With Madden 17 bringing me back into to fold after many years, I have found that my skills are behind the times and I needed to hit the books. The game has a pretty extensive training mode where you can master the very complicated and nuanced controls. If you are unfamiliar with Madden I will elaborate. When you go to pass the ball there are multiple styles to employ that are dictated by the coverage. The “lob” which is a rainbow pass to ideally drop into a receivers arms on a deep route. The "bullet" which will fly with laser straightness to your receiver but is easily caught or blocked by Linebackers along the way. Or a "touch" pass that would float over the first line of defense to your receiver between 8-20 yards down the field. And then you can also direct the passes away from coverage. Maybe you throw low on the hook pass so it is even harder for the defender to get to it, or you throw it high to take advantage of your taller receiver jumping for it. You have to hike the ball, look at the coverage and your routes, decide who to throw the ball to, and how to deliver it while also avoiding getting sacked. It is a lot to process and I found that instead of struggling in game I should practice, practice, practice much like the pros. If it’s in the game, it’s in the game right EA? If you play on easy you can skip this nonsense to a degree, but for better or worse I signed up for a football simulator and this is my cross to bear. In my first Maddening moment, I saw that if you complete all the training drills you get a free pack of cards for MUT mode. However, the game stopped giving me credit after the first few drills and no matter how many times I do them and what grade I score on them it doesn’t log it as completed. Maybe they patch that later. Speaking of patches I also think they are far too generous to the defense with jarring a pass incomplete, you have elite receivers dropping balls if anyone touches them in any fashion after catching the ball. If a receiver gets clobbered in a Steve Atwater fashion I would expect them to crumble and drop the ball and maybe curl into a fetal position, otherwise I expect competent receivers to hold on to the ball the majority of the time. I have seen times where the game didn’t even bother animating the ball falling out of their hands and just ruled it an incomplete pass that will send you slack-jawed to the instant replay to see what the hell happened.
My favorite mode thus far is still the Draft Champions mode and I finally won 3 games in a row against the computer on my third try through. The reward was underwhelming but I still enjoyed the challenge. I found that the mode really punishes you for skipping on certain positions and doesn’t reward you correctly for beefing up on others so I think my draft philosophy for that mode is getting stronger. I will say that you cannot go cheap at running back, or on your corners or you will lose. I went with an all-star offensive line and an “OK” running back and he was just too lame to get consistent yards against the difficult last team. And without at least 1 awesome corner the computer will pick you apart regardless of who is the Quarterback and whether or not your amazing pass rushers are battering him around. With my new confidence I will take a stab at the online multiplayer for this mode, as the rewards are better.
I still think Madden is a little too tied to reality as well. I mean I am simulating games into future years, why can’t I create a female football player or coach? The Bills have a female assistant coach, maybe in a few years she has the clout to apply for the big job. You telling me a “Brienne of Tarth” type women couldn’t possibly make a squad as a player? This game is as much fantasy as reality and not having the ability seems a little odd. Now I have to “Mulan” a woman into the game in creative mode. I am thinking there are plenty of women capable of playing some skill positions. I bet all of us know 3 women who are more durable than Desean Jackson, so it shouldn’t be that big of a stretch in imagination.