Madden 17 Franchise Mode Team Guide

With only a few weeks until Madden 17 is officially released we now know the top rated players at most positions.  This seems to be more important to Madden’s online players than anyone else.  Sure, it might be nice to know these things for some sort of subjective discussion about which player is better or simply deserves a better ‘Overall’ rating.

For the rest of us the ratings that really matter are position specific as well as the ‘under the hood’ ratings like ‘Potential’, etc.  These ratings drive our Franchise Mode every season from deciding who to cut in week three of the pre-season to who will be placed further down the depth chart.  Madden isn’t friendly to developing players on the bench.  So, deciding which player you will use at QB is going to be crucial just as it will be important to look at other young players that might need to train up somehow – more on player editing to come.

Going into my first season of Franchise Mode I try my best to stay true to how my team is going through the pre-season, etc.  The problem with this mindset is the same I talk about every year.  This isn’t ‘real life’ this is your team and your Franchise Mode.  It is with that consideration that I am putting together the Madden 17 Franchise Mode Team Selection Guide.

 With that said, here’s the Madden 17 Franchise Mode Team Selection Guide

Arizona Cardinals – A team that is in ‘win it all mode’ doesn’t need a lot of work to win you a Super Bowl in the first season of your franchise mode. They will need to start looking for a new franchise QB as well as a replacement for the aging Larry Fitzgerald as he and Carson Palmer both work into the twilight of their careers.  This is one of the better defenses in the league as well and hopefully EA will make sure to update the Mathieu contract in the first update if they haven’t already.

Atlanta Falcons – For being a team that has been a middle of the pack contender in recent years they have really struggled to make up for a couple seasons of terrible defense.  They don’t have a defensive identity and Matt Ryan is looking more like a mediocre Philip Rivers as every season goes by.  Thankfully, they do have Julio Jones at WR and two decent HBs in Freeman and Coleman.  Not to mention the off-season signing of Alex Mack at Center.  This is a solid option if you like to have a couple pieces in place before starting a Franchise.

Baltimore Ravens – Speaking of mediocre and overrated Quarterbacks – Joe Flacco is both of those things coupled with being over-paid for his talent level.  It seems that if any team is almost totally in rebuild mode with money sunk into aging and overrated players this is one of those teams. WR’s are all injury prone and your HB situation is suspect at best.  Add to this situation a defense that seems to be getting by on name recognition more than actual talent – the Ravens could be a nice sleeper team to have a bit of fun rebuilding both in talent and in budget.

Buffalo Bills – The Bills have a couple great playmakers in McCoy at HB and Watson at WR. Their QB, Tyrod Taylor is a poor man’s Mike Vick. Sure, he put up some decent numbers last year, but no one building a Franchise outside of Virginia Tech fanboys is going to want Taylor as their QB of the future.  Defensively the Bills are stout.  They could use some upgrades at virtually every position, but they also aren’t bad if you want to use the saying ‘bend, don’t break’.

Carolina Panthers – Back from a loss in the Super Bowl.  The Panthers are back and this time they will have their #1 WR in Kelvin Benjamin.  They could use an upgrade at HB and it wouldn’t be shocking in my view to see them take one in the first round of the 2017 Draft.  This team is a monster defensively, even without the loud mouth that was/is Josh Norman.  Keep this team healthy and you will be in the Super Bowl again in 2016.

Chicago Bears – A team with one of the most overrated and overhated players in the league in Jay Cutler has some serious question marks coming into 2016.  Alshon Jeffery is destined to become a free agent in 2017 and the rest of the team seems to be made up of place holders with unproven talent.  WR, Kevin White and HB, Jeremy Langford could be the answer the Bears need for losing two great (albeit aging) players at those positions over the last couple seasons.  On defense they have still been trying to find an identity after losing Urlacher to retirement.  This is one of my favorite teams to suggest to anyone looking for a rebuild in a tough division that actually has different weather during the season.

Cincinnati Bengals – They are still looking like the favorites to win the AFC North.  Andy Dalton is going to be your solid and tough QB that shouldn’t get you more than 30 TDs a year.  That said, you have AJ Green, but you have lost a couple WRs in the offseason.  Still, the offensive line is good and if he can stay healthy, Eifert will make opposing defensive unit cringe.  On defense you are going to be pretty much set.  There is no such thing as personal fouls or ejections in Madden for dirty players like Vontaze Burfict – so have fun with that.

Cleveland Browns – My beloved Browns.  What can I say?  They are the consistent choice among Madden Franchise Mode junkies that want to build a constant loser into a winner.  The Browns are intriguing in many ways though.  On offense you get a chance to redeem the career of Robert Griffin III. You also get a fresh batch of WRs and Josh Gordon should actually play this season (sit him the first four games if you want to – I plan on sitting him during my Franchise Mode for that time period). The running backs are really only two-deep as Crowell and Johnson are very much ‘thunder and lightning’.  It might be worth drafting a HB in the 2017 Draft with the Browns as well.  On defense they desperately need a new SS and FS as well as someone to compliment Joe Haden at the other CB spot since Justin Gilbert looks like he might have to play nickel – if that.  

