Madden 19 Franchise Mode – Only One Direction To Go

As we near the NFL Draft in a matter of days it is starting to leak out of the rumor mill that Madden will be focusing on ramping up the quality of Franchise Mode.  Hopefully this means we can expect a bit more depth in terms of how the mode is represented in a few different ways.

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Because EA is the Johnny Manziel of sports game developers.

They have tried to change how free agency works from the Auction system a few years ago to making offers before advancing and hoping the guy you wanted chose your low-ball offer.  Between bad financial logic and worse player and team logic – Madden hasn’t exactly been a beacon of realism for wanna-be GMs.

They must find a way to push gamers in this mode to eventually spend their money on veterans without looking at every 28 and 29 year old player like they are going to become Stephen Hawking at the age of 30.  Yes, there is certainly a youth movement in the thinking of NFL General Managers.  Yes, this means that drafting top talent over keeping ‘aging’ players is a common strategy.  It doesn’t mean that Madden should get a pass in making players in their late-20s and early 30s relevant in Franchise Mode.

On top of the age nosedive in terms of player ratings, the other aspect that needs the most help in Madden is the Draft and Scouting.

Scouting has quite simply been a lazy effort by the developers.  It isn’t difficult to find the superstar players later in the draft.  It isn’t hard to find the busts in the first round.  By the time you figured out the scouting dynamics in Madden 17 you were more than okay with the point reversal in Madden 18 that was supposed to make that aspect more challenging.  All you need to do is look for the first rating to be a B+ or higher and you are on your way.  It’s not rocket science… and that makes for an insanely boring experience that is arguably one of the most involved and talked about in all of sports.

They must address the lack of immersion in our experience week by week.  There is ZERO immersion in Franchise Mode from an overall league perspective.  There is no feeling for the salary cap when it comes to managing the team.  There is no excitement in Franchise Mode… NONE.  The Super Bowl has been the same stupid celebration and musical experience for years.

Madden 18 was the final straw for me as a Madden fan in a lot of ways.  It was the only Madden I have stopped playing before the Super Bowl was over.  It says more about the staying power of Franchise Mode than anything else.

Madden Ultimate Team has killed what made Madden a fun experience for those of us that don’t enjoy online sports gaming.  I am hoping that Madden 19 will make good on their chance to convince me to buy this game as a pre-order for the sake of giving my annual guides for all of you out there.

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Madden 25 – Choosing A Team In Connected Franchise Mode

Now that we are about six weeks into the NFL Regular Season there are many surprises in the league as far as performance and records go.  There are already many teams vying for the #1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft while others are suddenly looking like they think they can make a surprise playoff run.  Here is a list of some teams you might want to consider using in Connected Franchise Mode with some ideas of how to build them to success.

Obviously Bad Teams

JagsThe Jaguars are among the worst teams in the NFL and we knew this before the season started.  Given the fact that their Quarterback situation is almost laughable.  When running this team it might be wise to create a new owner as well (unless you want to be the Wario look-a-like Shahid ‘Shao’ Khan.  Also, taking it upon yourself to look into trading Maurice Jones-Drew for a potential draft pick might be something to consider if throwing away the season is on your possibility list.  Another action to consider for a fun storyline would be signing Tim Tebow and trying to save the franchise in Jacksonville.  Otherwise, moving the team to Los Angeles might be the absolute best idea… even if EA doesn’t do much to make it worthwhile to move a team other than strictly in being in a new city.

BucsTampa Bay is in desperate need for an overhaul in how their team is run.  If that means you go through a season with Greg Schiano leading the way with his faux-military take no prisoners style or possibly just creating yourself as an intelligent player’s coach – the choice is yours.  With the departure of Josh Freeman there is a possible storyline to go with in using rookie QB, Mike Glennon and having him lead the Bucs to success.  Otherwise, you might want to start looking into the potential for getting someone in the draft or free agency.  You will have a decent base of skill players to use with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams at WR on top of having the ‘muscle hamster’ Doug Martin at HB.  Tampa Bay isn’t a terrible team, but they could use some serious help and changes – starting at the top.

Surprisingly Bad Teams

SteelersThis team has been a perennial contender for the last decade and they are starting to show their age… not to mention some serious holes in personnel.  When they lost their starting Center in Pouncey it looked bad.  Now that the season has started and they have no real answer at HB, WR, OL, LB or DB it is looking like they might need more work than anyone ever thought.  Maybe it is because they play in what used to be a two-team division and they are simply falling behind the other teams.  Either way it goes, the Steelers are a team that could potentially use a huge front office change and maybe a new face for the franchise if Big Ben proves to be declining as much as he seems to be.  Do yourself a favor and revamp the O-Line before you do anything.  Try to sign a true #1 WR and hope that the defense can pick it up.  The potential for a fun rebuild is there in using the Steelers – and suddenly it isn’t so surprising.

GmenThe Giants are in trouble.  This is a team that just a few years ago won two Super Bowls.  Now they are looking similar to the Steelers in almost every way.  The Giants have started to look like an aging team and Eli Manning is starting to look like the player he was early in his career throwing INTs like they are going out of style.  This compounded by the fact that they are a team without a true HB threat.  Bringing back Brandon Jacobs was surprising after he had been released by the team rather recently.  Their defense was once one of the most feared in the league and now it has more holes than a block of swiss cheese.  Taking over ownership of this team could be a lot of fun if you want to get rid of Manning and start fresh.  Although, that could be a long road ahead.

