Madden 20 – Review and Sliders

The Browns are going to be awesome – DEAL WITH IT!

I pulled the trigger and got one month of EA Access for PS4 the other day. It was a nice way to rent Madden 20 and get a feel for what changed in Franchise Mode this year. The verdict is rather mixed. I was pleasantly surprised by the feel of the gameplay as a whole. There were some obnoxious animations that did happen in my first game or two that made me roll my eyes and even got a bit of a laugh as well. The real eye roll happened after I got a message from Jarvis Landry following a big win (more on that to follow). The worst part I experienced was seeing that the Pro Bowl game existed as a playable feature. Seriously – NOBODY CARES!!!! Why is it that we have more concern about the Pro Bowl than we do about players being named All Pro? If you look into the actual accolades that truly matter in the NFL it is whether someone is considered to be the top performer at their position – not if they are voted onto an all star team that no one cares about.

Starting the season with my beloved Browns was a great feeling. Finally, if I take my team to the Super Bowl in the first season of Franchise Mode, I won’t have the ‘realism nazis’ telling me I need to adjust sliders or play the game with my toes. The change to overall ratings was one of the first aspects I noticed. The available free agents don’t make you drop half of your roster to pick up new guys like in past iterations of Madden where you might find a few guys in the upper 70s or low 80s that you can build into monsters. This year, it really is a matter of picking through a garbage heap if you need to find a replacement – Quarterback is the most noticeable in this endeavor. Having a great backup QB is going to be a nice commodity if you find a gem in the draft. However, you should fully expect to lose a future star if you aren’t willing to pay him.

One thing that hasn’t changed in Madden is the terrible trade logic. I was able to move Duke Johnson to the Eagles for a 1st Round Pick. I was also able to move on from other players and acquire mid to late round picks with ease. This is definitely another year where we will have to implement house rules just to keep ourselves honest.

One addition that is supposedly going to be updated regularly in Franchise Mode (most likely in Cloud Based Franchises if I had to bet on it) is the dialogue options from your players that make demands like more targets or more attention as a whole in an upcoming game. One instance had Jarvis Landry ask me to target him in our game against Baltimore. We beat the Ravens by 20+ points and I targeted him on over 10 passing attempts. He caught four and went for 84 yards – he dropped two on crossing routes and missed an endzone grab in the corner. The others were batted down or overthrown. Here is a rundown of how that went after the game was over.

Not bad, Jarvis
Nevermind, GTFO.

So it goes, Franchise has added some cool ideas. I hope they get fixed and polished up a bit, but in the long run, I think there are good things ahead.

Moving on to gameplay – here are the initial settings I will be using after play-testing sliders and penalties as well as stat checking some stupidly high scoring games.

The biggest changes from years past is going to most likely be the move of Facemask penalties, I saw over six in more than 3 games. It was happening way too much. Also, Robo QB is back and worse than ever in some ways. I recommend moving the slider down until you get the proper feel for the CPU completion % – currently, I have the slider at 39, but it might have to go to 35.

All of the sliders and settings are set to All Pro for now simply because All Madden still seems to cheat the user rather than provide a real challenge – a big difference, in my opinion.

Originally, I had planned on not buying Madden until I could get it on sale, but in the world of supply and demand – you all demand the Madden coverage, and I am happy to supply it to the best of my ability.

Also, I do not plan on playing MUT for any serious amount of time other than to get easy trophies out of it or to play solo grinds when I want a change from Franchise Mode. It is a pay to win game mode and I choose not to pay. Good luck to those of you that choose to continue with the dark side.

GO BROWNS!

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‘Simulation’ – The Ultimate Level to Measure Subjectivity In Sports Games

Press ‘A’ to hike the ball.

As soon as you start playing a sports game – whether it is the tip-off, first pitch, face-off or even kick-off… it is never a true simulation and it will never be.

With the release of Madden 13 in only one week there are a lot of people huffing and puffing around the sports gaming forums about whether or not Madden 13 is a true simulation or (in many other cases) pouting in digital print that it doesn’t represent the game as they would like to see it on a video game.

I am not here to take sides.  If this were a war I would be the guy in Switzerland that is right on the border watching the idiotic fighting and on occasion maybe taking a few shots at either side if I get bored.  So, before you come clamoring at my comments section saying something like the visitor we had in early July.  Basically we are in a situation where there is no right answer to this multi-faceted question(?) or demand(?) – How can a company create a perfect simulation sports game?