Dallas Cowboys – Somehow, the Cowboys always manage to look like a team or at least sound like a team destined to rebound from yet another season of disappointment.  This season their defense already looks like a trailer park dumpster fire.  Now they are hoping that Romo doesn’t die on the field or the like.  Couple that with having the oft-injured Dez Bryant and you would think that this team is a terrible choice.  Well, maybe in real life.  In Madden 17 with the initial rosters, this could be one of the best teams to pick if you want to push for a Super Bowl.  You will want to upgrade the defensive secondary and draft a QB or two in the 2017 Draft, but otherwise, you have one heck of a roster.

Denver Broncos – From world champions and Hall of Fame QB to riding your defense to victory.  Most people will probably make the switch to Paxton Lynch as their starter in Franchise Mode.  If you consider the fact that the Broncos have lost no one but an ancient Peyton Manning they might be a lock for most people to win another Super Bowl easily in the first season of Franchise mode.  You will want to look into drafting a new HB in 2017 and probably load up that O Line as well.

Detroit Lions – The Browns of the NFC!  Detroit lost Calvin Johnson just like they lost Barry Sanders. Now they have… well… Matt Stafford?  If there were a team I’d give anyone props for taking in an online Franchise Mode with a bunch of friends it would be the Lions.  They are a mess from the top to the bottom.  You might consider setting your 2016 season goal to 7 wins if you play with decent difficulty sliders.  You need to build this team through the draft and you will need to make sure that it includes a backup QB, starting HB and a WR that will hopefully make everyone forget about Megatron.  Good luck with that.

Green Bay Packers – If this team stays healthy they are a lock for the playoffs.  You have the obvious in Aaron Rodgers and Co.  The only thing you might want to look into at this point is getting some younger WRs and consider the possibility of replacing Clay Matthews or at least backing him up as he ages.  A new Tight End in the draft would only help matters. 

Houston Texans – One of the teams that reminds me of Madden 06.  Why?  Because you have a huge arm at QB with Osweiler and two speedsters at WR with Hopkins and Fuller.  Not to mention the fact that you now have Lamar Miller and his speed at HB.  Yeah, the Texans look awesome on paper this year.  Couple that with the obvious presence of Watt (99 OVR) and Clowney and Co. on defense… this is a scary team to face.

Indianapolis Colts – They have invested in fixing the O-Line for Luck and even signed your QB for the next half decade or so.  You will want to replace the ancient Frank Gore at HB and probably get yourself a new tall WR to help Luck out a bit more on offense.  On defense you need to figure out in which order you want to replace everyone.  The Colts defense is strikingly bad and yet somehow they aren’t talked about for their terrible nature. 

Jacksonville Jaguars – If you want the young up and coming team this is it.  They have some great young players on both sides of the ball.  A franchise QB, a tough running HB in Yeldon, two great WRs and Julius Thomas at TE.  Then on defense they have two of the top rated players from the 2016 draft in Ramsey and Myles Jack.  This team scares the hell out of me on Madden and in real life – they might just surprise everyone this year – except Jaguars fans… and me. 

Kansas City Chiefs – They are in big salary trouble and that means you will need to figure out your plan of attack.  I suggest trading away your biggest salary hogs early on and hope you can get a couple draft picks in return.  You need to get a real answer to the aging Jamaal Charles at HB and desperately need to get more WRs on this team.  For being a passing league, the Chiefs make you think they will try to win with a 30 year old HB kept together with a bit of duct tape and glue.  Their defense is high end, but will you be able to afford to keep all of them? Doubtful.

Los Angeles Rams – I’ve been through St. Louis once and that is enough for me to understand why the Rams would move to Los Angeles.  Yes, I have love for the midwest as I am from Ohio, but wow… talk about getting a team full of weapons and having them in a new shiny stadium!?  This might be the most enjoyable team to build around new QB Jared Goff and what looks like the next great HB in Todd Gurley.  You have another 99 OVR player in Aaron Donald on defense as well.  All said and done, you will want to look into investing some draft picks in WRs if possible.  Granted, with the trade to get Goff you might have to search for the hidden late round gems for a couple years.

Miami Dolphins – It’s hard to decide how to build this team.  The offense needs new players virtually everywhere.  The defense has Suh at DT and a couple other pieces as well.  In all honesty, the Dolphins are a team with a new coveted head coach and I am willing to bet that whoever takes this team will do so with the singular goal of finding a new QB to build around first and foremost. 

Minnesota Vikings – They have a great coach (which never matters in Madden) and it looks like Teddy Bridgewater might be a solid game manager at QB.  With a couple great young WRs it seems to me that you really need to find Adrian Peterson’s replacement sooner rather than later.  Then add a couple pieces to the defense and you will be fighting the Packers for NFC North dominance in short order.

New England Patriots – The Patriots are the football version of the San Antonio Spurs.  They are designed to win around two people – Their Hall of Fame cheater of a QB in Tom Brady and their (doesn’t matter in Madden) Hall of Fame Coach that isn’t actually in the game anyway.  Brady is going to be done soon.  Most Patriots users are going to try and install Garopolo as the heir-apparent.  I must ask other than Gronkowski (who is at his peak and probably passing it quickly) who else on this team is really a piece you’d consider ‘the future’.  The Patriots are a great team and should get you to a Super Bowl in the first couple seasons of Franchise Mode.  However, you are going to need to invest in draft picks early on if you have any hope of maintaining their dynastic dominance.  Who are we kidding, most Patriots users will play on Rookie difficulty and run up the score on every team.  Just joking…

Not really.

