MLB 13: The Show Starting To Feel Like Madden?

For the longest time, MLB: The Show has felt like the one sports game you could count on to ‘get it right’.  They focused on all the tweaks, gameplay improvements and other nuances that can really only be noticed in baseball.  Then came the news that MLB 13 is going to have fans vote on the cover athlete.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it will be one of three players – Bryce Harper, Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera.  The only other wild card I might throw into the mix is Stephen Strasburg simply because he is the only pitcher people seem to care about.  (I am still laughing about the ‘plan’ to hold him out of the playoffs.)

Regardless, we are entering into an area in sports gaming that EA Sports has made rather notorious with their Madden cover votes.  Should I react with such distaste about something so ‘minor’?  I am sure you are thinking something along those lines – such as my favorite line… ‘You mad, bruh?’.  Yes, I am.

I expect more out of The Show.  The closest they came to being like EA was shutting down old servers for rosters setting up poor online services altogether.  Now they are going in the direction of fan input for cover athletes?  This is the slippery slope my friends… I don’t think I want to see what will be next if they keep going this direction.

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Why Does The Story Have To Stop? – Madden 13 Draft Classes

Madden 13 has a great system started for Connected Careers Mode.  While there are numerous small glitches to the injury system and other things there is something in CCM that seems to just go for a season at a time – draft class storylines.

There are numerous storylines that go along with every draft class in Madden 13.  This is primarily because they prevented the user from importing draft classes from NCAA 13.  It was done to provide a more centered focus on the Madden 13 stories for each CCM.

Some of the storylines will follow #1 prospects in their amazing journey through the season and a Heisman award.  On the other hand, there are also alternate stories that might have that same player break his leg or violate team rules and lose out on a tremendous season or career.

This is a great idea and system – in theory.  Where is the problem? – Longevity, of course.

The problem Madden faces is that the NFL doesn’t really allow for games to be creative when it comes to stories in the league.  Why can’t a troubled player in the draft class with legal issues or bad decision-making get drafted late and have his story followed throughout his first season or his whole career?  Why can’t there be a player that comes out in the draft class unheralded and blows up to win rookie of the year?

In Madden 13 it seems that the story stops after the draft.  There is a little blurb about the player and a few Tweets on the feed.  However, after it is all said and done, he is just another player on a team that will have strange simulated stats or some sort of depth chart issue.  EA Sports has put out a great game, but after a few months of playing Madden 13 it is easy to see that they have continued their tradition of dropping the ball with quality control and details for career mode longevity.

The Best of The Worst – Teams to Turn Around In Sports Gaming

Now that we are well over half-way through the NFL season and the NBA season has already put some fans in the mind of ‘maybe next year’ there are quite a few teams to choose from when it comes to wanting a challenge or simply some sort of revival story to build a team around in a sports game.

Madden 13 –

Kansas City – Romeo Crennel has made Brady Quinn the starting QB in KC.  Can you take this team of terribad from laughing stock to the playoffs?  You will have plenty of youth to build around such as Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and even Glenn Dorsey.  Your first goal should be finding a decent QB to help this team achieve greatness.

Cleveland – The Browns are a perennial sad sack.  While this is a team that has consistently under-performed there are multiple ways for you to take Cleveland to the next level.  There are a lot of great young players on this team, but you will need to make a quick decision on whether to keep Brandon Weeden or move on in one of the upcoming drafts.

Arizona – Once again, you are getting ready to take a team that needs a QB answer (and fast)… see a theme here?  The Cardinals have a couple decent players to build around, but you will have to take your time and figure out how to answer some tough questions – including whether or not you want to keep Larry Fitzgerald around if you don’t have a QB to throw him the ball.  That could result in a lot of decent trade offers if you decide to put him on the trade  block as well.  While it may sound crazy, it is something to consider.

New York Jets – The Jets are a mess.  One of the best things that could happen to this team is to get rid of their QBs… all of them.  Then make a few decisions about how you want to build this franchise from the ground up.  There are some players like Stephen Hill at WR that could be nice projects to build around, but then you have players like Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes and Shonn Greene that could be moved for draft picks so that you can build a team made to last rather than a team built to make headlines for publicity stunts (see Tim Tebow).

