Madden 17: A Review, Reflection, and look to the future.

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.62" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" border_style="solid"] 13 days. What could you do in 13 days, friends? As a teacher who is wrapping up a summer of yard work, house projects, movies, and more I feel that in 13 days I could accomplish almost anything. But the 13 is not just an obscure number thrown out to get you thinking; instead, it is the amount of time I have put into Madden 17 on the Xbox One alone. I tend not to play online, except for the multiplayer achievements in the game, as I prefer the franchise mode. Here I get to build up a dynasty in the image I would want--a tough defense, a good running back, a team that limits turnovers, plays fast in all their phases (offense, defense, and special teams), and has the best defensive and offensive lines in the league. In my opinion, teams like this can't lose.

This year was unlike any other year in Madden for me. My friend Dan and I have played ten seasons so far in this league. The Bears have won 9 Super Bowls, and the Jets have won 1. Our league started with four people--Dan, Brian, our very own Nathan Thomas, and myself. After a season, it expanded to 5 with the great Alex D. replacing Brian (who left under mysterious circumstances) and another friend, Cory. Cory and Alex stayed two seasons, and Alex through some great drafting handed my Bears one of the two losses I have had in 10 seasons in the NFC championship where he fell to Dan's Jets in the Superbowl.

Below you will see a quick video of some of my favorite moments.

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For those of you who watched the video above, man that last second touchdown was one of my favorite games ever. For those of you who didn't, you missed out and its only 2 minutes long.

I will go more into this franchise after the review portion, so if the franchise stuff is interesting to you, go ahead and skip to the heading labeled reflection.

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Review:

What makes a football game great? To this gamer, gameplay, customization, control, and modes all mix to create a great experience. Madden has grown from the early days of box-like players to looking completely real. (My father-in-law saw the TV screen when I was playing and asked what game I was watching.)  Players look different--thinner, taller, smaller, bigger. Speed is a premium, and the guys who have it can change the outcome of a game quickly. The game play has changed from my early days and here is what I LOVE and don't love about Madden 17.

The Good:

  1. A mix of game modes for all players: want to have a 10-year franchise with some great friends? Check. Want to play by yourself in a franchise you control? Check. Want to play with a fantasy draft format? Want to play solo, online, or with friends with that fantasy team? Check! Every mode from online franchise to Draft champions and Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) are all improved on and offer new features to keep them fresh and fun.
  2. Gameplay is King. This is the best playing Madden game so far. The hit stick button, or stick, works well and is determined based on your player's skills. For example, if you have a great tackler, he will bring the heat. If he's not so good, you may miss... bad. Passing is the best I have seen, and the control you have as a quarterback is exceptional. Being able to read the coverage, adjust the route, and throw to the proper shoulder have made passing vastly improved from years past.
  3. O-line does their job! The most important part of an offense is the line. If they can get off their blocks, working together, to chip and climb to the backers, you should never get tackled for a loss if you are reading the defense properly.
  4. Defense swarms to the ball! I am so thankful for this. I love building a defense that plays fast and everyone pursues (my favorite skill to add XP too). This game is the best defensive improvement in Madden history (again so far) because I will see 5 Bears jerseys swarm to the ball. Ask Dan, it's annoying to be on the receiving end.

The Bad:

  1. The fullback still chooses wrong on run plays. The TE's and O-line being so improved I thought for sure that the fullback would be better. However, often on outside runs, he will not go to the nearest threat and instead climb to the second level leaving you one on with a defensive end or linebacker. This drives me nuts as the mechanic still seems like he should easily be able to take on that threat instead of leaving me out to dry.
  2. Madden Ultimate Team needs to have some form of carry over. I would be much more interested in this game mode if my two favorite players carried over from year to year. I don't know how hard that mechanic would be, but I would be so down to keep my 99 Jay Cutler from 2015 and carry him with me till the end of time.

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The Reflection:

Ten seasons. I can honestly say this has been my favorite thing I have done in gaming and I got to compete in it with some great folks whom I hold in the utmost esteem. We have played countless games, set records, and had some fun trash talking each other here and there. My Bears became revered, and an almost Yankee-like hatred came towards them from the rest of the league.

Below are some screen shots of the awesome things we have done. Go ahead and look through them. I will have more at the end and will be diving into more of what made this so much fun for me overall a little later.

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Those are just a few of the records we have broken since we started this league. Now on year 10, as we wrap up week 17 with the Bears and Jets 16-0 respectively, I felt the need to write about how much fun this has been for me. Finding a group of gamers that love games the way I do is rare. Finding a group of gamers that enjoy playing Madden as much as I do is even rarer. Before I met Nathan, Dan, Ray, Brian, and Josh thanks to MTTG two years ago, I played games solo. I could have never imagined the added bonus this game has when played with friends. Being able to trade players between teams (thanks Dan for Leonard!), working on draft day deals, scouting out the best players, and occasionally swiping players off of each other' practice squads has led to an experience I won't soon forget.

There are three moments that are my favorites, and I wanted to share them with all of you great folks at PSVG.

  1. The turnover bowl. Around year six or seven of our league, Dan and I were playing in the Super Bowl, and for some reason, our offenses refused to score points. By halftime, it was a 7-0 Bears lead, but we had both thrown at least 6 INT's combined. The game did not get better as we were close to 10+ TO for the game, and it was a narrow margin of victory for the Bears.
  2. Dan and my team met in the regular season, and I played awfully. I was making bad decisions, couldn't get a read on his play calling, and I was losing by 10 with 3 minutes to go in the game. I was forced to kick a FG and then hope my defense could get me the ball back. It did, but with less than a minute on the clock. I got down the field and scored with seconds left on the clock. I then went for the win, 5 WR,s and I hit Zeke on a slant to score the two-point conversion going up 1. I kicked off and made a tackle for the win as time expired.
  3. Battling Gronk. As you can see in the pictures, Gronk and Nathan are doing work together. He might be the only player who touches the ball; in fact, on the Patriots as Lord Vader (Nate's created coach), he gave the ball to the big man so much that he was setting record after record. Not to be out done, I decided one season to change my philosophy and went after the record myself. I was able to get the single game marks but fell short some of the season ones set by Gronk and Nash (a drafted QB for the Pats). The rivalry was fun and one that added an extra element to the game for me. Not just to win, but to win and chase these records I had never thought of chasing before.

