Should Sports Games Be A Biennial Release?

If you consider our past reviews and comments on NCAA and Madden Football you will often notice a bit of a jaded view on their development, creativity and AI (Artificial Intelligence) for the CPU controlled players.  This brings something to mind that has been suggested by multitudes of unhappy sports gamers – a biennial release/development cycle.

Most people can agree that sports titles coming out every single year are often no more than roster updates and beta-tests for possible future implementations (see ProTAK in Madden or Mascot Games …smh… in NCAA Football).  It isn’t really unheard of to have biennial development.  Call of Duty still manages to have a new title every year, but they are actually on a two year cycle with Treyarch and Infinity Ward getting a shot every other year.  You can say what you want about how good or bad those titles are, but fact of the matter is that they bring something new to the table strictly because each developer has their one small twist on how the game should play.

Madden and NCAA could use a break every other year.  The fact that EA has the sole license to develop these titles doesn’t really allow for this argument to go any further than a pipe-dream.  However, take a moment to imagine how much better some of these sports games would be in a two-year cycle rather than ten-month cycle.

2K Sports is a prime example of doing well with one game and AWFUL with another.  Their basketball titles are among the best ever made.  Unfortunately, their baseball titles are some of the most glitchy and straight up bad looking sports games out there.  If they were able to jump back into the football fray it would really force EA to step up their game.

This is where the biennial release of an NFL game for each company might pay off.  The downfall is that some people hate how 2K Football games play and feel.  It isn’t like being able to pick up Black Ops after Modern Warfare.  It is more like playing baseball and swinging the bat right-handed all season and then being told that you have to be left-handed next year.

The only other option that will allow the proper amount of improvement is to allow developers to have equal access to make officially licensed sports titles and then let the consumer decide.  EA bought the rights because they knew that they couldn’t compete with some of the things that 2K was doing.  It was a smart business decision, but it was a cowardly way to punk out of having any sort of competition to drive the quality of their games.

How do you feel about this?  Vote in the poll or comment below and be heard!

Does Madden Matter Anymore?

Over the past two decades it has been a fixture in sports gaming.  On occasion it has even been hailed as one of the best games of the year in that genre.  However, the Madden Franchise has fallen on hard times as of late and it looks more like Tiki Barber trying to make a comeback rather than Brett Favre making a Super Bowl run after his 2nd retirement.  Either way it goes and however you view the analogy –  Madden is getting worse every year.  Only a few weeks ago we were looking at Madden 13 as the rebirth of a franchise after a long drought.  Now it seems as if it has lost its luster and even its marketing steam.

The NFL season is set to start in just over two months and Madden is slated to come out in the middle of Pre-Season games.  How on earth can it be that this game doesn’t have a single commercial in wide circulation or even some sort of hypemobile rolling through forums drumming up blind support?

While it isn’t terribly surprising to see a sports title come out and grab the core audience, it is rather shocking to see the publisher pretty much throw in the marketing towel this early/ late in the game’s development cycle.  With high profile titles such as Halo 4 and Call of Duty coming out within a few months of Madden, it is going to be interesting to see how EA’s sales for their football games perform without any real concerted effort at this point.

Madden has its core of fanboys out there that live up to the stereotypes of sports gamers with false bravado and a sharp case of ego-stroking football knowledge that should place them at the sidelines of any local youth football game screaming at children as they try to live out dreams they never should have had in the first place.  These gamers tend to ruin the online experience as they exploit the poor animation and AI system in order to rank up the leaderboards or win some sort of digital league.

The typical Madden Online/Tournament gamer.

The rest of the Madden fans out there don’t even play online.  They want a game that focuses on Franchise Mode/Connected Careers and some sort of longevity to keep them coming back.  Sadly, it looked like a promising year for this group of fans until EA dropped bombshell after bombshell crushing the dreams of franchise fanantics (yours truly, included).  It seems that the time has come to call EA on their bluff.  They have been bluffing for almost seven years now and there are still people out there folding under the pressure to buy this game on release day.

Are you buying Madden this year?  Are you avoiding it like the plague?… Or, are you simply going to wait it out a little while and see what the reviews look like?

Madden 13 – No Editing Players Could Destroy Much of the Hype

While it hasn’t been officially ruled out for Madden 13, it has been stated that much of editing players outside of the XP System we mentioned a few days ago isn’t going to be an option when Madden 13 is released.  So, it remains to be seen if it is a certainty that it will be removed this year… however, in regards to what this means for the gaming community it is three-fold.

