By Kelvin Tan
Now, finally, here are three good reasons to tell the missus why you absolutely must get the new iteration of the Xbox: Scientific research suggests that gaming improves creativity, decision-making and perception!
According to recent studies done by the University of Rochester researchers in the US, people who played sports-based video games make decisions 25 per cent faster than others, and veteran game players can pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused, compared to only four that an average Joe can normally keep in mind.
In this spirit of self-improvement, Men’s Health clocked more than 40 hours over two weekends testing four of the latest offerings on the market, to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
With each passing year, this football fiesta keeps getting closer and closer to gaming nirvana – the game itself feels exactly like watching a real-life football match.
Crowds and stadiums look very realistic, and there’s an interesting range of emotions from your players. While there’s no Luis Suarez-style biting on opponents, goalkeepers keep the ball out with desperate scrambles of arms and legs, and players rant at referees mid-match when things aren’t going your way.
Forty hours later… One big gripe we used to have about previous iterations of this game was how the menus was frustrating to go through. It took forever to make tactical changes. Fifa 15 is far better, and the menus now feel slicker after a drastic user-interface change.
Gameplay-wise, it’s still at the top of the table compared to other football games on the market, though we do think EA Sports might want to dial down on the disparity between top players and their opponents. When you sprint off with stars like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, it’s almost impossible to stop them – it’s as if they’re on digital steroids!
Score: 4½ stars out of five.
NBA LIVE 14
Despite being released by EA Sports as well, it’s almost as if the producers of NBA Live 14 were working on a spartan budget. The on-court gameplay feels dated, and there’s not much of an improvement from its previous generations. If you’re new to the basketball genre in gaming, you won’t complain too much, though. Newcomers will easily be able to pick it up and play, thanks to some really basic commands to pass, shoot and jump.
Forty hours later… You’d think after so much time, we’d have gotten the hang of this game. Sadly, it wasn’t the case. The art of getting the correct timing for successfully making a basket still eludes us, and what compounded matters was that different players have different timings – which, while certainly realistic, was a real crimp after a while.
It was certainly a joy looking at stars like LeBron James in this game, as they’re detailed when viewed up close and during replays. But, in contrast, when you’re playing from standard camera angles, the faces of the other players, coaches and referees have no recognisable definition whatsoever.
Score: 2 stars out of five.
EA SPORTS UFC
This game marked a new chapter for the UFC, as EA took over from now-defunct publisher THQ in producing this title. On the surface, EA looks like they’ve got a real champion here, with a roster of dozens of real-world UFC competitors in a range of weight classes ready to rumble.
They’ve also developed an interesting game mechanic: Instead of the usual static life bars, fighters have stamina that depletes with every move you make, but also regenerates based on certain activities. Damage dealt to your opponent is specific, and you can see on screen if you’re hurting your opponent, with faces and ribs swelling with each round during the fight.
Forty hours later… Here’s the thing – this game really isn’t for the button mashers. We don’t think there’s ever been one that has exhausted us as much before, because the controls are the most complicated ever. (And we kill at Street Fighter.)
Every button on the controller is equally important, and the repertoire of moves is maddeningly long and complex. For the most complex moves, you’ll find yourself needing to expand as much energy on your fingers as doing the move proper, holding one trigger, a bumper, and be jamming the control stick in a direction, and then the face button.
And don’t get us started on getting your opponent on the ground. Despite playing for hours, we found only sporadic success doing it. Our only pleasure was being able to play marquee fighters like Tarec Saffiedine, who MMA fans will remember was strutting his stuff on our shores early this year. Now, where’s local boy Royston Wee?
Score: 3 stars out of five.
Forza Motorsport 5
After a decade of refinement, Turn 10, the developers of this game, have really hit new heights with it. The game is just as beautiful as the cars showcased in Forza Motorsport 5, especially on Forzavista mode, where the level of attention paid to the smallest of details is jaw-dropping.
On the track, though, is where this game truly excels. We honestly felt a twinge of heartbreak each time we crashed our orange McLaren P1. The damage on the (thankfully) digital edition looked remarkably realistic.
Forty Hours Later… We’re still awed. Driving on tracks like Bathurst’s Mount Panorama and Prague’s city centre felt life-like, and the cost of this game seems negligible if you factor in the free travel experience garnered.
On top of that, Drivatar, the game’s AI engine, is really quite incredible. The artificial intelligence saves how all drivers in this game perform, as well as their driving styles, and replicates it on your console, which allows you to compete against other drivers even if you’re not playing the game at the same time!
Our only gripe? This game is stricken with Down Loadable Content. What this means is to get the full experience of this game, you’ve got to splash the cash on tokens to buy the various add-ons. It’s really an unsavory bit of the gaming business these days, and leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth, despite how much we love this game.
Score: 4 stars out of five.