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1561  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Titan Quest Expansion on: March 14, 2007, 04:40:01 PM
The expansion has been well worth the money so far.  Just the added conveniences are great (cross character loot transfer, expandable vault, relic removal). 

I put my Epic Paladin on hold and started again to try out Dream Mastery.  Very fun mastery.  Dream has a lot of good single target and multiple target aoe skills.  The trances (auras) are nice too.  My lineup of characters includes (from highest level to lowest): Paladin, Avenger, Slayer, and Seer.  They're all fun, so I'm not sure who I'm going to take to Legendary. 

The Paladin is very tough, and wields his shield like a second weapon, but he has energy issues trying to maintain the Storm auras and use active skills.  His passive shield attacks are brutal.  He does well with everything except Typhoon. 

The Avenger is very quick to level and kill.  I heard bad things about the Core Dweller, but fully ranked up he's pretty tough.  I set him to aggressive and just kill everything he's attacking.  Popping Call of the Hunt makes boss fights very easy.  She also has the fire weapon buff ranked up, which serves both her the core dweller well. 

My Slayer wields a spear, uses Onslaught as his primary attack and Take Down as the right click attack, has all of the attack speed skills ranked up, and pretty much kicks complete ass.  Again, Typhoon is still a long fight for him. 

I'm not that far into my Seer (lvl16), and haven't even chosen a 2nd mastery, but he's been a lot of fun to play.  I second the coolness of seeing baddies fly all over the screen from a good Phantom Strike.  So far, my Seer has been the easiest to level quickly.       
1562  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Do you worry about farming wow gold? on: March 09, 2007, 09:53:51 PM
Itís my question before I visit sensei.  With many useful suggestions from sensei, now, I can do my karate more efficiency. 
1563  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Jan Sales Numbers - Wii Wins! on: February 23, 2007, 07:27:20 PM
With my annual bonus hitting my direct deposit this week, I made a trip to my local BB on the way home last night to see if I could spot a Wii in the wild.  I found a 5 foot high stack of PS3's in the center of the main aisle, strategically placed so that you had to walk around the PS3 box tower to go into the Wii aisle.  I thought briefly about grabbing a PS3, but even with the bonus $ in hand, I couldn't stomach paying that much for a console.  I thought nearly $500 for the 360 was crazy at the time. 

I think Sony just completely missed the boat on the price point.  I probably would've picked one up if the price was closer to the 360.  I could care less about the Blue-Ray functionality.           
1564  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Mercenaries 2: PS3, PS2, 360 and PC! on: February 22, 2007, 07:20:22 PM
Woohoo!  I loved Mercenaries.  One of my favorite games on the Xbox.  I hope they're able to keep the same sand box, open feel of the original on the 360. 
1565  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: College Hoops 2k7 on: January 24, 2007, 04:35:09 PM
I've adjusted the sliders to be more representative of the real stats.  I was seeing 45-50% 3PT FG%, now I'm seeing closer to the 35-45% range by tweaking the sliders.  The AI is still sinking a lot of 3 pointers, but it seems more realistic now.  Thanks for posting the stat links and for the feedback.  I'm always hesistant to fiddle with sliders, and won't normally unless my enjoyment of the game is being impacted. 

   
1566  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: College Hoops 2k7 on: January 23, 2007, 07:19:50 PM
I'm definitely turning down the 3pt tendency and 3pt range sliders for the AI.  When I lose games, it's because the AI sank 11 out of 19 3 pointers for 33 points in a 24 minute game lol.  And that's with a 3-2 zone, tight pressure, and double teaming shooters on the wings.  I've played games where over 50% of the AI's points come from 3 pointers.  I'm not even going up against good teams either.  Do you think dropping those sliders down by 10 would be too much?   
1567  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: College Hoops 2k7 on: January 20, 2007, 09:56:14 PM
I beat George Mason today with VMI.  I used some of the quick play calls (pick, screen, post up), but mostly just passed the ball around and looked for opportunities.  I've had more luck with the 3-2 defense keeping pressure on the permiter shooters...thanks for the tip on that one.  I won by 12, so I'm starting to feel better.   
1568  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: College Hoops 2k7 on: January 19, 2007, 09:18:12 PM
Awesome, great info.  Thanks Lockdown. 