  1. EA Sports has once again ‘removed’ something that was in past iterations of Madden NFL.  Which baffles almost everyone that pays the slightest amount of attention to the game.  The reason this is so baffling is because EA Tiburon is constantly reinventing Madden.  When will they decide that this game is powered by their dedicated community and the edits they make to everything from ratings to playbooks (also not editable this year).
  2. Relying on Donny Moore for roster updates and his subjective ratings changes that vary depending on who had a good game from week to week.  The Ratings Czar is going to be on the spot this year if they don’t allow roster and ratings edits.  Not to mention the fact that this once again keeps offline gamers out of the loop entirely.
  3. A promising amount of hype is being overshadowed by what is looking more and more like regression on the part of EA and their dedication to allowing the end-user any sort of autonomy with their game.

Madden is still looking like a game to put on your ‘must have’ list in late August, but this latest news is troubling on many levels and it doesn’t bode well for this game from the perspective of roster-editing.

Is Battlefield 3 The Swan Song for EA’s First Person Shooters?

If you ask someone to name a current first person shooter chances are good you will get one of three or four responses.

  1. Call of Duty
  2. Halo
  3. Battlefield
  4. Borderlands, etc.

A question that has been coming to mind ever sense the poorly planned and even more poorly executed Battlefield Premium was unleashed to the world…

Is EA Dying a Slow Death In FPS Titles?

Who is really playing this game or any EA First Person Shooter (FPS) regularly at this point?

There is always the contingent of Battlefield elitists out there that believe (sometimes correctly) that Battlefield is superior to Call of Duty or Halo.  However, numbers don’t lie… and that could be what ends up bringing down Battlefield and perhaps EA’s FPS credibility.  If you look at the ratings last released by Larry Hryb (Major Nelson) that show the most activity on XBox Live for specific games it should make you skeptical about the longevity of Battlefield and certainly the next Medal of Honor game.

It isn’t really a question of if Battlefield is a good game (it is a great game) but a question of where it is going to go from here for a game that hasn’t really found a place outside of their niche group of dedicated community members like one of our subscribers The Masked Guard.  Will we get to a point where EA can overtake the juggernaut that is Call of Duty?  If they hope to make any strides in their FPS marketability they should make an effort to develop a game that isn’t devoted strictly to some sort of engine that hinges on blowing up buildings or terrain – especially in multiplayer.

The downfall of multiplayer in Battlefield goes beyond the growing amount of gamers that are playing it more like some sort of Call of Duty game with larger maps.  The reason Battlefield struggles to gain any real ground in the FPS race is because it lacks any real depth outside of leaderboards that mean virtually nothing.  Call of Duty and Halo have become more focused on individual gamers with the ability to modify and customize weapons, armor, insignias, etc.  Battlefield has fallen into some sort of in-between where they push for clans and teams but doesn’t really allow much outside of that.

Also, there is a big problem with their broken system of spawn points and spawn camping.  Bad Company 2 was terrible for this and BF3 has made few strides in making it any better.  If you are new to this game it could be very disconcerting to jump into a game where you get killed within your first ten steps every time you spawn.

What are you playing right now?  If it is Battlefield 3, please let us know how you feel about what is happening to the game from your perspective.  Are you looking forward to any FPS Titles?… are any of them from EA?

NCAA Football 13 – The Lame Duck Term

The first day for E3 was an amazing one for Madden fans (more on that to come).  However, the same cannot be said for NCAA Football fans.

You have heard of lame duck terms in politics… get ready to see one in sports gaming (again).

It was announced that NCAA Football 13 will not have Real Time Physics like it’s pro counter-part.  On top of that, you have bigger issues facing NCAA Football (the game and the actual real-life money hungry institution).  There will also be no way to import draft classes between the two games.  Granted, this ‘feature’ has been broken for years and with the new intensely improved rookie classes and draft for Madden… who really needs to import the same broken logic players?

If you consider the issues of an impending Playoff format and everything else with teams flip-flopping, this could be a lame duck year for NCAA Football 13.  This is going to render NCAA Football into a bit of a dead-zone for gamers that aren’t die hard fans of the series. How much fun or longevity will there be for your Dynasty Mode if you aren’t able to institute the coming Playoff Format?  What about the idea of 20-Team Super Conferences?  Right now you are limited to 16 teams per conference.

It isn’t really a game killer, but EA really needs to step it up next season on the college football front if they hope to have sales even close to what they were for NCAA 11 and 12.

NCAA Football and Madden will have the same control scheme this year (for the first time ever in this generation of gaming consoles) but that is where the similarities seem to die.  Much like NCAA 10, NCAA 13 is going to be a game that many people will skip because it won’t have the same advances that people were/are hoping for that will make the game more realistic in the actual guts of moving players around the field.  Now with the news that NCAA Football doesn’t have the same Real Time Physics Engine that Madden 13 has… it could be a rough year for college football gaming fans.

Are you passing on NCAA Football this season?  Post your comments below!

Madden 13 – Trade and Other Logic

EA Sports has released a webcast that will blow your mind if you are a Franchise Fanatic.