New Orleans Saints – The Saints are in a similar boat as the Patriots, but they do have a decent power HB in Ingram with good young WRs and Fleener at TE.  They do need a lot of help on defense and this should be where you focus your growth as well.  Draft for defense and try to find a replacement for Brees and you will pose a real threat to the Panthers again soon.

New York Giants – The story of the day is aging QBs.  Manning is a good one to get you through a few more seasons, but you will want to have someone behind him.  Your HB is over 30 and there isn’t much help behind him.  Two great WRs (one is a rookie in Shepard… the other is the amazing OBJ).  Get yourself some more help on an improving defense and the Giants will be a favorite for the division nearly every year.

New York Jets – The Jets somehow don’t look as crappy as they always seem like that should.  You have Hackenberg waiting in the wings and two veteran WRs in Marshall and Decker.  You also have an older HB in Forte that will need to be replaced soon.  The defense has been the bread and butter of the Jets for years and this year is no different. You will want to find a new CB as Revis ages, but focus on your offensive aging and you should be up there with the Patriots.

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders really just need a defensive backfield.  Get your DB situation fixed and this team will pose a major threat to anyone. The offense is somehow looking like a dangerous deal with Derek Carr, Murray at HB and Cooper at WR.  The Raiders are going to be a fun team to use as they are young on both sides and Kalil Mack will be the only guy you want to control on defense.

Philadelphia Eagles – If any team gets to be laughed at it is the Eagles.  You basically lost your picks for Carson Wentz.  I imagine most Eaglers users will implement him immediately rather than sitting him like they hope to in real life.  Even with that they have an HB made out of glass in Ryan Mathews and one decent WR in Jordan Matthews. Zach Ertz at TE is nothing to get excited about. Then on defense you have a steaming pile of nothing impressive.  If ever a gamer wanted to start with a team that was shredded by a former coach it would be the Eagles.  Good luck and godspeed.

Pittsburgh Steelers – As I’ve stated before. Madden doesn’t have real life things like suspensions.  This means that Le’Veon Bell will never get suspended as he should.  The same goes for his fellow pot smoking teammate, Martavis Bryant at WR.  This basically leaves the door open for people to dominate with the Steelers and their great weapons on offense – including Antonio Brown and the newly signed TE, Ledarius Green.  On defense they are a team that is still rebuilding from their dominance with Polamalu, but that shouldn’t take long in the draft.  They will be up there with the Bengals for the AFC North as long as you have Roethlisberger and a decent backup/future starter at QB.

San Diego Chargers – The Chargers drafted Joey Bosa at DE and have the pieces they need to be a threat, but they aren’t that scary.  You will want to get another WR to take pressure off of Keenan Allen and certainly must replace Antonio Gates as soon as you can.  Rivers isn’t going to get any younger either, so you might want to focus on how to fix your aging offense before this middle of the pack team totally bonks out altogether.

San Francisco 49ers – It’s a damn good thing that your coach doesn’t matter in Madden.  Chip Kelly is in San Francisco now and it doesn’t look like they are going to do much to help him improve his name.  Carlos Hyde is a great HB to have as he is still young.  Kaepernick is a Madden friendly QB as he has mobility, etc. but really, you will want to find new players at almost every position.  You might as well start with a new coach as Kelly should never have been hired to coach anywhere anyway.

Seattle Seahawks – No more Marshawn Lynch. You do still have a dominant defense and Russell Wilson and the brittle Jimmy Graham at TE.  It would be a great idea to invest in new WRs and a couple new HBs to compete with Rawls for the starting spot.  Sherman won’t be great for much longer either, so look into a couple defenders as well.  Otherwise, the Seahawks are still a team built to win it all for the next couple years – even if only defensively. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A young team with a strong offense built around Winston.  You will want to find a couple new WRs and a TE soon.  Make sure to continue investing in your defense as you need to compete with the likes of the Panthers and Saints – that’s not fun if you can’t play defense. The Bucs are a team that should get you to the playoffs within the next two seasons

Tennessee Titans – Mariota looked good when he was healthy and in Madden he is a strong QB for a mobile/west coast system.  Invest in your O-Line to protect him and build up your lacking defense.  The Titans look like a fun team to build if you know what you’re wanting to make them into.  I suggest taking a look at what you want to do defensively and either start fresh with a new system or try and use the couple pieces they have.

Washington Redskins – It’s hard to look at Cousins as a long term answer… it’s more difficult yet to see him as a fun QB to build around.  He isn’t as exciting in Madden as he is in real life with his ‘did you like that?’ attitude.  They have a great TE in Reed, but their WRs are old minus the new rookie in Doctson.  It will be interesting to see how people build the Redskins as I think they could be one of the more interesting teams to grab ahold of and truly make into your own.

Advertisements

One Step Forward – Madden 17’s Franchise Mode Takes Two Steps Back

It has been a rough ride being an NFL fan and having one option for video game representation.

Madden NFL has had a bit of a roller coaster existence since becoming the monopoly that it is.  Franchise Mode has been the primary victim when it comes to changes to the game.  It has also been the elephant in the room when fans are asked for feedback from EA Tiburon.  It seems that the Franchise Mode/CFM/CCM team has finally realized (for Madden 17 at least) that customized rosters and real world features are key to people enjoying Franchise Mode.  There are a couple changes new to Madden in general but the real changes seem to be the things that have been featured before or needed since the monopoly took effect.