1569  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: College Hoops 2k7 on: January 19, 2007, 08:12:25 PM
I'm trying those tips tonight too, thank you. 

What are the drawbacks of setting your perimeter guys to tight pressure all the time?  Is there anyway to hotkey having your team press?  I noticed an option in the coaching menu where I can select what type of press, and then there's an option to select how often.  I'd like to be able to hotkey, say a fullcourt man to man press, on the dpad.  Is this possible?  I've seen the AI do this to me, switching between normal d and press d.
1570  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: College Hoops 2k7 on: January 19, 2007, 06:09:56 PM
The AI seems to be incredible at sinking 3 pointers, even with bad teams.  Any tips for guarding against the 3?  I had some success with the 2-3 match up zone, but the AI still manages a really high 3pt %.
1571  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: College Hoops 2k7 on: January 18, 2007, 08:01:41 PM

Quote from: Lockdown on January 18, 2007, 12:33:10 PM

Quote from: Roguetad on January 17, 2007, 06:52:19 PM

I canít believe how good this game is, especially considering itís hovering around an 81 for an average review score.             

So basically Roguetad, you're saying you don't believe any of the crap I've been typing for weeks?

Thanks alot! 

 icon_frown

I didn't want to saddle you with the pressure that I bought the game because of your comments.  So thank you icon_smile

I need to learn zone defense schemes again.  It's been such a long time since I played, and I've forgotten player asssignments in the different zones.
1572  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Wii....first impressions. on: January 17, 2007, 07:30:08 PM
Good first impressions.  I'd like to have that experience too...of walking into a store and having them ask me if I want a Wii.  I've never seen a Wii in the wild, ever.  Did your Wii come with the thicker wrist strap connectors?   
1573  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: College Hoops 2k7 on: January 17, 2007, 06:52:19 PM
I canít believe how good this game is, especially considering itís hovering around an 81 for an average review score.  Iíve never purchased or played any of the previous college basketball games, EA or 2K, so this is a first for me.  Iíve been a long time supporter of EAís NCAA football franchise, for better or worse, mainly because of the unique atmosphere of college football.  Iíve tried other basketball games over the years, and even this yearís excellent NBA 2k7 didnít do much for me.  College Hoops 2k7 is the first basketball game to really hook me. 

For the first time in any sports game, I actually get to play my alma mater.  The level of detail and depth of content in this game is amazing.  They managed to get my schoolís uniforms, logo, arena, and fight song down to near perfection.  Itís actually really weird to see my school represented so well in a game.  The only minor omission I noticed was that they donít show the cadets in the stands at either the home or away games, just supporters wearing the school colors.  I havenít played the federal service academies yet, so I donít know if they do show their cadets/midshipmen in the stands.  Itís a small omission thatís more than made up for by the fluid, intuitive gameplay. 

I generally suck at basketball games, and for some reason College Hoops just feels right to me.  It doesnít feel arcadey or too fast, like all of the EA basketball titles Iíve tried over the years.  More importantly to me, ball movement feels and looks mostly right too.  I downloaded EAís March Madness 07 demo last night so I could compare gameplay just to see if I was imaging how good CH 07 controlled.  EA needs to completely abandon whatever engine they used for March Madness, itís awful.  I immediately deleted that garbage off my HD, and went back to CH 07.  Without knowing any of the advanced controls or play calling, I only lost by 2 points with my small alma mater against William and Mary.  And most importantly, the game was a blast.  William and Mary won on a great inbound pass-shot play with 3 seconds left.  I really had no idea what I was doing, but just using the most basic commands and the shot stick, I did okÖand it was fun.  When Bryant Gumble gave the post game key play of the game, he correctly highlighted the last second inbound pass-shot play that William and Mary pulled off.  Good stuff. 