Madden 13’s Connected Careers (Franchise Mode) has made this game a must buy!
  • CPU Teams will trade with eachother and offer you trades
  • Free Agency is based on making an offer and then advancing the week (you better hope your offer is legit.
  • Players will change dynamically and progress if they do amazing things in the game or season.
  • The NFL Draft is a live experience with Trey Wingo giving facts and stories of important players in the draft
  • Coaches will get fired
  • Teams will start looking for coaches after their season ends
  • Salary caps are in for Online Franchise guys
  • Connected to Facebook and Twitter

http://www.easports.com/madden-nfl/promo/madden-webcast

Madden 13 – Is It Worth $60 At This Point?

*We have had multiple posts about Madden since this article.  Please check those out for more details.  We will have full reviews of Madden as soon as it is released!

The improvements being made to Madden 13 are catching some eyes around the sports gaming world.  The problem is that outside of some improvements being made to make the game’s eye-candy stick out we are still waiting to hear about the much needed improvements to Career Modes.  They have already announced that there will be something that ties career modes to an interactive web-based experience.  However, the fact that Online Franchise Mode has been bare-bones for three iterations is something that really takes away from any sort of community experience.

Girls and Games Are Alike… Good looks only get you so far.

With the still struggling interactions between O-Lineman and D-Lineman rendering many plays broken (Play Action Passes, just for one example) and then coupling that with other poor AI and animations… you have many questions still left unanswered.  Granted, we still have a few months until the game is released, it is worth considering whether or not Madden 13 will be something you are better off buying pre-owned rather than brand new. Rest assured that the game isn’t something you will need to pre-order in most cases as it is often readily available on launch day.

Outside of the chance that Madden 13 blows everyone away with some sort of new gimmick that EA will remove (See ProTAK, Procedural Awareness, Tuners, etc.) it will remain as a game that should be approached as nothing more than a roster update with a slight graphical facelift.  You can find Madden 12 online for around $20 on Amazon right now; if you are having that football itch that requires Madden to fill the gap, you would probably be okay to spend $20 on Madden 12 before pre-ordering Madden 13 at this point.

The moments of truth will hopefully come around the time that E3 starts in June.  Keep in mind that in our last brief write-up for Madden we focused on the hype machine and how it can suck people in early on in a game’s cycle.  You should keep your hopes up but also keep your expectations low.  Even with the reactions from EA Tiburon’s Community Days and the ‘dedicated Madden fans’ being posted, it would be a good idea to take their impressions with a grain of salt.  Remember, they have to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements and you don’t often hear too much negativity coming from people that get preferential treatment (why would you bite the hand that feeds?).

Once we get to June and July there will be a lot more information out there that EA wants to release.  In that case, you shouldn’t lose total hope in Madden or NCAA Football just yet; but you should also keep yourself grounded if you are hoping for groundbreaking improvements.

Da Bears Madden 12 Franchise Mode – Season 2 Highlights and Recap

As much as we like to talk about what we wish EA would put into Franchise Mode for Madden 13.  As much as we might even complain about the silly nature of some of the things that happen in Madden 12…  This game is almost addicting to the point that Madden 2005 was and that is a good thing if they continue to build from this solid base.

That said, this is how Season 2 panned out.

Amos High was drafted by the Bears in the first round out of Georgia Tech.  He was highly rated but still managed to fall to the Bears after they traded down.  That would prove to be their best decision yet…  Amos High went on a tear in the second half of the 2012 season and finished with 1900+ yards and 15 TDs rushing.  He would then bring home Offensive Rookie of the Year and League MVP (with RB of the Year as well).

To go along with this amazing season – Jay Cutler won QB of the Year, Mike Williams won WR of the year and Henry Melton won DLineman of the Year!

The Bears have tremendous talent on their team and are built to win and contend for the Super Bowl.  The question isn’t if they can get there, because this is the second straight year they were within one game of the Super Bowl.  Both years we have seen Lovie Smith’s team get outclassed late in the game and that isn’t a good sign for the Chicago’s Head Coach.  It is widely speculated that 2013 might be his last if they don’t break this trend.

We will be posting recaps of the Draft and some of the off-season moves as well.

Some of the needs going into 2013 are –

  1. #1 TE
  2. #2 CB
  3. #1 LG
  4. Future MLB (Urlacher is on the decline, but will retire a Chicago Bear…. No Question About That)
  5. Future RE (Julius Peppers is starting to age, albeit while still getting double-digit sacks at 33 years old, but the Bears need to be honest with themselves)
  6. #1 RG

Stay Tuned!  Updates Are Coming!

Our Madden 12 Sliders

A few people have sent messages about what sliders we are using/recommending for Madden 12.

Here you go!