Jacksonville – More than just a team that has no real talent, they are constantly a threat to be moved to Los Angeles.  Since EA Tiburon took the option to move your team to another city out of the game (they enjoy taking features away) you have to make moves and stay in Jacksonville to make this team better.  If you win three games in your first season you can consider it a somewhat successful year.  Get a new QB, trade away MJD and do your best to find some talent for this team that seems to be the biggest laughing stock of the NFL.

Carolina – The Panthers are one of the few teams on this list that have a QB in Cam Newton.  On the other hand, they have a lot of other places on their team that need vast improvement.  While they have a great MLB in Luke Kuechly they are pretty much limited to having just those players to build around.  Make use of the trade block and build this team around future picks that you can get from trading away players like DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Jonathan Stewart, Chris Gamble and any other player you can do without.

Dallas – Talk about a team that makes you scratch your head.  The Cowboys are consistently picked to be a playoff team but in the end it is their egotistical owner that really makes the worst decisions for the future of this team.  Make a new story for the Cowboys that will allow them to make smart personnel decisions.  This means getting rid of the most overrated QB in the NFL – Tony Romo.  Also, you may want to consider getting what you can for DeMarcus Ware.

Oakland – The first step in this team growing was the death of the Crypt Keeper, Al Davis.  The next step is building this franchise to be more than glorified Speed Ratings.  Make a decision on how you want to build the offense and defense – that means possibly taking a chance on Terrelle Pryor or going in a totally new direction.  Then start building the defense into something to be feared like it was in the 1970s.

 

NBA 2K13 –

Cleveland – The Cavs are a young team that has a cornerstone in Kyrie Irving but that isn’t enough as they need to work on getting this talent to be more than potential prospects.  They need to grow up fast and that could mean a lot of work for you in Association Mode.

Washington – The Wizards are laughingly bad.  Sure, John Wall is amazing – but really they are flatout awful.  Get ready to trade a lot of your best players like Okafor just to get some prospects.

Detroit – Only a few years ago the Pistons were powerful and feared.  Now they are hilarious to watch on the court.  They look more like a team getting ready to face the Globetrotters than an NBA team at times.  This is a team built around unwanted journeymen and bad trades.  It will take you a few seasons to turn them around – but it will be worth it.

Sacramento – Considering the fact that the Maloofs are looking to move this team to Las Vegas, you can tell that they are in need for some improvement.  The Kings were once one of the best teams in the west, but now they are often forgotten when people talk about NBA teams.  I forget they exist half of the time.  I call them the Wizards of the west.

New Orleans – This team got the equivalent of a bailout from the NBA.  Chris Paul said bye-bye and now they are being built around the unibrow of Anthony Davis.  New Orleans needs more than yet another Kentucky product with an IQ less than his scoring average to turn this team around.

Orlando – Dwight Howard is gone.  This move was similar to that of LeBron James leaving Cleveland.  How will you bring the magic back to Orlando?

 

MLB 12 –

Cleveland – Talk about a team with a chance to make big strides with a new manager.  Terry Francona is the new skipper and you will have to make a few moves to bring some pitching and power to this lineup.

Houston – Do something… anything.  Even if it means creating a steroid infused Roger Clemens to come back and pitch this team to at least 20 wins.  It is a bad time to be an Astros fan, but now that they are moving to the American League it could make for a fun journey… albeit – a long and tough one.

Colorado – They made an incredible run a few years ago, but this team needs pitching in the worst way.  Take it upon yourself to manage the thin air and find a way to make Denver cheer for a team not called the Broncos.

Miami – They just fired Ozzie Guillen and now they are selling off their players.  This is a team that will take a lot of patience to build into more than a one-year wonder.  Do it the right way and you will have something to be proud of in the end.

Pittsburgh – This team was on the cusp of making the playoffs in 2012.  Take the power in the steel city and bring this team back to their past glory.  They have a great ballpark and with players like McCutchen to build around it could be a lot of fun.

Oakland – One of my favorite movies of the last few years was Moneyball.  Billy Beane took a chance in using stats and fantasy baseball type of projections to build his team.  Take it to the next step and help them win it all.

Seattle – My favorite player of all-time is Ken Griffey Jr.  When I saw him go back to Seattle to finish his career it was bitter-sweet.  I would love to see this team be more than just a great pitcher like Felix Henandez – they need better players and that starts with you making the moves to bring the talent back to Seattle.

