Madden Imitates Life

I picked up Madden a couple of weeks ago, and actually had time to play about half of a franchise season before Bioshock hit and the quest for achievements consumed me. This year’s iteration improved many aspects of the gameplay, but was also annoying in many of the same ways as last year. The user interface problems persist: the play calling screens are a crime against usability studies. The game insists on using time consuming in game displays to indicate simple things like if the field goal was good or not. Replays dance and jitter while the players on the field sometimes teleport around. The radio announcer guy is still mildly retarded.

On the other hand, the football actually plays pretty well. Running the ball is not an exercise in frustration, as the player with the ball actually moves when you push the stick rather than sliding around like his feet are stuck in invisible quicksand. They fixed the interface for calling hot routes and other audibles at the line of scrimmage, which is good. All in all, it almost feels like playing Madden on the PS2, but without the jaggies.

But there were a few problems. First, the simulation engine generates a seemingly ludicrous number of turnovers. Second, playing the Patriots this year, it seemed like whenever I got into a hole I could just heave a long pass to Randy Moss who would then run past or jump over three guys and score a touchdown. I thought that this was not that believeable. I was ready to send put the game into the Ebay queue.

Then I watched the opening week of the NFL this week. I watched the Browns cough up the ball every time someone sneezed near them. Wow, just like Madden. Then I watched the highlights of the Patriots game, and every time the Patriots felt like moving the ball, they would just heave another long pass to Randy Moss, who spent the whole afternoon running past, around and over the Jets secondary.

Maybe I’ll keep the game after all.