Saturday, January 08, 2011

Told you so: things they didn't fix after all in Madden 11

Back in June, when I was playing Madden 10 regularly for an online franchise league (we're just wrapping that up now), I wrote about things they needed to fix but wouldn't because I'm skeptical like that. (Not that you'd noticed, I hide it so well.) Of course I forgot about the rant shortly after I wrote it. But yesterday, when I was poking around looking for a specific post, I found it again, and I thought it might be a good idea to pat myself on the back for reading the future.

Problem: Madden Moments don't always explain the goal correctly. (The example I gave was a description that said you needed to tie the game when actually you had to win the game.)
Status: Unknown. I played through the Madden Moments, but don't remember if they were described correctly.

Problem: The camera on place kicks isn't the usual one, above and behind the ball; instead, it's random, for no apparent reason, especially given that you might want to try to block a kick (not that I've ever done it myself).
Status: Fixed. I don't remember seeing an angle other than the correct one.

Problem: When playing another person, you're unable to see what personnel he has in the huddle; this is pretty significant given that in real life, you can't have more than 11 men in the huddle, and you obviously can't get them on the field without the defense seeing who's there.
Status: Not fixed. Too bad for you. You have to send in a defensive play almost without knowing what you're up against. This makes no sense at all.

Problem: Cut scenes are used too often, take too long to load, have no drama about them at all, and are occasionally incorrect.
Status: Fixed. Several cut scenes were removed, others (like the first-down measurement) were integrated better with game action.

Problem: Commercialism in the game; seemingly everything has a sponsor, just like a real game. (Oh joy.) Even when you play online, there's always a little box above the status bar.
Status: Mostly fixed. The ads are scaled back quite a bit in Madden 11, especially online.

Problem: The game is becoming more about button-mashing and less about execution. It doesn't matter if you called the right defense if the other guy can move the stick up faster than you can move it down.
Status: Not fixed. Apparently EA likes the idea that any RB can break tackles all year round. I haven't yet played an offline season of 11, but I'm sure I'll see RBs with 2500-yard seasons again.

Problem: Punt returners insist on fielding balls no matter where they're kicked.
Status: Not fixed. Granted, in real life PRs do field more punts inside the 20 than they did in the past, but no one ever fields a punt in his own end zone. Too bad EA doesn't see things that way.

Problem: The halftime report (in offline games) delays the game significantly because of all the video that plays. The value returned to a solo player is very, very small.
Status: Unknown. I'll have to play an offline game to see if they've done away with that.

Problem: Achievements are all about individual plays or games; there are no season or career achievements.
Status: Not fixed. I really, really don't understand this. Achievements are a great way to get people to keep playing your game, especially if it's just the same crap as last year with a few cosmetic changes and a roster update, but apparently EA didn't get that message.

Problem: The camera rocks from side to side when the ballcarrier breaks away from the last defender.
Status: Fixed. This was stupid. We're not 15. (Well, most of us aren't.)

Problem: Playbooks can't be edited. For example, there's no way to introduce 4-4 defenses, even though most offensive playbooks have plays for 22 personnel.
Status: Not fixed. It's OK, though. You can create a custom game plan! And then your DC can give you a stupid play that won't work anyway! Woo!

Problem: EA insists on presenting Total Yards as a team stat; it's a statistic that's almost never used and is never presented at team level. Total Offense (or Yards from Scrimmage for individual players) is really what you want to see.
Status: Not fixed. Of course not. EA doesn't even enforce rules properly. (They don't know the difference between clipping and blocking in the back, for example.) They're not going to get statistics correct.

So they did take care of a few things, but mostly we got the same pile of crap. But hey! There's an unlockable "3D" mode! (If you own one of those stupid TVs and want to play a game in fake 3D, I will laugh at you.)

Whoever told you that the NFL granting an exclusive license to EA wouldn't change the quality of Madden was working either for the NFL or for EA. It's been a disaster. There are new gamers who probably love what Madden has to offer and have no idea how much work EA put into the game back when they needed to in order to establish market share. I wish they would do so again.

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