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The Sports Desk – Digging Into The Offseason With Front Office Football 8

The football offseason has begun, and with some free agents already signing with new teams, and the combine and then the draft coming this spring, there's plenty of work to be done on your franchise. For all you GMs ready to burn the midnight oil for your team, Front Office Football 8 is here to fill that need. The text simulator came out late last year on PC, and offers the kind of offseason and gameday options that any wanna-be GM and coach would appreciate.

The game features editable teams from all the NFL cities (you can also relocate your team or get a new stadium) with real-life player names, and fans of franchise management will appreciate that there are amenities such as multiple rounds of free agency (with multiple stages within each round), a coaching carousal, draft scouting, the ability to tweak salary offers, and other considerations. Players themselves can holdout, they have attitudes to consider, as well as various personality traits such as loyalty and fan popularity.

Playing through a season and offseason, I liked the info and options at my disposal, whether that was gauging a relatively weak free agent crop, picking through the players dropped later in the summer, gauging a draft prospects' potential and possible "volatility," and evaluating players before the draft and after they're on the team. I think the game does a good job of presenting the right kind of information such as a players' combine numbers, medical history, or contract wishes, without making drafting players or signing free agents a 100-percent done deal. There are few of such situations in real-life football, and the game replicates that fine line between giving you enough information to make informed decisions without making you swim in it. The game also comes with an in-depth guide, which is definitely worth studying.

Playing games seems pretty solid as well. I appreciate being able to see playart of the myriad plays available (you can construct your own playbooks from the plays at hand) as well as seeing which player is the principle target of the play. I also like how developer Solecismic has sprinkled some text descriptions for plays as they unfold such as telling you that a throw by the QB wasn't even close, or who made a key block on the play.

Stats wise, apart from EJ Manuel having the highest QB rating one season, I didn't see anything too glaringly off in terms of the stats showing up for players over the course of a year. I did think that some of the completion percentages during single games for average QBs were high, possibly padded out by the number of check downs I saw to the fullback. One of the cool things the game does with stats is that it shows you how many targets and catches a receiver has (and the carries/yards for a running back) before you call a play. Thus, you can get a quick look at who's hot and what's been working. Conversely, I didn't see a way to manage my depth chart during games, which was frustrating when I wanted to switch out my ineffective running back.

I really liked playing Front Office Football 8, and can see it being a nice complement to Madden, allowing me to concentrate on that very important part of the football season – the offseason.

Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below.

Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.

 

BOARD SLIDING IN STEEP'S ALASKA

Steep's free Alaska update is now available, and apart from introducing a new mountain with 17 drop zones, 21 challenges, branded challenges, 37 points of interest, a mountain story, a raised level cap (25 to 30), and more, one of the things players will notice is that at least one of the new mountain's villages includes plenty of rails to grind and slide. This was possible in the original, but not a point of emphasis.

I tried out the Alaska villages' and while glad they were included in the update, found that they weren't quite as satisfying as I had hoped they would be. Games with rail grinding/sliding always face the dilemma of wanting to make it easy to let players get on a rail and stay on it, but without it feeling like they are being sucked or stuck to the rail. The problem I have with Steep's board slides currently is that it's easy to slip off of them and it feels floaty, like you're not really on the rail. I compare this with series like Skate and Tony Hawk, where grinds and board slides were very satisfying. You also don't score any extra points for what you do on a rail, which is disappointing. Hopefully this is something the team can keep working on, as I want to attack rails when I see them, not avoid them.

For more on the game's future plans, check out this interview and Steep Afterwords dissection with creative director Igor Manceau.

Sliding off the rail a little too easy.

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Trying to go from trick to trick on the rail.

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THE TICKER
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.

MLB The Show 17's Presentation Info, Pave Your Path in Road to the Show & Quick Manage
A handful of new info has come out about the game, including making off-the-field decisions that can impact your Road to the Show career, a way to quickly manage and sim Franchise games, and a partnership with MLB Network with new announcers Harold Reynolds and Dan Plesac.

