With the release of Madden ’13 upon us. Cameron, someone who’s been playing this godforsaken game for 15-years now, finally decides this may be the last year he purchases this damn game.
I know what you’re thinking. Either A. “Why don’t you just shut up you little baby. Madden is the best, blah, blah, blah,” Or, B. “Really? It’s taken you this long to figure out that nothing will ever be ‘new’ in Madden? How long have you been wasting your money? 15-years!? What the hell!? You’re stupid.”
Madden started on MS-DOS in 1988, then it was called, “John Madden Football,” they didn’t start putting a year on it till ’91, with “John Madden Football ’92”. This was way back in the days of Sega Genesis and SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System), back then there were no promises of more realistic, harder hits, blah, blah, blah, you know the usual shtick you get from yearly sports video games, like NBA 2K, Top Spin, NHL, MLB, and of course the aforementioned Madden.
In “Madden 2004” the “Play-maker” ability was introduced. This was the first major function change that Madden had seen, and it gave you the ability to change a receivers’ routes with the simple flick of a stick. In ’05 and ’06, they introduced the “Truck Stick” and “Defensive Play-maker ability” to accommodate the newer focus on defense. In ’07 they introduced all the bells and whistles you’ve come to know and love with the highlight stick, involving the ability to juke your opponents in a more “realistic” fashion as opposed to the days of just spin-move and stiff-arm. In ’08, they didn’t do anything, in ’09, again, nothing. It wasn’t until 2010, that they introduced the online community that they proceed to build upon today.
With Madden ’13 the promise of “Physics you can feel,” is printed on the back of the box. Those ‘Physics you can feel’ is just the addition of a rag-doll effect that adds a more “real” feel to the character motions. In terms of you being able to feel them, you most definitely can. Like, per say you’re running a HB smash, you hike the ball, hand it off to your tail-back, the ‘back’, then takes the ball searching for a hole created by the offensive line. When you hit that hole though, it has started to close up, and oh no! You’ve just run into the back of one of your offensive linemen. Normally you just slide off this lineman and move on, into your little hole, and you run for some yards or a touchdown. In ’13, when this happens, your RB decides that stumbling over his feet and falling to the ground or even just randomly slipping, behind the line of scrimmage no less, is the best course of action in terms of going from point A to point B.
The running game isn’t the only time these oddly timed and disjointed preordained animations happen. The majority of the game is filled with comedic scenes of stacked players each contorting their bodies in unnatural ways. The defensive system also has it’s flaws. Reaction time on the ball seem to be slower when a player is controlling, but I’ll be damned if every CPU reaction is dead on and done at speeds faster than light. The passing game didn’t see any changes and the slightest touch of the left-stick for, “Total Pass Control,” with a sub-par quarterback will more than definitely lead to an interception. Fumbling is damn near impossible and on every play your defensive line will be held and thrown to the ground without penalty, all-the-while, when you’re on defense, you should be prepared to see a lot of random holding calls on players you had no control of.
On top of those shenanigans, the “Be a Superstar” mode and “Franchise” mode have been pigeon-holed into a singular “Career Mode” where you either choose to be a coach or a player. These new additions may sound innovative and original, but they are the furthest thing from it. “Coach” mode is essentially the franchise mode with a different name and the same career meter that has been featured in the “NCAA Football” franchise. They beefed up the free agency operation but, again it was just something they took from ‘NCAA’. In ‘NCAA’ your recruiting is based off your prestige, championships and other such merits that allow you to garner the top prospects. It is done this same way with teams adding free agents. This does create for a more realistic free agency market but on the other hand, to people who play ‘NCAA’ this is nothing new. Neither the online or the Madden Super Team mode or whatever the in-game, card game is called have seen any changes.
That’s what brings me to my point. For 15-years I’ve been playing this game. I’ve tried my hand at local tournaments and I’ve just sat and played with my friends. Since 1997 I’ve been paying roughly anywhere from $40-$64 for each game, I’ve been to the last four midnight releases from ’09-’12 and every year the magic football-video-game-fairies say there’s going to be all these new innovations and other such tom-foolery. Every year “Electronic Arts Sports” and the makers of ‘Madden’ release a sub-par product that, us, the consumer, as loving NFL fans, and video game advocates, gobble up like a 400-pound-plus human being at a “Home Town Buffet”. I say no more to this. I said this same exact thing last year too, but this time I mean it. Games like EA’s ‘NHL’ franchise, 2K’s ‘NBA’ Franchise, and every soccer game, ever made, keep expanding their brand and figure our new ways to keep their games fresh. With Madden, everything is a year or two late. With the team prestige being a deciding factor for where a recruit/free agent goes was in ‘NCAA’ two-years ago. The idea of bringing old-school players into the mix for the create-a-player mode that they’ve introduced this year. That was in “NBA 2K11″ with the ‘Create Your Own Jordan on Any Team” Mode that you unlocked after you beat the “Jordan Challenge”.
‘Madden’ has become a polished turd. No matter how many times you polish that turd though, you’re never going to get rid of the stink.
Cameron Heffernan is an Editor at HefferBrew. He will continue to play this crap-fest of a game, if-only, for the sole purpose of having something new he can beat his friends on untill NBA 2K13 comes out. Contact him on Twitter at @karateparty1