Random Thoughts on Madden 09

Posted August 10th, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Having gone to the community event and gotten an extensive amount of time with the game there I have already been able to give my overall impressions on the game. My thoughts from then basically carry over to now. Madden 09 is a significant upgrade in gameplay and presentation. At the same time the overall experience feels more empty after having enjoyed NCAA Football 09’s online dynasty. There just isn’t a feature or mode in Madden that matches up to that.

So I thought I would just drop some of the random thoughts I’ve had about the game as I’ve played it over the last few days. I may continue to add to this list through tomorrow.

  • Some of the main gripes with NCAA Football 09 are the kickoff coverage, pass rush, and CPU QB accuracy. I don’t feel that any of those issues apply to Madden.
  • In order to get a realistic number of plays, stats, and scores the quarter length will need to be at least 8 minutes if not longer.
  • I use the “hardcore” play setting to eliminate the on-screen indicators and icons. So why then on offense do I have to collapse the pre-play controls panel on every single possession?
  • Something that may be overlooked is the addition of a kick return play with a single returner. This was something I had specifically asked for at the event and in multiple articles on the site. Now people can’t avoid the premiere returners by simply directing kicks away from them and towards the second returner that was back. The play doesn’t stand out much as being different and I’ve had to point out to multiple people that it is even there. It is on the bottom right called “Return Middle”.
  • One of my favorite visual touches is the hit stick screen shake. It really makes it feel as though the hit had greater impact.
  • I’ve noticed players running out of bounds when no one was even in their vicinity. Apparently this is something that is already on the radar to possibly be addressed in the second patch
  • Adjustments to the kickoff coverage are being made in the first patch to prevent frequent long kick returns. I really don’t understand that though because I haven’t noticed anything off with the return distances. The average field position after kickoff would probably be about the 28, which would match pretty closely to what teams average in the NFL. Even if it was off by a few yards that really wouldn’t merit patch attention.
  • I’ve struggled offensively so far but especially in the running game. I’ve started to improve in this area though especially as seen in the Seahawks-Chiefs game. From trying a variety of running backs it is obvious that ratings really do differentiate the superstars from everyone else. I’m also factoring in becoming more comfortable with the controls and the difficulty or IQ setting. The CPU has rushed the ball effectively in only one game against me so far. Where it seems that outside running nets the best chance for yards for the user it more often results in losses for the CPU.
  • Camera flashes are still overdone. You don’t notice them as much when playing as opposed to watching, but they would still be better utilized situationally instead of constantly.
  • The lack of changes to Superstar mode is disappointing, which I detailed back at the community event. The main differences are the fixes to the camera so that it doesn’t spin around at a change of possession, and the ability to stay within practices for the entire week instead of having to load in and out. Play calling seemed better and the QBs don’t throw as many INTs. Most of the thoughts as to what would have immediately improved the mode weren’t implemented though. Please get rid of influence! All those screens do is interrupt the flow of playing!
  • Create-A-Team is similar to last year. There may be a few more options in the way of logos and stadium building but just from browsing through it there didn’t seem to be much different.
  • I set up a test fantasy football league so that I could try out the feature of importing your team into Madden and playing with them as a custom team. Unfortunately right now it doesn’t work. I’ve got emails in on this issue.
  • One of the most frustrating things that can happen in a football game is getting sacked immediately after a play fake. It doesn’t happen as much as it used to but it still does. They really need to add in a quick play fake in the future. Different QBs execute them differently, there isn’t just one deliberate play fake motion that everyone does.
  • There are lots of dropped interceptions. While no one wants INTs to be the most likely way to stop the opposition, it almost seems as though dropping them is the way to compensate for poor decision making both on the user part and the CPU part.
  • What’s with the QB sprinting forward when a false start occurs? That happens in NCAA also.
  • In the Bengals-Colts game that was won in OT on a field goal the commentary was a major disappointment. It was treated as if it was just any other field goal.
  • Overall I really like the flow of the commentary. Despite criticisms I find Tom Hammond to be sufficient though overly deliberate. Chris Collinsworth comes across very naturally.
  • I’ll continue to stress the importance of Madden adding in some form of home field advantage. How something that factors into every game (for some teams more than others) is continually ignored is beyond me.
  • I have no problem with the CPU snapping quickly,  I don’t want to wait around. But I’d like at least a second or two so I could select a defensive player to control. Sometimes I can’t even get to them before they snap.
  • You can make quick subs on the play call screen which lets you move in a variety of players at each position which is great. But why can’t Seneca Wallace be put in that way yet a list of players who’ve never taken a snap at WR can be chosen?
  • Sideline awareness is poor overall. Receivers making the “sideline catch” animation when they’re several yards from the sideline, and receivers not attempting to get their feet in when they are right at the sideline.
  • Play challenges are still quite inaccurate. You can see a great example of that in the 3rd segment of the Bills-Jets game.
  • It still annoys me, as with NCAA, how you’re defaulted into different areas of the playbook depending on the situation. You get the Ask Madden on 4th downs and special teams after kicks.
  • Had an instance where the game wouldn’t call a timeout despite my constant pressing of the button at the end of the first half in the Bengals-Colts game. I’ve had this happen a few times before and have heard from others of the same. That should be looked into because it can be extremely costly and change the course of a game.
  • The jerseys get dirty (progressively) and look fantastic. I especially like that it is done on an individual basis. I formation subbed in players that hadn’t seen action and they were completely clean.
  • Random online weather is a relief to finally have. The first online game I played had snow.
  • A countdown timer needs to be added to the screen in online games when on offense. Right now after picking a play there isn’t anything displayed which makes it appear as though the game has frozen when waiting for your opponent to choose.
  • Reading a lot of reports of disconnect issues online. I haven’t played enough online yet to confirm if this is widespread or not. Last year Madden had a big problem with disconnects especially around release time.
  • After making an INT the player momentum almost always seems to pull you backwards.
  • It’s amazing how the kickers in NCAA have more leg strength on field goals than those in Madden. Thankfully Madden seems to have gotten it right.
  • The Madden Moments are a cool addition and I’ve completed several already, but having updated rosters for them and not the ones from last year takes away from the experience (though it is understandable why that’s not possible). They’re better thought of as trying to recreate the outcome rather than recreate what and how it actually happened. I also wonder why they chose the Seahawks @ Falcons which was a meaningless game in the final week of the season that didn’t even see the starters play very much. It was just a high scoring game.
  • The EA Sports World videos look better than they have for any game before Madden 09, but there is still a lot that can be done. Having sound is important, and we’ll get that with NBA Live 09 so at least it is on the way. They also need to just allow you to store them so we don’t have to download, convert, and upload elsewhere. It’s great that you can embed the videos but what good is that when you know you’ll be uploading more and deleting your previous videos by doing so?
  • Disappointed that there is no uploading of screenshots.
  • Unlike NCAA, you have to sit through the full replay when choosing the camera angle to upload from. So it can take several minutes to find the one you like best when it could just take a few seconds if you could cancel out of the replay.
  • There should be an easier way to download roster updates than starting up an online game and then exiting out of it.