Coaches Are The Least Important Aspect of Madden Franchise Mode - This isn't a big decision... it's a non-decision.
Coaches Are The Least Important Aspect of Madden Franchise Mode – This isn’t a big decision… it’s a non-decision.

First, the things that truly matter the most when it comes to Franchise Mode improvements.

  • Full Player Editing – This isn’t new as they might want people to believe.  It existed in Madden 12 and provided much needed customization for rosters.  The fact that this is available to online leagues is also a nice touch.  To add that any changes will be shown in the Transactions is a nice and necessary perk for league members as well.  The biggest curiosity for me is whether or not we will be able to edit Draft Classes before the draft or if we will have to draft players that are once again less than stellar prospects and edit them all to resemble legitimate rookies.
  • Practice Squads are finally entering the Franchise Mode universe.  It was always puzzling to me that EA would make claims about not having the resources to put certain small aspects into the game.  This was one of the many that was apparently a matter of time. Now we can have players on a practice squad as long as they have played fewer than two full seasons in our respective Franchise Modes.  It will be nice to know that I can take a flier on that 7th Round WR that can run like the wind but catch like Simple Jack.
  • Dynamic Development is one of the aspects that I am skeptical of when it comes to Madden.  They have tried and failed to implement all sorts of development and player growth from season to season.  Now they are putting the trait of Development into the front of how players grow in ratings.  The broken season awards system is going to play a strong role in how players are moved up and down in development traits as well.  It really makes no sense for players to be pre-rated in this way as Slow, Normal, Quick, and Superstar.  Make every player start each season with the same baseline and allow the season to determine how each player progresses.  Sure, Tom Brady is and has been a Superstar, but he isn’t too far from being done.  Then we have players like Robert Griffin III that have played up to par in their rookie year and then either fall apart or get injured.  Maybe he comes back and becomes a superstar after this season.  His slow development rating might say otherwise.

The other changes like ‘Big Moments’ and the ‘score ticker’ make me scratch my head.  I love the idea of a score ticker and believe it has been needed for years.  This doesn’t change the fact that Franchise Mode has yet to make it feel like anything more than a single team focus that misses out on an entire story outside of your own franchise.

Big Moments are rather insulting as it looks like they want to make the user think that every moment is a big moment.  ‘First Drive of the Game’ is probably the least impressive in-game ‘Big Moment’ I have read about.  The non-game Big Moments are laughable.  Injuries, Free Agents and Coach Re-Signings aren’t big moments.  Signing a coach is the least important aspect of Madden and they call it a Big Moment.  Give me a break.

Madden does seem to be making strides this year.  I am actually excited about it this season.

As jaded as I am and seem to always be about Madden, I am truly excited to play it this year.  I just wish 2K would shock the world and release a new football title.

Princess Zelda Deserves A Better Developer

Ever since I started playing video games I assumed every character that wasn’t a princess was a male (this dates all the way back to my Atari 2600 days… yeah, I’m old).  The only character I can think of that was ‘distinctly’ female was Ms. Pac Man.  That should tell you how pathetic the attempts were to make a decent female character to use in a video game.  Sure, there were characters thrown into future games like Final Fantasy, etc.  Even in Final Fantasy we have had to assume the role of a male as the lead character in almost every instance.  This isn’t to say it’s ‘bad’ it is to say it is creatively weak and limiting in many ways.

Even in games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and even Tomb Raider (the list goes on) the females depicted in these games typically had exaggerated features and/or possessed lacking cognitive presence.  Recently, games like The Elder Scrolls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, etc. have allowed us to create characters in our own image.  This is something I relish because I have played as a male in every game for the most part.  While I enjoy feeling like every moment of my gaming life is like playing with my personal avatar it is nice for a change of pace and a different perspective.  Over half of the world’s population is female and close to 98% of all video game protagonists are male.

Enter – Nintendo.

They created quite possibly one of the most recognizable heroes in gaming history in Link.  What is curious is that the games are almost always titled with ‘The Legend of Zelda’ somewhere in there.  That’s right… the little guy in the elf costume with the wooden sword and bow & arrow is not Zelda… it’s Link.  Welcome to the Thunderdome if you didn’t know that by now.  Also, perhaps you can see why there is suddenly a bit of curiosity and outrage from fans of the franchise that are wondering why a female can’t be the primary playable character in the new Legend of Zelda game ‘Breath of the Wild’… or any of the others.

Nintendo’s reasoning (according to Eiji Aonuma) was that they couldn’t justify making a female Link and the only realistic option would be to make Princess Zelda the primary character.  According to Aonuma, if Zelda was going to be the primary character fighting bad guys, etc. ‘…what was Link going to do?’.

Seriously.  That was the justification from Nintendo ‘What was Link going to do?’.

How about this…?

image

Perhaps we can start the story off with Link going into a deep dark forest or castle or even both.  He is looking for something powerful, something without a name, something of which he has limited knowledge and as he begins to open a door with a strange green glow coming from behind he is bound by an unseen force and vanishes, leaving his sword, shield, and bow behind.