Old Time Hockey Gets Release Date & Switch Release  

Vote for Who's On The Digital Cover For Out Of The Park Baseball 18

UniqueGames Working to Get Handball Manager & 3 Other Titles To Steam Via Team Initiative 

VR Golf Online Adds Multiplayer & Cross-Platform Play 

Bethesda's Todd Howard Has An Idea About How To Bring NCAA Back 
I love that Howard is passionate about NCAA, but in my opinion, everything EA has said and done on this front shows that they are being extremely cautious about any return to college football. I think they are waiting for nothing short of the full legal resolution of the NCAA and players' student/athlete status before returning. EA's already had to settle one lawsuit on this front, and I doubt there's a lawyer in the building that's going to risk another.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Voice actors’ union strike brings 250+ picketers to EA’s front door

Deadline reports roughly 250 people showed up at Electronic Arts’ Playa Vista, CA office to protest in person after U.S. actors guild SAG-AFTRA went on strike against EA and 10 other game companies Friday. …


Gamasutra News

United Front Games Closes Its Doors

United Front Games, the developer behind Sleeping Dogs and ModNation Racers, has closed down. The studio was founded in 2007.

The closure came during the early access period of United Front's latest game SMASH+GRAB. The game is no longer available for purchase from the Steam store.

You can check out our review of the developer's most well-known game, Sleeping Dogs, here.

Our Take
Though the quality of United Front Games' output was uneven, it was also eclectic and never dull. We hope all those affected by the closure are able to recover quickly.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Make Your Couch A Front Row Seat At BlizzCon 2016 With Virtual Ticket

If you love Blizzard but hate travelling, you can still have a front row seat to its 25th anniversary at Blizzcon 2016 in Anaheim, CA. Following the trend of past years, fans can watch Blizzcon 2016 from anywhere in the world in the comfort of their own homes through the use of a virtual ticket.  

The event runs November 4-5, and this is the 10th annual Blizzcon to date. The virtual ticket grants HD coverage to both days of convention content. The price of the ticket is $ 39.99, and it provides coverage of developer panels, in-depth interviews with the dev teams, community contests, and the closing ceremonies. The ticket also includes on-demand replay of any main-stage and panel-stage events for up to three weeks after the show.

Some commemorative bonuses also come with the purchase of a virtual ticket. You can unlock in-game items for World
of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch. You also can pre-purchase a BlizzCon goody bag for $ 35, which are in limited supply and only available to ticket holders. Included in the goody bag is BlizzCon X stein, a World of Warcraft  faction coaster, a Heroes of the Storm E.T.C. guitar pick keychain, a Hearthstone tablet cleaning cloth, an Overwatch inflatable Reinhardt hammer, a StarCraft II baby overlord antenna topper, and a Diablo III gaming dice set. For virtual ticket holders, the goody bag will ship on or before November 4. 

There is also some free coverage for those who don't purchase a virtual ticket, as the opening ceremony and the eSports tournaments will be streamed live and for free on Blizzard's website. This includes coverage of the global finals for the 2016 StarCraft II World Championship Series, World of Warcraft Arena World Championship, Hearthstone World Championship, Heroes of the Storm Fall Championship, and more           

To purchase a virtual ticket, head here. Ticket purchases are limited to one per Battle.net account, and content will only be broadcasted in English. For more BlizzCon, check out the coolest sights from last years event including some impressive cosplayers and huge Overwatch statues.     

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Behind Enemy Lines With Infinite Warfare’s Settlement Defense Front

The enemy in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a brutal, fascist force that players will find difficult to empathize with in any way. They’re as traditional “bad guys” as things get, an evil force set on pure domination and control. The Settlement Defense Front consists of a massive fleet which includes the biggest, baddest capital starship in the known galaxy, the Olympus Mons. Its troops are both human and robotic, with slaughter drones and retrofitted service and worker droids that have laid down their mining programs in favor of new initiatives bent on the SDF’s goals. In Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, you’re going up against this massive war machine – and the odds are not in your favor.

The Settlement Defense Front came to power as off-worlders (think of them like modern day frontier gold-rushers) headed out into the dangerous void of space to take risks and make fortunes doing what, as they see it, the fat complacent Earth-dwellers were too cowardly to do. With the aid of robots and other technology, they have benefited greatly from the bounty of space, but now they want it all. Cutting ties with Earth and taking over have become the goal, and whether it’s by brutal annihilation or simply cutting off the old world from essential supplies to survive from space, the Settlement Defense Force wants Earth out of the picture.

