Giant Bomb Review

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Madden NFL Football Review

1
  • 3DS

If ever there were a cautionary tale for the early adopter of new gaming technology, Madden NFL Football is it.

People play sports because of a certain competitive spirit imbued within them; a desire to play against the best and persevere. People play sports video games for much the same reason. There is certainly a lazier bent to gaming in favor of the real thing, but the competitive spirit remains. You play Madden because you want to show your friends you have the greatest mastery of Aaron Rogers' throws, Arian Foster's jukes, and Patrick Willis' brutal tackles. You want to go online, or play locally against strangers and friends alike, and reign supreme over them.

Run all you like, generic Lions player. You can't escape the misery of Madden on the 3DS.

In Madden NFL Football for the newly-released 3DS system, you cannot do this. This is a multiplayer-bereft game of video game football. The only witness to your theoretical digital gridiron glory will be mindless AI players, who frankly could not give a flip about how awesome that deep pass was, or how badly you smoked them on that killer interception. What awaits you is not the heat of intense competition, but the icy, soulless embrace of computer opponents who bend and react with all the humanity of a game of electric football. How pathetic is this? The iPhone version, which is less than a quarter of the cost of the version found on this new-fangled device, has multiplayer capabilities. Chew on that one, and tell me it isn't a little salty.

Mind you, multiplayer is not the only thing missing from Madden NFL Football. For starters, there is the obvious year marking in the title, which seems to suggest that this is an iteration of Madden that exists outside of time as we perceive it. Considering what an insane regression this is from what players got to know on the DS of old, credence is lent to that theory. The game offers up 11-on-11 and 5-on-5 permutations of football. In the 5-on-5 game, you play to a score of 30, and the incongruous soundtrack plays incessantly over the action. Otherwise, there is little difference beyond fewer player models on the field.

In either event, you can opt for quick matches against the computer, or play in the season mode. That's not a franchise mode, mind you. It's a season mode. You play a season. That's it. Feature wise, it's actually a little like the online franchise mode introduced to the console versions not terribly long ago. Except there are no other people playing besides yourself, and the computer is seemingly incapable of trades, because that's probably hard to program, or something.

That is the gamut of modes to run through. When you tire of playing through single season after single season, perhaps you can create your own metagame out of "how many scoring exploits can I find in this game?" Handheld versions of Madden have never been the shining beacons of quality of the franchise, but over the years, whatever short-straw-drawing developers EA happened to lock in a supply closet for the duration necessary to churn out the latest DS and PSP editions of the game clearly developed some kind of Stockholm Syndrome, and out of sympathy for their captors, began turning in progressively more playable--if not exactly impressive--handheld football games. Some included multiplayer, even.

In six months, when Madden NFL 12 is released, feel free to just set your old Madden cart on fire. It'll be cathartic.

While this Madden plays a generally functional game of football in some scenarios--specifically when tuned to the All Pro difficulty, and after half-an-hour or so spent fudging with the few available gameplay sliders--it's effectively broken outside of those specific scenarios. All Madden is, predictably, impossible, cheap, and annoying. The default Pro setting cannot be considered anything but an elaborate, jokey reference to Tecmo Bowl. Every running back capable of moderate speed can regularly punch in huge gains like the great, diagonal Bo Jackson. On kick returns, the touchdowns you don't get are the anomaly. Run forward, then run sideways, then run forward again, and watch as opponents struggle mightily to catch up. I got 14 return touchdowns in a row before I finally found a kick returner slow enough to negate the exploit. He was a linebacker, by the way.

But what of the 3D? Or, you know, the only possible remaining reason to buy this thing? It's OK. The primary functionality of the 3D is to take the UI overlays and make them stand out against the depth of the play field. So scores, game clock, and other display-related bric-a-brac are all up in your face, while the field remains mostly the same. There is a bit of visual depth to the field you wouldn't otherwise get, but its purpose is elusive. The on-field action does at least look reasonably decent, with player models receiving a bump in quality over previous DS iterations. It looks more like the old PSP games than anything else. Still, animations are as janky as ever, especially when two players happen to rub up against one another, and while it's admirable that EA was able to shoehorn the console versions' commentary track onto a 3DS cart, it also seems an entirely superfluous and mildly cruel inclusion, given the giant, gaping holes found elsewhere.

Madden NFL Football on the 3DS is a senseless endeavor. Its sole purpose seems to be to exist as a Madden game on store shelves at a platform launch. It's a crass, vacant husk so lacking in personality or substance that it might as well just be called Football Video Game: IN 3D!!! It's the worst kind of opportunism at $40 a pop. The tragedy is that it will work. People will buy this, because it exists at the right moment. Perhaps EA will release the rest of this game--namely, the fun parts--as part of its next Madden suite. That would be little solace for those who purchased this dreck. They'll still be saddled with this worthless, untradeable lump sitting on their game shelf, like a benign inoperable tumor.