Zelda hears through rumors that Link has vanished on his mysterious quest.  The man/boy that has saved her on countless occasions is in need of help.  Zelda arrives at the scene of Link’s last known location finding his weapons on the ground.  She removes her tiara, goes out of the scene briefly and comes back dressed in her own adventuring garb.  She picks up Link’s weapons and prepares to kick some ass.

Now, this is just something I came up with as I typed this on my smartphone during a lunch break.  It isn’t a story or a fully developed plot, but it is most certainly an answer to the ‘What was Link going to do?’ question.

I refuse to apologize to the multitudes of misogynists that think women are anything less than the equals of men.  If you have a problem with women being the hero in a video game it doesn’t bode well for how you view women in more important realms.

#HeForShe

Call of Duty and the Disposable Consumer

6123472357_9e7b99b9b3_o.jpg.jpg

Maybe we should start with the obvious.

Activision doesn’t care about you… neither does Electronic Arts or Ubi Soft. You can go down the list of developers and gaming corporations that genuinely don’t care about you as a customer. Heck… any corporation for that matter.

With that said, the latest announcement of Call of Duty Infinite Warfare being officially released again in November has brought a new reaction from many that once worshipped the series (present party included). Now it seems that quite a few former COD apologists and fanboys have started to go in a new direction… reverse.

Most FPS gamers within a couple years of my age (let’s call it early to mid-30’s) remember when the debate was Halo vs. Call of Duty and coming in a distant 3rd was Battlefield. I recall my wife buying Call of Duty 2 for me as a Christmas gift back in 2006-ish. We were pretty close to poor at the time and the fact that she got me that game meant a lot. The graphics blew me away, mostly seeing the heat from the desert in the first mission. I had the first COD on PC and my machine could barely play it, but I found a way. Now that the 360 could play all these games at great resolution I was hooked. I both lacked the money for COD 3 and after renting it briefly lacked the desire to play it at all… it felt different enough from COD 2 that it left a sour taste in my mouth for Treyarch titles after that.

COD4: Modern Warfare blew my effing mind. We still didn’t have the income for me to justify buying it… so, I had to hope to get it for Christmas. It was almost a double blessing as my 360 died within a couple days of release from the RROD. So I started my MW gaming around Christmas and was hooked. It was tactical and fun. The simple killstreaks were easy enough to use and didn’t totally alter the game in multiplayer.

Hell, even the single player campaign was amazing. I felt like I was in a movie and it was certainly one of the first games that I legitimately couldn’t take out of my system. I basically stopped playing most other games. I didn’t buy COD 5: World at War because I was sick of WW2 shooters. It had nothing to do with wanting to have more mobility or some sort of exo-suit… if I wanted that I’d have bought Hali or even Killzone. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was simple in its own way and that’s what made it great.

Activision started breakin records because of the success of the Modern Warfare games. They improved those games throughout the rest of the trilogy. In the meantime they started releasing DLC to bring in more money. They even had most of the DLC finished prior to release and on the disc… they just wanted to make you pay for it… because they knew you would.

Fast forward to now and we see the money grab that has been Advanced Warfare and Black Ops 3. The terrible campaigns for single player and the sci-fi exo-suit, wall running atrocity that has become common place in Call of Duty.

Meanwhile, their latest launch trailer has received over 300,000 dislikes. It’s a game based in space warfare/invasions/whatever/sigh.

What makes this the worst Call of Duty ever? The fact that if you buy the ‘Legacy Edition’ for $80 ($20 more than regular retail) you will get COD4 Modern Warfare – Remastered. Yeah… they know what you want and now they are going to try and take you to the cleaners if you want to play it again.

This goes beyond not caring about customers… this is as close to bad business as a company can get without encouraging a class-action lawsuit. I will no longer be buying Call of Duty games as long as they continue this type of behavior.

Good bye Call of Duty, it was good when it was good… but you’ve changed man… you’ve changed.

Not In Madden – Big Trades Still Don’t Exist

With the recent trades leading up to the NFL Draft I really have to wonder what makes it so difficult for EA to add things like this to Madden’s Connected Franchise Mode.  This isn’t the first time we have had the exchange of more than 3 picks/plays from one team to another.  In this case it even involves a pick from the 2018 draft!

NFL_Draft

Madden has unfortunately been an annual addition to my gaming library every year since Madden 2007 (I skipped out on Madden 06 because I was broke and just out of college among other things).  Now we are looking at an NFL that doesn’t allow legitimate real-time injuries to take place in the NFL video game.  Nor do they seem to allow player morale or other such depth into a game that holds a monopoly over football gaming.

The more I see how front offices work in the NFL the more I realize how broken Madden has been for a rather long time.  I don’t expect ultra-realistic things to happen, but seriously – when can we trade more than three draft picks at a time?  When will they make trade logic a thing?

Maybe I am asking the wrong question.

When will 2K make a football game again?

What Happened to Great Stories In Gaming?

During this generation of consoles I have beaten more games than I give myself credit for.

image
Say what you want about hating Call of Duty, but this rendering of Kevin Spacey alone made me want to buy the game months ago.

I don’t mean getting all the trophies or achievements either.  I mean playing through the story or campaign.

I wish I could say I remembered them, but there are only a few I can recall that have been memorable experiences.

