Why Does The Story Have To Stop? – Madden 13 Draft Classes

Madden 13 has a great system started for Connected Careers Mode.  While there are numerous small glitches to the injury system and other things there is something in CCM that seems to just go for a season at a time – draft class storylines.

There are numerous storylines that go along with every draft class in Madden 13.  This is primarily because they prevented the user from importing draft classes from NCAA 13.  It was done to provide a more centered focus on the Madden 13 stories for each CCM.

Some of the storylines will follow #1 prospects in their amazing journey through the season and a Heisman award.  On the other hand, there are also alternate stories that might have that same player break his leg or violate team rules and lose out on a tremendous season or career.

This is a great idea and system – in theory.  Where is the problem? – Longevity, of course.

The problem Madden faces is that the NFL doesn’t really allow for games to be creative when it comes to stories in the league.  Why can’t a troubled player in the draft class with legal issues or bad decision-making get drafted late and have his story followed throughout his first season or his whole career?  Why can’t there be a player that comes out in the draft class unheralded and blows up to win rookie of the year?

In Madden 13 it seems that the story stops after the draft.  There is a little blurb about the player and a few Tweets on the feed.  However, after it is all said and done, he is just another player on a team that will have strange simulated stats or some sort of depth chart issue.  EA Sports has put out a great game, but after a few months of playing Madden 13 it is easy to see that they have continued their tradition of dropping the ball with quality control and details for career mode longevity.

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College Football’s Negative Impact On EA’s NCAA Football Franchise

Over the past few years I have been a staunch supporter of NCAA Football over Madden NFL.  EA Sports has truly dropped the ball on both games in multiple ways over this entire generation of consoles (PS3 and 360).  Many can blame the glitches and problems on the apparent dependency that developers have on releasing software updates and patches through online interactions.  While these kind of ‘hot fixes’ are vital to software (including games) it seems to have left the door open to sloppy development over the course of a year.  This isn’t even the biggest problem facing EA’s NCAA Football at this point – it is the college football landscape itself.

Bye Bye BCS… Hello new broken game development.

In case you haven’t paid any attention to college sports over the last few years, there have been teams moving from conference to conference more than Bobby Petrino switches teams (and women).  On top of conference changes and re-alignments, the NCAA has recently approved the move to a new playoff system (finally).  This is welcome news to the people that still pay attention to the NFL’s minor league affiliate, but for gaming fans it is a dreaded issue that is too far into the future to allow them any sort of desire to want to invest in more broken games without any sort of tournament or playoff system for college football gaming.  Why waste time and money on a game that changes faces so often?

College football is a joke in many ways but when it comes to the hypocritical billion dollar deals for the services of ‘amateur’ athletes with coaches that make millions of dollars a year over networks like ESPN – why is it that the gaming end of things is so strangely broken as well?  College football is a farce and NCAA Football is a digital farce that continues the NCAA’s views that making money off of college football is paramount.  The broken BCS system is just as broken in the video game as it is in real life but now there are gamers clamoring for something worse than fixing issues that plague a game… they want options.

Gamers want to edit players, names, conferences, polls, ranking calculations, awards, coaches, CPU intelligence and many other facets of their game.  This is all simply because that whenever EA Sports slaps together their annual sports titles they are constantly closing off customization more than opening it to users for a better experience.  Maybe they should take a look at how much games like Counter-Strike can become huge in the PC market – all because of modders and an active user base.

NCAA Football 13 went from $60 to $45 rather quickly this year.  It was as if it was a hyped up movie that hit theaters for a week before going to DVD and your local Big Lots bargain bin.  EA Sports has proven over this generation of consoles that there is no level too low for them to stoop in terms of laziness and development to keep your money coming in with their effort consistently falling.  This isn’t to say that Madden NFL doesn’t have issues mind you (we will hit that later) – but with the NCAA season coming to a close and many college football fans looking to next year we must wonder – what is EA going to do in NCAA 14 that will keep gamers from thinking “I’ll just wait until next year – if at all.”?