Iím looking forward to designing some off the wall chants for my team.  Iím not sure if Iím more surprised by how good this game is, or how far EA has fallen with their basketball titles.                 
1574  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Valve calls PS3 a disaster, Wii a happy story on: January 15, 2007, 10:39:42 PM
I would think developers and publishers would follow the revenue trail to the largest installed user bases.  If the 360 and Wii end up with the largest user bases, with the PS3 a high priced shiny cousin that's harder to develop for, I bet you'll see a lot of developers jump quickly on the Wii development bandwagon, if they haven't already.  The PS3 reminds me of the Panasonic and Goldstar 3DO, a high priced multimedia console that tried to be everything but ended up (initially) outside of most consumers comfortable buying range.   
1575  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Oblivion - Shivering Isles Video Preview on: January 15, 2007, 04:45:22 PM
I'm still not excited about the idea of playing in Sheogoraths plane, but the expansion looks like it has a ton of content and quality.  I wish they would've chosen another concept for the expansion though, or another daedra.  My first reaction on seeing the giant mushrooms was how similar the terrain looked to Morrowind, which one of the lead artists mentions later in the video.   
1576  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Unexpectedly Liking 360 Achievements on: January 04, 2007, 07:52:04 PM
I like achievments too, they seem to appeal to my merit badge complex.  I have to be carefull though because they can be major game spoilers...like in Oblivion.   
1577  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Blockbuster just got better on: January 04, 2007, 03:18:01 PM
The BB's near me in Northern VA never have new movies or games on the shelves.  Forget about getting a new 360 game in store, unless you visit every day and luck out.  A trip to BB during the middle of the week and again on the weekend was almost a weekly ritual for me going back to the mid to late '90s.  Ever since they went to the no late fee policy, their in store availability for new movies and games has gone from barely acceptable to frustratingly bad.  Even if I had a coupon for a free in store game/movie rental it wouldn't be that valuable, unless I wanted to watch older movies.  There are 2 BB's near me, and both have problems keeping their new inventory on the shelves.

The store part of the BB Total Access service is not a value add for me.  In fact, it's actually a negative since I don't even like visiting BB anymore.  I finally signed up for Netflix this month, and if their shipping in December during the holidays is any indication of their service, they've been great.  Grant it, my experience with them is only for 1 month during the Holiday season, but I haven't had any issues getting new movies.  I'm excited about being able to watch new movies again. 

The only service that would get me to switch to BB TA would be if they had a combined movie/game plan through the mail.         
1578  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: new title for bully on: October 02, 2006, 05:38:29 PM
We're ok with violent themes in the US, it's part of our pop culture.  It's the naked boobies we freak out about.  OMG nipples, the apocalypse is upon us!   


1579  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Wii hands on stuff from the Fusion Tour on: October 02, 2006, 05:09:18 PM
If the Wii-mote requires complicated gestures to work correctly, and it's not consistently responsive, it may have the reverse effect on the non-gaming crowd.  Instead of bringing non-gamers to video gaming, it may turn them off if they have to learn complicated and hard to perform hand and arm gestures.  Maybe a standard controller would end up being easier to use for a non-gamer? 

I'm definitely rooting for the Wii, and I hope they're able to iron out any controller issues before launch (working with their 3rd party developers too).
1580  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Great Madden Wii preview at IGN on: September 29, 2006, 06:50:31 PM
As a sometimes jaded gamer, I'm excited they're trying something new.  I'm surprised to see so much skepticism over a new idea.  If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.  At least they're trying something different and new.   
1581  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Oblivion for the PS3 and PSP on: September 28, 2006, 05:02:55 PM
Hopefully the Knights of the Nine questline, to include the new armor, weapons, and NPCs, will be available as an official mod download for the 360 and PC. 
1582  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Paraworld Impressions on: September 27, 2006, 05:02:08 PM

Quote from: Kobra on September 27, 2006, 04:40:49 PM

For example if you send an army to attack a wall, and it beats the wall, the army won't sit there and masturbate.
As a former Marine, I can confirm that masturbation is indeed a popular activity when waiting around with nothing to do. 

I've been looking forward to Paraworld ever since I saw the army builder feature in action.  The story actually sounds good too.
1583  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [360] NHL '07 Impressions on: September 27, 2006, 03:48:15 PM
Man, I got smoked by the AI playing as the Pens vs. Islanders in dynasty mode - 5 to 2.  So far my win/loss record has been realistic.  I've yet to identify any money plays, so most of the goals are usually a result of defense breakdowns, screens, bad rebounds, or good forward play (or all of the above).  The AI puts up a good fight.  I've seen a couple of cheese goals that squirt through the pads, but I think that represents the aw shit goals where the goalie flubs an easy save in real life...at least that's what I tell myself when I see one.

