Yes, I play video games too. I have recently been playing Madden 09! I wanted to write a little bit about, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Ok so lets touch on the cover. You have future hall of fame QB Brett Favre of the Gree..um NY Jets! They say madden cover athletes have a curse which has been proven correct more then a few times. I guess Favre cursed himself in a way with his own decisions. If you ask me, when you retire and the team moves on thats what they have to do, if you come back and get mad at them for not making you the starter then it is all your own fault. Seeing you in a Jets unfi will be about as weird as seeing Joe Montana in a Chiefs Uniform, but at least he won more Superbowls before he bolted.
The game has some amazing graphics, i mean this is the best football game I have ever seen in terms of graphics. They detail almost everything on the players and they all have their own faces and looks. No player looks the same and you can tell a big difference between the build of an O-line man or a Running Back. They even improved on things like stadium detail, weather was much improved, and the crowd and people on the sidelines were made to look and feel more realistic. A small thing they added that I really enjoy is that as the game goes on the jerseys get dirty and green. If the weather is rain, you can see the jerseys get increasingly caked with mud, and it depends on how much you player is on the field. It was nice to see all my guys on special teams come out covered in mud and the kicker walks out with a jersey that is mostly clean and untouched.
You get a more realistic gameplay this year. It is much harder to just make a catch or run and take it to the house. Money plays are almost all but gone. The CPU has some better AI it some aspects. You have to earn your points this time around. I like that the games can get close, its not just blow out after blow out. I usually play on a pretty easy level (Pro Mode, for now). Runnng the ball is harder and while its not my favorite it is much more real. You cannot easily break a run for 20 yards. Having a better offensive line will help you run and pass the ball with greater ease. They also added some replays, which will break down the play and show you how you messed up, they are fun to watch a few times but if you accidently hit one button after your play they are automatically skipped through. I'm sorry but after the play I am always pressing buttons. They do allow you to replay the previus play in a screen while you are picking your next play, which is a nice touch.
While running is harder passing seems to be almost just right. If you have a good QB and WR's you pass the ball deeper and easier, if you have someone like Alex Smith at QB it becomes harder to make the deep passes and you are less accurate. You cannot just use Kyle Orton and sling the ball in there this year. When you run you have to wait for your block, not just sprint outside and for a huge run.
Madden 09 has many good improvements that I touched on here. I am happy with the the graphics and presentation of the game. It looks so good that sometimes I just play to see how fun it will be to play in the snow or rain. This is the pinnacle of grahics for sports games to date.
The gameplay does suffer in many ways. Running is much harder and the casual gamer may be very upset with this. I play on Pro mode and usually average 3 yards per carry. I am not claiming to be some great player but that seems a tad low to me. If you have a better RB it does help, so does a better O-line. I used the Detorit Lions and couldn't run the ball to save my life. You also need to run to set up the pass or play action fake, and if you cannot run you sort of give up on it and just pass, which leads to the CPU AI picking you off or going with more dime coverage. The worst thing in running is that when you see a big hole to run it gets clogged in a second and you get tackled. I hate this part. I see a big hole i am in the clear and all of a sudden some huge D-line man comes off his block and gets me. They made the D-line men way to good this year. I have even gone and replayed to see why I always got tackled so easy when I had a huge hole, and it was because the D-line would break their blocks and instantly get me. I am sorry but this is a huge flaw in the game and needs to be addressed. I do not wish to break every play for 50 yards, but when there is a hole I should get at least 4 yards not 1 or 2.
The sprint button has been tuned down, my guess would be that it was too easy to break a long one with guys with a lot of speed. I will admit its more realistic to not be able to just sprint past everyone. The passing game suffers a lot from this. I will pass to someone like Santanna Moss who is a speedster but he will usuall be tackled right after he catches the ball. I think this should be something that happens more to possesion recievers. Throwing the deep ball is much harder this time around, the CB's seem to stay with you more, not to say its impossible but its very diffcult for avg QB's and WR's to do.
I mentioned the CPU AI, which usually can pass with ease this year around. The thing is the CPU will run about 70% of the time, usually. Since its pretty fair it term of running the ball, it means they cannot run the ball very good either. They should pass much more then they do. When I played a team who passed more they ended up scoring more against me. The cpu still decided to run for 2 yards gains when they clearly should be passing. Its like Mike Nolan is doing the cpu AI. Another bad thing is that the cpu AI for both my guys and the cpu guys do not know what out of bounds means. I have guys who run routes and will go out of bounds and not come back in play. I would think this is something they would have fixed. It is pretty comical to see the cpu pass to guys who are out of bounds, which they do quite often. I like the free loss of down and all, but I would sometimes rather earn it.
Instant replay continues to be something they need to work on. You can replay stuff but they have no idea what you want to replay. Sometimes they make a catch and go out of bounds. How do they know if I want to replay if he got his feet in or if made the catch. They really need to make it so you have some sort of option of choosing what you want to review. They also dont have any pregame show, I know its not that important but I liked in the past when they would highligh one or two player who would impact the game and explain why they would do so. This year they also added a feature that make the game very much a video game, there is a replay a play mode were you can rewind one play of your choosing a game. So if you get beat by a game winning td the game allows you to rewind the play and try to stop them one more time. I am not sure why the added this feature. I have used it sparingly, once or twice but lately I never even use it or impliment it in the games I play. If I play a friend we never use it. I am not sure why the even made this feature.
Ok so some of the bad stuff could be called nit picking but some is just plain bad. The running game is good for the die-hard realistic fan but most people i know think its just too hard. Guy running out of bounds for no reason gets lame after a while and still no good replay system make it pretty much a non-factor this year.
The ugly is best summed up in two words: Chris Collinsworth. He is the new announcer for what seems like most of the plays and replays in Madden 09. The guy comes off as smug and some of his insights are just there to be there, they offer nothing which helps or entertains you. Ok well maybe its fun to laugh at sometimes but usually its pretty lame stuff. I understand that its hard to get good play by play in a video game, but with improved technology I would have thought they could somehow make it at least better. I guess it would have been to hard to get the Sunday night team of Madden and Al Michaels, who at least have actual knowledge due to many years of covering sporting events. Madden does lend himself to a few things in the game, like when you take that awful Madden Test.
Speaking of that, that Madden test is bad. I was really excited to see that they made it so the game would adapt to you. I took the tests, they make you do a lot of small test in running, passing, pass and rush defense, and then they give you a grade based on what you did. I remember when I was taking the test it seemed way too easy, they would tell you what button to hit while running the ball. No doubt I did all-madden level (best you can get) in running. So when I played the game with my madden ratings it was nearly impossible to run the ball. It made sense for them to make it so hard when it was so simple in the madden drills! Why did they do this! Anyway I just ignore that madden test thing now and play on Pro mode which is a pretty good setting. I hope they improve this over the years because I was looking forward to having a game that would adpat to me.
Madden is fun to play and is more realistic and less arcade style. If you like to earn your yards and use some brains this game will suit you fine. Its a good game for people who really like the NFL and want a game that plays like a real NFL game. Graphics will blow you away and the play by play is pretty bad, overall Madden 2009 is a good effort and should be had by all real NFL fans.