CSI: Tiburon - Madden Revealed

Upon the August 22 release of Madden 2007, Seahawks.NET's own Mark Olsen and Trav Flatt dug in and became severely devoted to their pixellated on-field alter egos. After a Woodstock-length respite from the real world, our intrepid correspondents have emerged, unshaven and emaciated, to file the following report detailing the new Madden's pros and cons.

New Features:

Mark – So, there are some nice new additions to this year’s game, including the hyped “Superstar Mode” which lets you create a player at any position except kicker (there goes my dream of being the next Bill Gramatica ) and live their life from prospect to Hall of Famer. Being an X's and O's geek, I actually looked into and used another new feature, the "NFL Network" mode, a few times. I thought it was pretty cool to have them break down the various Holmgren plays on the chart, but this "mode" is basically only good for the first or second time through, then the entire mode is worthless.

Trav – Pretty damn cool upgrades overall, and with Superstar mode, I like being able to just play the one position.  My first experimentation with Superstar was as a WR, surprisingly drafted in the 4th by the 'Hawks. By the way, you are highly incorrect: You actually CAN be a kicker or a punter… There are even special ‘roles’ for Elite Kickers you can develop into.

Mark – Ok, so then if you can be a punter, it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of why? It is a bit hard to get used to watching a video game as a non-participant on the sidelines though.

Trav – But it really does grant a different perspective sitting on the sidelines for the entire game, I was biting my tongue, entertaining notions of a Slight Injury granting me a few slot snaps.  You start to notice the entire 'Team' dynamic, as well; wide receivers screwing up a route, someone whiffing a block, missed assignments...  All the subtle Stat-Free aspects come to light. On the down side, the 'Player Success' system is screwed up. The coach doesn't care what YOU did; the coach cares what the TEAM did.  If you execute a flawless block and the RB fumbles the ball 20 yards away, YOU still get penalized for it.  I guess there’s no “I” in Team, but when playing "Superstar Mode", there should at least be a small "I", dontcha think?
Mark –EA Sports claims to strive to make the game as realistic as possible, and no player on an NFL roster is going to get a happy face sticker on his report card if the team loses 42-3.

Trav – Additionally, it's advertised as possible to fast-forward through plays in which your player is on the sidelines scratching his personal regions.  It's possible that I'm just stupid, but I've yet to be able to find out how to DO this.  I don't know if it's just player obtusely or Madden Omission.

Mark – I think we both know the answer to that, Trav. So I’m thinking the life scenarios they give in Superstar mode were made for Comic Book Guy wannabe’s that need to fulfill their life dreams through a video game. I mean, c’mon, do I really need to live life like a playa and sign a movie deal?

Trav – Those movie role offers are Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. They were stupid last year, and they are... Hey, WOW... equally stupid this year.  Stop offering 4th round draft picks and second string kickers a Hollywood movie role every single season just because they're a big bad NFL star. Oh, and make the 40-time MEAN something if you're going to implement it.  I got a 4.67 on the 40 and my speed rating is 95? Did I mention that the movie role offers are stupid? Even a second string punter immediately gets offered a movie role. We shouldn’t go into the stupidity of HAVING a second string punter…


Game Play

Trav – The 'Fatigue Bug' is still there so players don't get tired.  Give Shaun 90 carries if you want, woo!  Poor bug killing, this should've been fixed LAST year. I've also noticed the 'Wrong coach reaction' bug; If I throw a pick that's taken back to the house, Holmgren is on the sidelines cheering enthusiastically.  WTF?

Mark – Well, maybe Holmgren is excited by the big lesson his QB is learning by throwing the pick? I also love some of the hidden gems of unintentional comedy throughout the game. For instance, I couldn’t help but notice that during the close up fan shots after a big play, one of the opposing fans was none other than Mike Martz in full fan gear! Nice!

Trav – During one of the Chargers fan shots I swear I saw Thor.  Like, THE Thor.

Mark – Of course, seems reasonable that Thor is a Charger fan, just like I'm sure Aquaman is a big fan of the Arizona Cardinals since both are basically the worthless jokes of their respective peers.