The on ice quick strategy feature doesn't seem responsive to me.  I'm using the face buttons to change strategies, but there's a delay in response after I hit the button...or sometimes it doesn't even respond.  I'd love to be able to change strategies during replays or stoppages, but half the time the game won't respond.  Often times I'll miss the face off because I'm too busy trying to manage the quick strategy feature.  During some replays I've seen the strategy change along the top of the screen after using the left stick, but I didn't see that documented anywhere in the manual.  I hope I'm just doing something wrong.       

1584  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Warhammer: Mark of Chaos beta on: September 27, 2006, 03:37:42 PM
Maybe they should've spent a little less $ on the excellent trailer, and more on the development side?  Regardless of how the game turns out, that was one of the best trailers I've seen in recent memory. 

Count me as another who was really looking forward to this game, but now has major reservations based on the beta.
1585  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Interesting comments by Square on the PS3 on: September 26, 2006, 06:08:24 PM
More S-E is a good thing.  I'd like to see them support multiple platforms.   
1586  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: PS3 games to cost $75 to $85 bucks?? on: September 26, 2006, 05:03:47 PM
Iím not pro or anti Sony, and I was seriously considering the PS3.  $60 games for the Xbox 360 had a big impact on how many games Iíve purchased since launch.  I donít see the $60 price point by MS and Sony as a good thing, or something to be happy about.  My 360 library is anemic, mostly because Iím much more conservative when it comes to purchasing new games at $60.  The showstopper right now for me with the PS3 is the console price tag.  Itís just too expensive for me right now.  I would love to see game prices drop down to $49.99 again.   
1587  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [360] NHL '07 Impressions on: September 25, 2006, 05:33:11 PM
After finally committing to a team (Pens), I started a dynasty this weekend.  I created a free agent winger, and was happy to see that the AI really cranked up his salary request (based on his stats).  I think I left him at 1million during creation, and the AI asked for 4.85million.  I offerred 4million and got rejected.  I had to bump up to 4.25 to sign him.  Good stuff. 

On the bad side, the dynasty and team management menus are terrible.  It is a major pain to edit lines, swap out players, and view global information without blumbering back and forth between several clunky menu screens.  Some of my players have been gaining Experience Points after each dynasty game, but the flimsy manual doesn't fully explain how I'm supposed to use them.  Because of the clunky menus, I can't for the life of me figure out what the experience points are for and when I get to use them.  I found the Progress Report menu that lists each players current stats, with a column for season improvements, and a total column.  The report lists the experience points for each player, but as far as I can tell, there's no way to use the experience points.  I wanted to switch the captaincies of my team, but it took me 15 minutes of menu navigating to finally figure out that I needed to go to the Jersey Number assignment menu to do that.

I really like the game play, it's the off the ice interface that stinks.
1588  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: WH40K Dark Crusade Demo Tonight at 12Midnight. on: September 22, 2006, 05:43:06 PM
Relic has done a masterful job with the 40k license and content.  This is a day 1 purchase for me too.  I know they won't touch this in the current game, but I'd love to see the differences and characteristics of each of the SM Chapters and Chaos Legions implemented in a future game.  Playing the Ultramarines should be a different experience than playing the Blood Angels, and playing as the Alpha Legion should be different than the Black Legion.  If they could do that, my dork love for Relic would be complete.
1589  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Speaking of Neverwinter Nights 2... on: September 22, 2006, 05:33:05 PM
It's not nearly as fugly as Dungeon Siege 2, that has to count for something. icon_wink 
1590  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Wii Price Calculator on: September 22, 2006, 05:26:19 PM

Quote from: ATB on September 22, 2006, 05:18:30 PM

Quote from: Roguetad on September 22, 2006, 05:04:50 PM

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on September 22, 2006, 04:56:16 PM

Quote
Nope.  480p max support for Wii. 

....which is pathetic in this day and age.

Ack, that sucks.  I was seriously considering pre-ordering, but not if it doesn't support HD.  I don't think I could go back to playing games at 480p after seeing the glory of 720p and 1080i gaming on my LCD tv. 

And here we are again...

I'm a little slow on the uptake regarding the Wii.  I didn't know it was only 480p.  I was actually planning on trading in my psp + games to preorder and hopefully payoff most of the balance.   
1591  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Wii Price Calculator on: September 22, 2006, 05:04:50 PM

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on September 22, 2006, 04:56:16 PM

Quote
Nope.  480p max support for Wii. 

....which is pathetic in this day and age.

