It’s the middle of August which means that the new Madden is out and we can say that the annual “Retarded Fall and Holiday Gaming Release Flood” has officially begun. While the coming weeks probably won’t bring us anything quite as bountiful as last year’s Bioshock followed by Halo 3 followed by Ratchet and Clank followed by Rock Band, there are no lack of interesting titles.
But first, Madden. The “HD” Madden engine is now on its fourth release and I have to say that this time they have finally gotten something close to as playable as the older PS2 versions of the game. The pre-snap controls have finally been fixed. The play calling screens, while still sucky, are at lease usable when you navigate using the d-pad. For me, this requires that you use a PS3 controller, rather than the Xbox 360 controller (better known as “that white controller with the shitty d-pad”). Running and passing the ball work smoothly and without any completely obvious and incessant glitches. They’ve also streamlined the presentation a bit so you don’t spend so much time watching inane post-play animations.
Still, I miss some small details, like how the game used to remember the last play I called so I can get to the same screen again quickly. Or how the old game would give you little achievement tokens for doing things like gaining 250 yards rushing against the pathetic AI defense. There is still no accelerated clock, but to replace it you can use the “supersim” feature to skip playing defense if you want.
So far I’ve only found these and other minor and forgivable foibles. In general the game appears to be up to the task of providing me with that little dose of that “I can run an NFL team and have them go undefeated because I rock” fantasy when I feel like indulging. In other words, with a bit of practice you can get the game to let you win every time, but make you feel like you worked for it. And that’s really what Maddenis for anyway.
I’ve been through about half a season of a Patriots franchise (I know, I know) over the past 3 or 4 days and nothing has happened that makes me want to put the game on Ebay. If I make it to the end of the week we can write this up as a general success and move on to try Head Coach.
In addition to Madden I have been click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-clicking by way through Diablo 2. I restarted the game as a Necromancer because I didn’t realize before that this character class could use dead bodies as grenades:
I put this picture up as an indication of two things. First, that making dead bodies explode never gets old. Second, that the morons on the intertubes who were bitching about too many bright primary colors in the Diablo 3 demo really are borderline delusional. I made it through the first two acts with my skeletons, golems, and exploding body grenades. I see no reason why I won’t eventually grind my way to the end.
But in the mean time, the flood will be taking over. On the PS3, there will be the new Disgaea, a Ratchet and Clank download game, a new SOCOM and Resistance 2. Fallout 3 will be coming for both of the big consoles, but I’ll probably get it for the PS3 to avoid the “leaf blower in the living room problem.” I guess Spore is coming too, but I don’t have a PC on which to install it and then not play it. Maybe I’ll try it on the iMac. There will be a new Mercenaries, a second Gears of War, Fable 2 and a second Rock Band because you can never have too many fake drum sets.
No one except people who are either insane, have infinite time, and/or have infinite amounts of money could possibly get through the whole list. And I’m sure there are a dozen or so titles that I missed. Having built this list, I have come to realize that the best strategy for coping with this overload would be do the following on each evening instead of going out and buying yet another new title:
1. Play a game of Madden where the Patriots win again!
2. Make some corpses explode so that I can collect loot.
I can always pick up that other stuff next year, when the next flood of new stuff you can’t possibly find time to play comes around.