Sunday, September 14, 2008

Madden NFL 09 All-Play (Wii) Review

And here I was thinking I wouldn't get around to it. I just didn't feel like it. Then I had a good idea for the review, and now here it is.

Well, football season returned last week, and my hometown Rams kicked ass and took names. No, not on the field, of course, but off. After their humiliating performance, they went to a local preschool to get their confidence back as they beat the s*** out of the children there. No, no. I'm just kidding. The children actually beat the s*** out of the Rams!

Nonetheless, here is a completely brand-new review for your reading and viewing pleasure. I decided to do somewhat of a gimmick review, but it still has a lot of information about the game as well as more humor than usual. Let me know what you guys and gals think.


Dear EA: Wii owners are not mentally deficient, so please stop treating us like we are.

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Hello. I am SuperPhillip. Congratulations on twenty years of "boom, pow, tough-actin' Tinactin" Madden! You know, the last Madden game my older brother and I picked up was Madden NFL 2002 for the Playstation 2 exactly seven years ago-- a full third of my life ago. My bro loved every past edition of the Madden franchise purchasing each and every Madden that came out from 1993 all the way to our final gridiron showdown in 2002. I decided to end my Madden hiatus once I got wind of this new Wii version, Madden NFL 09 All-Play. It was being touted as a whole new way to play without the glitches of the past two versions and enhanced online play. Now I could enjoy my-- as an ad put it-- "favorite football franchise" (funny enough the acronym for that is "FFF") and have an entirely fresh and fun experience. Unfortunately, it wasn't all entirely that way.

A shot like this was simply taken via the instant replay feature.

There's plenty of options and content here in the newest Wii Madden. Some are fantastic while others just take up space or still haven't been fully realized yet. One of these examples is the Franchise mode. You pick a team, have your players go through mini-game challenges such as passing tests, tackling tests, and red zone plays in order to boost your players' ratings, play or simulate your games, and try to survive for the Super Bowl. That's really all that's to it, and from my understanding that's all that's been to it for years now. The mode is stagnant, really. I would love the ability to export my franchise team into the other modes, but this option is nowhere to be found!

Another option or two that I noticed were nowhere to be found are a create a team or create a player modes. I'm sure the HD and even the PS2 and Xbox versions have them, so I was curious as to why they were left out of the Wii installment. Perhaps you were afraid that you wouldn't be able to fit these game aspects into your instruction manual as they're usually only ten black and white pages thick anyway, so you decided to leave them out of the game completely. After all, we "casual" Wii owners wouldn't be able to follow such a mysterious feature without the aid of instructions! I think that is a well-thought out decision, so bravo, EA execs!

Number 77 looks like he's doing push-ups, does he not?

On the positive side of the football field, I really enjoyed the new inclusion of the 5-on-5 football mode. This arcade-style mode gives folks the ability to play a short game with short teams with a short playbook. Each team is made up of five players (the option of big head mode is given for an even more arcade-style game), and both offense and defense only have four basic plays to run. Offense can either run or throw a short, middle, or deep pass whereas defense can either blitz, cover short, middle, or deep. Offense only gets four chances to score a touchdown to earn a point, but if they fail then the other team gets to try from wherever the last down fell. It's an incredibly streamlined, fast-paced mode which was quite a blast to play.

To round out the package, a tweaked online mode is along for the ride. You guys at EA gave us the luxury of using an EA tag instead of the abomination known as friend codes, so adding a pal is as easy as 1-2-3. Playing online is smooth and the framerate is consistently constant-- no matter how redundant the preceding phrase was. Not all is right though because when playing online, if your opponent quits either intentionally or otherwise, you'll get the loss and he or she will get the win! Obviously you guys at EA overlooked that just so you could piss off the fellow who came up with the phrase "cheaters never prosper". You need not admit it. Your secret is safe with me!

Call Your Shots is a great new feature exclusive to the Wii version.

Controlling the game is pretty amusing, too, and I mean that in a satisfied way. The biggest addition to the formula is the brand new Call Your Shots feature. In my opinion, this is the most revolutionary new treat to hit Madden since his shtick as the spokesman for Tinactin! (Tinactin reference #2.) Athlete's foot can kiss my ass, but then my ass would probably get painfully itchy then, so never mind. Anyway, Call Your Shots is great. You can tweak any given play by pressing the A button as your team is lining up. You can then point to a receiver and customize his path by making waypoints for him to follow. The only downfall of this is that if you're playing local multiplayer (yep, a lot of people still do that in 2008), your opponent can see your play. Not that that matters anyway because instead of selecting a play by pressing a button, you have to actually point with the Wii remote at the play you want to call. This means you can see your friend's play, and he can see yours pretty easily. I hope Nick doesn't think I'm blitzing up his team's butt! Oops. He figured it out! To be fair though, it's great to use online and also great to use against the computer AI. Just beef them up to a harder difficulty, or you won't have too much of a demanding challenge.