Ack, that sucks.  I was seriously considering pre-ordering, but not if it doesn't support HD.  I don't think I could go back to playing games at 480p after seeing the glory of 720p and 1080i gaming on my LCD tv. 
1592  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Wii Price Calculator on: September 22, 2006, 03:58:22 PM
Dumb question: Will the Wii support HD?  I checked the hardware link on their site, and it just said component, composite, and s-video outputs are supported.  Does component = HD? 
1593  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [360] NHL '07 Impressions on: September 18, 2006, 06:42:35 PM

Quote from: shaggydoug on September 18, 2006, 06:00:38 PM

Quote from: Roguetad on September 18, 2006, 04:33:16 PM

I'm now managing to win about 50% of face-offs against the AI.  It's really a timing thing.  The better I started recognizing the ref's animations, and pulling the right stick back the second the puck dropped, the more face-offs I won.  There's also a Face-Off Rating for each player, which seems to have some impact on winning draws.  I've done very well with a good face-off center, winning 3/4 of them during a game. The left shoulder button face off definitely seems to be a skate trap, kick back.  It's much slower than just pulling back on the right stick and aiming with the left.

Just so I'm clear on what you are saying...(yes...I'm in the face-off disadvantaged group).....

You watch the ref animation.  When he drops the puck (I've seen insta-drop, 1 fake and 2 fake animations), you pull back on the right stick and choose a direction to pass it to with your left stick?   If that is the case, what happens if you pull back early, i.e. the first fake?

- shaggy

Yep, exactly.  Nothing happens if you don't time it right.  You'll see your stick move, but you'll lose the draw.  I've won face-offs when I bite on the first two fake drops and then time the 3rd right.  The instant drop is the easiest for me to win, since I can tell it's coming due to what seems like an animation hang.  I'm good with the 3rd drop, but the double drop usually gets me.  It took quite a few games for me to get the ref puck animations down. 

Edited to clarify:  double drop = 1 fake and drop on 2nd.  3rd drop = 2 fakes and drop on 3rd. 
1594  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [360] NHL '07 Impressions on: September 18, 2006, 06:34:32 PM
Man, good question.  I'll check through all the My NHL'07 options tonight and see if there's a way to switch start-up teams.  I can't believe they wouldn't include that option.

With the new skill stick and button interface, I'm a dissapointed EA didn't include a practice option like they've done in the past.  I would really like to be able to just skate around and practice moving the stick around, taking shots, and experimenting with the LB to lock foward.  Being able to setup different practice types would've been great (3 on 3, 5 on 3, 4 on 4, PK, PP, etc).  Even having skill drill mini games would've been a nice touch.      
1595  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [360] NHL '07 Impressions on: September 18, 2006, 04:33:16 PM
I'm now managing to win about 50% of face-offs against the AI.  It's really a timing thing.  The better I started recognizing the ref's animations, and pulling the right stick back the second the puck dropped, the more face-offs I won.  There's also a Face-Off Rating for each player, which seems to have some impact on winning draws.  I've done very well with a good face-off center, winning 3/4 of them during a game. The left shoulder button face off definitely seems to be a skate trap, kick back.  It's much slower than just pulling back on the right stick and aiming with the left. 

It's funny, even without speed burst, I still think the game moves a little too fast, especially around the net.  I do agree that all of the team management menus are really clunky and poorly designed.  Just trying to insert a created player into the correct lines, and rearrange some folks, was an exercise.  I don't remember the UI being that cumbersome in the past. 

Overall, I really like the game.   
1596  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [360] NHL '07 Impressions on: September 15, 2006, 06:30:07 PM
Nice.  I didn't know about the left trigger for skating backwards. 

I've noticed that if you try and check a bigger player, you can actually be knocked off balance yourself.  Pretty cool. 

The AI is still getting in almost 2x as many shots as me each period, but the balance in scoring feels right on.  I get about 2x as many hits against the AI each period, but the penalties seem roughly about the same.  Sometimes hits actually work against you, especially if you try and slam a smaller forward against a defensemen.     
1597  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Reminder: Battlestar Galactica Season 2.5 DVD to be released Tuesday on: September 15, 2006, 04:56:52 PM
Oh man, looking forward to watching the second half of season 2 again.  The last 3 or 4 episodes of the season were great.
1598  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [360] NHL '07 Impressions on: September 15, 2006, 04:29:49 PM

Quote from: jament on September 15, 2006, 04:24:01 PM

But  - let's say I'm on D, I want to poke check a guy at the blue line and then hip check him if the poke doesn't dislodge the puck.  You're saying I don't use buttons to do that?  How does it work?  Huh?  Eh? What?

