need of.  However, after this year’s iteration was announced and its new features were slowly being revealed, longtime NASCAR gamers like myself had plenty of valid reasons to get revved up.  And now that NASCAR Heat 4 has taken the green flag, it’s time to find out if it lives up to the hype.  Let’s pull those belts tight and get into the meat and potatoes.

I’m droppin’ the hammer

The most noticeable changes in this year’s game are the changes to the racing itself.  The weight and aerodynamics of the cars have a more realistic feeling, the contact physics aren’t nearly as frustrating they’ve been in the past, and multi-groove racing has been successfully implemented.  It should also be noted that there are different tire compounds for different tracks, which in turn makes each track noticeably different in terms of tire wear.  Drafting has also been greatly emphasized with the concept of draft partners.  As the race progresses, your HUD will inform you if AI cars are lining up and asking to join forces with you.  Slipstreaming is highly important in stock car racing, and Heat 4 does an excellent job taking that importance into account.

The racing in this year’s game is absolutely awesome, and thankfully there’s plenty of deep modes to race in.  The career mode is mostly the same as its been in previous games, except that the interface has been polished up and you can choose which of the four leagues you’ll be starting your career in.  Also returning is the challenge mode, where you recreate/rewrite the finishes of recent real-life NASCAR races.  The incentive this time around is that you unlock “race-winning” paint schemes for each challenge you complete, which brings back memories of NASCAR games from EA Sports and Atari.  Speaking of EA Sports games, the championship mode now has special types of short seasons that you can take part in.  Sadly, the ability to make your own season hasn’t been granted yet, but never say never.  And if racing against AI isn’t enough for you, you’ll be pleased to know that the 40-player online mode has been given some polish.

Shake and bake

The graphics in this year’s game give a greater sense of speed, even though the framerate slows down from time to time when you’ve got heavy traffic near you.  You even get day-to-night transitions during races, but the catch is that you can only see them if you race with the multi-stage format.  While the visuals definitely won’t please everybody, the audio is absolutely stellar.  Thanks to the FMOD program, the sounds of the engines, crashes, and track surfaces are more realistic than ever.

I feel like I’m ready to roll

After a few blown tires, 704Games and Monster Games have finally given the NASCAR Heat series a true revival.  I personally find this to be the best dedicated NASCAR game I’ve played since NASCAR Racing 2003 Season.  And considering just how much I loved that final hurrah from Papyrus Racing Games, what I just said about Heat 4 is incredibly high praise and it’s not hyperbolic whatsoever.  If you’re a racing game fanatic of any sort, NASCAR Heat 4 is well-deserving of a spot in your gaming garage.  Boogity boogity boogity…Let’s go racin’, gamers!

Review of NHL ’20 — Once again rockin’ the rink

Ever since lacing up the skates back in 1991, EA Sports has been dominating the NHL videogame market.  Despite facing tough competition in the past, the publishing powerhouse has buried many slapshots with its laundry list of modes, accessible controls, and hard-hitting gameplay.  With that being said, what does NHL ’20, the 29th game in EA’s iconic hockey series, bring to the table (Or to the rink, rather)? No highly-drastic changes per se, but it has indeed done a noticeable amount of juggling to the lines.

Is it October yet?

With the help of RPM Tech, the skating is even tighter, and the shooting has been revamped for the purpose of recreating the shots you see from big names like Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, P.K. Subban, etc. But even if your player is highly adept at shooting, scoring is more difficult thanks to the heavily-improved goalie intelligence.  In terms of additions to the existing game modes, Ultimate Team now has Squad Battles, and the Ones mode is set up as an 81-player bracketed tournament (Which is basically the NHL version of your typical battle-royale shooter).

The graphics haven’t changed much except for the retooled broadcast package, which includes new scoreboards and a heavily-tweaked highlight reel system.  We also get a new commentary team in James Cybulski and Ray Ferraro, who are occasionally joined by celebrities such as Drake.  Music-wise, this isn’t one of my favorite NHL game soundtracks, but it does have popular artists like Silversun Pickups and Motionless in White.

I AM a hockey player

I definitely wouldn’t consider NHL ’20 to be a completely different game from its predecessor, but the longtime hockey fan in me is more than satisfied with the refinements that the folks at EA Sports have implemented.  Whether you’re a newcomer to the series or you’ve been along for the ride since the Genesis days, this game won’t disappoint you.  Ready to rock-y? Let’s play some hockey!

Review of NBA 2K20 — As cinematic and emotional as virtual basketball can be

There have been many competitors when it comes to basketball games, and NBA 2K has been on the top of the mountain since its opening tip-off in 1999.  For many years, it faced its toughest competition in EA’s NBA Live series, but the latter began throwing up very bad bricks as the eighth generation of consoles started.  The 2K series has been heavily lauded for its spectacular graphics, tight controls, and incredible depth, and this year’s iteration once again delivers all of the above in spades.  With that being said, let’s hit the paint and discuss all the three-pointers that NBA 2K20 effortlessly drains.

A virtual Mike Lupica novel

The most notable change in this year’s game is the overhauled MyCareer mode.  You still have the usual prelude games and exercises, as well as off-court interactions with NPC’s, but the storyline of your career is more cinematic and emotional than ever before.  It feels like 2K took notes from the story modes of FIFA and Madden NFL, and that’s not a bad thing.  The cutscenes look beautiful and the voice-acting drains its layups.  Did I mention the story was written by a team that includes LeBron James?

Other than a career mode with a new structure, the list of modes is business as usual.  You’ve got obligatory modes like exhibition games, MyTeam, MyGM, MyLeague, Blacktop, and online play.  Also, you can now play through a full WNBA season if you’re up for shooting hoops with the ladies.  The Neighborhood has new additions like a day/night cycle, seasonal changes, and even a disc golf course.  The sheer level of depth that NBA 2K is known for once again delivers.

Shot clock cheese

The graphical improvement is very subtle, but the visuals are still as crisp and beautiful as ever.  2K20 also has stellar audio, with the usual butt-ton of above-average commentary lines and a decent soundtrack that blares everything from Ariana Grande to Motley Crue.

I like the way they dribble up and down the court

Ever since ’99, it’s clear that the folks at Take-Two Interactive love basketball, and they’ve once again proven just how serious that love is.  Even if basketball isn’t your favorite sport, NBA 2K20 belongs on your shelf if you need a sports game that constantly delivers backboard-shattering dunks worthy of the highlight reel.