Trav – Now I want to see Flipper randomly hugging some fan in celebration at a Dolphins game. A good game play addition for 07 that's actually a bit subtle is on defense:  You can actually just PICK your D-player instead of having to cycle all the way through.  Just hold down the button and use the stick to move right to, say, Tatupu.  Nice.

Mark – That was a great addition, as well as the new “fool the AI” modes in which you can tell your defense to fake the blitz, etc. That actually helped lead to a Leroy Hill INT for me. I am really glad they changed the kicking system, using the analog stick is so much better than timing the buttons for strength and accuracy.

Trav – That's a carryover from NCAA 2007. I think NCAA is finally one step ahead of Madden in quality.  The x-button mashing-tackle-breaks are another one, as is another feature that I just managed to fully figure out today:  Defensive commit.  It works pretty damn well!  Peyton was shredding me (And the digital bastard incessantly audibles.  I mean, EVERY damn time at the line!) until I just ignored the run and started committing 'Pass' every single play, then his butt was more or less shut down. NCAA had the 'Jump the snap' feature on defense, which I -loved-.  The omission here in Madden is kind of lazy.

Mark – As stated in the features section, I do love being able to now control any position or player for a play, or an entire game. Playing as Walter Jones basically made me want to go outside and pull my Dodge Durango around the neighborhood.

Trav – This could begin to piss me off if it's a glitch, though at the moment I'm not sure if it's just an 'I'm not getting it yet' deal. I’m playing as WR Flatt and it is tough as hell to catch a pass. In the first two Preseason games (I still have a half of the Colts game to finish), I've caught 1 stinking pass for 3 yards, just a quick hitch on 3rd and long, so I don't even know why Seneca threw it to me in the first place, but that's a separate issue. Potential problem I've noted: You make your cut, get open, call for the ball... and the QB proceeds to throw you the ball so you can catch it in stride, right? Noooooooo. The QB throws it to where you were when you called for the ball. Generally, it's about five or six yards behind you if you're running Ins/Outs. Again, I could just be doing something wrong, but this strikes me as flagrantly retarded. Thus far I’ve found the only solution: Don’t call for the ball, and the QB -might- actually throw you a decent pass.


Seahawks Players and Ratings

Mark – So Walter Jones gets one of only 5 perfect 99 ratings handed out in the game, Shaun Alexander gets a 98 rating and cover honors, and one of the load screens features a very cool picture of Lofa Tatupu standing over a defeated St. Louis Rams’ RB Steven Jackson. Not bad for a team from Egypt. In playing as the team, it was nice to be dominant with the real starters without having to embellish with some trades or create-a-players. Mack Strong is even given his killer blocking props.

Trav – My current Preseason Heroes:  Kemp Rassmussen (2 sacks in one game), and Joe Tafoya (1 sack and llattened the Unholy Crap out of San Diego’s Darren Sproles on a return.)  I was more than a little surprised to see Ty Law on the ‘Hawks roster, though. Of course, if the real life Law were rated at a 97, I wouldn’t mind quite so much.

Mark – Oh, don’t get me started on the stupidity of this system AI for 2 nd team preseason substitutes! Because the game only lets you have 53 players on your roster, it makes for some interesting 3 rd string players. In preseason, when the second team goes in, I can't control who's on special teams, and guess who gets injured covering a kickoff? Darrell Freaking Jackson!!! And yes, for those keeping score, it was a knee injury. Those EA Sports boys really have that realism thing down!

Trav – That's one I was going to put at the business end of a hissy fit, myself; It’s preseason and you've got your 1st stringers on ST duty in the second half. You know, for fun! Additionally, if one of the 2 nd stringers goes down, it’s the starter that comes back in to replace him, not the 3 rd stringer. You can go in and edit this manually after the fact, though you’d both be handicapping yourself for that game AND breaking a Trav Flatt house rule in the interest of parity.

Mark – Oh, and this one killed me: 4th quarter of the preseason game, I go goal line set and who is lined up on the far right 3rd TE position? Oh yes, Josh Brown. No, not kidding.

Trav – Nice.  "Get out there Josh!!"  'But...but...'  "Shut your mouth and Cowboy up, beeyotch!"

