With a plethora of writers highlighting which games are worthy of positive attention at the moment, I’d like to call a timeout on a particularly popular yet disappointing franchise: Madden.
I’ve been following this franchise since Madden NFL 1999. (To this day I can easily recall the hilarious scene as my injured player is run over by the EMTs to be scraped off the field). A couple of the Madden games were Christmas gifts. Madden NFL 2005 was given to me because my friend received a copy on the wrong system and I eventually bought my very own game with the Madden NFL 10 iteration.
Typical of any game there are pros and cons with each, but the cons in Madden NFL 10 lead me to question whether I should buy the next iteration. Skipping the franchise’s 2011 game, I pushed forward and with enough hype surrounding the next game, I purchased Madden NFL 12. Sadly, that will most likely be the last Madden game I’ll purchase ever again.
Madden NFL 12 is the pinnacle of my frustration with this franchise and to be honest, I’ve spent a great deal of time playing it over most of the other iterations combined. Remember that earlier in 2011 we had an online community and franchise for the site, but pulled it because we didn’t want to support such an atrocity any longer.
I admit that I enjoyed some of Madden 12’s intricacies, such as the added roster functions that support the game’s overall micromanagement “improvements”. I also delved into the “My Player” mode, enjoyed “Madden Moments”, dabbled with the Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) system and aggressively spent time playing online. But for all those so called “improvements”, I noticed the previous problems which continue to plague the franchise; sort of like those melee issues that plague the Call of Duty franchise. I am left with a vile taste of frustration and questions surrounding the blind loyalty of Madden fanboys.
I can’t help but notice that the franchise’s iterations have been downgrading after Madden NFL 2005. I’m always coming to the conclusion that either the publisher or developer find ways to negate the franchise’s true progression. Perhaps each thinks that if there is a “gold standard”, it will be pigeonholed in the future?
Let’s go back in time with one of the franchise’s better games: Madden NFL 2005. The reason I highlight this game is because I think it is the “gold standard” for the Madden franchise the way CoD4: Modern Warfare is the “gold standard” for the Call of Duty franchise. If nothing else, it introduced players to the hit stick function. Not only does the effect of landing it correctly look cool, it greatly improves chances for creating a fumble and an injury; a feature that in some form has been present ever since.
One of my favorite features that it also showcases is the receiver highlight function for a QB. Remember scrambling around, hoping that a receiver would get open on their own? ’05 provides a feature that allows a player to hot route the receiver nearest the QB, creating some interesting downs. This vastly improves the simulation of a play in real football. Time after time a QB continues to dictate the flow of a play well after the snap and it only feels correct to be able to do the same in a football sim.
While Madden NFL 12 improves ever closer to the ESPN NFL 2K5 in-game presentation style, nothing comes close to the presentation of a franchise quite like Madden NFL 2005 does. Post-game stats and highlights are carried by local and national news via newspapers. Players respond on and off the field to roster changes, while opinions and insight into teams and players come from Tony Bruno’s radio show.
These features are relevant and improve the “reality” of managing a team from owner and coach to marketing strategists and fans. There are plenty of manipulative on-field antics, but ‘05 is a complete package.
Sadly, features from this game and those after it, those adding to the enrichment of the overall gameplay experience, have been scrapped due mainly to “time constraints”. I’m well aware of the short schedule the developer has in bringing the game to retail stores, but that can be usurped by the fanboys’ desire to see a more complete game by not buying into the franchise year after year.