Monkeys Fighting Robots

When it comes to gaming, I often find that sports games have the most replay value.  All the major games involving the major sports include leagues with 30 teams or more.  If I want to rebuild a team or play as a contender I have the option.  But since 2005, Madden has become literally the only option for a virtual NFL experience.

That’s because during that year the NFL sold its exclusive license to EA, meaning no other developer like 2K could make a game that involved actual NFL teams, and players.  Which is a shame seeing how 2K really capitalized on their then NFL product.  ESPN NFL 2K5 to me is the best football game of all-time.  Before I could even put the disc in, the first thing that made it a great buy was its price.

Related – One Limb Left:  An Open Letter To Video Game Developers 

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ESPN NFL 2K5

While EA was selling Madden NFL 2004 for $40, 2K sold ESPN NFL 2K5 for $20.  Imagine being in high school like I was back then and being able to buy a game with your own money.  It felt great not having to wait for my birthday or Christmas for my parents to buy me it!  But what made it memorable was its presentation.

On the field, there were multiple camera angles to choose from.  Including a first-person camera that was placed inside every player’s helmet.  Making gamers feel like they were on the field.  Commentary didn’t seem repetitive, and the gameplay flowed from snap to snap.

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ESPN NFL 2K5 Helmet Cam

Plus unlike Madden, ESPN NFL 2K5 actually utilized its ESPN feature and gave players the option to watch a “real-life” Sportscenter hosted by a computer-generated Chris Berman.  Every week, Berman would show and provide commentary for highlights around the league, give injury and trade updates, and more.  Making the experience unforgettable and immersive.  So why isn’t Madden capitalizing on there not being any competition?

Well, that’s the problem.  While Madden 18 became the first game in the series to be built with EA’s Frostbite Engine, EA still comes off as a kid that knows they have the whole house to themselves.  Meaning they can do whatever they want, even if that means putting in as little effort as they want.  It’s a shame.

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Madden NFL 18

The franchise was built on its groundbreaking features.  From having the first ever 3D field in John Madden Football ’92, introducing the league license in Madden NFL ’94, and Owner Mode ten years later.  Sure there was Techmo Super Bowl in 1991, but every team had under 15 plays in their playbooks.  Whereas Madden had playbooks with 113 plays around the same time.

So what do I hope EA does for Madden NFL 19?  I write this because it’s going to be the only football game released, and even though I can refuse to buy it, I gotta have fully updated rosters, uniforms, etc. because I’m obsessive when it comes to those things.  Plus pending on the team you can’t properly manually update them after free agency or the draft because of their salary caps.

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Madden NFL ’94

First, it cannot just be another beautiful game with meh components.  Games are like people.  Aesthetics can only go so far and sooner or later there has to be substance.  I would love the opportunity to have a story mode that played more like a career mode.

Allow me the opportunity to customize my character, and properly go through the NFL scouting and draft process with some cutscenes in-between.  The NCAA has an actual playoff now, why not allow players to choose a school to attend and have their play affect their draft stock?  Bring back the combine too, and have everyone’s rookie season intertwine with the story.  Give me the chance to play a multi-year NFL career with risks.

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If I holdout due to a contract dispute have it affect my team and I.  If I suck throughout my rookie deal, make it harder for teams to trade me.  Make it hard for me to get signed.  Force teams to draft players at my position while I’m still under contract and give me the option to choose how I deal with it.

For franchise mode create a weekly show like 2K did 13 years ago.  Allow people to upload actual draft classes like in the NBA 2K series.  Make trading more realistic.  I should not be able to get a top offensive lineman for a player that has a rating of 67 overall and a high 6th round draft pick.  In terms of gameplay fix the injury issue.

Madden NFL 18 Longshot Story Mode

I know football is a contact sport, I’ve played it, I gave up an ACL at the NCAA level in 2006.  But it seems every other play someone (especially on the offensive line) is getting hurt.  I will say EA has taken steps in the right direction with updated commentary every week and roster updates.  But that is not enough when you’re the only gaming company on the block with an NFL license.

Will these things happen?  Maybe.  I don’t want to be one of those people that have no faith when it comes to innovation and the improvement of video games.  Oh, and EA when former UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin (who has one arm) makes it into the league this Spring, there should be an option to give a player one arm.