While Madden ’09 is a major improvement over last year’s version, some competition would sure help.
Before my review on Madden 2009 (PS3), a letter to Bronco head coach Mike Shanahan.
As a fan of the NFL for over two decades, I’d like to say thanks for your many contributions to the National Football League. You managed to turn the legacy of John Elway on its ear from wretched post-season quarterback to an immortal Denver hero who won back-to-back Super Bowls in his final two NFL seasons. Also, you gave us the short, albeit explosive, career of running back Terrell Davis. You even managed to push perennial mediocre quarterback Jake Plummer within a game of the Super Bowl.
However, I have a bone to pick with you, oh, enemy of all fantasy football owners. Not only do you confuse, bewilder and frustrate fantasy owners everywhere by bringing in multiple running backs with the last name of Bell and veteran backs of questionable character or continuously draft runners that are unable to reach 20 carries a game, but you have now committed the most unpardonable of sports sins.
While locked in early duels of Madden ’09, the game’s flow is halted by timeouts before field goals at the end of halves and games. How dare you bring such a momentum stopping, time-killing, and irritating innovation to a video game? This happened all because of your inability to put away the pedestrian Oakland Raiders at home. First, fantasy football and now video games. Laugh it up Shanahan; may your team drink from a cup of non-playoff sorrow in December.
Derek L. Jones
Okay, perhaps that’s a bit over the top, but I take my football seriously. The 20th anniversary edition of Madden offers a great escape for gamers, but also continues to expose apathy amongst the football video gaming community. Here’s a look at the best and worst of Madden ’09.
- Franchise Rivalries – Finally, the EA folks actually acknowledged the league’s rivalries in a more tangible sense by raising the game’s difficulty in rivalry games. This has always been a pet peeve of mine. The NFL atmosphere compared to the NCAA football atmosphere in video games is a stark contrast at times. Broncos versus Raiders or Eagles against Cowboys is not for the feint of heart in real life and should get such treatment in Madden.
- Madden Test – Right off the bat, Big John presents a Madden IQ test which allows gamers to sink or swim based on their skills. Whether it’s passing, running, tackling or defending passes, a score is generated following the test’s completion and, then, adjusted as you play games. No truth to the rumour that Madden 2008 coverboy Vince Young scored a six on his Madden IQ test.
- So long, QB Vision – This was one of the most annoying sports video game creations ever and thankfully it’s a non-factor this year.
- Announcers – While the newly added play-by-play man Tom Hammond comes off as boring at times he, along with colour man Cris Collinsworth, injects new life into the game, replacing Al Michaels and John Madden who didn’t exactly add a breath of fresh air over the past few years.
- EA Rewind – Seriously? Seriously?!? Madden gives you the option to redo plays during a game. Can I get a few of those in life? Can I go back in time and redo my high school prom? Or what about my little league all-star game in ’89 when I went 0-for-2? Sounds ridiculous, right? Thought so.
- Timeouts – Besides the letter to Shanahan above, are they ever going to fix the timeout situation? Does a team really call a timeout every time with one minute remaining before the end of a half? How about calling one with 1:10 left? Maybe 1:27?
- In-game highlights – Is this too much to ask? The NFL Network & NBC essentially rendered NFL Primetime on ESPN obsolete a few years ago due to withholding use of highlights prior to the end of Sunday Night Football. So, the use of highlights amongst these networks is highly important. Why isn’t it important for Madden? ESPN NFL 2K5 was a great and cheap game that featured solid gameplay and NFL Primetime which included clips from games around the league. Considering that early in the Madden franchise, the highlight concept was utilized to a degree, it’s a surprise they haven’t gone back to it. Clearly, if it was done on a smaller platform (PS2) than Xbox 360 or PS3, it could happen again.
- Glitches – While using the Ask Madden mechanism, he’ll occasionally talk over the play-by-play after you’ve made a play selection. Of course, there is a guy walking through another guy or a player disappearing into the stands that happens every so often. During a Patriot-49er battle, Collinsworth commented on the nostalgia that this matchup brought about and how the fans looked forward to such a meeting. Really? Did I miss those titanic battles?
Football gamers remain in a difficult position. No other option exists for an NFL game, which is a dangerous thing. EA Sports mailed in Madden over the years, especially once it snuffed out the 2K franchise. Luckily, the Madden franchise is enough to spawn national tournaments on a yearly basis. As long as it’s the only NFL video game in town, innovations will come at a snail’s pace because, after all, where else can you go? The franchise is growing stale and it would be nice if an overhaul accompanied one of these editions. Having said all of that, Madden ’09 offers a great gameplay experience versus last year’s version which I found to be a snoozefest. The graphics are top-notch and it’s a potentially addictive game. Score it 8 out of 10 for Madden ’09. To think I wrote this entire column without mentioning that fella from Mississippi that plays quarterback for the Jets.