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So long Madden. We've had a heck of a run.
on September 4, 2012
I've been as loyal of a Madden fan as any. I've purchased the game every year since the early 90's on Sega Genesis. And I've always enjoyed playing the games themselves, but it was the introduction of the franchise mode (1998?) that got me truly hooked. Every year, as more and more features were added to the franchise mode, I found the game to be more and more addicting. Nothing could add to the games replay value more than a detailed franchise mode where I felt like a real GM, developing my team and molding them into a perennial contender by taking over every detail of the organization and calling all the shots.
I believe Madden hit its peak during the final year on the PS2/XBOX console when every detail of your franchise could be controlled, right down to the price of refreshments in your team's stadium. Admittedly, the game has been a bit of a disappointment since its transition to the latest generation of consoles (PS3 & XBOX 360). The franchise mode was essentially stripped down to the very basics...just a shell of its old form. I understood, at least for a year or two, that the game would have to make a few sacrifices in order to get the game fully functional for the new consoles. The graphics had vastly improved, and I felt I could deal with a lighter version of the franchise mode if it meant playing such a good looking football game. But EA has done very little to bring its franchise mode anywhere close to its old form. There was a glimmer of hope for us franchise enthusiasts in Madden '12 when the game made a number of improvements, publicly acknowledging that Madden had put its franchise loyalists on hold for too long, and the feature was in some great need of improvement. Then Madden '13 was released...
Madden 13 is a slap in the face to any fan of the franchise mode that has stayed true despite the repeated disappointments over the past 5 years. The franchise mode has been completely removed from the game. EA will tell you that the "Connected Careers" (CCM) mode serves as the game's franchise mode now. I beg to differ. The CCM is a sad, sad attempt to contemplate those of us who enjoy the franchise aspect of the game. Anyone with a little awareness can see that EA's attempt to make everything "XP" based is a move to eventually monetize every aspect of the game... (Example: your players no longer progress based on their performance throughout the season. They earn "XP" for reaching certain goals which can be used to purchase upgrades to their attributes.) Everything is about earning "XP". You can't even scout future prospects unless, you guessed it, you've accumulated some precious "XP". This 'subtle' addition may be the scariest aspect of the latest edition of Madden.
To those of you who have been told that CCM replaces franchise mode in the game, here is just a short list of features that are completely gone:
- Offline franchise mode multi-player (seriously?? I've played a league with my best friend every year since 2001.)
- Fantasy draft (that's right, if you like drafting a team to control from scratch....forget about it.)
- Option to upload NCAA 13 rosters for your drafts (the only reason I buy NCAA...)
- Ability to edit player appearance/ratings
- Ability to create a team/logo
- Ability to move your team to another city
I won't even list all of the features that still exist but have had their functionality severely reduced. (Example: you can still trade and sign free agents but the trade logic has been tweaked such that unless you're trading a superstar for a draft pick or two, it's not going to happen. Free agents can be signed but the length and size of the contract can't be adjusted) This would end up being a review too long for anyone to read if I included all the reasons why the features that remain are lacking.
According to EA, the series has approximately 5-7 million dedicated fans, and they'll likely sell over 3 million copies of the game by October. Apparently they've decided that the franchise fans make up too small a minority to worry about. A calculated risk I assume. I'll be returning my copy though, and they can exclude me from their list of dedicated fans going forward.