Madden 15 Finally Releases Typical Hype Reel

So, EA Tiburon has finally unleashed the marketing train that they hope will catch football gamers by storm.  The best (and worst) part about these trailers is the graphical presentation.  What makes it awesome is rather obvious… go ahead and get the “Ehr Mah Gehrdddd!  He Looks Realzz!” out of your system.  Yes, sure – the faces of players in sports games is cool.  We always dreamed about it back when we were playing 8-bit Tecmo Bowl back in the day and now it is finally here… again.  Perhaps someone should remind you about the Madden 06 trailer that was complete garbage and meant nothing at all from the graphical or gameplay aspects of the actual game..

Now, another thing to consider is that after you watch the cut-scenes that might seem cool the first four times you play Madden during a game – you will most likely start smashing the A/X button repeatedly to play the actual game and skip the repetitious cut-scenes with “Ehr Mah Gehrdddd!  He Looks Realzz!” faces of players.  Then, it is back to seeing the back of the offensive players’ helmets and the front of the defenders from about 60 ft away if you use the default camera angle.  So, it begs the question… Why do we care about digitized faces with sweat, etc?

There are bigger things for EA to worry about and there are bigger things they need to do to convince people to buy their annual roster update.  One of those things is to show the gamers that it is more than simply a roster update (if it is… it probably isn’t).  Will we finally have morale in franchise mode?  Will the challenge system be worth a damn?  Will there maybe be some sort of injury system that makes sense?  Dare I ask if they will put in realistic injuries for once?  Maybe even *gasp* real-time injuries?

Coverage of Madden is about to start going off the deep end shortly and any/all of the new additions will already be in the process of being finalized.  This means that any ‘new’ ideas we might have will have to wait for Madden 16 at the earliest.  Outside of the couple hopes I listed above, I have to say that I have a slight hope for Madden 15 this year.  While I have yet to decide on a next-gen console, I am hoping to find a reason to get one.  Hopefully Madden 15 will actually prove my skeptical nature wrong this year.

But I doubt it.

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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 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!

Madden 25 – The Hype Train Is Leaving The Station

Now that we are getting ready to start football season in the minds of most NFL fans with the coming NFL Draft this Thursday there are a few things we can start sorting out when it comes to what Madden 25 will be pushing from the marketing end of the annual title.

The first thing we can plan on is the inclusion of some sort of ‘interview interface’ when it comes to CCM.  This is primarily due to the fact that NHL 13 is taking up where NBA 2K has been for a couple years now.  The idea of interacting with the media and having a simulation experience

It has been twenty-five years since John Madden demanded a true simulation football game. We are still waiting on EA Sports to provide us with one.

isn’t really new but EA is starting to take more of 2K’s features to heart.  My personal hopes are that Madden’s CCM (which is still going to be in the next iteration) will feature an interaction for people that prefer to be a ‘coach’ rather than a single player.  This will add depth to a mode that was off to a decent start last year.

Better physics and refined tackling are something that people have been clamoring for ever since the 360/PS3 released.  Last year we got the Infinity Engine and got to see some interesting animations play out (a lot of Gumby motions, especially).  Regardless, we can be almost certain that Madden 25 will have more refined player physics and tackling animations assuming they keep working with the same engine.  This leads us into one of the more intensely discussed topics on hardcore Madden forums – OL/DL interaction and blocking in general.

While it is highly unlikely that we will ever see a true end to ‘suction blocking’ it has been mentioned for NCAA 14 that there has been serious work put in towards improving blocking decisions and interactions.  This has been highlighted in discussing the inclusion of a deeper CPU intelligence that focuses on second-level blocking.  What is ‘Second Level Blocking’?  Second level blocking is basically any blocking that occurs after an initial block has been made.  So, if the Right Tackle blocks the defensive end and then starts running up the field – they will actually look for the next opponent to block rather than running blindly past a defender that will be looking to bring down the ball carrier.  Sounds like something that should have been in the game for years, right?  EA Sports isn’t exactly on top of things to pay attention to what seems like fundamentals sometimes.  Hopefully they will make good on the improvements in blocking for Madden 25 as this will be a positive direction for the direction of the gameplay in general.

 

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?