Everyone loves Brooklyn, all for different reasons whether it be how distinct the culture is compared to Manhattan or the chill vibe Brooklynites have. This borough has become the melting pot for creatives from all walks of life and you can see this exemplified as you navigate through each neighborhood. Today we’re telling you why we love Downtown Brooklyn and it is because of Ganso Yaki. [Read more…] about Redefining Japanese Street Food with Ganso Yaki
The Short Form: The 66th Emmy Awards
Seth’s Hosting Job: I think Seth did a great job at keeping the proceedings going, but at times the show hit a very late night vibe with minimal grandiosity. This may be in part because his monologue was so brief and he was introduced with minimal fanfare (there wasn’t much of an opening credit sequence that you tend to see in awards shows), but what should be considered one of the big four awards shows almost seemed infinitely smaller than it should have. His monologue was not only short but seemed to fall fairly flat with the crowd, which was unfortunate because it was actually very funny, but the crowd seemed to appreciate the jokes more as the night went on.
The Show Itself: This show seemed to completely lack luster from well before the show even began (as one can expect from a show that scared off of a Sunday for the friggin VMA’s). Normally from awards shows we expect a pompous overblown affair with tons of glad-handing, self-aggrandizing, multiple sets and set changes and **shiver** overwrought musical numbers, however we got a bare minimum of those tonight. The one area the show completely dominated over the prior edition however, was in it’s memoriam segment, while last year we got six funeral dirges, this year we got one simple, classy, memoriam with Billy Crystal providing the best awards show eulogy for a man I’ve ever seen in his speech about Robin Williams.
It was a surprisingly good night to be CBS (or Modern Family): If last year was the story of cable and Netflix burying those last shovels of dirt on the big four, then this year would be about the big four making the most of their nominations. CBS picked up three Emmys on three different shows (Allison Janney for Mom, Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory and Juliana Margulies for The Good Wife). Modern Family also picked up a trio of Emmys for Best Supporting Actor, Best Directing and Best Comedy Series, meaning that yes, those pesky broadcast networks managed to pick up all but two of the major comedy awards tonight.
Breaking Bad Gets A Stunning Victory Lap: Up until the 10pm hour, the story of this night seemed to be parity. The comedy category split awards between five different shows (Modern Family, Louie, Veep, Mom and The Big Bang Theory), The miniseries hour saw similar division. However, once 10 pm hit, it was win after win after win for the last half-season of Breaking Bad. The final list included Best Supporting Actor (Aaron Paul), Best Supporting Actress (Anna Gunn), Writing (Moira Walley-Beckett for Ozymandias), Best Actor in a Drama (Bryan Cranston), and Best Drama Series.
On the Red Carpet Front: The story of this night on the red carpets is most definitely the color red. You could find red dresses anywhere on the red carpet, from Heidi Klum to E! Host Giuliana Rancic to Julia-Louis Dreyfuss and Christina Hendricks. While red is typically a very bold choice, the color seemed to work equally well on everyone wearing it even as the cuts varied wildly.
In terms of winners and losers, this is a night with way more winners than losers, especially on the comedy side. In addition to the red dress brigade, I was a big fan of Sofia Vergara’s white and gold combo, Sarah Silverman’s jade green dress, and . I think the big winner of the night was Laverne Cox who shone through the sea of champagne and red with an amazing and downright sexy white dress.
What didn’t work on the red carpet? I wasn’t a fan of Lena Dunham’s light pink look. While Dunham typically goes for something a little more anti-fashion as a rule, the dress, her skin, and her hair somehow managed to clash horrendously. Similarly Hayden Pannettiere’s decision to combine a deep plunging neckline and a third trimester baby bump just did not work for me. But for me, the biggest loser of the night was clearly E!’s clutch cam, which didn’t provide either the scandal, entertainment value or buzz (seriously people, it’s a bag – I may watch red carpet but I draw the line at accessories).
