More Madden Ramblings (and My Take on the Cone)

As I continue to play Madden, I continue to appreciate it for what it is – a solid game of football. At this point I am not worried about what it is not a perfect simulation of football. I only have a few disappointments thus far. First, the franchise mode has not been overhauled. Second, decent/consistent punt returns are darn near impossible. Third, my fingers are no longer nimble enough to make sure of all the fun stuff in the game such as the new passing cone.

Let us talk about the franchise mode for a minute. I have a feeling that it is built well enough for the majority of the fans that purchase Madden year in and year out, but simulation fans will quickly grow depressed with some of the limitations and the questionable (dare I say poor) AI logic.

I did a simulation last night and the Vikings beat the Colts 18-17 in the Super Bowl. Come on! That would never happen in real life …

Seriously, Bill Belichick retired after the 1995 season. No way, not going to happen. The Falcons let Alge go. That’s crazy talk! The Giants used a Top 10 draft pick on another stud QB. That is just the top of the list; I have more, but I am not going to dwell on the other items right now.

The AI still has no concept of drafting for need, and if they draft for value (i.e. the Giants example) they do not trade a QB such as Eli or the newly drafted wunderkind to help fill a hole on the team. I am not going to write that this sort of AI is easy to implement, but you would think EA would have made some improvements by now. Then again, maybe they figure that only a few geeks with blogs will notice the problems, much less care to complain. Anyway, it is the same old same old with the drafting AI, and that is a rather bitter pill to swallow.

Another issue with the off-season franchise stuff is the order you perform the various tasks:

1. Retired Players
2. Restricted Free agents
3. Re-sign Players
4. Rookie Scouting
5. NFL Draft
6. Sign Draft Picks
7. Free Agent Signing
8. Re-order Depth Charts
9. Start New Season

Maybe it is this way in real life, but I hate having to decide which restricted free agents and players I want to sign prior to the draft. I would be much nicer to at least be able to scout the draft prior to having to decide to re-up a WR when the draft is full of WRs.

The franchise mode is fun, but most of us (sim fans we be) will have to implement house rules to keep from exploiting the CPU (via the draft or trades). The CPU AI logic for drafting is so weak, that I suspect that many sim-heads are going to run all 32 teams and manually draft to keep things nice and tidy. I do not really want to do this, but after watching several stupid drafts, I am pretty sure that the alternative will get disapointing after a few seasons. That is enough talk about Madden’s franchise mode for now.

What about punt returns? Still trying to figure this one out. Last night I watched (Falcons/Jaguars) many punts go unreturned, but Madden’s implementation of punt returns may be downright poor. I have read enough posts that say punt returns are broken (and that “there is nothing you can do”). I am not sure if most of these posts are coming from Xbox or PS2 owners; sometimes there is a difference between systems when it comes to this sort of thing, so hopefully the PS2 version can be “fixed.” I guess I am going to have to break down and tweak sliders and read more message boards to see if someone has come up with a decent solution. I am not expecting miracles, but I do expect Rossum to average around 10 yards per return.

My final issue for this post is really more of a criticism of me as opposed to the game. New features such as the passing cone are neat – sure it looks like a giant flashlight as so many others have described it, but I think it does a great job of simulating a QB going through his progression of reads. My problem is that my dexterity (or lack there of) more often than not lets me down. Maybe practice makes perfect, but I am just not adapt at pressing buttons (especially combinations of buttons) very quickly.

Overall I like Madden, but as of right now, I think I like NCAA Football better. It may not be the best “pure” football game, but it plays well enough to be fun, and I think the NCAA AI recruits better than the Madden AI drafts.


One thought on “More Madden Ramblings (and My Take on the Cone)”

  1. Really our best hope for a change in Madden gameplay is the next-gen.

    Not necessarily better gameplay but changed gameplay. Could be better, could be worse.

    The question is whether EA will tap the power of the new hardware, especially the multicore CPUs which would let them model physics.

    Some expect that the first next-gen games will use just one of the cores and then later waves will explore using all the threads and cores available to do things like physics and advanced AI.

    But the EA pattern has been to build one engine and tweak it throughout the generation, not make radical changes to it.

    So how much will EA push the technology? They acquired Criterion and Renderware so who knows, if they plan to continue selling Renderware to other developers, they will have to continually refine it, meaning EA-Tiburon may have more of an incentive to stay on the techology curve.

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