Is Madden NFL Still Relevant?

maddensuckage

This is one of the more risky topics I have covered for the sake of this site and the popularity of all of my Madden NFL coverage in recent years.  That being said – I am having a difficult time these days wanting to write or cover any sort of news from the Madden NFL front, let alone anything positive about the series.  It has been a journey of ups and downs covering EA’s football games and it has finally come to a point where I am questioning whether this title is worth anything more than obligatory coverage for the sake of web traffic.

It Is The Same Game – Every. Single. Year.

Madden doesn’t change.  There are roster updates and a few tweaks to gameplay, sure.  I don’t expect Madden to become a baseball game or something either.  While continuity and general similarities should be expected in a sports title I can’t help but wonder where the innovation has been over the last decade.  The last Madden game that really changed anything was Madden 2005 and that was the hit-stick that does nothing but aesthetic value for hits that cause no real injuries to occur (most likely because the NFL demands that such ‘violence’ not be realistically put into the game).

People Still Talk About NFL 2K5

Nothing should make a developer more upset than people still preferring another title that hasn’t existed for ten years over their current game.  While NFL 2K has a cult following among a relatively small group of sports gamers, it is still worth pointing out that not only do they exist, but they are quite devoted to never buying a Madden game.  Even if we were to look at All Pro Football 2K8 from this perspective.  It still holds up to the improved graphics and physics of Madden because it plays like a real football game.

EA Sports and the NFL Hold Madden Back

This might be the biggest issue that causes Madden to be such a dull experience.  EA Sports has exclusive rights to create the NFL in video game format for consoles.  This means that their goal has nothing to do with the game being innovative or realistic.  It has everything to do with the bottom line and whether or not profit is being obtained annually.  While this is clearly the goal of any ‘successful’ business, it remains to be seen where this will ever lead to any real innovation in the future.

The NFL has come under fire in recent years for concussions and injuries from the danger of playing football.  Rather than coming out and saying that the game has risks and standing firm on the grounds of the game, they have bowed under the pressure of lawsuits that have started to slowly ruin the game.  We have gotten to a point where in Madden, they can’t allow realistic injuries to occur because the NFL doesn’t want to market that aspect of the game for fear of being sued some more.  It is a farce and the political correctness is hurting the game on consoles and on the field.

The Community Is Dying A Slow Death

Madden 10 was the last time I was truly excited about a Madden title; and it was also the last time I pre-ordered the game.  The interaction with Ian Cummings and Co. made me feel like I actually had a stake in the game before it was released.  They took the opinions of sim sports gamers seriously and really tried to make the game realistic.  To their credit, they did make a damn good game that year.  There were a lot of signs that started to point in the direction of Madden becoming truly innovative and a game for ‘real football fans’.  That died in Madden 11 and 12 as EA tried to once again dumb down the game for ‘casual gamers’.  Again, it was and will always be about the bottom line rather than innovation.

The aspect that EA seems to have forgotten is that the sports gaming community is their primary ‘Day One’ sales target.  In this regard, they have been losing more and more customers over the last four years because they have taken away those interactions and decided to make the same game every year.  Madden 13 and Madden 25 are virtually the same game.  The commentary is the same garbage and the terrible gameplay and AI is still there.  The CPU still calls a timeout when they have the ball at the 1:01 mark and they still call the same pathetic plays at the end of close games.

Do you really think that this would be the case if there were some sort of competition?  Better yet, do you think these issues would still be around if EA still took an active approach to seeking the input of the consumer?

Where do you stand?  Are you sick of Madden yet?  Are you still playing and older version or a 2K title?

Comment below.

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Madden 25 – It Is Time To Move On

Sanders Madden 25

The demo is now available for Madden fans to download and play to their heart’s content.  At 2GB in size it is a nice size for a demo with 5 minute quarters and the ability to change the difficulty level (as well as change the accelerated clock back to normal speed so you can enjoy the demo for a bit longer each time you play.

You will have the choice between using the Ravens or the 49ers in a Super Bowl rematch in Baltimore.  The other match-up has the Packers and Seahawks playing on the not-so-frozen Tundra of Green Bay.

The demo is solid and plays like you expect Madden to play.  There have been some obvious tweaks and changes to the momentum of players as they don’t go into sprinting as fast as they once did in past iterations.  Also noticeable is the fact that player collisions seem refined this year.  If you are using a bruising runningback like Frank Gore and you flick the R-Stick forward at the right moment you can expect to blow up smaller players on defense.

On the other hand, if you are on defense and want to lay out an opposing player with the ball and you have someone like Patrick Willis – it will be a fun “oooooh!” moment as the heavy hitting defender knocks the snot out of the ball carrier.  While this seems like something to cast away as ‘something that should have already been in the game’ it is a nice addition none the less.

