Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Madden 2006 (PC)

Yes, I bought it, and I feel dirty. However, I'm going to give it away to one of you when I'm done to get the exclusive license stink off of me.

I also have the Xbox version (via Gamefly) because I like to see both versions and compare them. EA Sports is strangely schizophrenic when it comes to platforms--the features that get left out depending on the platform are just downright strange.

Here are two examples. The Xbox version has some nice tutorial videos to introduce you to the passing cone (which is a good concept poorly implemented). The cone isn't intuitive in its implementation (again, poor design), and the videos are helpful. They're no where to be found on the PC version.

That's what I mean about strange. How hard is it to slap some video files on a disc and add a menu item?

Here's another one, and this is even better. Along with the usual EA Trax crap that EA jams down your throat, they actually added the official NFL Films music. Anyone who grew up when I did (I was born in 1961) and is a football fan knows that music. It's absolutely epic. The best thing that NFL Fever did in its short and lousy run was to license that music for its debut.

On the Xbox version, you have an option in the audio menu to play just the NFL Films tracks for music, and it's wonderful. That music evokes so many positive memories of watching those films, listening to that heroic music, and hearing the legendary John Facenda.

PC gamers, since they're generally an older demographic, are much more likely to remember that music and want it exclusively as their soundtrack. So is that option available in the PC version? Oh, hell no. Good grief!

I poked around in the music directory and there are forty tracks. I was so annoyed that I decided I would systematically find out the identity of each title (the tracks aren't playable outside the game and the file names don't identify them, so it's far more time-consuming than it sounds). That was going to require deleting thirty-nine tracks out of the music directory, retaining one, starting the game, identifying the track, writing it down, restoring the deletions, wash, rinse, and repeat thirty-nine times.

Fortunately, Bill Abner over at Sportsgamer's ( just took that task off my list. He linked to a thread over at where jamcadbury has already done the track listing. Here's the link:

Short version: go into your "music" sub-directory in the game and delete tracks zero through twenty. What's left are all the NFL Films tracks. Enjoy.

Oh, and here's a bit about the passing cone: it sucks. You have what is essentially a yellow flashlight beam emanating from your quarterback based on his ratings--if he's good, it's wide (better vision), if he sucks, it's very narrow.

Allegedly, this feature was designed to improve realism. Well, I'll be damned, but the last time I remember watching pro football, I didn't see a yellow flashlight beam swiveling all over the freaking field.

To move the beam, you have to use the analog stick, and your receiver must be inside that beam when you throw the ball or the pass will be awful. Moving the beam is so much slower than quarterbacks checking their progression in real life, though, that they've had to slow the game itself down to give you more time--the PC version plays like everyone is in quicksand (and the Xbox version isn't much better).

Here's how the cone should have been done. First, get rid of that freaking cone. What a horrible idea. If you want to pass to a receiver, you should have to tap his receiver button first. In response to that, the quarterback's head would quickly turn in that receiver's direction (his body might also turn if the receiver is on the other side of the field). After you see his head turn, you know it's okay to throw the pass, and you tap on that receiver's button again. If his head hasn't turned, the pass will be inaccurate, because the quarterback isn't looking at the receiver before he throws.

THAT'S how it happens in real life. No stupid yellow cone on the field, no moving the cone with the right analog stick.

No Nancy Drew flashlight beam puzzle in my football game.

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