To answer in short… they can’t.  At least in this regard they can’t create a game that is perfect in the eyes of everyone (or anyone).  As soon as you join a sports gaming forum or community you will see quite a few fanboys for certain games and then you will see the end of the spectrum that devote their sports gaming life to lobbying for certain features, animations, uniform colors, equipment and every other tiny detail to be the way they want it to be.  It isn’t a question of if they are right or wrong; it is a notion of their opinions holding any water at all.

Undoubtedly, you will eventually also start telling people in the community about a great game you played with the Cavs and you beat the Miami Heat; or how you want the Super Bowl with the Browns or the National Championship with Western Michigan and how you had a fantastic experience.   The response you will get almost every single time…

“Sounds like you need to up the difficulty or change your sliders!  No way in hell the Browns will win the Super Bowl!”

On occasion, I have even been guilty of making such comments or posting such news about my own career mode.  Either way it goes, the bottom line is that one man’s great time in gaming is another man’s slap in the face to all things ‘simulation’ or “SIM” as the community likes to call it.

What Is ‘Sim’?

There are multiple levels in which you can subjectively build your own criteria for what makes your experience feel like a ‘true simulation’ (for some reason I am picturing myself as the pretentious Dr. Frasier Crane when I say that).

We will start with some basics for football (American Football)

– Kick or punt on 4th down when out of field goal range

– Don’t run the same play more than (insert quantity here) times

– Don’t sub players out of position for speed purposes

– Don’t make trades that ‘wound never happen’ (we will cover this later in more detail)

– Don’t nano blitz

Now that we have our brief list of guidelines for how to play the game in a more simulated fashion we should be ok, right?

Wrong!  Because if you don’t have your sliders set up ‘right’ you won’t have the optimum experience with challenging opponents in the CPU.  We won’t go into the sliders – just know that there are groups of gaming intellectuals out there that smell and caress them like a fine wine that must be nurtured and built into perfection.  The moral of this brief trip into the social world of sports gaming is that it is full of opinion, conjecture and a bunch of gym class heroes that might have played division 3 college football with Uncle Rico… and they want you to love and respect their opinions.

Don’t Sign That Free Agent – It Isn’t ‘Sim’

As soon as you start a career in Madden 13 as a coach you will probably want to look at the Free Agents available.  However, you should probably keep in mind that if you are a Browns fan like me and you want to target someone like Shaun Merriman or Plaxico Burress you shouldn’t tell your fellow ‘sim’ nazis on the forums.

“They would never sign with your team in real life!” is usually the response you will get.

Welcome to the Sim Gaming Club – where we try to feel like we are important and know more about sports than anyone else.

The rebuttal should be (but not on the forums – that is how you get banned from their Empire Club) –

“No… really?  Who knew that the Browns would also hire ME to COACH THEIR TEAM and then make trades, sign players and even draft new players next season – STFU!?”

The point is that once you take control of anything in the game, whether it is as a coach or a player on the field and you are making decisions that influence the game it is officially a form of entertainment.  Don’t let someone else ruin your entertainment on forums.  You wouldn’t go to a movie and put up with some know-it-all behind you pointing out how Jason Bourne’s form of martial arts isn’t true ju jitsu.  You would either ignore him or tell him to shut his mouth.  This approach should be taken with ‘sim’ nazis as well.  Although, I highly suggest that you either ignore them or be polite if you want to stay in the community.

The Bottom Line

I am here to tell you to have a good time and play the game however the hell you want to.  If you want some help or guidance on either the finer points of the game or maybe you even want to know what my settings or opinion is on settings, let me know through our comments section, send us an email at officialnoobtubetv@gmail.com or send us a message on our Facebook Page.

Madden 13 Must Improve Draft Presentation and Franchise Mode

Ask any NFL fan about their favorite team’s draft and you will get some sort of response.

As a Browns fan I will give you all you need to hear and more. First, we needed to fix our offense with better receivers and someone to take over after Hillis’ departure.

The Trent Richardson pick was a good one at the time and still is; however, to give up the picks we did in order to get him I would have thought that we would be super smart about the ones we had left.

