Remember when Mike Vick was on the cover of Madden 2004 and you could basically scramble with him every play for a twenty yard gain? It was so easy that if you were playing your friends no one was allowed to be the Falcons. Madden has come a long way since then. You can no longer run three different plays on offense and completely check out on defense, even when you’re playing the computer. I still contend it’s virtually impossible to have a realistic experience in a sports game, but they’re coming pretty damn close.
First things first…Madden has actually made me more depressed about the Bears. They’re rated a 78 overall and they definitely feel that way when you play a franchise on All Madden. Their offensive line is laughable. I actually can’t even tell if Cutler is bad or not because I never have time to throw the ball. You can’t just throw it up to Alshon every play and expect him to come down with it half the time. So you can’t really move the ball unless you get the running game going. Langford and Rodgers both got hurt early for me, but Jordan Howard is surprisingly decent considering he’s rated a 66. On defense, it’s basically sack the QB or give up a touchdown. I just let up 45 points to the Buccaneers, mostly a result of Tracy Porter get pantsed by Mike Evans most of the game.
As for the actual gameplay, it feels like a slightly upgraded version of last year. You don’t have players falling over each other as often as last year, and that’s refreshing. They’ve improved the running game, but I still don’t feel like I’m in total control of the player breaking tackles. They’ve added new moves and graphics which are really cool, but you rarely see them because everything is a gang tackle. Not only that, but I’m having a hard time getting used to the spin and juke moves. You have to start the moves really early, almost three to four yards away from the potential tackler.
They’ve also focused in on special teams this year. In prior years, any field goal attempt inside 50 yards was basically an automatic three points. That’s not the case with the addition of the three click kicking system. I’ve actually missed two extra points with Robbie through nine games. Also, though I haven’t done it in an actual game yet, it seems possible (but not too possible) to actually block punts and kicks. You have to time your jump off the line and your dive perfectly, but at least it’s a feature.
What’s disappointing is that there is no “Mike Vick mode” anymore in Madden. Casual players usually don’t want to have to balance the run and passing attack. They don’t want to make sure they have the appropriate coverage called on defense for the offensive personnel that’s on the field. They just want to score 80 yard touchdowns and see ridiculous hits.
If you’re the type who plays Madden for the franchise mode, you’re going to love this game. It’s genuinely challenging to win games (especially if you play with the Bears) and upgrading your roster isn’t as simple as it’s been previously unless you contort the settings. I haven’t played online yet. However, considering most of the games I’ve played in previous years online are just about blitzing and calling a Hail Mary to Calvin Johnson 50% of the time, I don’t know that it’s going to be well received by online-heavy players. Still, online communities usually adapt. EA has hit on this year’s Madden.