I'm thankful that optional tutorials are listed during each game. Being accustomed to a Playstation 2 controller for the majority of my life for Madden games, switching to the buttons and motions of the Wii remote took some practice and time to learn. Not too bad, however. To pass you simply hold a direction on the d-pad and make a flicking or throwing motion to toss the pigskin (hopefully) to your intended receiver. Just be sure your man isn’t under cover by four defenders like I do just for the fun of it. A swift motion will throw a bullet pass while a slow motion will lob a slower pass towards your target. I really don’t see how these Wii controls for passing are more intuitive than playing another version, so you may want to look into that. Nonetheless, I really dug the simple field goal and punting controls as well as the cool touch of having a quarterback shout things from the remote’s speaker. I could have sworn one of the times he yelled, “Help! I’m trapped inside this Wii remote, you little %#%!”

Hold the d-pad in the direction of the corresponding receiver and throw.

Now where does the “All-Play” in Madden NFL 09 All-Play fit into the game? Well, the All-Play modes– for both control and difficulty– are to help novice players or folks just looking for some stress-free entertainment get into the game. The most basic control is just the Wii remote by itself where the player just shakes the crap out of the little bugger at opportune times. The All-Play difficulty has one main change to it. There’s no play clock, so you when you’re in the lead you can hypothetically let the clock run from 9:45 to 0:00 without any penalty. Of course, this means that some jackass will take advantage of and exploit this to his or her own benefit, and you know what? This jackass did just that. I came to win, baby.

Whenever you score a touchdown, sack a quarterback, recover a fumble, catch a pass for an interception, foil an assassination attempt against Dick Butkus, or cause a safety, the player who made the play will have the opportunity to boost his performance. How? No, not by Enzyte, but by wildly shaking the Wii remote and nunchuk like a complete tool. Ah... giving a player a performance-enhancing drug-like boost through the sacred art of interpretive dance... It’s a beautiful thing.

What isn’t a beautiful thing, however, is the presentation. The graphics are passable, but seriously, this does not look at all like an effort built from the ground up. Which graphical engine did you port to the Wii? Did you upgrade the PS2 engine, or did you severely downgrade the Xbox engine? I mean, the PS2 version of Madden NFL 2002 had deteriorating fields over time and had the players accumulating dirt, mud, blood, and feces on their jerseys. That game’s seven years old on weaker hardware. Why is it when I set the rain or snow to come down 100% there’s no participation at all no matter how far or short I slide the damn thing? Why is it when my team wins a game and as they celebrate it uses the same recycled celebration from Madden NFL 2002 where the player goes up and shakes the camera? Why is it that this time when the player shakes the camera he disappears from view? Does he somehow fuse his spirit into the camera and causes it to shake? If so, that is badass. EA, you have some very creative minds there.

This isn't a play. Number 25 slept with number 57's wife.

Which brings me to what I saw on the latest NPD. The Wii version sold the least by a wide margin compared to the PS3 and 360 versions. Now don’t ask yourselves why the Wii version didn’t sell. No, that’s not the right question. You should be asking yourself why should it sell. If I only owned a Wii and still had my PS2 or Xbox, why should I pick up the Wii version over what I’m familiar to? You’ve honestly done nothing to show why the Wii version would be better than a version from last-gen. Football is a serious sport, and as serious gamers or even people who want a serious football game who’ve never touched one, we take it... well, seriously. I, along with several million others, would rather play a serious effort. It’s just hilarious and pathetic that you guys still don’t get it. You don’t get the Wii demographic, or at least your executives don’t. We’re not mentally-handicapped. Just because someone is new to gaming does not mean they’re completely stupid and will buy anything colorful. Wii owners don’t want watered-down, cartoon-filled versions of normal games. We don’t want Imagine: Madden. We want regular Madden that takes advantage of the Wii’s technology. The sooner you realize that (and actually market the Wii version instead of only storming the airwaves with 360/PS3 only commercials), the better your sales will be.

Which game would a serious football fan buy?

However, as a total package I did enjoy your product– this year’s Madden. Then again it was my first in seven years, so I was deprived for awhile. I thought it was entertaining, and I believe that the ideas are there. Unfortunately, I think the game is due for yet another overhaul. Make it a game that I could easily choose over a Playstation 2 installment. Give me the modes of the HD consoles just without the technically impressive graphics. Most importantly, just give us, your customers, some hints that you actually gave a lot of effort into 2010. For now though I must give your game this score:

Overall: 7.0/10

Hugs and kisses that might give you mono,

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