Shouldn’t This Stuff Already Be In The Game?

Yes, you are right.  We have been waiting for basically this entire generation of consoles to have a Madden title that plays and feels like this.  It still feels like a crisp handling Madden game where the players move at the slightest command of the analog sticks. While many Madden fans tend to worship the control scheme and feel of this game it is still a bit arcade-like and feels at times like it is still focused on being an offensive shoot-out rather than a good football game.  Granted – this is what the NFL wants in their new approach to the game (flag football much?).

This also brings to light the new ‘run free’ feature that gives players a more dynamic running ability based on their style and ratings.  As mentioned above, players like Gore will run people over and then there will be players like LaMichael James that can juke others out of their jocks.  It is a nice addition but it isn’t really something ‘new’ as much as something that is just being featured in this title.

Dear Phil Simms – STFU

I can’t stand this guy during his broadcasts in real-life and in Madden he is ten times worse.  If you got sick of hearing him bad mouth the wrong player or make some sort of lame comment about WRs not being able to be touched – it gets old by the second quarter.  Turn off the commentary and turn up the crowd noise… although even that isn’t as good as it should be.  The sound quality is garbage and I’d recommend getting some decent music to play in the background rather than hear anymore of what we have been getting for the last 25 years.

Connected Franchise Mode

This is once again something that EA is trying to push as something new that was really removed before coming into this generation of consoles.  Owner Mode (what it really is) was in Madden 2005 and is finally back almost ten years later.  The only thing with this is that I am left wondering what in the hell I care about my team making more money for if there is a salary cap.  In a baseball game this is vital as your team needs more money for better players.  In this game you will most likely be able to spend your money on something you will never see in-game like cup holders at every seat or heated toilet seats.

The new feature seems to be directed on towards bringing more fans to your games depending on the prices you set for things in the concession stand along with ticket prices, etc.  News to EA… NFL games are expensive forms of entertainment.  You have to be crazy not to expect a cup of crappy beer to cost $8-9 per cup (no joke).  So, before you get all excited about some ‘new feature’ like this it would be wise to look at it with a critical eye and ask – “What does this mode/feature really add to the game?”

As we get closer to the release of Madden 25 there will be a lot more hype built up on the internet focusing on how amazing this game looks and how many new features there are in place.  Don’t fall in the trap… read up on Madden 25, play the demo and above all else don’t buy this game new without knowing the details first.  We will keep you posted.

 

Will New Rules In NFL Change Madden?

In case you haven’t been paying attention.  The internet almost blew up yesterday when the NFL announced that they were implementing a new rule against players lowering their heads in the open field to either run over a defender or tackle an opposing player.  It was then that I started to wonder how this would effect Madden NFL games, in this case primarily the ‘Truck Stick’.

The Truck Stick was added into Madden 06 after the Hit Stick was put into Madden 05 (back when EA still cared about defense in their games).  The Truck Stick is essentially pressing the Right Analog stick forward while running the ball with a power back in order to run over an approaching defender.  If you consider the fact that this animation has been in Madden for around eight years it is going to be interesting to see if they get rid of the truck stick in Madden 25 (aka – Madden 14).  If they don’t get rid of the animation they will have to implement some sort of

penalty detection in the game to keep the NFL happy.  Chances are good that they will simply remove the ability altogether in order to 1) Avoid more work in an already broken penalty system and 2) Make their exclusive license partners happy.

Now that the tuck rule is being taken away, should we see more actual fumbles in Madden?  Chances are good that you will still see your defenders get hurt while sacking the QB but to think that you will be able to get a fumble call on a big hit ‘while throwing’ might just be a pipe dream.

You might say that I am jaded and totally biased against EA Sports and Madden.  In some cases I would say you are 100% correct… but in reality, I have bought the game every year on release day since Madden 08.  In some cases I have actually enjoyed some aspects of the game.  Madden 13 kept me happy for the most part, but it was the little things that turned me off.  Little things include bad animations, poor blocking, non-existent real injuries, bad playcalling, etc.  I am like many football fans out there that are considered to be 2K fanboys or Madden haters – we just want good and more importantly real football.

As the NFL works harder to make football into some sort of human bumper car game I am hoping that at some point we will get real football video games again.  2K – where are you?

Trying To Bring Life Back Into Madden 13 – Updating Rosters

Now that off-season free agency has started and many of the stars have realigned throughout the NFL (with plenty of time left for more movement) there are many Madden fans left wondering why they should bother playing the game now that EA’s roster updates have been over for a month.

Your Madden 13 isn't quite dead yet.
Your Madden 13 isn’t quite dead yet.