Mark – Only a couple of Seahawk issues I could find though; Where is rookie punter Ryan Plackemeier? Making me boot with Tom Rouen is just mean, so I’ve decided to go 2003 Rams on them and go for it on every 4 th down. And why would you put DE Darryl Tapp in the depth chart behind Rassmussen?

Trav - Makes almost as much sense as Tubbs sitting 3rd string.


Overall Impressions

Mark – Honestly, I think that there are some good additions to the game, but it felt it wasn’t much more than a glorified roster update from the 06 version, with the possible exception of the defensive improvements and the single player control abilities. I would rate it a “B” based on the amount of features I haven’t yet found and the “replayability” of the series.

Trav – I'll give it about a “B-”. While I've generally tended to not care too much about the shiny new bells
and whistles year to year, I do at least appreciate it when they're NEW if they're featured as such.  The ‘Mash X Button to Break a Tackle’ thing, for example. Also, I think this is the first year that NCAA Football 07 is clearly ahead of the curve vs. Madden. I begin to wonder just how much that exclusive NFL license has sucked the competitive bite from EA. Anyway, I'm glad I rented both titles, and if backed into a corner and forced to pick one to buy, I'd probably pick NCAA over this year’s Madden.


Bonus Material

*Yes reader, you asked for it, you got it; follow the not-so-budding career of our hero, WR Flatt as he impresses fans with his ability to drop passes, get penalties, and stand on the sidelines for several 15 minute intervals continuously! And just like a real NFL wide receiver, our hero will ultimately blame all of this on teammates, the coaching staff, and even get a bit of payback against the zebras!

Flatt - Just don’t call me “Leon”.

Preseason

WR Flatt is already overrated, even before his first game. His speed is rated at a 95, but he only runs a 4.67 40. Oh well, at least he's made some ungodly special teams tackles.  And, of course, cost the team 14 points on ST fumbles in the first three preseason games. Hey, but... he has 4 receptions to make up for it.

Flatt - Did I mention that two of those catches had me leaping quite acrobatically to chase after a pair of unbelievably errant Seneca Wallace tosses? Maybe he’s tossing high trying to get the ball over the big bad O-line.

It took Flatt until the second quarter to actually get an offensive snap.... for a draw play.  He heroically cut block a LB and felt damned impressed with himself for the rest of the half, even though he didn't technically DO anything else in that particular half of preseason play. 

Flatt - Yay!  Coach!  Look what I did!!

Oops, make that 3 Preseason ST fumbles for Flatt.  The guy sucks.

Flatt - Hey, I’m finally in the game, and I've had Hass toss a ball in my vague direction 10 yards behind me on a post into a cluster of three defenders for the INT, and with the aforementioned 'Superstar' scoring system, of course, I got blamed for it.


REGULAR SEASON! Seattle @ Detroit

After an iffy 2-2 Preseason performance, the Hawks came out and basically obliterated the Lions.

WR Flatt's Key Contributions:  15-yard Flagrant Clipping Penalty taking back a 12-yard Shaun run on a draw play.  To be perfectly honest, I was rather proud of myself.  When you're 165lbs, you damn well celebrate when you pancake somebody, and you don't spend a lot of time on little details upon which way they were technically facing when it happened.

Final: 48-20 Seahawks (Though to be fair, I think the Hawks were in the locker room celebrating when the Lions put up their last two scores.) Johnny K (John Kitna) went down around halftime with a broken collarbone, and though Josh McCown DID put together one decent-looking drive, Detroit basically curled up and died at that point.

Hass:  22-37, 362yd, 4 TD, 1 INT
Shaun: 35-127yd, 1 TD
Flatt: 10.0 PR Average, 1 Clip, 1 Speed bump for a Detroit Kickoff Return Man.  Idiot rookie.

Play of the game - I just secured my place in Seahawks Fan Love for the next decade:  In a confusing moment as WR Flatt was running a Fly route, after a completed pass underneath to the back, WR Flatt cut-blocked the ref.  Oops.


All images courtesy of maddennation.com.

Mark Olsen and Trav Flatt both write for Seahawks.NET, when they're not bringing a whole new meaning to "The Madden Curse". Their significant others undoubtedly have honey-do lists the size of Pork Chop Womack at this point, but you can try e-mailing Mark here and Trav here, if you so desire.

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