Top Rookies Gamers Will (Ab)Use In Madden 15

While we still have two weeks until the NFL draft and everything about it is uncertain, it is with almost total certainty that a lot of fans are curious if their team will draft certain players and game-changers.  This is quite literal in the case of Madden 15.  So, who are the players that will most likely jump up the depth charts and be instant starters?  Better yet…  Which players are gamers going to trade almost everything to get on their team in Madden 15?
manziel-cutout#1 – Johnny Manziel – Face it, Madden is and always has been about speed and Madden 2004 showed that when it comes to having a speedster at QB your team will almost be unstoppable.  On top of Manziel being a fast QB and simply running around with him, Madden now has the read option and Manziel will be a monster to deal with in that way as well.  The Texas A&M prospect and former Heisman winner will be the most hyped QB since Tebow.  The question is – Will Johnny Football suffer the same fate as Touchdown Tebow?

 

dri-archer-campus-union#2 – Dri Archer – He ran a 4.26 40-yard dash in the NFL combine.  Who cares if he is only 5’8″?  Archer is going to be moved to either starting WR or HB on Madden 15.  All you need to do is hot route him in the slot and watch the amazing Madden arcade gameplay do the rest.

 

NCAA Football: Missouri at South Carolina#3 – Jadeveon Clowney – This guy is going to be moved to LE and beat RTs in Madden almost every single play.  For years Madden has had an issue with terrible blocking and especially on RT/LE interaction.  Clowney has the athleticism to take advantage of Madden’s atrocious gameplay.  Look for him coming off the edge on almost every passing play in Madden 15.

Want Better Football Gaming? Avoid The NFL License

This might be sacrilege for many pro football fans out there.  However, after playing just one game of All Pro Football 2K8 last night I found that the answer to all of my football gaming frustration is based on changing one thing (primarily) – the NFL license.

nfl-no-fun-league

Before a lot of people start coming at my neck for this, let me make one thing clear.  I love using my favorite team (the Browns) and building my team through the draft & guiding them to the playoffs.  However, when my quarterback or wide receiver gets lit up during the game, I want to see them struggle to get up off the field.  I want to see players hobble with a pulled hamstring during a game.  I want to see and feel real football again.   The primary reason we don’t have that with Madden NFL is because the NFL has essentially castrated the game to being a representation of NFL football only in name.

This isn’t to say that EA Tiburon is off the hook when it comes to their pathetic annual roster update with minimal improvements and innovation to the actual game.  Madden has been able to ride the exclusive NFL license all the way to the bank for close to a decade now.  Not to mention the fact that in the process, they have also found it necessary to remove features from year to year and effectively do as little as possible to evolve their product over time.  This isn’t new to gamers that have bought Madden over the last two decades.  We have become almost jaded into expecting and accepting that ‘it is what it is’.

2K Sports hasn’t said anything about a new football title in the last few years.  However, now that we are entering a new generation of consoles with even more possibilities for improvements to graphics and physics in sports gaming; it does beg the question of when we will (if ever) see another 2K Football game.

Would you buy a 2K Football game on next-gen hardware?

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.

Madden 15 – Why Haven’t We Heard Anything?

In what seems to be the non-stop world of NFL media coverage, we have yet to hear so much as a peep from EA Sports when it comes to Madden 15.  With the draft coming in nearly a month and numerous reports of big changes in free agency – there isn’t even a screen shot of the assumed upcoming title from EA Tiburon.

rg3

Does this mean that there is something bigger on the horizon and EA is just playing it ‘close to the chest’?  It doesn’t seem like it could be anything else other than that assumption.  Madden is the cash cow of EA Sports (perhaps behind FIFA) and it is in need of some serious work when it comes to improving the overall experience of the game in general.

What are you hoping to hear from the football gaming front in the coming months?

Here are a few of the things that Madden needs –

Better Team Management from AI – This seems to be a yearly issue with Madden.  Yes, they mostly fixed the ability to steal draft picks from teams (via trades).  However, there seems to be a drastic drop-off when it comes to teams making personnel decisions as the years pass in Franchise Mode.

Better Officiating and Foot Detection- I have a feeling I’m not the only one that has played Madden and seen a receiver clearly catch a ball out of bounds and have it ruled (after review) to be a catch.  The same goes for catches made in the end-zone and inexplicably, the animations or officiating doesn’t allow the catch.  This is an issue that occurs almost every 2-4 games I play.

Better Draft Class Balance – Now that NCAA Football and the importation of draft classes (and the constant problems that presented) is a moot point.  We now have to look at the classes designed and wonder why there are WRs created that are 5’8″ with 77 SPD and 67 CTH ratings.  For the love of all things unholy – just make the player somewhat less crappy.

