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Re: 'Madden NFL 10': Five Things to Know
When I first heard that EA Sports was adding the Wildcat formation to the game this year, the first emotion I felt was panic. If anything will break the game this year and become the most overused formation at the Madden Challenge, the Wildcat is it.
Not to worry, Frazier promised. "I understand the concern, and if we were adding it as a part of downloadable content or something after the fact where we didn't have the time to fix the AI [artificial intelligence] to go with it, then the Wildcat could be a real problem. But the fact that we're adding it during our developmental cycle and we have a chance to take a look at those AI issues that you're concerned about, I don't think it's going to be a problem.
"Just as we're adding the Wildcat, we're also making sure our defenses are ready for the Wildcat. Just as you saw with the Dolphins, they had great early success with it. Ronnie Brown was putting up huge numbers with it. But then throughout the season, teams started to adjust and they figured out ways to stop it. We had to program that same logic into our defense as well, so you don't see the same five-touchdown performance out of the Wildcat like the Dolphins had early on.
"We have a guy by the name of Anthony White, and he does all our playbooks. He is kind of a playbook hobbyist and he buys coaching books, coaching schemes, and he tries to get his hands on black-market copies of playbooks. All he does is watch NFL tape and read playbooks, and he really nailed the Wildcat."
The more I talk to players, the more I realize how important these video game ratings really are. These numbers are talked about in the locker rooms and even on the practice field. When somebody misses a block, guys will joke about how his rating just dropped five points.
But nothing has prepared the NFL for what's about to happen with "Madden NFL 10." The producers of the game have decided to create a bigger gap in the ratings between the elite players and those who ride the pine.
That means that although quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning still strut around with a 99 overall rating, backups such as Matt Leinart can only watch as their overall rating drops from a 85 to a 62. Ouch.
"Quite frankly, we were getting to a point in the game where elite players just felt like every other player in the game," Frazier said. "Brandon Jacobs, who is just a beast, wasn't able to break that many more tackles than the average running back because almost all of the ratings ended up between 80 and 99.
"Our intention this year was to make the elite players stand out. We're pretty sure a lot of players are going to be extremely unhappy about this, but the result is, there are a lot of guys who are coming down in ratings across the board. Every single rating is being adjusted. The elite guys, they're safe. Peyton Manning, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, guys like that are going to be saved. But the average guy is certainly going to come down. Guys in the 70s are now average. You may even see some guys in the 40s.
"And the game-play impact is absolutely huge. Now the teams actually feel like they have a personality. When you're playing as a team like the 49ers who don't have that elite quarterback, you're going to have a hard time throwing the ball. It's going to feel like you have a problem at that position, and that's a great change."
One look at the new screens of "Madden NFL 10" tells you the differences are almost too many to count. "Green gloves in Seattle, all the new jerseys that have been announced, Super Bowl patches for the players -- it's all about authenticity," Frazier said. "We're even looking into fixing Troy Polamalu's hair. Little things like that, we're really trying to bring home. We want everything you see on Sunday to be seen in 'Madden NFL 10.'
"If you see a kicker warming up on the sideline, that's the type of detail we want you to see in Madden as well. All those details, from little things like the right stripes on uniforms to the kickers warming up, that's what you're going to see in the game. We've also slowed the game down a bit this year, and when people first hear that, they don't understand what that really means, but I think that now, it just feels right. When you're running the ball, you can see the holes and you have time to react and hit those holes. When you're going to turn upfield, you actually need to plant your foot and turn upfield. You can't just turn on a dime. There's no more Mario running. I just think the game is really starting to feel like an NFL simulation should feel, and that's really what I'm most proud of.
"And as much as it would be fun to Hit Stick the referees, I don't think our league insiders over at the NFL would be too pleased. Although we did plan to have an achievement in the game if you were able to play an entire game of Madden without knocking over an official. But it's so hard to do, we had to take it out. But no, you can't Hit Stick them, and even when you run into them in the game, they won't stop your progress, you just knock them over and keep going.
"This year, the focus was just getting the officials on the field. We've never had seven officials on the field before as in the old days, we only had five. So we have more officials on the field, and we're running at 60 frames per second. Maybe in the future you'll be able to knock their hats off with passes or something like that, but we're not quite there just yet.
"And here's the thing, we're not even showing everything about the game just yet. This is just a taste. We have some pretty big online features that will appeal to both competitive gamers and cooperative gamers, we have a lot more presentation features to come, as well as new Dynasty features.
"Everything I just told you, that's only really scratching the surface."
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