The Night In Speeches: In keeping with the pace of the show, everything seemed quick and to the point. Ty Burrell opened up the night with a pretty funny speech written from the kids on the cast of Modern Family. Sarah Silverman gave a similarly funny but incredibly winged speech after winning the writing award for her recent comedy special on HBO – thanking her agents while naming them after The Three Stooges and a number of other close confidants in one of the rare speeches that can be categorized as both short and rambling.
Steven Colbert and Jimmy Fallon teamed up after a flub filled award win for The Colbert Report to put together a pretty funny speech in which Colbert put words in Fallon’s mouth ultimately forcing the censors to jump in (in retrospect, I wonder why NBC didn’t offer Fallon the gig, he seems tailor made for stuff like this). Weirdly enough, the funniest speech of the night was Bryan Cranston’s self deprecating speech for Best Actor in A Drama
In Summation: This was a surprisingly tight show, fitting pretty squarely inside the 3 hour window NBC gave for the show. The Emmys also managed to avoid the funeral dirge angle that last year had with it’s six memoriam segments (five spotlights and the one usual montage) but also still seemed to miss the celebratory nature of these sort of shows. I think that the blame rests squarely on NBC, whom clearly treated this show as an afterthought (there’s still time left in the broadcast, let’s rush Vince Gilligan offstage in the last award of the night!), with little pomp and less circumstance. I don’t necessarily think that the show was bad, just lacking in star power (the only music segment featured “Weird Al”) and grandiosity (when you’re taking the backseat to the lowest wattage VMA’s in recent memory in spectacle, you’re clearly doing something wrong) and almost felt that the awards were reduced to a formality – a function i’m willing to guess was in part a result of the lack of love the peacock got in the nominating process (CBS and ABC did quite fine thank you).
Last but not least, this is my last day at Manhattan Digest, so I want to take this moment to thank Ryan for giving me a forum to grouse about TV over the last year and a half. It’s kinda crazy to see how I’ve grown as a writer and even moreso as a pop-culture consumer (lets just say I’ve watched more E! and Bravo in the last year and a half than I had any business doing in the 26 years of my life prior). I also want to thank all of you whom have read, commented, and devoted a little bit of time to reading this.
Having played EA Sports’s NHL franchise for many years, I’ve seen the greatness that was NHL ’94, the complete overhauls over the next few years that continued the tradition of excellence, the lean years of the early to mid 2000s, and the return of to glory that started with NHL 09. The newest version, NHL 14, released on September 10th. It’s likely the swan song for the current generation of consoles, with the PlayStation 4 and XBOX One releasing this November. This is not to say that EA will stop making the NHL games for the PS3 and X360, but the focus will clearly be on the newer platforms.
EA hyped this game by advertising a new fighting engine and enforcer mechanics, as well as better goalie, shooting, deflection, and defensive AI. The new fighting/enforcer engine is very well done. Fights are now triggered by big hits on star players, or illegal hits on most anyone. Players still have the option to decline fights in multiplayer, so there’s no risk of losing a top skater for five minutes because you crushed some poor soul along the boards. As for the remainder of the AI changes, they’re a mixed bag. Defenders are much better at positioning, which was the biggest problem in NHL 13‘s on ice play. It was too easy to blow by a defenseman who wasn’t perfectly placed, and the changes made for this year have mostly remedied that. Shooting and deflections are better as you can now shoot the puck flush to the ice, as opposed to always having at least a little elevation. AI teammates now actively try to redirect the puck on net, as opposed to it randomly flying off in any direction. However, the goalies are awful. For all the changes made since NHL 13, somehow the goaltenders came out far worse than they were before. Previously, goalies were able to make crazy, unrealistic saves on some shots, but were embarrassingly bad at covering high to the stick side and the five-hole. Now, it’s an absolute free-for-all. Goalies are better positioned and have a harder time reacting to screens, which is good, but in NHL 14 it seems that the average goalie couldn’t stop a child from scoring on him. It is now far too easy to score goals, and many games I play end with scores like 6-5 as opposed to the more realistic 2-1’s and 3-2’s that NHL 13 produced. The new one-touch deke system also falls a bit short. Maybe it’s just me, but I find that it can be a fairly awkward system to use. I liked being able to toe drag people into submission and pop the puck over a defender while avoiding a hit. This system is more focused on cutbacks and while it works, it isn’t as fun as the old system to me.