Alex Navarro on Google+
77 Comments
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Posted by Nunchuckles

I feel bad for whichever kid buys this game

Posted by UnsolvedParadox
@Jensonb said:
" Ahh, An Alex Navarro-penned scathing review of a terrible game. Just like old times. "
He just keeps ripping on it, OVER AND OVER AND OVER...
Posted by ajamafalous
@mosdl said:
" @Hailinel said:
" The Madden game so bad, no NFL player would dare risk cursing themselves by appearing on the cover. "
I bet EA blames the lockout. "
Posted by mavs

So Alex, what you're saying is this game is better than cancer?

Posted by FesteringNeon

I would have paid a dollar to see a sweet video review of this game.

Posted by m2cks
@Sil3n7 said:
" Wait, was I reading a review for big rigs? "
Oh, the memories. Alex should reprise his role as the suicidal god-questioning game reviewer and make a video review for this game for the lulz.
Posted by Bloodgraiv3

I have to say, Alex is one of the best writers i've ever seen. 
Posted by LordAndrew
@heatDrive88 said:
" Alex, if you're reading this, just remember that this single one star you're giving to this game still equates to a 20% out of 100% for a meta-critic review. I want to be sure that you are aware of the extra 20% that this god-awful game is receiving, when your possible score can be unfortunately skewed when reflected elsewhere.     "
To solve this problem they should allow Alex to post zero-star reviews on Giant Bomb. No one else, just Alex.
Posted by LordAndrew
@gladspooky said:
" "An half-an-hour"? "
The H is silent. 'Alf an hour.
Posted by Eristocrat
@pyromaster222 said:
" I feel like it has a reached a point where we need to get some specific images for various ratings for ALEX NAVARRO!!!!! does anyone agree? "
YES! 
Posted by MjHealy

Alex Navarro writing scathing reviews of video games once again. Finally, all is right with the world.

Posted by Example1013
@mavs said:
" So Alex, what you're saying is this game is better than cancer? "
Cancer doesn't cost $40, so probably not.
Posted by heatDrive88
@LordAndrew said:
" @heatDrive88 said:
" Alex, if you're reading this, just remember that this single one star you're giving to this game still equates to a 20% out of 100% for a meta-critic review. I want to be sure that you are aware of the extra 20% that this god-awful game is receiving, when your possible score can be unfortunately skewed when reflected elsewhere.     "
To solve this problem they should allow Alex to post zero-star reviews on Giant Bomb. No one else, just Alex. "
Giant Bomb has never given a zero-star review, right? Time to go shuffle through some reviews...
Posted by Willy105

Ha ha Madden.
 
Can't see how people can buy these games every year. Once a generation would be good, but every year!?!

Posted by Yanngc33

lol angry Alex is the best type of Alex

Posted by AllanIceman
@Milkman said:
" There's nothing I love more than angry Alex.  "
 Sooo good! Ah, memories...
Posted by El_Derrico

One might think this game didn't include a year in the title because of the possible NFL player lockout. But after reading this review, it's probably because it's not good enough to have a year. Programmers from 1997 said "Don't you dare call this crap Madden '97!"

Posted by detectivepbert

now THAT is a review.

Posted by AxleBro

haha, great review

Posted by avantegardener
@MrKlorox
WM needs to commission more portraits. I wanna see an illustrated Alex reflect the 1-star rating.
Totally agree, saw the 1 star and was looking forward to the equivalent of a 'puking Ryan'.
Posted by fox01313

Good review & when I think of Madden game franchise, the last thing I think of is it being on a DS & being fun. Now if they did it more like a sim on managing the franchise & the games were just automated based on how well you are doing plus some dice rolls then it could work on that handheld.

Posted by jakkblades

Vote Mark Ingram for NCAA 2012! Or don't, if you're not Bama fly.

Posted by DeadManRollin

haha I loved the uber sarcastic last paragraph of this review. EA should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by weavminas

I read this review because I though that there was no way this game could be so bad as to deserve a one star review. How could the game be so broken, unpolished, boring, or just bad and still be released with the moniker Madden.  I know that last statement is crazy, but even Watchmen got two stars.
I must say that the review was excellent. Well written, interesting and it explained and justified the single star. For a game I'll never play, on a system I'll never own, for a franchise I won't ever buy again; it was worth my time. And that's not meant to be sarcastic.

Posted by Cusseta

Oh well.  At least Madden '95 on the SNES was awesome. lol

Posted by JeffGoldblum

@heatDrive88 said:

@LordAndrew said:
" @heatDrive88 said:
" Alex, if you're reading this, just remember that this single one star you're giving to this game still equates to a 20% out of 100% for a meta-critic review. I want to be sure that you are aware of the extra 20% that this god-awful game is receiving, when your possible score can be unfortunately skewed when reflected elsewhere. "
To solve this problem they should allow Alex to post zero-star reviews on Giant Bomb. No one else, just Alex. "
Giant Bomb has never given a zero-star review, right? Time to go shuffle through some reviews...

It's a 1 to 5 star system.

Posted by S_Danger_K

I bought this game not knowing any better when I picked up a 3ds. Biggest regret video game wise last year, besides the 3ds itself.