Perhaps I’m both a sadist and a masochist. Is there really any other explanation?
Every year, I devote just a little bit of time to Madden’s Superstar mode. Not because I really think that I will enjoy it. No sir. I do it simply, because it is so brutal. But why, you ask, do I immerse myself in this agony, even for a moment? I have a two-part answer.
For one, it’s a perverse attraction to the painful. I somehow enjoy, if only for a brief few minutes, experiencing this mind-numbing train-wreck. It’s like watching a couple have a bitter break-up in public. You know it’s bad, but you just can’t help but listen to it. And in the end, you feel ashamed that you reveled in the travesty.
By that same token, I also enjoy spending a split second in Superstar mode to inflict pain on EA Sports. That’s right. I heartily enjoy hurling verbal barbs at Madden’s developers for continuing to package in this stinker with their flagship franchise, despite the fact that it appeals to absolutely no one. It’s boring enough to agitate the hardcore football fan, yet complicated enough to alienate the casual newcomer. So why, oh why, does it take up precious space and development time that could go to improving the core aspects? Your guess is as good as mine.
I somehow enjoy, if only for a brief few minutes, experiencing this mind-numbing train-wreck.
To expose just how bad this mode is, let me give you a concise recap of my experience.
-At the onset, I am given the choice to pick an existing rookie, or to create my own potential hall of famer. Since I am a sucker for realism, I pick an existing rookie. Because I am a huge homer, I pick Illinois alum Rashard Mendenhall.
-The first training camp is a never-ending cycle of running the same play, which wouldn’t be bad if it were a running play, or even a passing play in which I could run an actual route. Instead, it is a passing play where I am assigned to block. With no discernible way to change the play, I felt like Phil Connors in Groundhog Day. After the 30th repetition, I seriously considered hopping in the bathtub with a toaster.
-After running the same play for an eternity, where within I never actually touched the ball (and yet somehow every play affects my “Player Influence,”), I have finally had enough. I quit training camp, vowing to sim any and all practices. I think I would have had just as much fun running head-first into my television for 20 minutes, concussions and brain damage included.
The only thing worse than playing a football game mode with a limited role, and on a limited number of plays, is doing so for only a single half.
-Game time. I take the field in my first preseason contest. The action is almost as dull as practice, although I do get to run the ball on occasion, and get to catch a pass or two. From the “Influence Points” I have accumulated in my simulated practices, I am able to modify my toughness and stamina attributes ever so slightly. This has no measurable affect on the gameplay. How terribly exiting.
-Enough with preseason. The only thing worse than playing a football game mode with a limited role, and on a limited number of plays, is doing so for only a single half. Time to start the season.
-Just prior to taking the field in Week 1 against the Texans, I figure it might be worthwhile to check out the main interface of Superstar mode. After reading some vanilla e-mails from fictitious family members, hiring the most evil agent possible, and pimping out my equipment, I figure that I have seen quite enough of this hodge-podge of crappiness. I suppose I should play the regular season and get this disaster over with before I realize how much time I'm wasting.
-After a few snaps, I realize that the only upside to playing this mode as a RB is the ability to hone my skills in the new running system. I am certain the same could be said for playing the mode as any other position. Still, I’d rather hone my skills in games, or even in practice mode, where I have some semblance of overall control.
-When I’m halfway through the second game, I begin to wonder why I’m doing this, and not starting my Bears franchise. Then I remember that I’m supposed to write about it. Damn it, my life is difficult.
-After a whopping three season games, I decide it’s time to sim once again. I might as well see what the offseason has to offer.
-I do get the chance to have some interviews within the season sim, which are made up of some snazzy questions with multiple choice answers. I decide to answer in the most conceited and self-absorbed way possible, throwing coaches and teammates alike cleanly under the bus, all while touting my own greatness. It’s fun to play the heel. Too bad this isn’t a wrestling game.
Superstar mode is about like the Dolphins alternate unis..no redeeming qualities whatsover.
A whole heap of negativity, I know. Hopefully I haven’t forced you head-long into a state of depression. I was on the brink by the end, and I barely played for two hours.
Of course I am being over-dramatic for the sake of your entertainment, but there is a bigger point to be made. Typically, I try to highlight both the good and the bad when looking at a game, or even a specific mode of a game, but I can find no real positive in Superstar mode. Any minuscule enjoyment is completely peripheral to the mode itself. As a whole, it is simply not fun.
This again raises my perpetual question: why is it even included? True, it does not ruin the game overall, but it is a meaningless mode. I do hate to continuously point the finger at this faux pas, but until this mode is either completely rebuilt, or scrapped altogether, I will continue my eternal tub-thumping.
Who’s with me?