 

Surprisingly Decent Teams

BrownsCleveland is a team that looked like they were destined to go 0-16 after two weeks and suddenly they are tied for first place in the AFC North.  While they are a team on the rise, they are also a team without a true answer at QB or HB.  While Josh Gordon seems to be a legitimate threat to be a Top-10 WR in the league and Jordan Cameron is one of the better TEs this season the Browns need some serious help in offensive skill positions.  On defense, the Browns are among the best in the NFL and this is largely due to the aggressive approach they have taken under Defensive Coordinator, Ray Horton.  You might want to look into getting some help for Joe Haden on the other side of the field at #2 CB.  Otherwise, this is a team that simply needs a couple pieces before they become a true contender.

ChiefsKansas City is starting to look like a serious contender with new coach, Andy Reid.  If you were to take this team to a 5-0 record in your first season in Madden it suddenly isn’t too far-fetched.  However, this doesn’t mean that they are a perfect team that doesn’t need any help.  They have some good pieces to play with in Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and even Alex Smith at QB.  This goes with a defense that is rather dangerous and can hold their own against virtually any team in the league.  It could be fun to take over the Chiefs and make some moves to make this a team to compete with the Broncos for the AFC West.

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.

Have You Seen My Baseball? – Five Reasons To Look Forward to MLB 13

When I was younger I was a baseball fanatic.  Ken Griffey Jr. posters adorned my bedroom walls and every summer consisted of a run down the driveway to see the sports page and look for the latest home run count.  I am either extremely lucky or unlucky to have grown up during the height of the steroid era of baseball.  Thankfully, my favorite player was never implicated in any of the investigations.  Unfortunately, the second half of his career was marred by injuries and he never set the all-time record for home runs.

The moral of this story is that since his retirement I have had little reason to pay attention to baseball.  I chose not to purchase MLB 12: The Show because there were enough changes going on next season that I figured I would save my $60 for that.  Now that we are one day from the World Series and two teams I don’t follow are playing for the title; it’s time to start looking at next year.

Extra Wild-Card Game For Playoffs – This year we saw an addition to baseball that was a long time coming.  The addition of an extra playoff series (even if it was only one game) that allowed for another reason to hope for the unlikely to happen with a second wild-card slot.  162 games in a season can often prove to be a marathon that most people stop paying attention to in the months of June and July.  This year we saw the likes of the Indians and the Pirates have hopes of the playoffs dashed in the middle/late-middle of the season.  The fact that they still had some hope was largely due to the extra playoff spot.  In MLB 13 we should hold this as a sign that playing a full season of 162 games might not be a complete waste if you can squeak into the playoffs with an underdog team.  Look out for my Tribe next season as we will be making a push with a new manager and hopefully a few new players.

Houston Moves To American League – One reason it was easy to pass up on MLB 12 was due to the fact that the move of Houston to the American League was announced.  It takes away from a Franchise Mode when you know that after the first season you will not be able to realistically move a team to another league.  This is minor from most perspectives, but it does take away from the immersion if you are in a sports game for the long-term.  Even if it is one of the worst teams in all of professional sports.

Harper, Cespedes and Trout – These three players are bringing me back to baseball.  It has been a long time since baseball has had a face to bring people to the sports page every day.  Bryce Harper is arrogant, sure… but he is one hell of a ball player and his talent is finally more than just some sort of YouTube homerun derby video.  Yoenis Cespedes almost saved my fantasy baseball team this year and let’s face it – he plays on Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s.  I love the opportunity to watch teams like Oakland play moneyball and develop talent however they can.  Mike Trout almost gave me faith that a rookie could win the MVP award and deserve it just because he is a solid player all-around… rather than some sort of brutish homerun king that can’t play defense.  Next year could be the year that Trout really jumps to the fore-front as a true MVP contender.

Spring Time – Face it, baseball starts during the springtime.  It is one of the few signs that the weather is about to get better after a long winter.  I am already dreading the arduous drive to work every day during January and February.  Opening day in baseball is unlike that of any other sport.  When we see MLB 13 on the shelves it should give us hope that the snow is about to melt and we can get back to enjoying the weather outside… not to mention some of America’s past time.

Faith In Sports Gaming Renewed – Every August we are blessed/cursed with EA Football games.  America’s favorite sport is largely football.  However, when it comes to sports games – MLB: The Show and NBA 2K are the best ones out there.  After the NFL season has come to an end we are often left with that pit in our stomach that there is no more football to watch.  However, when we get that first smell of baseball it is hard to let it go.  The smell of the leather with a baseball glove over your face, the sound of a hanging curve getting smashed into the bleachers and the feel of freshly mowed grass under your cleats should be enough to make you forget about football… at least until the draft.

Madden 13 Demo Arrives – NTTV Has You Covered!

Finding the demo can sometimes be the most annoying experience.  This video will walk you through the quick journey to find one of the most impressive sports gaming demos to date.

We are currently uploading the first tutorial for Madden 13 noobs.  It is based around the ‘Demo’ version of the game, but you should be ready to hit the digital gridiron on August 28th!