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Not this year Madden...at least, not yet 
Posted on August 30, 2011 at 10:04 PM.
The middle of August (or end of the month, as is the case this year) usually comes a few repeatable occurrences. The end of summer is in sight, college kids are getting ready to hit the books (ha!) and EAís Madden football is released to the masses. Life is great, if youíre a sports gamer.

Not so fast, over the past few years EA Sportsí Madden NFL Football has released to a flurry over mediocre reviews and a lukewarm reception from the hardcore/sim fan base. Seemingly each year EA's crown jewel of sports gaming releases with a plethora of bugs, glitches and overall unrealistic play. For a company that touts, ďIf itís in the game, itís in the gameĒ their product, year after year, supplies realism to its ďarcadeĒ fan base.

Now, I will admit, I am still a little upset over how EA Sports handled this yearís NCAA football product. As of this writing, the NCAA team just announced that they have completed internal testing and now have submitted it for approval to Sony and Microsoft. I pray that this fixes 90 percent of what the community (including myself) has complained about for the past month and a half. I have already written at length what I feel about the NCAA team, so there's no need to re-open that wound.

As for Madden, I sat on whether to purchase the game. I read countless reviews, played the demo and made notes on what issues cropped up the most. Color me unimpressed. Overall, Iím disappointed and Iím sure a few ďfansĒ of the series like me are becoming restless over the constant talk about improvements using a three-year plan. The only EA Sports series I play that has followed their three-plan closely is NHL.

To me, each year, Madden feels like itís in the first year of the three-year plan. How many times does the consumer have to say, ďOh, well they are on the right track.Ē We are six years into this generation and the Madden team has yet to find its feet. Iím not saying that the games are flat out terrible, because they are not. However, they fall flat each year because the engine needs tweaking and thereís a lack of polish. I liken this series to having a Shelby Cobra body that has a crummy four-cylinder engine under the hood. Itís looks pretty, but runs like garbage.

I get it, the Madden team has new leadership, so naturally there will be an adjustment period. But again, how many times do the consumers have to go through this to get a decent sim football game (notice I didnít say arcade, Madden already has that covered)? Some say that the lack of competition is hurting Madden. Others say that it has not affected the way the team has operated on a yearly basis. Iím not going to sit here and say that NFL 2k5 was better, because I really didnít play it that much. I am focused on now and the product that is being put out isnít sufficient for me to purchase.

Another discussion floating around is the ďfootball games are more difficult to make than other sports games.Ē I wholeheartedly disagree with this and it sounds like those people already made up their mind each year that they are going to buy the game regardless. People who believe in this argument essentially give developers a free pass. That attitude also breeds complacency and lowers expectations. If everybody believed in this argument, sports games would stink every year. For those who follow this line of thought, youíre not wrong for thinking this, because football games, I imagine, are difficult to produce. However, when you are given more than 20 years of experience and seemingly the biggest budget for a sports game, they should know how to do it by now.

If you have read some of my more recent blogs you would know that Iím not an EA ***** by any means. I actually like the direction they are currently moving in. If they can keep the current regime intact, keep improving the franchise mode and focus on tweaking the inner workings of the game, we can have a great game by next year. At this point in the console generation, I think itís too late to scrap the engine they are using, but applying a band-aid to a compound fracture isnít going to fix the problem either.

Again, I like the new camera angles as well as the new features within the franchise mode. However, when you have a clunky UI throughout the game, it takes away from the experience and can be a total letdown. Luckily, this is fixable and is a shining example of what the Madden developers can polish to make next yearís edition even better.

I think we might be at the cusp of what the Madden team can do under the hood this generation and will have to wait for the next generation to get a new ďengine.Ē In the meantime, I feel, they are applying little fixes here and there and biding their time until they start work on the next- (next?) gen. Meanwhile, EA will continue to market features that donít work right (online dynasty and coaching carousel in NCAA) and modes that they completely neglect (Superstar Mode in Madden), while continually beatifying the game (Madden does look gorgeous, I must say).

Buckle in my friendly community, these next few years will be many consumersí final stand against Madden. If the developers can't find their stride and deliver a decent sim football experience within the next year or two, they might risk losing more and more of their hardcore fan base. Letís hope that doesnít happenÖ
Comments
# 1 cbrock24 @ Aug 31
Too bad, you're missing a great game.
 
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