Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Happy Madden Day

Normally, after a win like last night, I’d want to write a thousand words on the Yanks more than impressive performance last night. They did just about everything right: they were patient with El Duque, took plenty of pitches (116 through 6 innings), got to him early, and let the pitching do the rest.

Thing is, I don’t exactly have the time today to break down the game last night. Nor should many of you have much time to read this. Of course, I’m referring to what should be a national holiday: Madden Day. And, as per standard Madden procedure, I’m taking today and playing the shit out of the newest version. But, first a few quick words about the greatest video game ever created.

I realize that, in essence, it’s the same game every year. The gameplay doesn’t vary much, and there is little else they can add to the off-field activities. But that doesn’t deter any obsessive Madden player, and I’ll tell you why. Even though there have been a couple of preseason matches so far, Madden Day officially marks the beginning of football season.

Any die hard Madden head will tell you he starts off one of two ways: he either takes his favorite team in a franchise, or he hooks up with a buddy and fantasy drafts. I’ve always been a fantasy draft man myself. Even as I type this, I have already drafted a team to rival my brother. What I love best about fantasy drafting is finding all of the young players who are rated in the low 80s and high 70s, guys I might have missed last year or are rookies this year. Then, of course, I can follow their actual seasons this year.

The problem with fantasy drafting, however, is that when you do it with a buddy, 1) it takes vaaaaay too long, and 2) anyone who knows a lick about Madden drafts their team the same way: young, cheap talent. No one drafts a 33-year-old outside linebacker, because there’s normally a 25-year-old who is only four points worse, and cost a bundle less. True, everyone has his little quirks about drafting (e.g. my brother follows Al Davis’s mantra of going with raw speed), but when it comes down to it, you’d better not wait on that 23-year-old cornerback, because if the computer doesn’t take him, your buddy surely will.

But then it gets down to the nitty gritty, the actual games. And there’s no greater feeling in Madden than defeating your friends. Sure, you can sit and play the computer for 8 hours a day, and even work your way up to All-Madden. Playing another human, however, is a completely different story. I don’t care if you win every game 100-7 on All-Madden; if you play an experienced player head to head, it’s almost a coin flip as to who will win.

Speaking of head-to-head games, I’m also looking forward to playing the braggarts. You know, the guys who say they’re so good at Madden, but you know they’re full of shit. They’re very identifiable, even from the very beginning. First, they’ll more than likely not know a lick about the NFL. Sure, they’ll know who the players are because of Madden, but they’ll glance at a headline and think they know about a player. But in actuality, they can’t even give you a ballpark figure as far as last year’s numbers go.

Second, they will always pick the Atlanta Falcons. This is a certainty. After selecting the Falcons, they’ll talk about how awesome Mike Vick is, and how he destroys with him. Now, EA has installed a few features in their revamped defense system to stop such players, but if you’re the Falcons playing the computer, you can still tear it up with Vick. Not so against another human, and especially if they’re like me and play with the Ravens. A few blitzes with Suggs and Lewis and they’re crapping their pants. They can’t run, because they’ve got guys in their face constantly. And since they don’t know how to throw the ball, they can’t identify the three wide open receivers downfield. This will cause a sure safety, their controller to be thrown to the ground in frustration, and it’s more than likely that they’ll quit.

EA actually added a new in-game feature this year, the QB Vision. I was excited about this at first, as a new aspect in gameplay is just what this franchise needed. But this is a ridiculously stupid feature. You can only throw an accurate pass to a player in your field of vision, and if you stay on a player for more than a second or two, the DBs are on him like white on rice. The worst part: the cone moves with the R stick, which just isn’t sensitive enough. Now, I only tried this with Eli Manning, so other QBs may be different, but the cone would only react when I went far left or far right, and that’s where the cone went. So how do I hit a receiver slightly to my left? And if I can’t do that, how does my QB get better. Thankfully, you can turn this feature off, and it’s already been done in my franchise.

And it’s my turn to play. Until tomorrow.