August 23, 2008

The great adapting Madden

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Video Games

Madden football is a yearly staple for every sports gamer’s collection and the centrepiece of EA’s lineup. For the 09 edition, a ton of new features help keep the game fresh while many times in a franchise like Madden’s case, the new game is nothing more than a roster update improved over the previous year’s game.

The biggest thing that the folks at EA behind Madden have been hyping for this year’s edition of Madden is the adaptive game play. With the new “My Skill” setting, the game actually tailors itself to your skill level and plays. This might be one the best revolutionary features of any sports game and is an amazing help for those who haven’t been Madden their entire lives. Now, anyone can pick up a controller, take the Madden test and the game will know to take it easy on the player. On the other end, the player who whips the Virtual training sim will be playing against stiffer competition. Also for the beginners, play selection — with several different difficulty options for that as well — and the in game navigation and play are a lot easier to use too. And for those who like the preset difficulties, they are still there but who really needs them?
Another new feature is the EA Rewind. This will cause fights and fits if you use one when playing against a friend and is a decided advantage when playing against the computer. What is it? Basically, it’s a mulligan and even better (or worse), most of the times that you would probably use it, Cris Collinsworth breaks down the play and tells you what you should have done. Now, I’m all up for innovation, but I don’t like the Rewind. There shouldn’t be mulligans in football and I’m glad that you can turn this off. It will help out newer players to the franchise and guys who like to cheat a little (Patriots fans) but I don’t think this is for real gamers.
When you first start up a game, a nice thing you notice is a semi-pregame-ish feature of sorts. It goes along well with the redesigned presentation of the game including the scrapping of annoying radio commentary in favour of a television broadcast style.
In the game, it’s very easy to notice how much work was put into making Madden 09 far superior graphic-wise over it’s predecessors. To begin with, the players are far less bulky than last season. The details on weather and even the grass are greatly improved as well but the elements still don’t have as much of an effect on game play as it does in real life.
The Madden team took a page out the NHL franchise’s playbook in terms of speed. While NHL 08 didn’t have a speed burst function, Madden 09’s speed burst isn’t nearly as effective as in years past. Using the speed burst at the line to try to burst through the hole can be very detrimental to trying to make a move and avoid a tackler and highlight stick moves aren’t nearly as effective with the trigger pulled.
In fact, the entire rushing game has been reworked to be more realistic and, ergo, more frustrating. Gaining four yards per play now seems like a big challenge as opposed to editions past.
A pet peeve of mine as well as many people, I’m sure, is non-updated rosters. Due to shipping dates and other reasons, there are many roster moves that need to be made to have your game up to date. And why wouldn’t EA release a new cover for their flagship game after their cover boy Favre’s defection to the Jets? I’m sure the publishing giant could afford to print a new cover.
Another piss off is that you can’t download the roster updates unless you are an Xbox Live Gold member. As a Silver member, you can be assured that I’ve tried everything I can to get the new roster. This is a major screw up by EA who could’ve just as easily followed 2k’s lead and make roster patches simple downloads.
Lastly, Madden 09 sports many new features that are aimed directly at people who may not have an hour to devote to playing an entire game. The same mini-camp games are back with little change and the virtual trainer is a good time killer for practicing.
EA set out to make Madden closer to realistic and as adaptive as it could possibly be and they hit the mark on both. Figure in the ease in which you can pick up and play Madden 09 as a beginner and I figure that EA has earned full marks. There’s always going to be one or two annoying bugs in a sports game and the quality of the new features here outweigh those inadequacies by far.


  1. [...] Original post by Dan Bilicki [...]

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