Here are my brief summaries of the PS4 games I have beaten the stories and campaigns

–          Watch_Dogs was the first game I bought ‘new’ for my PS4 and it was interesting and enjoyable for what it was at the time.  The story was okay, but in the end it felt like it should have been more.  Sadly, it wasn’t anything worth buying DLC for then or after.

–           Killzone Shadow Fall was a game that I wanted to play strictly because it was a PS4 exclusive and the visuals were stunning (especially when that first trailer hit… whoa!).  The story seemed interesting, but by the end I felt like someone had left me out of a few chapters and the story kind of ended with me killing some guy… every FPS, ever.

–          Destiny… Seriously?  This game was supposed to be so deep and have so much to do and in the end it was about 7 hours of gameplay for a non-existent story and a bunch of grinding for weapons and loot that only really mattered in the Crucible.  I will probably never buy another Bungie game because of this.

–          Battlefield 4 didn’t disappoint me because I knew to expect garbage.  It hasn’t had a meaningful campaign since Bad Company 2 (and even that was mostly because of interactions within your squad rather than something interesting in the story).

–          Wolfenstein was somewhat enjoyable as it was strictly a campaign full of nostalgia for those of us that missed killing a bunch of Nazis and weird robots, etc.  The villains were rendered well and they were on par with what I expected from Wolfenstein… over the top and weird and worth every wonderful bullet in the end.

–          Knack – Meh, it’s a kids game and the story played much like it should.  Adventure meets story meets terribly hidden antagonist meets basic platform game with a kitschy ability for the protagonist.

–          Grand Theft Auto V – I played through this game on the PS3 and then bought it again and played through again on the PS4.  It remains one of the games I will probably not delete from my hard drive (as it was my first digital purchase and took over 9 hours to download and install… not joking).  The story was like every other GTA, a bunch of people need to get shot or run over somehow and then you watch the credits roll before turning the city into further chaos because you are bored.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare was just like every other Call of Duty but this one had jet packs and exo-suits.  The only enjoyable aspect of this game and the story involved was the acting of Kevin Spacey.  He has rarely done something as far as his acting goes that was sub-par.  I won’t remember the story as much as I will remember the fact that Spacey was a great villain and did a great job with his performance in this game.  Otherwise, this was just as lame as every Call of Duty since the Modern Warfare Trilogy ended.

–          Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes was a prologue that offered more than enough reason for a hardcore fan such as myself to pay $30 for it.  The only thing about it that leaves a sour taste is that it was a pre-cursor for the disappointment we’d feel in the Phantom Pain.

–          Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain was probably the one game I looked forward to the most out of any over the last five or six years.  Then it came out and blew my mind with Chapters one and two only to basically kick me in the balls with a chapter three that was missing.  I will never forget that and might not look at Konami or Kojima the same way again.

–          Fallout 4 is a game I figured I’d put 400 hours into and totally forget about the disappointment of Metal Gear.  Wrong.  Fallout 4 let me basically discover mysteries I’d figured out about 3 hours into the game and then when I found new places for settlements I’d get to play post-apocalyptic Sims with a bunch of idiots that somehow managed to forget how to feed themselves or sleep without a bed.

Now I find myself looking at a few games I have yet to finish in my library.

The Witcher 3 – It is coming up on the one year anniversary for this title and I think I will beat this game just before that point.  It remains at this point one of my favorite experiences as the story is relatively interesting and the world is enormous – almost too big to be honest.  I find it hard to complain about this because it at least has an astounding amount of content and originality.

image

Bloodborne – I bought it at launch a year ago or so, sucked at it so bad that I sold it online and then bought it again in January.  Why?  Because it is one of the best games ever.  It is legitimately difficult and unforgiving.  I often wonder why we as gamers settle for anything less than what Bloodborne provides us with strictly from the gaming level of challenge.  The story is almost invisible, but somehow it still manages to grab me through the amazing artwork and design.  I could just stare at this game all day and be a happy gamer.

Call of Duty – Black Ops 3 – I have prestiged a few times in multiplayer and have yet to get even a quarter of the way through the campaign.  The only other Call of Duty games I have never played through are COD 3 and World at War.  Both of them are Treyarch titles and I must say I don’t worship them as much as others seem to.  Black Ops and Black Ops 2 were okay at best, but with Ghosts, Advanced Warfare and now Black Ops 3 going in whatever MLG post-millennial direction they are – I wonder why in the hell I bought the digital deluxe version of this game.

Metal Gear Solid V – The Final Theory

MGS V – SPOILERS AHEAD!  YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!

image
The next Colonel?

After my last article about getting over what seems to be a terrible ending to a game that we have put far too much thought into I started to look away from Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain and back towards Ground Zeroes.  I have come to realize a couple things about these games and how we are looking at them from the wrong perspective (figuratively and maybe even literally).

