Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Madden Franchise SUCKS

I have no joy in writing an article like this. I've played Madden games for over a decade, from my Super Nintendo, to N64, to my PS2, and most recently my Xbox. But it must be made known that the franchise is now just a dismal piece of garbage, not because it makes me feel good, but because by standing up, maybe EA will make some much-needed changes.

Let me start off by saying, yes, the graphics look good, as all current-gen games should. But that is all that this once great series has. I'll run down the major problems that Madden has had for years upon years, that have never been fixed and make you want to smash your system.

The Biggest Problem: AI

This is an egregious problem that has been present most noticeably since Madden's last-generation games, but has actually gotten worse as the years have gone by. I cannot count the number of times (literally hundreds) I've seen Offensive Linemen stand there, their hands up and feet planted, as defenders run by to tackle a running back or QB. To add insult to injury, many times the OL will pirouette towards the defender, clearly award of his presence, but not doing anything to stop him.

But that is hardly all of the AI problems. Passes that hit WR faces/helmets without them reacting, CBs, FSs, and SSs that watch as a run gains ten yards right in front of them before they react, somehow defenders with speeds of 75 staying in stride with WRs that have speeds of 95+, and omnipresently knowing where passes will be thrown the second it leaves the QB's hand, defenders with a pass right in front of them being the opposite of omnipresent and not reacting to a ball two inches above their heads, defenders that don't run to cut off ball-carriers, but run perpendicular to them so they get behind and aren't able to tackle, and so, so many other game-breaking, fundamental flaws that simply ruin the game.

By far these are the most terrible crimes against football gamers that have been present for years and have not been touched.

Problem Two: Morphing/Problems With the Concept of Momentum

I would not be surprised to learn that I have seen a football literally go through a defender/WR's hands one thousand times. The ball will just go right on through, like flying through the air; most of the time it ends up in the hands of an eager opponent who gladly catches the pass and turns the tide of a drive, whether good or bad. Of course, this is not all. Several hundred times I've seen RBs go right through a defender or two on his way to an extra five yards of falling forward.

Speaking of falling forward, has anyone at Madden ever heard of momentum? You know, if you move this way or that, you will continue to move this way or that unless opposed by a force in a different direction? Yes? Well, then tell me why a HB can be falling backwards and then instantaneously begin falling forward for an extra four yards. And for God's sake, why do ball carriers always seem to fall forward, even when being tackled by someone who weighs 150 pounds more than them?

Problem Three: Bells and Whistles

Sometimes the little things count, and sometimes the little things aren't so small. Point of fact, why isn't John Madden doing color commentary anymore for his own video games? On the PS2, he was paired with Al Michaels and, though they repeated a lot of lines, it was good, fluid, and they sounded interesting. Now, no Madden. Why, dear God, why? The announcers are boring, they seem to not care. And what was with that radio broadcasting crap a couple years ago? Who green-lighted that?

Speaking of the PS2, what happened to training camps? Or setting ticket prices? Or advertising for your team? Or a whole slew of other features that have been unceremoniously taken out of this generation's games. It's just not a good idea to go backwards as time goes forward. In fact, it's just plain stupid.

Problem Four: Madden's the Only Game in Town

Have you ever heard of the 2K franchise? Probably you have when it comes to basketball, hockey, and baseball. While not the pinnacle of video games in each respective sport, they make sure to put out a quality product. What's more, they force their competition to make strides forward too. Here lies the problem in the Madden franchise.

In 2005, 2K released a good, serviceable football game that was praised as being as good, if not better than Madden. But you know how when Madden releases new games it's $60? 2K released the game, brand new, for $20, or one-third of a new Madden. EA execs went nuts as a rival game threatened the Madden franchise, and bought exclusive rights to produce NFL games. In other words, 2K was not allowed to make games using NFL players or teams; only Madden could.

And from then on, no one was pushing Madden to produce good games. Why would they work so hard when the only one they have to compete with is themselves? And they still release a new game every year for sixty bucks. It's a sweet deal for them.

And Finally: Lip Service from Reviewers

The last five Madden games, according to Metacritic, have averaged a 81.4/100 rating. 81.4 is very respectable. But here's the problem: the review are complete crap. When you look at the average USER rating for the last five years, it comes to 61/100, over 20 less than the reviewers.

Compare that number to Metacritic's ratings for NBA 2K9: Reviewers game it an average of 84/100, users gave it a 82/100. Or NBA 2K10: Reviewers gave it a 82, users gave it an 81. Pretty similar, no? Or how about NFL 2K5, that got a 92 from reviewers and a 90 from users.

These very reviews show another over-arching problem. So what if there is horrible problems with AI, or no bells and whistles, no John Madden, and they're the only game in town? If EA thinks that people actually are giving games good reviews, then there is no reason to change the formula. Little work, big profits, good reviews. Why would they change?

But here's what's up: we need to let them know that their games SUCK. We need change, as our President has said so many times. They will not change if they see profit in continuing the crap that they do now. Competition, earning your money...that's a lesson they need to learn or we get the same crap every year.

And now I leave you all with the irate words of average people who got burned by the flaming crap that Madden releases every year (from Madden 10 reviews):

J Y, 2/10:

Madden was praised for its gameplay, something it had sorely missed the two years preceding (07, 08). This year's gameplay has taken a couple steps back rather than forward. The gameplay is slower paced as players have very dicey movements and cannot cut like in lsat years version. This year the game also took out the "Pass Commit and Run Commit" features. Come the end of the day, Madden's consumers purchase the game to have fun, it is one thing to try to up the game's realism but to do so at the cost of fun gameplay is not the correct path.

Jeff J, 2/10:

Gang tackling is ultra fake. You basically have 185-pound guys shaking off about 850 lbs. of DTs and LBs. This game is all about breaking tackles in a bogus and unrealistic manner. Tapping the buttons for a fumble recovery will be a 1-year novelty like the flashlight mode. WTF is this? Track and Field? Playbooks are extremely rudimentary. There's not really much that's good about this game.

iam cool, 0/10:

Are Gamespot and Gaming Trend the only honest reviewers? Every review says the fundamental problems that plague gameplay haven't been fixed but they still rate it in the 80's and 90's. Honestly?

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1 comment:

Mr. K said...

Awesome article Mike. You are one hundred percent correct, infact...I have not bought a new Madden game in years, just Baseball games.

I still have NFL 2K5, the greatest football game I ever player. The graphics are good (for a game from a few years ago), additional features are awesome, and the gameplay is realistic.