Then we took a 28 year old QB, Brandon Weeden at #22.  In a league where you are looked at as old when you are 30 it is strange to see that as a pick with any sort of gainful longevity.  Yet, even that pick wasn’t too terrible in the scheme of things.  It was followed up with Mitchell Schwartz from Cal, a big and mean O-Lineman.

Then we took John Hughes!  Yeah, you read right… 16 Candles, Pretty In Pink and St. Elmo’s  Fire on the Cuyahoga JOHN HUGHES!… Actually, it is some sort of D-Lineman that is going to be a back-up for our talented middle D-Lineman Rubin and Taylor.  I was confused by this pick to say the least… then my confusion turned to anger when I saw the other players taken after we traded down and move around in the draft to get a guy that wasn’t even projected to get picked in the draft on many experts’ boards.

That said…

Ever since Madden came out on the 360/PS3 generation of consoles it has had growing pains that have led many football gamers to get banned from forums for venting their anger (which will never happen on our boards, assuming you support your opinion without major profanity— which with Madden can be hard at times).  The worst part about Madden for years had been Franchise Mode and bugs in Franchise Mode.  That said, there are three major events for NFL fans:

  1. The NFL Draft
  2. Kickoff Week
  3. The Super Bowl

Improving The Draft (What’s Missing?)

There is a reason why the NFL Draft is #1 on that list.  It gives people faith that for a moment, their team is going to get better.  They might find their ‘Tom Brady’ or ‘Peyton Manning’.  There are some players that coming out of college are looked at as ‘sure things’ like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III and then you have big risks on guys like Vontaze Burfict (went to the halfway-house, AKA the Cincinnati Bengals after going undrafted) who have major character issues.

People go nuts for the draft and it is something that is often talked about more than the Super Bowl.  Simply because it is something that every team has a chance to do and do well.

Madden has no personality or atmosphere for the Draft.  It is difficult to see what other teams are doing in your Franchise Mode.  One example is when a team trades up or down in the draft there is usually some sort of reaction by commentators (which also don’t exist in Madden’s Franchise Mode for the Draft) – in Madden you are greeted with a notice that a trade took place and which picks were involved… and then nothing… No highlight of who was so important that the team moved up to get them.  You are also not going to see which players teams select during the draft because the Drafted Player Ticker resets after every pick, rendering it impossible to see how the draft is going or who is coming off the board in any sort of fluid manner.

If the Cowboys were to take a punter with the first pick in the draft you would probably see riots and hear commentators berate the management (Jerry Jones) of the Cowboys…. Not in Madden, take whoever you want because no one cares.  Perhaps that is the real personality of Madden’s Franchise Mode – No one cares… and frankly, why should they?

Not to mention it is hard to really have any sense of immersion in a league that seems to exist without any sort of news feed that is easily accessible to let you know that certain players are under-performing.  Then again, that is the hideous beauty of Madden’s Franchise Mode.

Minus the lacking atmosphere, here is a list of just some of the things that are missing from creating a true Franchise Mode experience worth paying $60 for every. single. year…:

  1. Player Morale and Personality – Players have no personality.  Some teams are simply not desirable to play for, yet… that never comes into play with Madden, just sign the players without any real attention  to what type of coach, owner or city they want to play in.  Are they just about money are they loyal to loyal fans?… That doesn’t matter in Madden.
  2. Player Performance – This doesn’t matter from multiple levels in Franchise Mode.  As far as the much vaunted online roster updates go, apparently a player is better on a week by week basis.  However, when it comes to any sort of adjustment to a player after he throws for 500 yards and 6 TDs twice in three weeks, there is no such update to his throwing abilities or his much over-hyped OVR (Overall) Rating.
  3. Player Value – This rating doesn’t exist in Madden at all.  This means that when you have a player that runs for 2000 yards two years in a row and then wants to be traded elsewhere you might not be able to get what you should for him because his OVR is 80 due to a low AWR (Awareness) Rating, even if he has 98 SPD, 97 JKE, 95 SPN, etc.  The system of value for performance is a constant battle between gamers that state performance means little when potential is all that matters.  My response is that performance is MEASUREABLE and potential will NEVER be.

This list will be expanded over the course of the next few months and years as Madden is sure to continue to grow and regress in quality and features.  The first step for any game mode like Franchise Mode is ATMOSPHERE and IMMERSION and that should start with the most important day  (weekend) of the NFL Year – The NFL Draft.