Custom Draft Class Creation – As stated above, the current state of draft classes is terrible.  The sports gaming community has shown in games like NBA 2K that there are people out there that can put out some amazing effort in this regard and openly share their creations with the community.  This would be a huge success if EA simply allowed it.

Smarter Playcalling and Decision Making – This goes without needing explanation for the most part.  However, Madden seems to be designed for the casual fans to pick up the game and throw the ball around.  It would be nice to finally see the game become challenging in a way that made the gamer (and the AI) to consider all of the match-ups and the game situation before choosing plays or who to focus on for a given moment in a big situation.

Madden 15 Super Bowl Info – What Should We Expect?

During the time between Madden 09 and Madden 10 there was a large upheaval in the Madden development team.  Ian Cummings had stepped in as the Creative Director and was really taking a leap to get into the world of the gamers.  This meant that he was very active in community forums and took a lot of feedback from the ‘sim’ gaming community.  Madden 10’s first glimpse came from a photo released during the Super Bowl XLIII.  It was something that really caught the Madden community by surprise.  To think that the developer was going to start the ‘hype machine’ wasn’t a shocker… but to see that they had obviously taken the feedback of the community seriously was something new.

The preview pic released during Super Bowl XLIII
The preview pic released during Super Bowl XLIII

Times have since changed.  Ian Cummings is no longer at EA and Josh Looman is largely the go-to guy for all things Madden these days.  Looman had been the guy most of the Franchise Mode fans wanted to talk to about the details within that portion of the game.  Things really seem to have changed in recent years outside of that. The community isn’t anywhere near as active as it was when Cummings was at EA.  Sure, there are still a lot of people that patrol the forums at numerous sites.  Some of those sites tend to take a rather ‘Gestapo’ approach to people that are outraged by Madden and EA in general.  It is apparently bad for business to let people vent their frustrations openly when the developers are so sensitive to the negative feedback.  Yes, it isn’t necessary to have twenty threads of ‘EA Sucks’ and ‘I Hate Madden’ – but it needs to be said that Madden has really taken a few steps back since that time.  So, that leaves a question for this weekend – What Should We Expect To Hear About Madden 15? One of the first things we will likely see is a larger focus on Next-Gen version of the game instead of that for XBox 360 and PS3.  That said, we should probably expect a picture or video of more close-up ‘eye candy’ like player faces (ala – Donovan McNabb in Madden 11).

mcnabb madden 11

The downside of graphics being plastered everywhere is that it means nothing for actual gameplay.  Graphics are much like candy wrappers in that sense.  They catch the eye – but in the end it is all about the contents of what you are consuming.  In this case, Madden is often like black licorice inside a Snickers wrapper (to me anyway).

I expect to hear something about smoother physics from the ‘Ignite’ engine.  More focus probably being put into foot-planting, and some sort of improvement to tackle animations.  Largely, the expectations for the Super Bowl Madden information should be muted simply because they are meant to be more of a hype machine than anything.  I don’t remember the last time I played a sports title… or any game and looked at the player’s face or the towel hanging from his pants.  Some people live for those details – but in all honesty – most gamers just want it to play like football rather than to look like football.

Look for eye-candy from Madden over the next few weeks and months.  Hopefully there will be improvements made for current-gen titles.  Such as better rulings for catches on the sidelines, smarter CPU playcalling, better draft, trade and free agency logic.  Let’s not forget the strange ability for old players to come back and play without having aged a day.  Ray Lewis, Kurt Warner and a few others are examples of this game going further into ‘arcade’ mode.

Then again – that is probably why sales for Madden continue to decline.

Enjoy the Super Bowl!

Richard Sherman and Why Madden Needs Emotion

Until something changes with the exclusive NFL License, we will have to assume that Madden is the only option for gamers that want and NFL game.  That said, the crazy post-game interview of Richard Sherman begs the question that is on the minds of many sports gamers.

Sherman

Where is the emotion?

When players in Madden throw big touchdowns there is typically the same canned response and/or animation.  There are some of the typical ‘player specific’ celebrations as well (Dez Bryant, Aaron Rodgers, etc.)

While the NFL is taking out many of the ‘big hits’ and other parts of football that people and players expect – why do we not see more emotion from players on the field?  That goes for frustration as much as anything else.  The quarterback that has thrown four or five interceptions should be noticeably upset.  That goes for receivers dropping balls and running-backs losing fumbles.

While I’m not suggesting that the post-game interviews be presented in some sort of WWE fashion – I am suggesting that Madden adds some depth to their game in this regard.  Players often perform based on the emotion of the moment and that is something that the graphically dead faces of Madden players certainly don’t show.  For that matter – the players typically perform based strictly on ratings so much to a point that the game feels pre-determined.