NHL 13 –

Who cares?  The NHL season is dead and the sport of hockey on its way out of almost every person’s consciousness.

Pick any team you want – but the best of the worst would be the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Stop Pulling The Trigger On Madden 13

 

Having trouble running the ball or making plays on defense?  Your problem could be as simple as putting your finger on the RT or R2 button.  If you tend to play Madden at a high speed or simply try to run down your opposition using the ‘turbo’ button you will notice that taking your foot off the gas a little will actually make the game play a bit better for you.

When you are trying to run the ball on offense take a little time to devote to not pressing the sprint button until you are well past your line of blockers.  This is all due to the way the game has been programmed from the AI/CPU perspective.  You will notice that every player on the opposing team will actually increase their speed once you hit that sprint button.  This means that when you are early in your running plays and try to sprint through an open hole, you are actually inviting the other team to get there faster and stuff your play.

The same occurs on defense, but in a slightly different manner.  When you see the CPU pitch the ball outside and try to get a running play to go around the edge and you move with your MLB to stomp it with the sprint button, you will almost always notice that the play will end up going for bigger yards than it should have.  This is because the same principle exists on the other side of the ball.  Keep your finger off the sprint button and you will notice your team will play much better.

 

College Football’s Negative Impact On EA’s NCAA Football Franchise

Over the past few years I have been a staunch supporter of NCAA Football over Madden NFL.  EA Sports has truly dropped the ball on both games in multiple ways over this entire generation of consoles (PS3 and 360).  Many can blame the glitches and problems on the apparent dependency that developers have on releasing software updates and patches through online interactions.  While these kind of ‘hot fixes’ are vital to software (including games) it seems to have left the door open to sloppy development over the course of a year.  This isn’t even the biggest problem facing EA’s NCAA Football at this point – it is the college football landscape itself.

Bye Bye BCS… Hello new broken game development.

In case you haven’t paid any attention to college sports over the last few years, there have been teams moving from conference to conference more than Bobby Petrino switches teams (and women).  On top of conference changes and re-alignments, the NCAA has recently approved the move to a new playoff system (finally).  This is welcome news to the people that still pay attention to the NFL’s minor league affiliate, but for gaming fans it is a dreaded issue that is too far into the future to allow them any sort of desire to want to invest in more broken games without any sort of tournament or playoff system for college football gaming.  Why waste time and money on a game that changes faces so often?

College football is a joke in many ways but when it comes to the hypocritical billion dollar deals for the services of ‘amateur’ athletes with coaches that make millions of dollars a year over networks like ESPN – why is it that the gaming end of things is so strangely broken as well?  College football is a farce and NCAA Football is a digital farce that continues the NCAA’s views that making money off of college football is paramount.  The broken BCS system is just as broken in the video game as it is in real life but now there are gamers clamoring for something worse than fixing issues that plague a game… they want options.

Gamers want to edit players, names, conferences, polls, ranking calculations, awards, coaches, CPU intelligence and many other facets of their game.  This is all simply because that whenever EA Sports slaps together their annual sports titles they are constantly closing off customization more than opening it to users for a better experience.  Maybe they should take a look at how much games like Counter-Strike can become huge in the PC market – all because of modders and an active user base.

NCAA Football 13 went from $60 to $45 rather quickly this year.  It was as if it was a hyped up movie that hit theaters for a week before going to DVD and your local Big Lots bargain bin.  EA Sports has proven over this generation of consoles that there is no level too low for them to stoop in terms of laziness and development to keep your money coming in with their effort consistently falling.  This isn’t to say that Madden NFL doesn’t have issues mind you (we will hit that later) – but with the NCAA season coming to a close and many college football fans looking to next year we must wonder – what is EA going to do in NCAA 14 that will keep gamers from thinking “I’ll just wait until next year – if at all.”?

Let the 2K College Football rumors begin.

Increasing The Longevity of Your Franchise Mode In Sports Games

In any sports game it is often the most desired game mode but it is also one of the hardest to have any sort of real longevity with – Franchise/Association/Connected Careers Mode.