The right shoulder button poke checks (in the direction of the right stick), or default directly in front if you don't use the right stick. 

You hit someone by simply pushing the right stick in the direction of the victim. 

The left shoulder button can be used to hook or tie up someone.  I hooked someone on a break away and definitely got called for it.  You can use the left SB to keep guys pinned against the boards too. 

Pressing both shoulder buttons at the same time makes your guy block. 

That's pretty much it!  You can clear pucks by doing a slap shot or pulling the right trigger for a pass.
1599  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [360] NHL '07 Impressions on: September 15, 2006, 04:25:44 PM
I've been sacrificing my guys without hesitation during PKs, flopping them down on the ice to catch rockets in the face and chest.  The block animations are different too, depending on their momentum and position I think.  Sometimes my guys will drop to their knees, other times they flop out on their backs or chest (ouch!).

I'm still trying to get a hang of managing defense.  I think I need to use the different defensive strategies more.  I've seen my defenders happily skate backwards without even a poke check while an opposing forward skates from the center line right up to the net and takes a shot.  Taking control of the defender solves this, but I was hoping my guys would be a little more aggressive.  I'm going to try setting defense pressure to aggressive tonight, and see if that helps.  

I also need to figure out how to use my goalie.  All he does right now is cover-up and squirt out slow moving passes.  I'd like to see him handle pucks behind the net, clear out pucks, and setup some rushes.  

     I've noticed the left shoulder button on the face off seems to be a skate kick back from the center.  Timing the face off exactly right with just the right stick seems to pass the puck in the direction of the left stick...if that makes any sense.  In other words, I think the LB is a different face off technique than just using the right stick.  It's a little slower on the draw.  

I'm still loving the skill stick.  I figured out how to do a 360 spin.  Move the right stick to the left or right at 9 or 3 o'clock, and then rotate the stick back towards 6 o'clock and up to 12 o'clock.  Your guy will do a 360 spin.
1600  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [360] NHL '07 Impressions on: September 14, 2006, 04:08:46 PM
I picked this up last night.  Since I only played a few games, plus a bunch of shootouts to get used to the skill stick, I can only speak to my first impressions of the gameplay.  I think this game is a winner.  Iím actually shocked it was developed by EA.  This is the important distinction for me compared to all of the previous hockey games Iíve owned over the years:  I felt like I was actually playing a game of NHL hockey, not some arcade game of hockey.  The skill stick is a break-through.  Iím still getting used to controlling wrist shots, snap shots, slap shots, and all of the dekes and moves, but the level of control I already felt last night was unlike any sports game Iíve played.  To be able to move in one direction while holding the stick in the opposite direction, and then flipping the stick over, drawing back with a slapshot stroke, only to slide over to the backhand at the last second and snap one into the top shelfÖwell, itís hard to explain how good it felt until you try it yourself. 

The presentation is slick, the graphics are great, but itís all about the gameplay in this version.  I hated the speed burst feature.  In this version, players move at a speed that feels like a hockey game.  Itís still a little too fast at times, but itís much better than previous years.  A fast break actually feels like a fast break, not some guy zipping down the ice in 2 seconds.  I was able to work the puck around during power plays, setup guys in the slot, and never did I feel any of the goals were cheesy 1-timers.  The defender AI seems ok, but itís still too early for me to really get a feel for it. 

Like Devil mentioned, I have no freaking clue what Iím doing on face-offs, since the manual doesnít mention anything about it.  I think Iíve won a total of 3 face-offs in multiple games. 

It took me awhile to figure out that the skill stick is relative to the direction of the opposing goal.  If that throws you off too much, you can toggle an ďalways upĒ box.  Being able to freely move your stick around, while skating in any direction, is just too coolÖand it directly impacts the game.  The skill stick is not an added novelty feature.  The animations for all of the different stick movements are great.  I actually flubbed a few shots on goal because I was too busy watching the cool stick work animations. 

Very early impression:  great hockey game.  Canít wait to play more tonight.     
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