I am happy to announce that there is a simple home remedy that I will be undertaking as we get closer to the draft – updating rosters manually.  This is a substantial undertaking as Madden isn’t always the most end-user friendly game for roster editing.  I did a similar service for Madden 12.  While the XBox 360 is horrible for simple save transfers, here is a link to the NTTV post back in August that should help you out.

The rosters will be updated to the best of my ability to follow along with the busy free agent season.  There will need to be some testing for how these might work in CCM.  If you would like to assist with any roster moves please leave comments or like us on Facebook and post your suggestions!

If anyone would like these updates to be done for Madden 13 on PS3 you might have to donate a game to the cause as I have a PS3 but do not have Madden 13 for the console.

Madden 25 – Six Months Out

Now that the NFL Combine has started there will be a few weeks of excitement before the actual NFL Draft and the announcement of who will be on the cover of Madden 25.  Until that time comes, we are going to take a look at what this game looks like from the standpoint of ‘what is already known’.

Simms

The first aspect of Madden that most fans are interested in is whether Connected Careers Mode will be updated and fixed.  CCM was a step in a somewhat new direction for Madden and while it provided many gamers with a new wave of interest in playing multiple seasons it also presented new problems and brought into focus (yet, again) some of the biggest short-comings of Madden.

  • Trades Are Still Broken – In case you haven’t noticed, you can trade away your draft picks and easily get between seven and ten future first round draft picks.  Player for player trades are a bit more difficult to pull off but that isn’t enough to save the atrocious draft pick trade logic that still plagues this game.
  • O-Line/D-Line Interaction – Every time I play Madden it feels more like I am playing Tecmo Super Bowl and the linemen are going through the suction motions.  This is certainly one aspect of gameplay that 2K mastered back in NFL2K5 and All Pro Football 2K8.
  • Commentary – Phil Simms is a jack-ass.  Okay, this isn’t something limited to Madden (as he exhibits this in every broadcast in ‘real life’) but his commentary is often out of place and even hypocritical.  When a Quarterback gets sacked from the blind side (Enter your Sandra Bullock joke here) he will say one of two phrases “Boy do they hurt” and then he will say a few plays later “They don’t hurt at all”.  Which is it Phil?…  or rather – Madden Devs?
  • Injuries – One of the most annoying aspects of Madden is that it doesn’t have realistic injuries.  While the NFL is trying to make it seem like football is safe, we know otherwise.  EA needs to make a decision as to whether they are going to make a representation of real football or some sort of football farce.

Keep your eyes and ears open as Madden 25 starts the annual hype machine.  You are destined to get excited and eventually let down by the beginning of September.  If you want a sports game that will make you feel like Madden is lacking – go get MLB 13 the show next week.

What Does The Madden Name Change Mean?

What’s in a name?  Apparently EA Sports thinks the 25th anniversary of Madden is deserving of a trip to the social security office for a tweak in the name.

Madden 14 Pic

Madden 25 was just announced to be the official name of the only NFL game coming out this year (just like it has been since Madden 06).  The only thing that might have made people happy was hearing that the developer was working on Madden 2K14.  Keep dreaming.

Chances are good that Madden 25 will also signify a change-over in consoles just like the switch from Madden 2005 to Madden 06 also greeted the next hardware generation.  The idea of a new console is always exciting because of the possibilities in graphics and physics; but if one thing is certain we can expect one thing to dull our expectations for new software – bare bones games.

Madden 25 for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 will most likely prove to be another slight tweak or change from Madden 13.  Maybe there will be a few new animations or the ball will be a shade darker or smaller.  Otherwise, you shouldn’t expect much to change.  The new consoles that are rumored to be coming out this Christmas will most likely be priced between $400 and $500 with a pipe-dream hope of $300.  The unfortunate truth is that most of the games that will be released with the consoles will be bare bones in their offerings.  If you played Madden 06 or any of the other games that came out with the current generation you will notice how lacking they are in features.  Also, many of them don’t take advantage of the graphical capabilities of the console.

This isn’t a complaint at all.  It is merely a point to be raised in order to lower expectations for the next generation.  Not to mention the cynical view that Madden hasn’t changed many things in the 25 years it has existed.

Would love to hear from the fan boys out there.  2K and Madden alike.

Keep it civil.

Madden 25 (aka Madden 14) Gets A Release Date

Madden 14 Pic

Well, it is ‘Facebook Official’.  Madden 14 is coming out on August 27, 2013.

Also, it is actually being called ‘Madden 25’ according to many media releases.  What’s in a name?  Hopefully some substantial improvements.

EA Sports has released a banner promoting their next iteration of Madden.

What are your thoughts?  Going to jump in and get it on release day or will you be skipping out on what seems like the same game every year?