Bear with me on this ride, it might get a bit silly as far as theories go.
There Are Three Chapters to MGS V
Ground Zeroes, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
are all a part of the story we have played through, assuming we played both pieces of software.
That said, if you look at the story and think about them as a stand-alone multi-disc game you will see that they are certainly a complete story in many regards.  They aren’t a great story in any sense, but it is also the nature of the beast with games anymore.  Now that we have seen the fallout of Konami/Kojima, I am sure there was a lot left out as well.  Regardless, it doesn’t take away from the fact that if you look at both games you can see that it really is a rather full story in most cases.
The Deep Theory
Naked Snake- AKA, Big Boss was never a part of MGS V – Ground Zeroes.
I have come to look at the story as a whole in a new light.  I believe we have all been lied to since the beginning of MGS V (Ground Zeroes).  It is my theory that Big Boss was never present in either game.  Venom Snake (AKA ‘Boss’ in MGS V – GZ & TPP) was set up from the beginning to undertake what turned out to be a strange mission of vengeance against a faceless enemy.
This rings of all sorts of metaphors and such if you let your mind wander down the ‘rabbit hole’. or maybe it’s a snake hole?
Ground Zeroes Observations and Points
From the beginning we have an eye patch (much like Snake in MGS 3 – Snake Eater).  We also have two functioning arms, as far as we can tell.  The intro sees Skullface interacting with Chico and Paz in Cuba as prisoners/torture victims.  Snake goes on to rescue both of them and evacuate on a chopper.
A few things to note –
+ We are on good terms with Huey.
+ Skullface seemingly appears out of the blue as far as storylines go.  They say he secretly commanded for Cipher and such, and that is likely true.  However, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense for Big Boss to have any beef with the guy.
+ Chico and Paz both react strangely to Snake rescuing them.  They almost don’t fully believe it is him – sounds quite similar to what happens later, no?
+ The entire mission and aftermath of the destroyed Mother Base, etc. seems manufactured to me.  Afterall, Big Boss is supposed to be building a nation in Africa, not the ocean.
Ground Zeroes Theory(ies)
I believe a few things about Ground Zeroes that will make sense of the entire MGS V experience.  The first is that from the beginning Big Boss was never under our control.  I believe Venom Snake was being brainwashed and sent on this mission from the beginning.  He wasn’t a medic on a chopper protecting Snake from some explosion on the platform.  He was in the chopper with Miller on a mission that was supposed to play a part in him being tested as the doppelganger for Big Boss.  We have always been Venom Snake as far as MGS V goes. V isn’t 5 in this case, it is V for Venom Snake.  Roman numerals were never used for the other MGS games and I believe there is a good reason for that.
GZ – Off the beaten path Theory – There are a few other things that happen in Ground Zeroes that make me question everything as well.  The Déjà vu mission is both a flashback for us, but also a strange flash forward for Venom Snake in the supposed time of MGS V (around the early 1980s).  This makes me wonder if the snake hole is even deeper than we thought.
Maybe this is all a weird experience within a strange AI.  Maybe none of this is happening, from GZ through TPP.  It would make sense for this to be a total mindf**k if Kojima wanted it to be.  If you played through MGS through MGS 4 you can see that nanomachines and mind altering have been integral within the entire experience.  Maybe we are simply experiencing the created memories given to a clone of Big Boss?

The Phantom Pain Theory –
        Every other complete Metal Gear Solid game (1, 2, 3, Peacewalker and 4) has had numerous boss fights and interactions.  In TPP we also have boss fights, but they aren’t set up to feel that way.
        We have to fight Quiet, Eli, The Man on Fire and Sahelanthropus (on a couple occasions).  I think a lot of what we experience in this game as far as feeling like something was missing is when we consider two characters that we never really fight – Skullface and Psycho Mantis.

These aren’t important interactions in the sense of the overall story. I believe Kojima made these all rather forgetable because this isn’t meant to be a Big Boss story or Solid Snake… it’s Phantom story… a ghost story. It is supposed to blow away like ashes.

Also… nuclear disarmament and Peace (The elusive Chapter 3) will never happen. Why? Because if they happen there is no MGS – MGS 4. Sure they reference the tech being there in the future… but it is a losing battle.

Ocelot Protects The Man He Will Become. Eli (Liquid Snake) –
There was so much potential for holes to develop in the story that I believe Kojima was brilliant in this way.  Ocelot didn’t seem like the Ocelot we have known in every other MGS title.  Every other title has him acting incredibly arrogant and sometimes even foolishly.  He is so even-keeled in MGS V – TPP (Keep in mind, he isn’t to be seen or heard from in GZ.?) that it makes me wonder if he is on Xanax.
        The only time Ocelot really shows his true colors is in the torture room. interesting.  Considering the game ends with a discussion between the two men about the future roles of David (Solid Snake) and Eli (Liquid Snake) in the fight for dominance as the real ‘Big Boss’.  I think the real reveal is yet to be known. I believe there is something bigger on the horizon and it involves Solid Snake.

Kojima’s Good Bye To Metal Gear –
More than anything else with the Metal Gear Story from Snake Eater through Metal Gear Solid 4 as far as literal story timeline goes – Kojima has completed the circle/spiral.  He started it all back in the Early-Mid 80s and then MGS grabbed us and put us on this wild ride.  It is my belief that Kojima wanted to finish any of the holes in his timeline.  I believe TPP was an effort to if not explain every detail maybe fill the gaps with something. anything.  He had referenced on many occasions a wish to move on from Metal Gear.  As selfish as I am for more Metal Gear from Kojima, I also understand how much it sucks to work on the same thing for a long time. let alone being an artist that has to work on the same art for decades.  It sounds dreadful when you think of it that way. does it not?

