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December 03, 2004 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-03

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 3, 2004

ARTS

'March Madness' Final Four worthy

The first rule of fight club ... don't wear white after Labor Day.
'Friends a d apoints
in latest DVD release
By Nlamh Slevin follow in the vein of "Seinfeld", has
Daily Weekend Editor tried to cram far too much seriousness
and substance into basically a sub-
stance-free storyline.
There is some semblance of the good
When "Friends" first aired more than ole days in "Season Eight." When Joey is
10 years ago, its quirky, unusual charm interviewed for an article in Soap Opera
filled the void left when series like Digest, the producers splice together a
"Cheers" said their final farewells. The couple quick flashbacks from the first few
cast members were goofy, the story was seasons to remind the audience why they
indescribable and the issues were inane, ever felt hooked at all. Unfortunately,
but the popularity was immense. All over even the most faithful audience member
the nation, viewers were pledging to be can see through the cheap ploy to avoid
there for their "Friends" through thick paying their million-dollar stars to com-
and thin. plete an actual episode. The season lasts
We were there a mere 18 episodes; the flashback only
for them when Friends: highlights a waning, lackluster storyline.
Ross found out Season Eight Even the special features fall below
his pregnant wife Warner Bros. the standard fare for TV show releases.
was a lesbian. We The "Friends of the Friends" segment
were there for them offers bland, lovey-dovey commentary
when Rachel left her dentist at the altar from bit characters, only one of whom
and moved in with Monica. We were actually appeared in " Season Eight."
there for them when Phoebe gave birth The gag reel presents clip after clip of
to her long-lost half-brother's triplets inside jokes and actor screw-ups that
and thought she deserved to keep one. always fail to make the audience laugh.
We were there religiously for a half It even included a preview for the next
hour every Thursday night to see what DVD's gag reel, as though that were
the next wild problem would bring the enoughtomakeussalivate formore. But,
Friends closer together. Unfortunately, it did provide the most accurate quote to
the newest DVD release in the "Friends" sum up the "Friends" downward spiral.
franchise proves these memories have At one point, Jennifer Aniston laughs,
fallen far beyond the viewer's reach. "What happened to you? You used to be
"Friends: Season Eight" manages to able to act."
murder all the livelihood and original- At least this season packs in more of
ity that used to be so endearing. Phoebe, the half-assed attempts at special features
whose signature naivete used to elicit the than other recent releases. The producers
majority of the show's laughs, has turned tried to make the consumer's $40 some-
to bitter sarcasm or overstated silliness how well spent. Sadly, messed-up mock
to force a chuckle. Ross has morphed trivia games and trite cast and crew com-
from the boy-next-door dinosaur nerd mentaries can't save this former must-see
into a screeching caricature of his for- favorite.
mer self, and Monica, perhaps worst of
all, has added a relentless emphasis on Show: *1
her shrill, obsessive-compulsive neat- Picture/Sound: ****
freak nature. The show, which used to Features: **

By James V. Dowd
Daily Arts Writer
While it still lags behind its
"NCAA Football" counterpart in
perfecting the roaring, ground-shak-
ing ambiance that is college sports,
EA Sports's "NCAA March Madness
2005" will win gamers over with a
more in-depth dynasty mode and eas-
ier on-court control.
EA Sports's main selling pitch is
its new "Floor General" play-call-
ing mode that allows the user to call
plays with just a touch of a button
or two. As the ball comes out of the
backcourt, a tap
of a button brings
up the team's NCAA March
main offensive Madness
or defensive sets, 2005
and another but- Xbox and PS2
ton tap calls a
play quickly and EA Sports
easily. The "Floor
General" mode also creates an over-
lay of the play diagram on the floor,
so even a casual basketball fan will
know where to go and where their
teammates are headed.
On-court controls also include
an improved EA Sports's Freestyle
controls that give crossover dribbles
and spin moves a more realistic look.
Along with one-touch calls for alley-
oop passes, new mid-air rebounding
controls give the gamer an opportu-
nity to capitalize on great offensive
rebounding. "March Madness 2005"
is the best yet when it comes to real-
istic basketball.
The main shortfall of "March
Madness 2005" is EA Sports's effort
to create an Arena Pulse counterpart
to "NCAA Football 2005's" Stadium
Pulse. While the Stadium Pulse fea-
ture was effective in recreating the
feel of college football venues, the
Arena Pulse becomes so overwhelm-
ing that gameplay can be difficult.
During a game at Duke's Cameron
Indoor Stadium, the game's toughest
venue to play at, the screen appropri-
ately shakes. But at the set frequency,
it's more likely to induce dizziness
than intimidate the opponent. There
are also instances where the on-
screen shaking does not coincide
with the controller vibrations.
Moving off the court, "March
Madness 2005" continues its upward
swing, featuring an impressive
Dynasty Mode. This mode gives
gamers a chance to act as head coach
of their favorite team and now fea-