Sports gamers often have to deal with a few different issues that keep them from playing more than one season (or even just one season).  If you are one of the many gamers that suffer from these issues we will supply you with a few different solutions for giving you a more successful and longer lasting personal career/franchise mode.

Winning Too Much, Too FastMost of the typical elitists out there will get on your case if you are winning ‘too much’ and tell you that you need to turn your sliders up a few notches.  While this might be the case (and often is) there are other means of making your game a bit more challenging.

The first is playing the game in a manner that takes your superior decision-making out of the equation and allowing the game to provide a decent challenge.  In football games you will often see either an ‘Ask Madden’ or ‘Suggested Play/Pitch’ option – use that to the utmost and avoid making any changes to that play in order to keep the AI functioning.  You will often notice that the CPU ‘cheats’ as you change plays on the fly.  This is often a function of the game trying to challenge you.  The AI doesn’t have the complex decision functions that you have in your head (yet), so be sure to let the game give you the challenge it is trying to give you.

Secondly, you may want to stop turning off the system before you lose a game.  Losing sucks but you know what sucks more?  Playing and winning every game, every season and then losing interest because your team is ‘so amazing’ that it is boring now.  Do yourself a favor and be honest about your infatuation with winning every game.  No NFL team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins has gone undefeated and one the Super Bowl.  No Major League Baseball team has ever gone undefeated and the same can be said for pretty much every other league and sport around.  Build your team and allow for the game to challenge you.

Thirdly, turn up the difficulty (there I said it).  If this means turning the human sliders to ‘0’ because you are the greatest Madden gamer of all time, do it.  Really the only person you have to answer to is yourself and it is mind-boggling to me how many people will say the game is too easy when they really aren’t challenging their gaming abilities past what they feel is ‘fair’.

Broken ProgressionThis was and is an issue with the hardcore Madden community as well as every other sports game.  No one is ever happy with the way players grow in sports gaming – ever.  It is much like anything else with people – you can’t make everyone happy all of the time.  The best approach can be found in 2K Sports games and Madden 12 where you can go and edit the ratings of any and every player in the game to your heart’s content.  Yet, there are still people out there that want to complain about that even being an option because they expect some sort of magic progression system for players.

Sadly, outside of the option to edit every rating for every player you will have to take it upon yourself to learn how the progression system ‘works’ and make it work for you.  Madden 13 is largely dependent on production and XP growth based on what your players are doing on the field.  While this makes a lot of sense to people it is totally wrong in the eyes of others that think some sort of mythological ‘potential’ rating is the way to go.

Too Easy To Build TeamDo yourself a favor and unleash your inner Billy Beane.  Start building your team as if you’re on the strictest of budgets.  Limit your potential contract offers to a set amount and you will quickly find that quality players are much harder to come by.

Another direction is to build in the exact opposite manner – spend big money on big players.  A good starting point is to determine/find a franchise player.  Whether it is a quarterback in football or a cornerstone like Albert Pujols in baseball, put your money where your hopes are and make it a big contract.  This will help limit your spending in other parts of your roster.

Can’t Pick A TeamThis is something that most people find to be a common problem and it is often the primary reason why a single-player career mode/franchise mode ends within the first three seasons.  You have a few options that can help you in this journey to finding longevity in franchise mode.

The first option is finding a team that needs a lot of work.  Often you will find the most fun in building one of the worst teams in the game.  In Madden, you will often find that a team like the Browns needs quite a bit of help.  In that same breath, you can use teams like the Indians, Marlins or Astros in a baseball game or a team like the Sacramento Kings in basketball games.

The second option is changing your team after a few seasons.  Thankfully, in most sports games this is an option after every season.  If you win a few championships with a team and you want a change of pace, quit that team in the off-season and take the worst team in the league and try to build them into a contender that will last long after you leave.  The best way to see if you have truly built a great team is to build them up and then find a new job.  Track the progress of your old team and it will be like watching a Chia Pet grow wild.

Yet another direction you can go with a team in franchise mode is setting up an online story for people to follow.  This will allow you to have a deeper connection to the team you are using and a bit of ownership to keep other people updated on what’s going on.  In many cases, you will find that it gives you the ability to become a better storyteller.  Also, you should take this as an opportunity to completely change the team to your liking.  While this is certainly something that most people think when going into their career mode they usually let their interest go by the wayside.