Final Theory –
Metal Gear Will Go On And David Hayter Will Return As Snake
This might be more of a hope than a theory.  However, there is something to consider with all of the Metal Gear Solid Storyline finished through MGS 4.  Solid Snake is still living at the end of MGS 4. and Big Boss has made it to be alongside his clone as well. 
Metal Gear as a series is now owned by Konami without the presence of Kojima. 
It is my belief that Solid Snake has been cloned and they will find a way to develop a way for him to go on fighting with Hal by his side in the future.  Before The Phantom Pain was announced, I posed a theory as to whether or not there would be another MGS game after MGS4 (see here).
I believe we will see Solid Snake once again and it will end up being around the year 2032-2040.  This is because I believe Naomi took Solid Snake’s DNA (while probably possessing that of Big Boss and perhaps even Liquid Snake/Ocelot) midway through MGS 4.  She seemed to be full of so much regret for having taken part in what turned out to be the brief life of Solid Snake that I think she wanted a chance to for lack of a better phrase – pay it forward.
Solid Snake isn’t dead by the time MGS 4 rolls credits, and Hal is still alive and kicking with Meryl, Johnny and Sunny.  It is my hope that we will see Meryl become the new Colonel and Solid Snake’s clone enter the future world of stealth espionage when he reaches the age necessary to learn the skills that are waiting in his DNA.

Operation Intrude – N313

With Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain leaving a bad taste in the mouth of almost every hardcore fan (myself among them) I am still waiting for Chapter 3 and I firmly believe it was going to be something magnificent.

image

This isn’t because I think Chapter 3 is coming… hell, it isn’t because I believe mission 51 will be finished and/or released. It isn’t even because I think Konami would all but totally redeem themselves. No… it’s because the last part of The Phantom Pain made me think we were going to the only part of Metal Gear that wasn’t ‘Solid’. I thought we were going to hear David Hayter’s ‘Solid Snake’ arrive in the jungle in search of Metal Gear and Gray Fox. When I first played through TPP and finished learning ‘The Truth’ I saw the tape for Operation Intrude and my heart skipped a beat.

This was the greatest game ever made and I was going to get to finish where I began as a kid. Then the credits rolled and there was no chapter three… there was nothing. A broken mirror with more questions than answers.

Metal Gear as a saga may have ended just before the lines of the circle met. This leaves so many questions among the fans that really aren’t as important as the story and filling the holes that The Phantom Pain left. I understand from the obvious message of literal Phantom Pain being felt by Venom Snake and his missing limb, and even our pain of feeling like the story remains unfinished. Yeah… we all get the message.

What left me in this still somewhat annoyed state was the feeling that I missed out on the last part of a story. It reminds me of James Caan in ‘Elf’ when he approves the story about the puppy and the pigeon although it is missing the last few pages. I saw chapter three coming… I saw Solid Snake creeping through the mist into Outer Heaven. I saw that first sleeping soldier next to a jeep… I saw it all ripped from me. I felt betrayed and yes even a bit angry.

‘What the f**k? That’s it? It’s over?’

I want so badly to join the believers out there that think there is more hidden for us in TPP. However, I also know better than to waste my time with trying to uncover something that isn’t covered to begin with.

The Phantom Pain is an unfinished epilogue and prologue in the same work. At this point we have to let it go and move on to whatever we decide to do next.

New Rules, The NFL, and How You Are Ruining Sports Games

image

With all their new rules you’d think Bill Maher was the new commissioner of the NFL… don’t get that joke?  Either I am the Dennis Miller of gaming commentary and online personas or I am just old and lame.
I am starting to think that Madden has hit that slope as well.
Seeing that the draft is coming up and the NFL is as popular as ever it seems like they would be pushing more and more to make their monopoly on football video games a more true representation of the game on the field and on television.  Then again, maybe they are when it comes to all the rule changes that seemingly gut the NFL of any sort of toughness under the guise of ‘player safety’.
In Madden it is nearly impossible to injure a player by hitting them harder (which is basically 80% of the injuries in the league). In Madden your players can’t get unsportsmanlike conduct penalties because that type of thing isn’t in the game either.  So, the new rule of two penalties for being an arrogant taunting jerk with a big mouth has no place in Madden to begin with.
This is why I constantly wonder when the madness will stop.  When will 2K or another publisher pour in the resources to give football fans and football gamers a different option from Madden?  I have been on this journey for over a decade demanding a true competitor to Madden and the football gaming monopoly. 
I am starting to wonder if I’m alone out here on the digital gridiron.  Everyone else seems happy to play two-hand touch on Madden and I am stuck wondering why I waste so much time playing a Franchise Mode for the sake of having a ‘new’ football option every year.
This might be why I am looking forward to MLB 16 more and more.  At least SCEA goes above and beyond to truly add depth to their game every year.  Madden has seen their top guys leave over the course of the last few years and with that they haven’t grown or done anything new.  They have invested in Ultimate Team because gamers seem to have more money than they know what to do with.  So in many respects, if you are playing Ultimate Team you are part of the problem as well.  I’d say this goes for Diamond Dynasty players on MLB, but now that SCEA has made it so you earn packs as you play the game rather than simply giving the option to buy more (which you can also do)… maybe they are similar afterall.

image

Maybe I am just like Mugatu and I have taken crazy pills somewhere along the way.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