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Thursday, August 19, 2010
06:31 AM - August 19, 2010. Written by Steve_OS
If any of these links interest you, talk about them.QOTD: Are you the type of person that needs the latest and greatest stuff, or do you wait it out?

Happy Birthday to the following OS'ers!

Badgun (51), mlblover15 (40), jersey07103, Boilerup700, lightningducks30
Blog: Steve_OS
02:35 AM - August 19, 2010. Written by DustinT
I reference to the Seattle Supersonics in a large percent of my articles here on the site. I have received plenty of PMs saying either "Save our Sonics" or "**** Seattle, get over it. OKC!!!!"

I don't respond to many of them, I find them amusing. I'm glad OKC is enjoying an NBA team, every city should. It just shouldn't be my team, Seattle's team. So now I will answer a question that has been asked many times:

Why do you want Sonics jerseys?

It's simple. I want to be able to see the Sonics again. Playing NBA games is my way of controlling a team from every angle. I used to rebuild the Sonics every year, and then we got Durant and it became a reality. Then Clay Bennett swooped down and jacked them.

Last year in NBA Live the jerseys were available, and I loved it. It wasn't the best since you still saw the OKC warm-ups and the commentary kept saying OKC, but it was a step in the right direction. Now both games need to take it a step further. Let myself and other suicidal fans create the Sonics. Give us al our jerseys, give us the city and team name over the commentary. Let us live the dream that we should be living right now. Let us save our Sonics.
Blog: DustinT
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
In case you missed it, Recovery Summer has turned into Realization Summer with stimulus waning and economic indicators all pointing rather solidly downwards. People in every corner of the economy are shuddering at the thought of another downtick (or was that a continuation of the current one?)| but that might just be the new normal for awhile.

Video game publishers, developers, journalists, players, and semi-interested patrons should shudder at that.

Video game sales have effectively collapsed for anything but AAA titles in the past 24 months, and with the prospect of another meaningful contraction in the economy very real -- it could have dire impacts upon the gaming industry as a whole. Here are three things to look for in the next 12 months from video game publishers and specific impacts on sports gaming:
  1. Belt tightening -- We already saw an early example of this with Visual Concepts cutting 30 jobs to "increase efficiency". Don't fool yourselves, this is a direct result of a weakening economic picture and trying to get ready for tougher times and not a result of yearly layoffs. It's also most likely another in a series staff cuts in the gaming realm. I'm pretty glad I'm not an employee at any gaming firm at the present time, because I can only imagine what a fresh 10%+ drop in overall industry sales will do to it.
  2. More focus on money makers -- Look for gaming companies to move towards more profitable projects. The big sellers such as Madden and NBA 2K might get a boost, but the real profits are to be made on the small screen. App Store apps and internet based games are the real winners here. These projects are so efficient to produce and profitable, there's little doubt gaming companies are going to chase after these types of projects to maximize profits. AAA Titles will be a main focus of gaming companies as well, which might leave those titles which made some but not much money in a position where they are no longer making money. That's not a good place to be, for the record.
  3. Give me quality...or a cancellation -- NCAA Basketball was a early death in this philosophy. But look out for any game which isn't extremely profitable, because those games will be the first to go in a fresh round of title cuts by companies such as EA and Take Two. Weakening sales industrywide would place several bigger named titles in a place where they might not be making much money anymore, if any. NBA Elite, NHL 2K, MLB 2K -- you've all been warned.

The outlook isn't all doom and gloom for sports games though, the one good thing a tightening economy will do is force titles which do make it to the shelf to increase in quality since consumers aren't spending their money in a constrained economy. Let's face it, $60 is a lot to spend on something in an uneasy economy, so games will either have to prove themselves to be worthy of the price of entry or the price of entry has to drop. Indeed, it's very possible new games could see a price drop in the coming years if the economic situation continues to be anemic to spur sales. Don't forget that Madden was $40 at a lot of retailers at launch -- if that's not a sign that publishers are trying to spur on sales, I don't know what is.
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
Monday, August 16, 2010
04:48 AM - August 16, 2010. Written by Steve_OS
If any of these links interest you, talk about them.QOTD: What is your favorite sports celebration of all-time?

