The Madden NFL franchise is a longtime football video game staple. It debuted on the Genesis in 1988 and has since become a favorite game among virtual football fans. This year is its 20th anniversary. Listed below are some improvements I'd like to see in this year's Madden NFL 09, shipping August 12.
- Players that don't drop interceptions (or passes). Madden 08 was riddled with this issue, and this problem seems to be football games' Achilles Heel.
- Better officiating. Madden 08's refs were flat out terrible—they made blown call after blown call. Some blown calls against me in the past led to losses (case in point the Jets-Rams game I played against my brother yesterday. My 70-yard TD pass to Laveranues Coles was brought back by a penalty my brother and I were surprised at.)
Plus the normally effective challenge system often makes no difference—even if it it's obvious that your challenge should overturn the on-field ruling it will often not happen.
- Players who keep running. Many offensive players will fall over mid-juke if they so much as touch a defensive player.
- Make the team ratings (and player ratings) worth something. On Madden 08 the Patriots have a 97 rating. The Jets have an 84 rating. A couple days ago I beat the Pats with the Jets 63-17. I proved I could stop the run early in the game, and then played a mix of Dollar and Dime zones. This defensive positioning resulted in multiple pick-sixes, which ruined the Pats' chances. By halftime it was 42-10. That would never happen in real life.
- Add more hot routes. Sure, the selection is good right now, but not great. Half the pass patterns I see in every playbook aren't available for use with hot routes.
- Make the graphics better. It looks like the visuals haven't been updated since 06 (when the series made its next-gen debut).
- Get rid of that annoying radio play-by-play announcer. All he does is state the obvious over and over. He offers no analytical insight, and some of his play-by-play is late. Just spare us another year of agony and get rid of him.
- Don't let navigation of the menus feel like a chore. It takes forever to navigate the menus (and playbooks in competitive play) and that gets older quickly. Do what it takes to fix that.
- Shorter load times. It takes an eternity to load games.
- Make sure users always know how many timeouts and challenges they have. I've been victimized by this mistake when planning my attack for a two-minute drill many times before because I had no way to know how many timeouts I had left.
While it would be nice to see many of these improvements in Madden 09, the fact is that Madden is a cult hit among sports fans. There will always be football fanatics who buy Madden every year for $60+ and get 500 hours of playing time out of it. I personally can't wait for Madden 09 and I'm going to pre-order it soon.