That isn’t White Castle’s delicious sandwiches you smell… It is our very own set of sliders… In May no less!

NTTV Sliders/Settings
Settings –
10 Minute Quarters
Playcalling – Conventional
Acc Clock – 15 Secs
Cam – Standard
Auto Sprint and Strafe – OFF
Injury – 15
Fatigue – 55
Game Speed – Slow
Speed Thresh – 5

Penalties
Offside – 99
False State – 54
Holding – 52
Facemask – 55
DPI – 99 (Rarely Called)
OPI – 99 (Even more rare than DPI)
KR/PRI – 99
Clipping – 25 *Down this low because many kickoff returns will get called back because your blockers are stupid.
Int Grounding – 99 (CPU Is Never Called for this)
Rough Passer – 55
Rough Kicker – 99

USER/CPU
QBA – 40/30
PBK – 15/75 *You will have between 2.5-4 seconds to get a pass off most of the time.  Sometimes less, sometimes more.
CTH – 20/55

BRKTKL – 25/0
RBK – 25/40
FUM – 25/50

Pass Defense
React – 10/10
INT – 25/15
PRSH – 40/30

Rush Defense
React – 18/30 *This is being actively looked at.  Stopping the run can be a slippery slope in either direction easy or hard.
BLKS – 18/22
TAK – 25/10

SPECIAL TEAMS
FGP – 50 *With the right wind, you can kick a 65 Yarder with a 99 KPW.
FGA – 50
PPW – 55
PAC – 70 *Makes it a little bit more realistic to get kicks to the corner.
KPW – 50

…and now for the little disclaimer for all the slider/sim nazis out there.

Yes, these sliders have faults and no they aren’t perfect.  They are set up for the user to have an enjoyable yet challenging game.  It may take a little bit of tweaking for you to find your perfect settings, but we hope these are a good start for you!


Building a Franchise In Madden – NFL Draft Week Edition

There are many reasons to be excited about the end of April.

The end of the school year, warmer spring weather, baseball season in full swing, etc.

However, for me there are few times of the year I cherish more than NFL Draft Week.  As a Cleveland Browns fan I always have some sort of broken sense of faith that makes me believe we have a chance to make the playoffs… or at least finish .500.

In the first season of my Browns Franchise Peyton Hillis ran for 2213 yards and broke the single season rushing record as the Browns beat the Cowboys for their first Super Bowl!

By the time September comes along it is usually a long foregone conclusion that the Browns will be terrible.  This is where Madden’s Franchise Mode can be one of the more enjoyable parts of the NFL season for a fan of a terrible franchise much like my Browns.

The trick to having a franchise last longer than one or two seasons is what most people look for and today we will give you a few different ways to get some longevity out of your Madden Franchise.

First – Make sure you pick a team you either cheer for or want to build in the long-term.  In my case, I chose the Browns and luckily they are both my favorite team and a team that is a long-term project.

Second – Have a set of challenging sliders and house rules going into your Franchise.  This is vital because nothing can derail a Franchise Mode faster than having your difficulty too high or too low.  In my case, it was way too easy in my first two seasons with the Browns as we won two straight Super Bowls in 2011 and 2012.

*Note* If you have  something similar occur and can’t bear the idea of starting your Franchise from scratch you might have to invent a story.  In my case – I came up with a story that the Pat Shurmur (Cleveland’s Coach) was caught up in a scandal to pretty much buy and cheat his way to Super Bowls in order to assure his position as Cleveland’s coach, he was then fired and kicked out of the league for a season (this is all months before the now famous ‘Bounty’ situation with Sean Payton, mind you!).

Third – Get to know your players and their abilities… Madden is more than just  OVR (Overall) ratings.  While Speed is still king in this game, make it your mission to build a team based on player skills or maybe even some sort of desire to take low OVR players and build them into budding superstars that came out of nowhere.

Fourth – This is actually the most important part, but it is last on the list because it won’t take shape until at least 2 seasons into your franchise mode. Develop and create a storyline and share it with the gaming community!  If you are one of those people that lose interest because there is no one to talk to about your team and you feel annoyed telling your significant other that you just drafted an A Potential QB in the 5th Round of the Draft and all they do is shrug… Tell the sports gaming community about it!  Make a thread, develop some talent for Photoshop and story telling and make it your mission to be the best Coach/Team President and Reporter for your own enjoyment!

Don’t get upset if you don’t get a lot of comments either.  You must post the story for yourself and invest in your franchise mode for your own enjoyment first.  As your talent and devotion grow you will have a greater audience. As an example, we will be starting a new Franchise Story on our Forums as well as posting updates and videos on Youtube as the story progresses.

If you are getting that football itch like many others are it might be time to start a new franchise mode that will take you into early September for the next Madden and the beginning of a new football season!

An example of one of my past franchises is here