All posts by Dillon Meehan

“MLB The Show 16,” The Best One Yet

by Dillon Meehan

For the past 10 years, the “MLB The Show” franchise has not only been the premier baseball game, but maybe the best overall sports video game. Nothing has changed for Sony San Diego, the video game’s studio, who have once again crafted a stellar game.

For years Take-Two’s “MLB 2K” series battled “The Show,” but ever since “2K’s” final installment in 2013, “The Show” has dominated the baseball simulation genre.

The game’s 11th installment is no different in terms of its excellence. It has once again raised the bar, forcing other companies who have considered making a baseball simulation to have second-guesses.

Until recently, sports video games always had competition. “FIFA” fought “Pro Evolution Soccer,” and developers EA Sports and Take-Two fought each other in basketball, football and hockey. But now the majority of sports video games have only one viable option – because the developers know this, they do not strive to greatly improve their game. They know that as long as minor improvements are made over each annual release, millions of consumers will purchase the game every year no matter what.

However that is not the case with Sony San Diego. They have once again taken the great foundation that has been laid out by the previous iterations and added enough new features to be a brand new game, without completely reshaping the series.

Last year, Diamond Dynasty became the go-to game mode for players, being modeled after EA Sport’s ultimate team mode for their sports game franchises. With “MLB The Show 16,” they have built on that success and have added a new draft-based mode known as Battle Royale.

Much like Madden’s Draft Champions and FIFA’s FUT Draft, Battle Royale allows players the option to draft a roster over multiple rounds from four possible selections, one more than is offered with EA’s other draft-based modes.

One of the heavily advertised improvements was the new ShowTime mode. ShowTime essentially allows users to slow down time when in Road to The Show mode, to either make a play on the ball or when at bat. It has been used sparingly, but as of right now it is tough to time when to swing while slowed down, and there is no way to practice these situations; it has to be done in-game.

While the game is fantastic, there are a few flaws. The most notable is the commentary. For years, fans have clamored at the fact of having a new commentary team, but Sony San Diego has remained fixated on not replacing the commentators. Instead, there are a few extra lines of dialogue that have been added, which has been their go-to move for the past half-decade.

The other major issue is the lack of alternate jerseys. It is relatively easy to see the new jerseys that teams showed off in the offseason and add them to the game, but even with the season now underway, this has still not been changed. Sony has refused to even hide their mistake either – Josh Donaldson is on the cover of this year’s game in Toronto’s alternate jersey, which is not even available in the game.

Originally there were some major online issues that made playing against others on PlayStation Network practically impossible, but the new update seems to have fixed that.

It says a lot about the game when the two biggest issues are presentation and cosmetic. This means that its gameplay and modes are solid. If you were on the fence for this year’s version, you shouldn’t be – it’s a must buy.

Baseball’s Hot Streak Continues

by Dillon Meehan

Central Connecticut’s baseball team appears to building on the success they had last week, winning three out of four games for the second weekend in a row.

It has been a strange season for the Blue Devils, who started out rather slow.  After losing 14 of their first 22 games, CCSU has bounced back, winning six of their last eight.

For most teams, playing at home usually guarantees a win, but New Britain has not been kind to the Blue Devils who are 4-9 on the season and were 1-8 before this weekend.  CCSU has done the majority of their damage on the road, where they are 7-4.

CCSU (13-16, 6-6 NEC) only lost their final game of the weekend series against Mount St. Mary’s (4-23, 2-10 NEC).

Over the four games, the Blue Devils outscored the Mountaineers 31-8, including a massive 19-4 on Friday.

Ryan Costello was the player of the game. The sophomore infielder had three hits, including a grand slam, and five RBIs on the day. It has been a breakout season for Costello, who hit his second home run on Friday. The sophomore has 34 hits in 29 games, which ranks second on the team; he also has tallied 18 RBIs and scored 19 runs, both of which are team highs.

The Blue Devils continued to take care of business on Saturday by sweeping the double-header. CCSU narrowly won the first game 2-0, with senior Corey Lerche singling home both runs, the first coming in the opening inning and the second coming all the way in the sixth.

Junior Andrew Hinkley threw a complete game shutout, all while allowing only four hits and striking out three batters.

The Blue Devils won their second game of the doubleheader handily with another shutout, by a score of 6-0.

Freshman Mike Appel got his first win of the season, having pitched an impressive two-hit shutout while striking out three batters.

