Sunday, August 2, 2009

Some of Madden's Holes

First off, I won my Blood Bowl league match today 1-0 on the LAST turn of the game in what was a game of pure attrition. Whew. So we move to 2-0.

Ok, Madden.

There are a lot of things that Madden 10 does extremely well -- better than any version of the game before it. The direction this game is heading is a positive one. This is an important version of Madden. No doubt. But like every sports game ever made -- there are issues, and like every sports game from High Heat and The Show to NFL2K5 -- the question is:

Can you live with it?

That's really the question, right?

I received an email from a reader who hated my NCAA 10 review because I gave it a B-. He agreed with my complaints re: Dynasty mode but it was a deal breaker to him. That's a perfectly acceptable position to take, and in the end why review scores and review grades are completely meaningless. To him, the progression issues in Dynasty mode were a deal breaker. He traded in the game and moved on. That's always the question: can you live with what game X fails to do or doesn't do very well?

Sorry tangent: does it bug you when you read a review of a sports game and the person writing the review ends it with, "If you love hockey you''ll love NHL 09!" or, "If you're a huge NFL fan then Madden is a must buy!" Exactly who does he/she think is reading the review? People looking for a good golf game? Or maybe a sizzling game of Canasta? Anyway, sorry. I read one of those today and it always puzzles me.

Back to Madden.

As much as I like many of the changes to the gameplay it would be unfair (and very much unlike me) not to point out what's concerning me. After about 7-8 games, I'm starting to see a few patterns emerge.

Here's a quick video of something I am seeing a bit too often.

Pay attention to the blitzing Vikings DB. Watch how he has Lewis in his sights -- and changes direction for no earthly reason whatsoever. He still makes the tackle but after Lewis rumbles for a 1st down. I see this more often that I'd like. And this same scattered behavior happens quite often to offensive lineman. I see way too many cases where a lineman has NO IDEA who to block and ends up taking himself out of the play, blocking a player on the other side of the line or just standing up and acting like someone pulled the plug -- hello 2 yard loss on the ISO.

In this very game (and I think I saved this highlight) the Minny LG -- the 98 rated LG literally stood up and allowed my DT to run right past him--POW. 4 yard loss. I could maybe be ok with this if that was a really bad OLineman. But that was a 98 rated player who did the OLE! move.

Now, does this happen every play? No. Does it happen more than once per game? Yes.

OK, next -- WRs breaking tackles. I pass for around 300 yards per game with Brady Quinn. This is not due to Quinn being great -- believe me -- in Madden, he ain't. This has to do with the BIG YAC numbers I get game in and game out -- especially with Braylon. Here's one example:

Braylon is just damn hard to bring down, but even Robiskie gets in on the act. Usually Braylon will get one 50+ yard reception every game due to a broken tackle. After that, no one can catch him. Will a tackle slider boost help? We'll find out tonight, I hope. WRs should break tackles -- but right now it's a bit extreme.

On default All Pro the AI can't run the ball. The blocking is piss poor and the backs can't see holes to save their life. Unless the Browns have turned into the '78 Steelers , something is wrong. I was stonewalling *everyone*. The good news? The sliders help. A lot. Here...and um..I wasn't using the Vikings...

But understand: that play CANNOT happen without slider tweaks. No way. Unless you just start diving and missing tackles. So, just a heads up.

Oh, and that fight for the fumble thing goes against every other inclination found in this game. I'm playing a football sim and then I'm mashing buttons fighting for a fumble? I got the 50 point achievement and turned that damn thing off. Be gone!

Back to some good stuff. This is what happens with you play bump and run against a really fast WR and FAIL to do the whole "bump" part.

So, yeah, the game has holes. I'm sure we'll see plenty of 9 minute youtube videos of guys lamenting the fact that EA Sports has once again let them down. And hey, if that weird logic from the first video is a game killer -- that's a perfectly fair stance to take.

But this is a line (and man I can't believe I am about to quote myself) from my review of The Show '09:

A sports game must, above all else, stay unpredictable. If things start to get stale or if you start losing faith in the design because you’ve seen everything there is to see then a game can quickly lose its appeal. And that‘s what makes The Show special. Things happen.
Thus far, after several games -- this rings true for Madden 10. To me, it's what made NFL 2K5 so special despite its broken franchise play. I see new stuff every game. I have games where Quinn goes 13/30 with 3 picks. Then has a game like this one against the Vikings: 16/24 287 yards 2 TDs a 0 Int. I have games where I get 4 sacks. Then I'll get zip. I'll see a game where the CPU does everything right, then I'll play a game like vs Tennessee when the CPU misses 3 FGs. I'll have one game with 1 penalty. Then one with 10. And that's the kind of stuff that will keep people coming back. To see what happens next. It's when you go into a game -- a videogame you have played dozens of times, literally not knowing what to expect. That's really rare.

Of course, I would love to know why the Vikings DB did what he did...