Madden ’09: Madden-sized Disappointment

I finally got my hands on my copy of Madden ’09 earlier this week. I had actually gotten the game pre-ordered way back in early-July, but didn’t end up getting it until this week.

Let me get this part out of the way first: Dear EA Sports. For the love of god, please hire some fracking user interface designers. The user interface for Madden sucks, and seems to get worse every year. Quit spending all of your time making everything glossy and shiny. Just make it better. If you’re unsure of how to do this, WWDC might be a good place to start.

Moving on. My first impressions of the game went something like this:

  • Loading, Waiting, Loading, Waiting
  • Madden Test. Neat idea. What’s with the weird glassy field and see-through players?
  • Apparently I am close to all-madden on offense, but am still at rookie level on defense. Interesting. The combined IQ puts me at below 500.
  • Loading, Waiting, Loading, Waiting
  • Start up franchise mode. No need to save, I just started.
  • Start first game. Oh wait, I can practice for points. Umm, really confusing, I have no idea what I’m doing. OK, I completely buggered up whatever that was. Let’s start the goddamned game already.
  • Loading, Waiting, Loading, Waiting
  • Because of my offense in the madden test, playing offense now is completely impossible for me. I quickly throw one interception and punt twice. Despite my rookie-level defensive settings, the Jaguars quickly pass and rush their way down the field and score on me. This is not going very well.
  • What’s with all of the ridiculous camera angles?
  • Is it just me or is the game-pace faster?
  • Sometime in the late first quarter or early second, I call a play from the play call screen. The sound continues, but the screen freezes at the play call. I hear my players run the play I called, the controller vibrates, announcers continue talking. I can actually continue picking plays an even call timeouts, but the screen is completely frozen. I have to restart the game.
  • At this point, I realize that I had not saved anything yet and decide that maybe I would rather do something else.

That was Wednesday night. Thursday night went like this:

  • Repeat all steps from Wednesday night

So basically, I’ve attempted to play exactly two franchise games. I have not even made it to halftime without the game freezing on me. WTF EA Sports. This is the sorriest excuse of a release game. It is unplayable. Even worse, a quick Google search shows that I’m not the only one:

Madden Freeze Search

Keep in mind here that this game is brand new and I played it exactly twice; both times it froze. My PS3 is only a couple of months old as well. The official EA Forum has a thread about the freezing issues. It’s currently 37 pages long.

I was really hoping that this game would look great on the PS3. I didn’t expect for it not to work at all. I really hope that that class action lawsuit succeeds and they sue the shit out of EA.

Top 10 Games of All Time

I’ve been thinking for quite a while about the idea of the “greatest games”. What makes a truly great game? In my mind, it’s not just a matter of how fun the game is, or how much replay value it has (although that’s important). What was it’s impact on the gaming industry as a whole? How innovative was it? Do I still remember it ten years later?

I’ve put together a quick list of qualities that I think a great game should have:

  1. Innovation in it’s genre
  2. Originality
  3. Replay value
  4. Just plain fun

Video games seem to be a dime a dozen these days, and honestly, most of them suck. I can count on one hand the number of games in recent years that were amazing. I’m talking about games that I would make me buy a system just to play. This whole idea struck me when I first started playing Katamari Damacy. It was without a doubt the absolute best game I’ve played in a long time. Everybody I know loves this game, including non-gamers. Hell, my Grandma thought it was great.

So what are the top ten games of all time? So far, I’ve only been able to think of four definites and two maybes that meet my standards. It’s probably no coincidence that all of these games have multiple sequels. Here they are, without further ado:

The Definites

Katamari Damacy

I already talked about this game a little bit. Quite simply, it is the most original game I’ve seen since probably the birth of video games. All you do is roll over things and get bigger. The concept is so simple (and weird), yet it’s so much fun. The game also presents endless amounts of oddities in the cities and towns, story line and sound effects. Every time I show this game to somebody whose never seen it before, it’s like rediscovering it all over again. The soundtrack is great also.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

This game puts it all together and wraps it up in a neat little package. Although this is actually the fourth installment in the GTA series (I think), it’s the first one that really brought everything together. The Scarface-style storyline is great as is the 70s-80s theme. The game is long, immersive and challenging, with tons of side games. I also love how well the radio stations tie into the theme of the game.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (1 or 2)

Tony Hawk completely revolutionized the genre of XTreme sports video games. Does anyone remember what those games were like before Tony Hawk? I do, regrettably. They were terrible.1 Tony Hawk was truly the first of it’s kind, and it was amazing.