These were great memories for me as a gamer, and I am so excited to see what Madden 18 brings. I am hoping for some cool features that they haven't announced to pop up when I pick it up early and dive in (thanks, GOAT edition). With a story mode, draft champions, MUT, and of course Online Franchises to look forward to, I can't wait to spend 13 more days of the year playing this game with friends. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you on the field this fall.

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Coach is Jacked for Madden: Responds from the Sideline

See the source image Today was an amazing day. I love EA. For years they have made games that I derive so much pleasure and enjoyment from. There have been some bad days following them for sure, but a lot of good ones too thanks to the games they make. Most of you know, my favorite of their franchise is the Madden series.

So as I watched the EA conference with with my wife, I literally jumped out of the seat when I saw the drumline all decked out in their Patriots gear. My Madden hype meter had already blown past 10! As I tweeted out my excitement and hype for this new installation of the series,  I saw a lot of comments that I will sum up below that seem to come every year. My goal being to respond to them and hopefully clear up some of the misinformation.

 

I cant wait for them to swap the 8 in for the 7 on Madden 18.

Comments like this are a norm for non sports gamers. You would think that in an industry trying to be taken seriously as a medium, that's trying to breed love and inclusiveness, that is wants respect for all... would try harder to stop these comments. Every year on IGN, Kotaku, and the rest I am forced to see a group of on air personalities whom could care less about the these million dollar franchises that compete for large portions of sales in the gaming market every year. Their lack of education and continued indifference just breeds this wall of hate that surrounds these storied franchises.

The second thing I would like to point out is best said this way. To say that Madden 18 is similar to Madden 17 or any combination of these games over the past 27 years is the same as saying Mario Bros is the exact same as Mario 3D world. That is the level of incompetence that is being spewed and agreed upon.

"Oh its just an updated roster."

Oh Mario can just jump on different things.

The Madden games are refined, intricacies of the game dove deeper into, every single year. They have new layers that allow the player to engulf them self in the sport that they love. I have seen playbooks and block schemes go form being basic, to following modern day trends in the passing and screen game. The ability for a defense to really run the Cover 4 is one of the greatest achievements in gaming for AI in my opinion of the last 10 years. This huge feet in Madden 17 changed the ways professional Madden players played from a year ago.

So when I see this phrase uttered and agreed upon by the voices I respect in so many other areas it just breaks my heart. Not because it contradicts my own believes, but because the ignorance that is shown creates hypocrites of those people I looked up to and makes it hard for me to trust them. Please don't comment on things you don't know about. I try so hard to make sure I play every game possible, so that when I have an opinion, my play through is the proof behind the words I write.

 

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Coach, I hope to someday love a game as much as you love Madden.

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The game job simulator is one of my favorite games on PSVR. Its fun to just goof off in. My work life revolves around the game of football. Its why I live in Texas. Football is king here. I study the game, go to clinics, talk to coached, draw it on my white boards, teach it to my players, watch the games on TV with my wife. I love my Chicago Bears, my Oregon State Beavers, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. I spent most of my life, dedicated to the game of football. Madden allows me to connect with that game even more. It lets me build a dynasty, compete against friends and strangers, and have a common connections with my student athletes as we play together almost every week.

Madden is the one game that I know every year, will get a tone of my time. The last 2 games of Madden I have been blessed to play with great friends, build dynasties together, and enjoy a time of fellowship that I can only compare to when I played football in college and semi pro. If you have never played at that level, I am sorry but I lack the skill to properly paint the picture with my written words of what that feeling is like.

 

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I don't understand your undying love for Madden. Sports games and I have a hard time seeing eye to eye.

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Now I am not saying that I 100% understand the context from my dear friend Lobo. But here is what I felt when I heard it.

  1. The games aren't fun for me
  2. I don't understand how to do what I want to do inside them

Sports are not for everyone. That's ok. I am not asking everyone to love the game that I love. There are plenty of games out there that I don't like and that's ok too. But if you haven't played my game, then don't comment on it. Don't throw shade at it and call it just a roster update. If you love sports in real life and don't understand how to play the game, the key is going to be finding what part you like which leads me to point two.

For point two, the interworking's of the Madden game have come so far that you have to have the ability to process information, learn from mistakes and dive deeper into the content (grinding) to get good on it. When a new Raid comes out on Destiny or you fail a mission on another game, you don't just keep trying the same thing over and over again. If a new Madden player is playing on Rookie level and only runs two plays, you are not going to get better. You will not learn how to use the pre snap reads to find passing and running lanes. You wont learn how to stagger a blitz for an easy sack, you wont learn how to trick a QB into throwing into coverage. This game takes time, effort, and most of all a willingness to discover new avenues to be good at. If you don't you are doomed to repeat the mistakes and be frustrated by it.

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I know that was fairly long winded so I will wrap it up by saying that Madden 18 is looking to give me another great year of football fun, with a franchise I love, playing with amazing friends. I am so excited for this game and if you want to play, talk about the game, learn some ins and outs I would love to help. And if its not for you, I hope we can find something else to play together. That's why this website is here, so we can all play some games.

 

Madden!!!

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