These digital characters are playing basketball.

tures an even more realistic simula-
tion of the coach's position, requiring
in-season recruiting.
Recruiting works just as it does in
"NCAA Football 2005." The coach
has the option of recruiting in any
state if he wants to peruse the top-100
"EA Sports Blue Chip" prospects or
simply talk to interested players. The
process is more involved than in foot-
ball. Throughout the season the coach
must actively pursue players for next
year. He's given the chance to scout
or watch games of prospects, send out
recruiting packages, and invite pros-
pects to games.
Dynasty Mode also includes a
Coach's personal digital assistant.
School officials, NCAA officers, doc-
tors and boosters can all'call to com-
municate their news. After a game,
the coach will receive feedback on
his PDA, including coaching report
cards and injury updates. Throughout
the season, family and friends also
weigh in on certain recruits, helping
to ease the burden of bringing in next
year's class.
During Dynasty Mode the coach

also earns Campus Challenge points
for on-court performance, and is
given the option to spend them on
training or coaching sessions to pre-
pare for menacing opponents.
Gainers also have the opportu-
nity to try their hand at Pontiac
College Classics, a collection of col-
lege basketball's greatest games and
moments. From playing the overtime
period during Michigan's 1989 upset
of Seton Hall in the national cham-
pionship game to recreating Cham-
inade's shocking victory over No. 1
Virginia in 1982 to Duke's two-sec-
ond miracle in the 1992 Elite Eight
against Kentucky, the gamer can do
their best to come out on top. After
winning each moment the teams
from that game are unlocked for use
at any time.
Overall, EA Sports "NCAA March
Madness 2005" is once again much
improved, and its ability to put con-
trol of the game in anyone's hands will
win more casual gamers over. In other
games, play calling is difficult and
was left to hardcore gamers or die-
hard basketball fans. The "Floor Gen-

Fr ,lli'. .v~v. ' s

Game version of hit film

By Ryan Guerra
For the Daily
VI D OG;A MI:R EV IEW**
Traditionally, videogames inspired
by movies always seem rushed in
order to capitalize on the "hype" that
goes along with the movie. Game
designers think that they can throw
the gamer into the movie world with-
out the necessary tools needed to
enjoy completing the game. Sadly
this is far from true. Games are more
than just story, cinematic scenes and
cool characters. The enjoyment factor

for many games often comes down to
something as simple as control. The
THQ game "The Incredibles" illus-
trates this point.
"The Incredibles" game mimics
the movie world
exactly. It tells the
story through the The
various levels and Incredibles
several animated PS2, Xbox,
cut scenes. These Gamecube and PC
scenes, though at THQ
times a little dark
and grainy, are on
par with the film itself. The graphics
of each level actually look, and more

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w
eral" play calling has bridged the gap.
Mainstream gainers and casual fans
can now compete realistically just as
the well-practiced gainers can. The
addition of more advanced controls
will give serious gainers more realis-
tic gameplay to keep them hooked.
uninspiring
importantly, feel like the player is par-
ticipating in the movie. Furthermore,
there are many extras, such as charac-
ter artwork, that can be unlocked by
finding them in each level. This pro-
vides a little more incentive to explore
the linear, yet large, levels.
But the real appeal to this game
is the chance to play as the "Supers"
themselves. Playing as Mr. Incred-
ible and family provides an endearing
experience that any fan of the movie
will love. Sadly Frozone is a nonplay-
able character.
The characters retain their screen
personality through the use of their
various superpowers and witty
tue-liners. However, this enjoyment
ecomes short lived when the super-
powers and quips become overly
repetitive. Similarly, the "hack and
slash" gameplay grows redundant
and overly simplistic. Although they
hamper the overall experience, these
are small problems that can be played
through.
While there is nothing particularly
difficult to understand about the con-
trol scheme, the camera and targeting
system are lackluster. The game targets
enemies automatically and only those
enemies that are on screen. While
this may not seem like a problem, it
becomes irritating when the game
is target-locked on an enemy across
the room rather then the one actually
punching Mr. Incredible. The camera
follows the game character even at the
expense of losing an enemy off-screen.
It's especially frustrating during boss
fights, making them too hard to beat
for average 9-year-old, or in this case,
22-year-old, is capable of. Also, sim-
ple puzzles like swinging and jumping
to platforms becomes frustrating due
to the horrible camera. This problem
really makes for an unentertaining
and downright frustrating time spent
with the game.
Yet another movie game with poten-
tial falls short, not because of lack of
movie content, but rather because the
foundation the game engine is built on
is flawed and unrefined. Even for the
fans of "The Incredibles" who can tol-
erate horribly repetitive, limited and
frustrating gameplay, this game is still
only a rental.
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