As we prepare to enter the doldrums of gaming in the first quarter of 2014, we should start looking to the future of gaming (especially sports gaming) and wonder when we will start to see more emotion.

Remember this video?
Remember this video?

Our Next Generation Console Demands – Part 1

Hoping for advances in technology is like hoping that tomorrow will come.  While it is a 99% certainty that it will happen, we really don’t know how it will turn out.  We usually hope for tomorrow to be amazing.  It is human nature to desire more and better for the future.  As we get closer to the next generation of gaming, we will be talking about some of our favorite parts of this generation’s games and what we hope to see in the future.

In Game Graphics Vs. Screenshot Graphics

If you have read any of our coverage of Madden 13 and real time physics you will see that it is one of the more important parts of gaming at this point. Players and characters have ‘looked like’ their real-life counterparts for a couple years now. While EA Sports has taken awhile to get more face scans, it is something that will indeed improve for the next generation. However, physics and processing power are going to be more important than something just looking pretty.

Take Battlefield 3 for instance – not only do you see guns and enemies, but you see buildings and vehicles that can easily explode and remind you that some things look cool but they just aren’t ‘super real’ just yet. That is where the physics and actual graphical ‘processing’ are going to be more important than some sort of glorified screenshot that we see even this generation.

PC games aren’t necessarily held back like console games in this way. Well, they aren’t held back ‘as much’… and it is something that PC gamers are always happy to point out to console gamers. Console gamers shouldn’t expect ‘real life’ realism yet. If you take a look at the game from id Games that made everyone see just a glimpse of the graphical future of games – Rage certainly amazed gamers on PC and consoles alike. Even with a bunch of driver problems on PC it is still a great benchmark graphically. The issue XBox 360 users got to see as they opened the game for the first time was the fact that it came on 3 discs. While PS3 owners got to snicker and laugh because they have Blu Ray playback, XBox 360 gamers simply had to enjoy Rage with a couple swaps of the disc.

Other gamers might even recall having to switch discs on their 360 while playing Rockstar’s L.A. Noire. This game, while running on the same engine as Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption pushed a new era of facial structure and movement in games. Never before have you had to interpret whether someone was lying to you based on their facial expressions, but in this case it made the game incredibly innovative even if it was quickly disregarded as a must have title. L.A. Noire still ranks as one of my favorite titles that came out during this generation of consoles because while it was in development for what seems like forever (nearly 7 years) it was still incredibly innovative and risk taking from a graphical and gameplay perspective when it game to interrogating suspects. There is still something to be said for games that take a chance to amaze you and that will never go away.

Even with these amazing achievements in graphics, there is still something to be desired. The PS3 was marketed almost solely on ‘The Cell Processor’ and its amazing 7-Cores. Yes, it was and is an amazing processor, but the funny part of this really goes back to the fact that many developers actually stated that games were easier to develop for the XBox 360 (which had issues with their own processor – RROD). Metal Gear Solid 4 was delayed on numerous occasions and if you pay close attention to Solid Snake during a cinematic scene you will notice that his hair still moves around in little chunks. While details like a character’s hair are something that some people might scoff at, take a look at some of the things people are getting caught up about with Madden Football. (wrong facemasks, helmets and shoestrings, etc.)

Real Time Physics (aka – The Sports Gamer’s Pipe Dream)

Perhaps one of the most famous hits in NFL history is the one that Lawerence Taylor put on Joe Theismann. While this is an extremely gruesome hit (please don’t watch this video if you get queesy) – it is a fine example of something that isn’t in Madden NFL football – real time physics with real time injuries.

Perhaps one of the most desired and denied wishes of gamers is realistic ‘real-time’ physics. This basically means that if a character is moving at a high rate of speed and tackles someone going a different direction you should see a collision that makes you go “oooohhh!”. What we have been seeing instead are animations that are ‘canned’ and play out in an expected fashion almost every time.

Even if you don’t play sports games it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a fighting game or an action game that had better real-time physics. Games like Assassins Creed or Mortal Kombat could become some of the most amazingly technologically advanced console games ever made (from the standpoint of physics). However, where many people want to see this drive improvement is in sports games.

The current generation of consoles has been pushed to the limit with physics processing. Many games look good in this fashion (All Pro Football 2K8) and others look simply ‘overblown’ (Backbreaker). What we are really hoping for is something in-between that will give us true physics in regards to player size, speed and strength (with other such variables). It is our hope that someday we will be able to play a game of Madden, MLB, NHL or NBA 2K and see hits, throws, catches, shots, passes, interactions and injuries that genuinely make us feel like we are watching/playing a real game of football.