Thursday, June 24, 2010

What won't EA fix in Madden 11?

Ha. I could probably write ten posts about that, but I won't. I rake them over the coals enough as it is. I'm sure they'll get around to fixing a few things, particularly high-profile problems (like, say, the total absence of a salary cap in online franchise mode), but you know there will be a large stack of bugs, mistakes, and shoddy efforts that they simply won't touch.

Example: Madden Moments. Too many of the "moments" have some kind of half-assed description like "march downfield to tie the game" when that's not really what the goal is. "Could this be the One?", for example. I've tried it probably 200 times, and finally I managed to get the TD and two-point conversion. Was the "moment" over? No, because I was actually supposed to win the game, so instead I get nothing and have to retry it yet again. (Which, by they way, is a design flaw they won't fix: you can't simply restart a moment, even though you can, for some stupid reason, restart a game in franchise mode. You have to quit out to the list of "moments" and then reselect the one you want to retry.)

What other things won't they fix?

  • The camera on place kicks. Of course we don't have control over it, that would be useful. Instead, we'll struggle to figure out whether we'll see it from offense, defense, sidelines, or some other ridiculous angle. No wonder it's nearly impossible to block a kick. (And of course, when you do, it's simply caught by someone. Don't look to Madden for realistic physics.)
  • Opponents' personnel. Never mind that you can only have 11 players in the huddle. For some reason, EA ignores this and pretends that you can magically switch from goal-line personnel to a 5-WR set without the defense noticing. (You should either be able to see opponent's formations in real-time or their ability to switch should be limited.) And, of course, on onside kicks, for some magical reason, you're completely incapable of seeing how the other team is lining up.
  • Cut scenes. They take up so much space on the disc and there are so few of them, meaning that you know exactly what the result will be depending on which one is shown. For example, there are three for first-down measurements. Furthermore, some are absolutely ridiculous, like the one where a ref changes immediately from complete to incomplete. Finally, some are shown at inappropriate times, like the cut scene for a catch when the ball is five yards out of bounds and clearly dropped.
  • The rank commercialism in the game. (Chompetition? Really?) EA has demonstrated in several titles that adding advertising to a game does nothing at all other than line the producers' pockets if that is what they choose. Some fool at EA decided that what we wanted was a TV telecast. Really? I've never met anyone who said how much they liked the stupid placements, particularly when they come up and block your vision. Of course, there aren't any ads in the stadiums where they would actually make sense.
  • The increasing trend toward making Madden a fighting game, where combos and button-mashing trump actual football strategy. The running game, in particular, is completely out of control. Online, it's not uncommon to face players who will simply run sweeps to left and right all game; offline, even in simmed games, CPU RBs can't be brought down. In my current franchise game, there were three backs who ran for more than 2000 yards in 2009, led by Michael Turner with 2730 – yes, suspend your disbelief, please. In 2010, three backs again, led by Adrian Peterson with 2,683. (Of course that only happens with 12-minute quarters, which is the only way to approach realistic statistics in terms of number of plays and scoring.) And of course CPU WRs elude tackles time and time again ... it's hard to avoid the conspiracy-theory thoughts that this happens when the CPU is trailing and needs a big play.
  • Punt returners nonsensically running deep into their end zone to field punts, particularly when a block is on. Seriously? Have these guys ever watched an NFL game?
  • The completely worthless halftime report. Speaking of wasted space, think of all the time they spent on video and sound for that. Sure, if you want to waste five minutes, go right ahead, but give the rest of us an option to skip it completely. One of the best things about online games is that you skip the entire thing.
  • Achievements. Guess how many have to do with season performance in 10? Zero. How about game performance by a player or team (100 yards, 500 yards, etc.)? One, ten "user catches" with Larry Fitzgerald. Career performance? Zero. It's not as bad as the infamous 06 achievements, but it's bad enough.
  • The stupid rocking camera when a player breaks away. There's no purpose to this at all.
  • Editable playbooks. Hey, it's another 2-TE, 2-RB formation. No problem, I'll just use a 4-4 ... oh wait, I don't have one, but I do have a dollar defense. Dollar? Seriously? I barely even use 7-DB defenses. What a waste.
  • The obsession with combining return yards and total offense. Nobody does that. It's stupid and misinformed. Total offense is passing + rushing. Return yards are separate. If you are going to combine them, it's actually receiving + rushing (for yards from scrimmage) plus return yards, and that gives you all-purpose yards. "Total yards" as EA imagines it is completely wrong.

Well, you get the idea. Here's hoping they actually fix some things rather than giving us a bunch of crap like hand towels and "Pro-Tak".

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