As we get closer to the release of Madden 15 it is becoming evident that the PS4/XBone version of the title might be the best evidence of what to expect in the coming console generation as far as Madden games are concerned.
With the 360/PS3 versions of Madden 06 through 09 basically being a throw-away after EA obtained the exclusive license to produce and distribute NFL games it seemed like we’d see real changes once Madden 10 arrived. Thankfully, we did see some pretty nice changes through the effort of Ian Cummings and company. A couple years later, Cummings was gone and Madden fell back into the rut of limited progress.
Madden 25 was a solid title that still suffered from the played out animations and terrible AI in many areas of the game. It became evident that some sort of real change was necessary. The last time Madden saw any sort of direction to make it a truly ground-breaking experience was in Madden 2005 with the hit stick and a focus on defense. It helped to limit what Madden had started to become with the advent of tournament style play that nearly gutted the simulation style that Madden NFL was always supposed to be.
Madden 15 is finally bringing back what has been missing for almost ten years. The focus on defense (even with the obnoxious Dick Sherman on the cover) is something that is more welcome than most simulation football fans can say. Couple that with the news that wind in the game has been fixed and will even move the aiming direction during field goals, new catch animations, better variety in QB throwing, etc. You actually might see a game worth getting excited about.
Why is Madden 15 the most pivotal version of Madden to date?
Because with the new additions and polish put on the PS4/XBone it seems like the Madden developers are finally trying to make it into a real simulation of NFL Football.
As for how realistic the Connected Franchise Mode might be? We will have to wait and see. Keep checking back on NoobTubeTV.com as there will be further updates and reactions to a very busy August-December in gaming.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.