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Watch our interview with narrative director Taylor Kurosaki and studio art director Brian Horton giving background on the SDF.

The SDF is all about efficiency and functionality, substance over style. Their no-frills approach can be seen on everything from their weapons to their armor to their ships, having been forced to use more space-age components and materials mined offworld. Metals and unrefined tools of purpose make up the raw, sometimes unrefined look and feel of the SDF motif.

The SDF starts things off with a devastating attack on Geneva during the annual Fleet Week Parade. SDF sleeper-cell agent Raia actually turns the Earth’s planetary defense systems against its own ships, taking out the vast majority of the world’s fleet during the international planned event in a massive surprise attack of opportunity. The assault on the fleet coincides with a massive land attack as the SDF takes the chance to assault many of the gathered leaders and figureheads of the UNSA and Earth – it’s a cold-blooded move that sets the pace of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, as you’ll be manning what is essentially the last capital ship the Earth has to offer against the entire might of the SDF fleet.

Speaking of the SDF fleet, while your ship, the Retribution, is a serious powerhouse, it pales in comparison to the massive Death Star/Jaws predator that is the flagship vessel for the SDF, the Olympus Mons. The Olympus Mons stands as a testament to the power of the SDF, and while it’s intimidating and deadly on its own there’s also a face behind the monster, Admiral Salen Kotch. The Olympus Mons and its commander serve as the primary antagonist of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, standing out among standard troops and ships.

Our exclusive coverage on Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will continue all throughout June, so keep checking the hub for deep dives into the weapons, characters, vehicles, and interviews as we journey to the stars with Infinity Ward's new take on the longstanding series.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

New Mafia III Trailer Puts Revenge Front And Center

Hangar 13 has revealed its E3 trailer for the upcoming entry into the Mafia series, Mafia III. Putting protagonist Lincoln Clay's bloody tale of revenge at the forefront, the trailer reminds us "It's a long way down."

The newest trailer shows off the game's take on New Orleans, named New Bordeaux, and a string of bodies Clay leaves in its streets. Tackling death, murder, and even racism, Mafia III's story looks like its getting ready to take on its heavy themes head first.

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Mafia III is expected to release on October 7. The game's $ 150 collector's edition was recently unveiled, featuring a double vinyl of its licensed soundtrack.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

HTC morphs into game developer for first VR title, Front Defense

HTC is taking its first steps into the world of virtual reality game development with new VR title, Front Defence.  …


Gamasutra News

New content, new access puts games in front of viewers, YouTube data reveals

The company has released its top trending list for January, and while the list itself isn’t particularly revealing, the reasons behind ghe games’ popularity is. …


Gamasutra News

Spike Lee Is Front And Center In NBA 2K16 Story Is Everything Trailer

Initially rumored, director Spike Lee's (Do the Right Thing, He Got Game) involvement in the next NBA 2K title was confirmed this morning, and now we can see some of the results of his efforts in a new video.

You won't find any gameplay footage in the trailer. Instead, you will find a presumably directed by Lee video emphasizing the importance of narrative basketball. After a narrated montage of empty courts and a few shots of standout moments in the game, Lee finishes the trailer saying, "Star in a Spike Lee Joint."

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When Lee confirmed his involvement with the game today, he said the game would follow a young player through the trials and tribulations of being a top high school player. You can read more about the game, and learn its cover athletes, but heading here.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Spike Lee Is Front And Center In NBA 2K16 Story Is Everything Trailer

Initially rumored, director Spike Lee's (Do the Right Thing, He Got Game) involvement in the next NBA 2K title was confirmed this morning, and now we can see some of the results of his efforts in a new video.

You won't find any gameplay footage in the trailer. Instead, you will find a presumably directed by Lee video emphasizing the importance of narrative basketball. After a narrated montage of empty courts and a few shots of standout moments in the game, Lee finishes the trailer saying, "Star in a Spike Lee Joint."

(Please visit the site to view this media)

When Lee confirmed his involvement with the game today, he said the game would follow a young player through the trials and tribulations of being a top high school player. You can read more about the game, and learn its cover athletes, but heading here.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed