Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Madden NFL 10 Review

September 15, 2009

In honor of the start of hut hut season, I’ve been playing a lot of Madden NFL 10 for my PS3 (actually the main reason I’ve been playing it is because EA sent me a copy to review!). As usual, its a great game and just as fun as when I first played Madden back in 1992 or 1993 (except there is no Thurman Thomas in it that you can a run a Halfback Swing Right play for and get a guaranteed touchdown).

If you’ve played the recent incarnations of Madden this game doesn’t offer any monumental changes – including the Madden curse, as co-cover star Troy Polamalu found out in Week 1. One change is the Pro-Take animation, that allows you to control the movement of players in gang tackles and fumbles. I really enjoy that the game constantly rates your skill levels and adjusts the difficulty of the game to coincide with your increasing (or decreasing) grasp of the game. The graphics are stunning and the audio is great, except, like in real life, there isn’t a whole lot of John Madden announcing anymore.

Of course the game offers an extensive online experience, with online leagues and the ability to update rosters (if you feel the need to have Mr. Dog Killer or The Wrangler Man in your game). All in all Madden is a very enjoyable, easy to play, and addictive game. In fact I find myself playing it instead of watching the NFL on TV, but I do kind of live in a fantasy world anyway, so that’s par for the course.

Grab the game here:

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NBA 2K10: Draft Combine Review

September 8, 2009



I finally got a chance to play the much anticipated NBA 2K10: Draft Combine over the weekend. This game is a dream come true for basketball junkies craving some hoops action in the offseason. But you better have thick skin – from playing it I learned that Derrick Rose is a very mean man – he wouldn’t stop yelling at me about how bad I was playing. You try being a 6’6″ power forward from Canada trying to make it in the NBA, Mr. Rose!! In all seriousness, Draft Combine is a fun game, but you have to remember that it only costs $5 before you get too disappointed with it – the game is short, hearing the same couple of songs is annoying and the camera angles can be frustrating. But like I said, it only costs you $5.

The concept of the game is very straighforward – create a player, perform drills to improve your attribute ratings and play in 5-on-5 scrimmages where you are given tasks to perform to raise your draft stock and increase your player rating. Like I mentioned above, the game is short – you only get to play six games before it is over, and you can only create and save one player. But once the real 2K10 comes out on October 6th you can upload your create draft prospect and play him in the real game. There is also online capability, so you can take your created player online to play against other people’s creations. (something I won’t be doing since my player sucks). The whole premise of it is real intriguing and something I’d love to see 2K Sports expand on in the future. Consider it an inexpensive, sneak peak/demo of the upcoming NBA 2K10 game. The game is download only, so go to XBox LIVE Arcade or the PlayStation Network to get it.

Michael Jordan: The Best Ever Review

September 6, 2009


The World Wide Leader recently sent me a copy of their new “bookazine” Michael Jordan: The Best Ever. I didn’t know what to expect, since there was no such thing as a “bookazine” when I was growing up. Turns out it is a high quality, almost 100-page tribute to Jordan’s career on the eve of his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. Considering it will only set you back $8.99, it is a must-have keepsake for all hoopheads out there. The best part about the publication, especially if you are illiterate, is all of the great photography that is housed within its covers. High school MJ, college MJ (wearing Converse on his feet), pro MJ, baseball MJ and executive MJ are all covered, with plenty of appearances of the worst mustache in sports history. There’s even a Gatorade sponsored poster that you can put up in your locker. Its not all photos though, as there are plenty of articles – both old and new – chronicling famous Jordan feats, like his “sick game” versus Utah in the playoffs – as well as rare stories, such as the time a martial artists cut his stomach with a sword. And for shoe addicts, every Jordan issued kick is written about and displayed.

Go and grab this “bookazine” and proudly display it on your coffee table (and if you don’t have a coffee table, pick one up while you are buying the “bookazine”).

Fight Night Round 4 Review

July 17, 2009
I stopped being a boxing fan quite a few years ago. I enjoyed the sport back in the days when every Mike Tyson PPV was an event due to his boxing, and not biting, skills. Plus when my hometown hero Lennox Lewis ruled the roost I obviously paid attention. But the million different title holders in a million different weight classes and the rise of MMA pretty much squashed any enthusiasm I had for the sweet science.

So it was with a little trepidation that I popped in a copy of Fight Night Round 4 on my PS3 to review. The fact that I love the UFC Undisputed game made me even more doubtful that Fight Night would be able to hold my attention for long. As is usually the case, my concerns were unnecessary. Surprisingly, I love Fight Night as much as I love UFC Undisputed, perhaps even more. When I played an earlier version of the game years ago I found it difficult to master using the joystick on the controller to throw punches. Now it seems so natural, I can’t imagine button mashing instead. You want to throw a right jab, you push the controller up and to the right. A right hook, you hook the joystick up and to the right. Pretty simple stuff.

While the graphics aren’t as good as UFC Undisputed, they aren’t bad either. Most of the classic fighters that are in the game look pretty realistic, and if you want to create your own fighter you can even upload photos onto the game – nice touch. As you probably know if you’ve seen the commercials (or from the box for the game) Fight Night allows you to do “dream matchups” pitting some of the sports legends against one another, regardless of weight class or era. So if you’ve always wondered who would win, Tyson or Ali, you can now find out (sort of, in a virtual way).

My favourite part of the game is the legacy mode, where you create your own fighter and try to rise through the ranks to become a champion. Or if you can’t be bothered to create your own pugilist, you can use one of the legends in the game, with their skills stripped down, and try to bring them back to the top.

After playing Fight Night Round 4 for a while you will feel like you’ve actually boxed for 10 rounds. My eyes are bleary and my thumb sore as I attempt to write this post.

Grab yourself a copy here:

Amazon.com – PS3: Fight Night: Round 4

Amazon.com – XBox: Fight Night: Round 4

Amazon.ca – PS3: Fight Night Round 4

Amazon.ca – XBox: Fight Night Round 4

New Items Marked Down! Shop the UFC Sale

Read To Achieve – The Breaks of the Game

July 8, 2009

A book about the 1979/80 Portland Trailblazers, a team that only won 38 games and whose best player was Kermit Washington shouldn’t be an interesting read. But, when that subject is put into the hands of a Pulitzer Prize winning writer like David Halberstam, things get interesting. Originally released in 1981, The Breaks of the Game has recently been revived in paperback form and it is well worth your time to pick it up. It is truly one of the greatest basketball books ever written.

Even though he was no longer on the team, the real star of the book is the San Diego Clippers Bill Walton. Walton’s shadow still loomed large over the Blazers as the 1980s unfolded, so he rightfully got plenty of ink in the tome. This is what makes Breaks such a classic book – Halberstam spends plenty of time not just documenting the 1979/80 Blazer season, he spends even more time dealing with side issues – race, contract disputes, television deals, biographical info on former players like Walton – in the book. The NBA held a much more precarious position in society at this time than it does today – can you even imagine having to watch the NBA Finals on tape delay at midnight like what happened in those days? So it is very refreshing and entertaining to read about where the NBA was and where it is today.

In terms of the best basketball books of all-time, this one ranks right up there with Heaven is a Playground. So, basically, what I am saying is if you are a basketball fan and you haven’t read this book yet you have to RIGHT NOW. And to make anyone who read this book when it originally came out feel old, current NBA player Luke Walton is born at the end of the book, with his dad naming him after former Blazer teammate Maurice Lucas.

You can grab this must-read hoops book here:

Amazon.ca: The Breaks Of The Game

or here:

Amazon.com: Breaks of the Game, The

MMA Manifesto – UFC Undisputed Review

June 30, 2009

Forgive me if you’ve heard this before, but it must be said again – UFC UNDISPUTED IS A FANTASTIC VIDEO GAME. In fact, it is the best fighting game I’ve ever played and one of the best sports games I’ve had the pleasure of bashing the buttons to.

What makes the game so fantastic is the realistic way that it portrays MMA. A large part of that is due to the graphics, which are stunning. All your favourite fighters are rendered true to life, right down to the tattoos and cauliflower ears. Mike Goldberg, Joe Rogan and Bruce Buffer are all along for the ride, so the audio is true to life also. And, most importantly, the action is about as realistic as you can get, without actually getting your face punched or kicked in. Of course there’s blood and cuts and contusions, and the knockouts are as gruesome as they are in real life, with limp, twisted bodies hitting the canvas. Transitions, clinching, striking and submissions are just as realistically rendered and fairly easy to pull off and get the hang off. But, like in real life, it’s the knockouts that are the real seller here.


While most of the big name UFC fighters are in the game (as well as some surprise additions like Tito Ortiz and Andrei Arlovski), the career mode is the feature of the game you’ll probably get the most enjoyment out of. You create your own fighter, decide on what disciplines he will specialize in, and then hop into the Octagon and fight your way up the ranks until you get a title shot.

Of the top of my head, there really isn’t anything wrong or needs improving in the game – it is about the best representation of MMA that a video game is capable of at this point in time (I’m sure after a couple of more years of innovation this game will look archaic). UFC Undisputed is an addictive game – the type of game that you can pop in one evening and before you know it the sun has come up the next morning (or so I’ve been told). And of course I’d want my faithful readers to become addicts also, so I’ve included helpful links below to go and grab a fix yourself.

Amazon.ca – PS3: UFC 2009: Undisputed

Amazon.ca – XBox: UFC 2009: Undisputed

Amazon.com – PS3: UFC 2009 Undisputed

Amazon.com – XBox: UFC 2009 Undisputed

Read To Achieve

May 24, 2009

I’m assuming anyone checking out this site knows how to read (although a lot of the photos I put up here do tell a story on their own). So with basketball season almost over, it’s time to take a look at some of The Hoops Manifesto’s recommended readings for the hoops junkie this summer. Welcome to The Hoops Manifesto Book Club.

When March Went Mad
Seth Davis

You all will probably know Seth Davis as that handsome, young studio analyst for CBS’ college hoops coverage. You know, the guy who likes to slip “Baba Boey’s” into the middle of sentences. Well Davis is also an accomplished scribe and his latest offering is When March Went Mad, which tells the tale of the 1979 NCAA Championship game. The game otherwise known as THE GAME THAT CHANGED THE WORLD. Perhaps you’ve heard of Michigan State and Indiana State’s star players from that season – Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird. Their head-to-head cage match for the NCAA title is still the highest rated NCAA game ever, and sparked a massive outpouring of interest in college hoops, and later on, the NBA. What many tend to forget is that their title game tilt wasn’t a very good game – the Spartans were in control of the contest throughout and Bird played poorly. Luckily Davis’ book doesn’t just deal with the actual contest, but also doubles as a bio of the key antagonists’ lives. A thoroughly entertaining read.

Buy it here (Canada): When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball

or here (Rest of world): When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball

The Madness Of March
Alan Jay Zaremba

The Madness of March deals with two of my favourite things – basketball and gambling (although I prefer to lose my money on cards rather than on teams). Professor Alan Zaremba chronicles the scene in Las Vegas during the opening weekend of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. And what a scene it was, full of colourful characters employing even more colourful language. Zaremba becomes fully embedded in the action, as both a bettor and an amused observer. The result is a fascinating, often humorous, look into the lives of the (mostly) men who converge on the desert every March with their “locks” and “sure thing” picks. The book also contains a sentence that fully sums up my thoughts on gambling: “How much difference is there between betting on tech stocks and betting on North Carolina?”. One of the best books I’ve read this year.

Buy it here (Canada): Madness of March: Bonding and Betting with the Boys in Las Vegas

or here (Rest of world): The Madness of March: Bonding and Betting with the Boys in Las Vegas

And on a totally unrelated note – LYOTO MACHIDA IS A BAD MAN!!!!!!!