Happy Birthday to the following OS'ers!

roll2tide, [Icy] (35), shanebo, supremeslang (29), sarge81 (29), PadresFan (28), Scott (25), Ermolli (19)
Blog: Steve_OS
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
11:53 AM - August 11, 2010. Written by MMChrisS
You may remember my review of Backbreaker, which was pretty harsh. I'm not going to retract that review, because the original Backbreaker was a steaming pile of horse manure when it came to the Xs and Os of football.

Now after spending some time with the 'Greathouse' patch, I can say Backbreaker has moved into the real of playable football title. However, it's still nowhere near a Madden/NCAA killer.

A majority of the issues were fixed or tweaked, although I would say several are still at least minor issues. More importantly, several of the wrong rule interpretations in the original game are now correct, at least largely so. If you are looking for some in-depth impressions from the patched game, check out this awesome thread.

The big thing this patch does is take Backbreaker from an atrocious yet innovative game to a playable and innovative game. I'm not even sure I'd assign it the title of good at this point still, but if you are burnt out with EA's football brand, give the newly patched Backbreaker a rent at the very least.

I think you'll find it refreshing.
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
02:02 PM - August 10, 2010. Written by MMChrisS
The question I keep asking myself is whether Gameflow and the Game Planning features are a revolution in Madden NFL 11 or just another gimmick which is sure to go by the wayside in future years not unlike Weapons, the Vision Cone, and any number of other features.

It's not like we haven't been given a bevy of reasons to believe Gameflow isn't indeed another gimmick.

But yet, I can't help but also feel that maybe this feature is different. Because, in case you didn't know, picking plays by down and yardage is how the real coaches do it more often than not.

So we face a crossroads here, where people are so used to an aspect of the game which is incredibly unrealistic traditionally (play-calling) yet they resist a change to something a bit more realistic -- although slightly gimmicky as-is.

I'm fine with playcalling continuing it's march towards being more realistic. Picking plays by down and distance, instead of by formation, is how it's done in the big leagues -- and really any other league if a coach is successful sans the napkin waving Mike Leach. I just feel Madden (and NCAA for that matter) are on the cusp of really exploring some pretty deep and immersive aspects of what it's like to be a coach, although they certainly must retool their career modes in such a way that being the coach is a focal point of the modes for this to go further.

But yet, I can't help but feel that even though many want a more realistic on the field product, they are more forgiving with things off the field. I think there is a built in resistance towards changing playcalling by many in the community simply because it's a change from what we are used to. If you are one of those people I simply must say, "Fear not the change which is hopefully coming."

As far as the current iteration of Gameflow and Game Planning is concerned, it's rather gimmicky this year only because there's no foundation to it. Make the coaching aspects of the game more realistic and suddenly, gameflow/game planning becomes a whole new monster, one that really has a point and purpose. As always, I think the classic playcalling option should be in the game, but if you really started to explore the complex world of gameplanning within Madden in relation to playing towards your coaching and team strengths -- I think users would be less willing to pick plays the old way.

I think the majority of gamers want their experience more realistic. However, we just need to know we are moving and building towards a more realistic game instead of just being handed random forks in the road just to satisfy the need for a tagline touting a new innovative feature on the back of a retail box.

Like a mist: vision cones, weapons, lead blocking control. Here one moment, gone the next. If Gameflow plans to stick around, it's going to need more weight behind it than it currently does.
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
01:07 PM - August 10, 2010. Written by JohnDoe8865
So I just finished playing my first official game of Madden NFL 11. I played as my team, the Carolina Panthers and I played against the KC Chiefs in Charlotte. I won 69-17. The following thoughts are gonna be very free-form and I'm just gonna type it as it comes to me.