The Blue Devils got the scoring started early in the first when sophomore Dean Lockery knocked in two runners with a single in the second inning.  Lockery has built on his impressive freshman season. The infielder leads the team in both hits and batting average and is tied for third in the team with 11 RBIs.

The Blue Devils batted in another two runs in both the third and fifth inning, to extend their lead to six, and pull out their second shutout win.

The Blue Devils will be on the road for the next week. Fans can catch them next week when they play Siena on Tuesday, April 19.

CCSU Club Hockey End Regular Season Strong

by Nicholas Leahey

After struggling against Eastern Connecticut, the Blue Devils rebounded in a high scoring affair against Bryant over the weekend.

The Central Connecticut Men’s Ice Hockey Club Team closed out the regular season with a doubleheader, including a 5-2 loss to Eastern on Friday, and a 7-6 win over Bryant University on Saturday.

CCSU (9-7-0) started out strong in the first period Friday against Eastern in front of a sizable crowd in attendance, when Dylan Brown made a cross-ice pass to Jack Johnson on a 2-on-2 rush up ice, to beat Eastern goalie Alex Bliesher just 2:35 into the game.

That would be the CCSU’s only goal in the first period, however, with Eastern scoring three unanswered goals within five minutes soon after.

“I think we just got cocky after that first goal, and it blew up in our face,” said CCSU Captain Matthew Lis after the game.

Johnson later scored again on a 2-on-1 rush up ice with Brown at 14:16 of the third period. It wasn’t enough to stop Eastern’s offense though, who solidified their 5-2 victory when forward Christian Keator’s wrist shot beat CCSU goalie Zachary Gosselin high on the glove side late in the third period.

Unofficially, CCSU had 45 shots on goal during the game, while Eastern had 49.

“We just didn’t come ready to play today, and I think it showed,” said Gosselin after the game Friday.

The following night, the Blue Devils came out hard in their last regular season game against Bryant University, holding a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period, and a 5-3 lead after the second period. Despite a Bryant comeback surge in the third period to tie the game 5-5, led by Bryant’s Daniel Congiusta and Garrett Lehan, CCSU’s Frank Pisano and Lis were each able to score, giving the Blue Devils the victory with a final score of 7-6.

CCSU’s Lis, Pisano and Kyle Leyerzapf each scored twice in the game. Lis and Brendon Quirion also had two assists. Unofficially, shots on goal were 56 to 43 in favor of CCSU.

“We didn’t play our best, which I think says a lot about our team when I we say that even though we won,” said Leyerzapf after the game. “Hopefully we can clean things up before the playoffs.”

Despite the loss to Eastern on Friday, ending a five-game winning streak, the Blue Devils are 6-1 in their last seven games, earning themselves a post-season spot as a result.

“We’re going to keep everything the same,” said CCSU Head Coach Joseph Dabkowski. “In post-season games, there is going to be more energy and more emotion, and we’re just going to try to maintain our identity as a team.”

In accordance with the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s (ACHA) post-season competition structure, the Blue Devils will play post-season Super East Conference next week in New Jersey. CCSU’s quest for a national championship however will begin in roughly a week and a half when they will compete in Regional ACHA play. They will play either Friday Feb. 26 or Feb. 27 in Danbury depending on their league ranking.

“We’re just going to practice hard, and stick with each other,” said Leyerzapf. “I think if we stick together, we will do well in the playoffs.”

Men’s Ice Hockey Beat Rivals William Patterson

by Nicholas Leahey

The Central Connecticut Men’s Ice Hockey Club Team (7-6-0) beat conference rivals William Patterson University (8-2-0) 2-0 Saturday in a tight and physical game at Newington Ice Arena.

After a slow first period for the Blue Devils, the first goal was scored just 3:04 into the second period, when Captain Matthew Lis scored unassisted from the hash marks to beat William Patterson goalie Jordan Hulahan high on the blocker side.

“I was pumped,” said Lis in an interview after the game. “It’s a great feeling. I can’t explain it.”

CCSU was then able to cement their lead when forward Jack Johnson scored a power play goal at 6:11 of the third period off a rebound, beating Hulahan on the glove side.

“Going into the game we knew what was on the line,” said CCSU Head Coach Joseph Dabowski after the game. “They came out really hard and threw some big hits. It was a turning point when we decided not to shy away.”

The Blue Devils were outshot in the game, unofficially 63 to 33. Despite WPU’s onslaught, especially during the remaining 1:30 of the game when WPU pulled their goalie, CCSU was able to hold on, giving goalie Zach Gosselin the shutout.