I have a tough time deciding whether it should be Tony Hawk 1 or Tony Hawk 2 on the list. The original was the innovative title, but the second one greatly improved on it by adding the ability to string tricks together using wheelies. You could also use this same argument to include Tony Hawk 3 since it introduced reverts, allowing you to basically string an infinite number of tricks together.


I don’t really have much to say about this one, except come on, it’s Tetris.

The Maybes

Super Mario Kart

I just loved playing this game when I was a kid. It was a fun and goofy racing game to play with friends. Oh the joy that came from waiting until your best friend was just about to cross the finish line to win the race and then hitting them with a red shell.

Secret of Mana

I still love this game. Actually I own it, but not a Super Nintendo to play it on. This probably isn’t the first action RPG game released, but I do think it’s got to be one of the best.

What Else?

Okay, so Super Mario Kart and Secret of Mana probably shouldn’t even come close to making this list. They just happen to be two of my favorites. But what other games should? What about Super Mario Brothers? Isn’t that one of the first side-scrolling action games ever? Should we go back even further? Pong?

I still haven’t been able to pick a game from my personal favorite genre, RPGs. There should definitely be one on the list, but which one? There should probably also be a sports game (Madden?), one of those bloody shooting games, and maybe even an MMO (World of Warcraft?).

What else have I missed? I think there should be something about the Wii in the list. The Wii definitely qualifies as innovative, but is there a game for it that is truly amazing yet? I’m not so sure.

So, I guess I’m stuck here. I’ve picked four games so far. What do you think should round out the rest of the list?

  1. Except for maybe Skitchin’. How often do you get to hang on the the back of a car while hitting a fellow competitor over the head with a crowbar?

Dirty Dancing Video Game

Dirty Dancing

Apparently Codemasters is working on a video game based on the 1987 camp classic Dirty Dancing. I find this incredibly hard to actually take seriously, but sure enough, it’s on the Codemasters website and slated for a Fall 2007 release.

I’m scared. Fortunately, Ben Kuchera from Opposable Thumbs has some great suggestions about what should be in the game.

On a side note, I was double checking the release date of Dirty Dancing on Wikipedia and I found myself incredibly interested in the entire back-story of the movie. Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze actually couldn’t stand each other. It was 40° out when they did that water scene. An oh yeah, there’s the real story of the tickling scene:

Another “chemistry” scene that was improvised was the one where Grey was to stand in front of Swayze with her back to him, and put her arm up behind his head while he trailed his fingers down her arm. Though it was written as a serious and tender moment, Grey was exhausted, found the move ticklish, and could not stop giggling each time Swayze tried it, no matter how many takes that Ardolino asked for. Swayze was impatient to finish the scene, and found Grey’s behavior annoying. But as it turned out, the scene worked and was put into the film as-is, complete with Grey’s giggling and Swayze’s annoyed expression, and it became one of the most famous scenes in the film. It turned out, as choreographer Kenny Ortega put it, “as one of the most delicate and honest moments in the film.”

God of War 2 Gotcha

I just found a link to the new God of War 2 official website from Kotaku. Imagine my surprise when this is what the link opened up in my browser:

God of War 2 website screenshot

In case you can’t read that text, here’s a detail shot:

God of War 2 website screenshot detail

They want to know my birthday before I can even look at the site! You’ve got to be kidding me. I guess I’ll never know what the actual site looks like.

Via Kotaku.

Far cry: Ouch

I haven’t seen a review this scathing in a really long time. Ben Kuchera’s review for Far Cry: Vengeance (Wii) went a little something like this:

I’ve often played games I thought weren’t that attractive, but this game was downright ugly. It’s like ugly’s uglier older sister, Uglita. Except she was horribly burned in an accident when volatile Nasty-sauce from the Beat-Down corporation spilled all over her face.

The game must be really, really bad to make a reviewer that upset.