Friday is a huge day for gamers and football fans alike: Madden 10, the annual NFL video game, hits stores around the country.
Will you be lined up outside of your nearest electronics store awaiting the release? Or will you avoid purchasing the game, much like T.J. Houshmandzadeh?
Either way, Madden has officially become a major part of American sports culture and hits consumers by storm every summer. The annual buzz surrounding the release date seems to exponentially grow every year, and this year is no different.
Madden NFL Football is the number one selling sports video game of all time.
I will most likely be purchasing the title at some point, although I don’t consider myself to be a serious gamer. Madden consistently offers the best football simulation available on any video console.
THIS YEAR: Madden 10 offers several new features this season that make the simulation more realistic, including referees peeling players off of fumble pile, the chain gang rushing in to measure for a key first down, and detailed player equipment. The animation continues to improve, and this year’s edition features gang tackles (up to nine defenders), an enhanced pocket presence, and fighting for loose balls at the bottom of a pile. Every year, it seems as if Madden is always ahead of the curve and becoming more realistic.
As always, Madden 10 will provide gamers with a unique online experience, allowing users to play competitively with opponents around the world. In addition, Madden’s franchise mode continues to be unrivaled, and offers the best real-world simulation. Madden 10, just like its predecessors, will allow you to take over every aspect of an NFL franchise, from drafting players to managing the salary cap.
BEST NEW FEATURE: Undoubtedly, the best new feature in this year’s version will be the online franchise mode. Despite recent improvements to online game play, this feature has been absent in recent years; the NCAA football game from EA Sports implemented an online dynasty mode last year, which is the college game’s equivalent to Madden 10’s online franchise mode.
Online franchise mode will allow gamers to take over a franchise and compete with live users, as opposed to the limited artificial intelligence. This feature will make competition between friends and other groups possibly regardless of location; in the past, online play was limited to head-to-head matches and basic tournaments.
MADDEN CURSE: Even if you’re not a Madden die-hard, you’re likely aware of the renowned curse associated with the game. Every year, it seems as if the player featured on the cover of the game is either injured or plays well below expectations. Seattle fans remember Shaun Alexander’s appearance on the cover after his MVP season; Alexander struggled through injuries afterwards and was never able to match his previous success.
This season, for the first time ever, the cover of Madden features two athletes: Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. As a Seahawks fan, one can only hope that the Madden curse can slow down Fitzgerald; opposing defenses around the league haven’t had much success lately.
FORECAST FOR SEATTLE: As usual, the Seattle Seahawks didn’t get much love as far as the game ratings go. Even after the Seahawks made an appearance in Super Bowl XL, several players were rated quite low and didn’t match my own (homer) expectations.
Recently, T.J. Houshmandzadeh told the media that he was boycotting Madden 10 because his rating was too low. I think that Housh was rated appropriately compared with the rest of the league, but he apparently thinks otherwise – his speed is only 81, sub-par for a good Madden receiver. From Houshmandzadeh:
I understand I averaged 10 yards a catch, but it’s the offense, not me. I’m not playing Madden anymore until they get my rating right. … I used to be the best in the world at Madden. I’m going to miss not playing it, but until they do me right, I’m not playing it anymore.
On another note, Seattle is rated 77 overall as a team, which puts them second in the NFC West behind the Cardinals (86). The 49ers and Rams were rated lower, and rightfully so, at 73 and 66, respectively.
In a simulation of Madden 10 done by IGN.com before the official release, Seattle finished the season 8-8 and tied for second place in the NFC West. The Arizona Cardinals finished on top with a record of 12-4. To my surprise, Seattle gave up the most points in the division, and almost 100 more than the Cardinals. Besides the Rams and Lions, the Cardinals gave up more points per game than any other team in the NFC last season.
Of course, IGN.com’s simulation left Seattle out of the playoffs. This wasn’t a complete shock, however, since the Seahawks limped through 2008 and finished the season 4-12. The simulation’s Super Bowl featured the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots, with the Patriots winning 21-14.