NHL 14 features a revamped version of the old Be A Pro mode, dubbed Live The Life in this title. In it, the old standby features of Be A Pro are complemented by added statistics regarding your likability to fans, management, teammates, and families. To affect these attributes, different multiple-choice events will pop up sporadically as you progress. These can be interviews, your teammates daring you to do something, nutrition choices, and more. The same expectation system and coach’s grades from previous years persist in this game, largely unchanged. They remain based around the player type you select for your pro. Snipers will be asked to score goals, playmakers are told to tally assists, two-way forwards have to do a little bit of everything, and so on. While the mode is more fun than in years’ past, some of the same problems are still present. Teammate AI, though better, is still subpar. They will still make bad passes, get caught out of position, and take bad shots. The goalies are worse than before, allowing soft goals left and right. The worst part about this mode from back then is the line change AI, and that still hasn’t been fixed. Oftentimes I start a shift with the puck either deep in my zone or the other team rushing in during a 2 on 1, and we get scored on. This craters my plus-minus rating, which is one of the requirements to unlock items and progress your player.
GM Connected returns with a faster user interface and less delay in the menus. For those who are unaware, GM Connected allows you and up to 749 (you read that right, 749) others compete online in an NHL season. You can take control of a team as the general manager, be a player on the team, or coach a team. It’s a great concept for a game mode, but it still isn’t quite right. Weird things like trade exploits and sloppy menus keep the mode from being truly great. I personally am hoping for a fix in next year’s game on the new consoles. I think another great feature that is missing from this mode is the option to have a live fantasy draft for your league. The fantasy draft option is in the game for season and Be A GM modes, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to implement here.
Hockey Ultimate Team also returns with minimal improvements. In this mode, you buy packs of cards containing players, jerseys, contracts, attribute boosts, and arenas, which all go towards constructing your very own hockey team. Packs are bought with either EA Pucks, which are earned in the various game modes (you earn the most at a time by playing HUT though) or by paying real money. Once you’re ready to play, you can take your team into tournaments against the AI or online to battle other players’ teams. It’s an interesting way for people to build a team from scratch, but it takes a long time to save up for any of the good packs (gold and up, and even then you won’t get many top-tier players) and people who aren’t willing to go through the grind are going to get bored quickly.
Now, to the part of the review that I was really hoping that I wouldn’t have to write. Seemingly every EA Sports title that comes out has freezing/glitching issues. In NHL, said problems are often centered around the Custom Music feature. I love the idea of it, since EA’s musical selection for its games is normally terrible and I’d rather not hear the same ten songs repeatedly while playing. For last year’s NHL 13, I went all out with it and made a separate playlist for each team. In NHL 14, I brought the old playlists over and added three more songs per team. Even after installing the game to my hard drive and taking great care of the disc, in ’13 I still had freezes occurring sometimes due to the music not being loaded properly by the game. In ’14, half the time I play the game it freezes at some point, most often right after the final buzzer and the home team’s win song gets played (goal horn + whatever playlist you pick). As far as glitches go, the same glitch goals from the previous games exist, and a handful of new ones have already been discovered. This coupled with the community make online play an absolute mess. I usually refuse to touch online play in sports games, because people are too lazy and immature to actually learn how to play the game and instead resort to these exploits, and this game is no different.
When the game runs properly, NHL 14 is a solid hockey title that delivers fluid skating, hellaciously fun fighting, an immersive mode in Live The Life, and an overall more realistic hockey sim than NHL 12 and NHL 13 when it comes to everything but scoring. However, as it stands right now the game is a glitch and bug-filled mess. EA is supposedly working on patches and ways to fix the issues, but these are things that should have been addressed in production and not post-release. The sooner they fix the freezes and exploits, the sooner we can all get to enjoying the game, but until then I’m giving NHL 14 a grade of Incomplete on the grounds that due to some bugged features it can be unplayable for some. Once fixed, I’d say this is a B+ title.
System: XBOX 360, Playstation 3
Players: 1-4 offline, 2-12 online (simultaneous)