Let the 2K College Football rumors begin.

Madden 13 – Top 10 Running Backs

Once again, EA Sports has released their list of the Top 10 ‘skill’ position players – this time it is the Running Backs.

Even with a torn knee ligament – Adrian Peterson is towards the top of Madden’s HB list.

#1 Maurice Jones-Drew – 97 Overall
#2 Adrian Peterson – 97 Overall
#3 Arian Foster – 96 Overall
#4 LeSean McCoy – 95 Overall
#5 Ray Rice – 95 Overall
#6 Matt Forte – 93 Overall
#7 Frank Gore – 92 Overall
#8 Steven Jackson – 92 Overall
#9 Jamaal Charles – 91 Overall
#10 Michael Turner – 91 Overall

When looking at this list, keep in mind a few different facts (as you should for every player and position in Madden) –

  • Ratings are subjective and based upon the opinion of EA’s Donny Moore
  • Ratings are super-subjective as there is now input from the fanbase on Madden’s Facebook page
  • The Overall rating is one of the worst barometers for measuring how ‘good’ a player is in Madden
  • Depending on how you play the game, you will be able to make anyone into a superstar

One of the main issues with the ratings in Madden is the fact that one of the top running backs in the league (Chris Johnson of the Titans) isn’t in the Top 10.  He had a poor year in 2011, sure.  On the other hand, he didn’t suffer any injury that would make him actually lose out on how good he is/could be.  On the other hand, players like Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles both suffered terrible injuries to their knees and are still rated as Top 10 Players.

It can be argued both ways, but Madden’s newest direction for rating players through a community vote for a few specific ratings is one of the more laughable developments in their new marketing direction.  Hopefully they open up player edits for Connected Careers with a title update.  If not, it looks like Madden 13 will be one of those games that makes you tilt your head to the side and wonder what the heck they are thinking with their ratings.

Why We Say “Overall” is the Worst Rating

Outside of the fact that it blows a player up to be the ‘best’ in the game, it is a rating that is comprised of a formula that brings into account the different skills that are necessary for each given position.  There are also ratings that have no effect on gameplay (Awareness) and then there are ratings that should play a greater role that don’t at all – such as Injury and Toughness.  A durable player is one of the more valuable assets in football, no matter which level you are playing.  Yet, in Madden and NCAA these ratings mean nothing when it comes to the Overall value of each player?

A player’s value should also be dictated in career modes by their production.  Notice, we didn’t say their ‘Overall’ rating, rather their ‘Value’ which is also a rating that doesn’t matter or in this case – exist.  A player might not be the most physically talented or even have a dominating presence on the field but if they consistently lead their team to a Super Bowl or maybe even lead the league statistically chances are good that they will either demand or command a big pay raise and more respect as a player.  A prime example of a player like this is Joe Montana.

Joe Montana wouldn’t be in our subjective Top 10 for throwing power or speed, but he would have a high rating for Toughness, Throwing Accuracy for short and medium range passes, etc.  He was a super-skinny player that wasn’t a physical specimen like Cam Newton but he was a winner and arguably the best Quarterback of all time (again, our subjective opinion).

How do you feel about ratings?  Are we blowing this out of proportion or is this getting downright silly to you too?

Limitations On NCAA and Madden 13 Push Both Games to Stand On Their Own

There was a lot of flack after the announcement that Madden and NCAA Football would pretty much have nothing that brought them together.

“Hello Friends!” Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are just part of a new direction for Madden this year.

For five years they both gave you the ability to pretty much continue the careers of players that you had used, faced or competed alongside during your seasons of NCAA Football.  Not to mention the fact that if you downloaded fully-named rosters for NCAA you would also be getting to draft some of your favorite “real” college players in the future!

However, there was a big downfall to that ‘perk’.

When you wouldimport your draft class from NCAA to Madden you would notice that the best players in NCAA that were coming out in the draft would be scattered.  Not to say that this doesn’t happen in real life, but the ratings simply didn’t translate well enough to be imported into Madden without scratching your head in wonderment.