“I mean, I think the whole team played really well,” said Gosselin after the game. “To come out and beat a team like William Patterson is a very big thing.”

Tensions were high during the game, which was very physical from the beginning on both sides. The opening minute especially saw two big hits, including one 25 seconds in, when CCSU forward Adam Mink was hit up high.

Scuffles broke out during numerous points during the game, as both teams exchanged words with one another. Multiple penalties for roughing and unsportsman-like conduct were given throughout the game as a result.

The most notable instances came in the remaining minute of the game when Lis exchanged words with William Patterson’s Kyle Garlasco, resulting in matching roughing penalties. Soon thereafter, CCSU left wing Kyle Leyerzapf got into a physical confrontation with WPU defender Shawn Lacorte during the last five seconds of the game. Both were subsequently given matching roughing penalties, and sent off the ice.

In all, 16 penalties were given during the game, with each team receiving eight penalties respectively.

Despite game statistics, most of which heavily favored William Patterson, CCSU earned a much-needed victory, adding to their 6-1 record this semester.

“They matched their intensity,” said Coach Dabowski. “They kind of rose to the challenge, and they didn’t back down.”

The Blue Devils play their next game Friday, Feb. 12th against Eastern Connecticut State University at Newington Ice Arena as a part of a weekend double-header. They also play Bryant on Saturday, also at home.

Going into the weekend double-header, the Blue Devil’s plan to maintain their energy level.

“We’re doing a lot of things right, and keeping things consistent. If we’re doing a lot of things right, then keep it going,” said Coach Dabowski.

UFC Beta

by Dillon Meehan

In the summer of 2014, video game developer EA Sports released “EA Sports UFC,” the first mixed martial arts video game that was playable on next-gen consoles; and it failed, miserably.

MMA fans had been clamoring for nearly two and a half years to get their hands on a UFC game, however they were devastated when the game was finally released.

Despite being shown a graphically stunning vertical slice in 2012, the game overall failed to meet most fans expectations. Fights never had an urgent feeling that most fans experience with UFC fights, which is strange considering how well EA Sports has done with their Madden and FIFA series.

The action also always seemed superficial. While graphically it was impressive, every punch felt as though it lacked power. Even when you had knocked your opponent to the ground and were standing over them, punches felt slow and as though there was nothing behind it. In the older “UFC Undisputed” games, made by THQ, every punch felt as though it was inflicting damage, which was a major drop-off for most fans.

Then there was the career mode, which seemed as though it was hastily put together in an attempt to appease fans, but it also failed to deliver. In older UFC games, there was so much customization not only for picking sponsorships, but also the attire worn both during the fight as well as during your fighter’s entrance and post game interview.

However after all of that disappointment, EA Sports hope to change the narrative with “EA Sports UFC 2,” which is releasing this winter on March 14th. Last week, EA opened their doors to a select few, myself included, allowing them to see a preview mold of their upcoming game.

From the moment you start your first fight, you immediately notice the difference “UFC 2” brings. To start, the graphics and presentation are even more realistic. As soon as the fighters enter the ring, you hear the legendary voice of Bruce Buffer announcing the fighters and Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg give their commentary, and it all feels natural. With every punch thrown, you will see blood or sweat fling off the fighters and down to the canvas.

Then the real action starts. The fighting has drastically changed. In years past, UFC games were nothing more than a button masher for certain users, but “UFC 2” is far different. The fighting is now much more strategic, with an emphasis on finding a window and landing combinations. You have to be careful; if you get too aggressive you will run out of stamina much quicker than in previous iterations. This means your fighter will move much slower, generally causing either knockdowns or a knockout.

One of the newest features this year is Ultimate Team. In EA Sports’ other titles Ultimate Team has been around for years, however it is making its debut for MMA in “UFC 2.”

For “UFC 2” your “team” will consist of five fighters in five different weight classes. There are going to be both online and offline components to the mode, and you have the ability to apply permanent upgrade items to your fully customizable fighter, as well as boost items that may only last for one fight.

EA has made the online Ultimate Team similar to its other sports games, where there will be various divisions that are based on skill. You start in Division One as a prospect, and then as a contender until eventually becoming a champion. If you keep defending your title, you will move up in the leaderboards, but a loss will drop you down in the title chase race again.

“UFC 2” seems to be a step in a different direction. EA’s first attempt had more of an arcade feel, like what the Burnout series is for racing simulators. “UFC 2” appears to have much more emphasis on realism. While that may be good for hardcore fans of MMA, it is tough to tell if that will relate to consumers enjoying the product.