This year it is different and it is a good thing.

After many articles and thoughts on the subject of Madden and NCAA 13 it has finally clicked that these games finally get to be games unto themselves.  NCAA Football has a hardcore audience that either prefer college football to pro football; or they just can’t stand Madden football and choose to roll with NCAA every year.  Regardless of the reasons for one over the other (or even buying both) you are now playing two different games this year and it is a good thing.

NCAA Football has a hardcore audience and the ability to take screen-shots during Instant Replay… This picture was taken and posted on Operation Sports by Gymrat8168

Madden’s Connected Careers is a good direction for at least a little bit of change in the formula for Franchise Mode, etc.  NCAA has Road to Glory and Dynasty still going strong, but the fact is that you won’t be playing one of these games and wondering if it would be better if you had both of them instead.

Playing a game of video game football can take you anywhere from 40 minutes to over and hour (depending on your settings, play-style and bathroom breaks).  It is difficult to play a Dynasty and a Franchise Mode at the same time.  If you consider the fact that just in regular seasons alone there are at least 28 games that need to be played; then take into account all of the off-the-field duties you have to do in order to have any depth to your experience… it is one heck of a task to run careers on two different titles.

Madden finally gets a chance to step up and be the big brother the NCAA hasn’t had on this generation of consoles.  NCAA finally gets a chance to be more than just a place to get draft classes from for Madden’s Franchise mode.

Either way it goes, this year is different for football gaming and both titles are better off for it.

 

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!

College Football Playoffs – The Nail In NCAA Football 13’s Coffin

It is starting to look rather bleak to be a football gaming fan this year.  Between the debacle with Madden’s limitations to the user and the growing distaste for EA’s monopoly on football gaming in-general.

Now that the NCAA has finally approved a playoff for college football to find a true champion it is a curious situation for EA’s yet-to-be released college title this year.  While this year and even next year’s titles will technically be correct in the bowls and the fact that the BCS will still exist… it does leave us to wonder what is the point of playing a game that will soon see it’s career/dynasty mode become pre-obsolete as gamers want nothing more than the ability to create the playoff system they have always wanted.

EA can’t catch a break.

What are your thoughts on NCAA 13 at this point?

E3 Recap – Games To Keep An Eye On and Games To Give The Stink Eye

It was a great week for game fans of all ages last week, but that doesn’t mean that some announcements didn’t disappoint us.

There are some games that have great demos out there right now and there are also some games that shouldn’t have demos (because they are that terrible).

Keep and Eye On:

Spec Ops: The Line (Respawn Entertainment/2K) – This game plays smoothly and feels like a modern military version of Gears of War (executions and all).  In playing the demo there is something left to be desired from gameplay that seems slightly uninspired.  There isn’t a lot of holding your breath in worry that an army of baddies is coming to put you down.  However, the multiplayer gameplay looks like it could prove to be enjoyable, if not at least something different from Call of Duty’s first person syndication every year.

 

 

Madden 13 (EA Sports) – Finally, Madden has come out of the E3 gates with something to talk about other than their yearly subjective roster update.  Real-time physics, connected careers and a new XP system of progressing your players in career modes is a breath of fresh air that every football gaming fan will appreciate.  There are some tuning issues they are still working on for much of connected careers (which is to be expected); but hopefully they can use the next month or so before the game goes ‘gold’ to fix these things.  Don’t expect perfection off the bat, but you should expect some new joy in how Madden actually plays this year.

 

 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Konami) – Finally, something playable was present at E3 and did it ever live up to the hopes and dreams of Metal Gear fans!  Raiden was a character that upset many of the Metal Gear ‘purists’ (elitists…myself included) but when Kojima decided to make Raiden into an awesome Cyborg Ninja from Hell in Metal Gear Solid 4?… I was convinced that Raiden was cool enough to be a desireable character.  At this point, MGSRR is looking more and more like Ninja Gaiden put into the shoes of Metal Gear and it looks amazing.

 

 

Hitman: Absolution (Square Enix) – One of the favorites to make people gush over the wonders of Agent 47’s ability to silently make enemies hunker down in fear.  This is proving to be a game that you should be very excited about.  The gameplay is solid and the story of Agent 47 is usually an intriguing one.  Let’s face it, Hitman is a game that really has its set of fanatics and then the rest of the gamers that want to get their fill of digital violence.  The beauty of Absolution is that it seems to have a better feel and look than Blood Money.  There is a fine line for the Hitman series to walk right now but it is avoiding our list of stink eye games… for now.

Give the Stink Eye To:

NCAA Football 13 (EA Sports) – Talk about giving a game a fresh coat of paint and sending it out for the user to beta test.  NCAA Football 12 was decent, but with major flaws on release day that weren’t patched for over a month and a half (player tendencies after re-naming rosters, etc.).  NCAA Football 13 changed throwing trajectories but didn’t implement real-time physics like Madden 13.  They have the same button schemes this year, but after that similarity NCAA falls to the field with a thud.  The menu interface hasn’t changed and the game doesn’t seem to look different at all.  The demo is out there for you to give it a try – but it could be a 1GB file you regret downloading in the first place.

 

 

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (Treyarch/Activision) – This series has been played out.  The fact that they are going to the year 2025 isn’t as impressive as some people want to make it out to be.  Not to mention the fact that they are ‘bringing back’ zombie mode.  What is going to be different from Black Ops or even Modern Warfare 3?  Nothing really.

You already know what to expect if you are a COD fan and that can be a good thing if you love COD games.  Black Ops 2 is like the third Transformers movie at this point –

All of the explosions, the hot girl that replaces another hot girl (albeit, with an accent) and our typical schlubs ‘heroes’ to save the world from bad foreigners (Insert xenophobia here) and you have yourself a “Brand New” Call of Duty Game.

Halo 4 (343/Microsoft) – Did you know that another Halo game was coming out?  Of course you did.   What better way to milk this cash cow of a franchise than to continue the saga of Master Chief from a ‘whole new perspective’?

Much like Call of Duty and even Gears of War, Halo 4 is a game that has many people excited because they worship the Halo universe and think Master Chief is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Say what you want about the books and everything else… if you love Halo you will buy this game.  After that what is there?  One of the ‘features’ listed for this game on Amazon is telling –

The Master Chief returns to battle an ancient evil bent on vengeance and annihilation. Humanity and the universe will never be the same again.”

If you pay attention to the last sentence of their description, it is one of the most hilarious marketing ploys ever.  Consider what has happened over the course of Halo, Halo 2 and then Halo 3.  Then consider what happened with Halo 3: ODST and then the prequel Halo: Reach.  It is something of a guess, but after 5 games that gave us a great trilogy a prequel and even the perspective of a different soldier (ODST) there isn’t much more to care about is there?

It is always a funny argument to hear when a Halo fanboy and a Call of Duty fanboy come into a game store or game department… or God forbid – forums.  Both sides love to present their game as being superior in some way shape or form.  However, in the end they are both arguing over something that they both share in… being duped into buying the same game every year or two.

Gears of War: Judgement (Epic/Microsoft) – Say what you want about the story of Gears of War, it was original and the voice acting was impressive all the way through.  However, the latest announcement is bringing up the same old argument we just made about Halo and Call of Duty.  The most insulting thing you can do to a gamer is try and squeeze out more money for a prequel.  George Lucas was able to fool some people into thinking the new Star Wars prequel trilogy would be worth the excitement.  However, in the end… people still prefer to go back and watch the movies that are now nearing 40 years in age.

This announcement of a new Gears of War game is exciting for people that enjoy the Gears story and gameplay.  Unfortunately, outside of that group of people there are many other gamers that would prefer to see something original come out and blow our minds.  Maybe this is the last Epic game that will grace the 360 before they move on and develop a new series for the XBox 720.  We can only hope that this game is a final conclusion… or pre-clusion?