I started by putting all of the penalties except holding, clipping, and face mask at 100. Then I set the skill level to Pro, figuring it was a good place to start. Wow, I was wrong, at least I hope so.

I had both RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart run for 200+ yards EACH. My QB, 69 rated Matt Moore threw for over 300 yards and connected on 3 TD strikes and no INTs. I put up somewhere in the neighborhood of 850 total yards of offense.

I can say one thing for sure. This game, out of the box, on pro level, is broken. I have never won a game so easily without trying to cheat the computer in my entire life. I've been playing football games since Madden 93 and Joe Montana Football 94 on Sega Genesis.

The game itself is beautiful to look at and very nice in motion as well and I get a good chuckle out of Gus Johnson's lines several times. I am however bitterly disappointed to see the Halftime show removed for seemingly no reason at all (on Xbox 360). That's the kind of thing that just makes me shake my head.

I used a combination of Gameflow and Advanced Play calling in the game. Let me tell you why I don't see myself using Gameflow. I like to run a two back offense with the Panthers. I cannot do this with Gameflow. Someone at Tiburon should have at least included the option of sub packages in the Gameflow system. With out, it is worthless to me and I'm sure many others for one off games.

Now to be fair, I haven't tried franchise mode to see if I could set specific formations to use specific players and then have Gameflow actually recognize that. If not, then Gameflow is completely useless to me. It reminds me of a feature we had in NFL Fever 2003 or 2004 I think, where the coach called the play. It didn't work that well back then either.

I will be in the forums looking for some major slider help. The special teams game is broken on kick and punt returns, there is no way to deny that. You cannot make it out past the 20 on KR and the CPU is lucky to make it out to the 15. No one picks up blocking assignments. It's almost like they forgot to program blocking AI for the kick and punt returns. I really hope that sliders can help alleviate some of this along with it being far too easy to run and stop the CPU run.

Now of course on All Pro maybe the CPU will stop me more often and I'll have to fear the CPU offense. I hope so. What I am concerned about after just one game, is the brain dead blocking and super speed on pursuit of kick and punt returns.

The same issue that required a patch for Madden 10 is back this year as well, and that is telepathic QBs who unload the ball just before taking a blindside sack. This was a major complaint last year, and it's strange to see it again in M11. I wonder if they worked off of a patched build of M10 to start Madden 11 or the base Madden 10 build before anything was patched in. It would seem the latter when you see the same issues that needed patching last year pop up again this year.

I can honestly say that my first impressions are disappointment, some regret at buying it, and a feeling that Madden has taken one step back this year after two steps forward last year.

This is all based on one game and some fair time in practice mode. That's why it's my first impression. If first impressions are everything, then Madden 11 will be fighting an uphill battle with gamers all year long IMO.

I'm not giving up on the game yet, but I am going to have to shelf it until the community can work some slider magic or EA decides to complete the game through patches.

Does anyone know if EA has the same tuning capabilities that NCAA 11 has? If not, I think it is sorely needed. A tuning patch would be a good start and wouldn't count against the console "2 patch" rule if it was done like NCAA 11.

One more thing, I'm waiting for the patch for the strategy pad. It just isn't intuitive. Not only that, but with how quick the CPU snaps the ball, it doesn't really work either. You can't press up on receivers and pinch your line for example. There isn't time to make more than one adjustment and forget about single player audibles on defense.

I'm done for now. If you made it this far, congrats.
Blog: JohnDoe8865
Monday, August 9, 2010
01:56 PM - August 9, 2010. Written by MMChrisS
One note before I get started here, this is from a 'borrowed' retail version of the game, so my time has been kind of limited with the full game. However, I have played enough to feel good enough about putting a review out. I'll possibly add to this review in a couple more days with some more thoughts. So if, by some strange chance, you haven't made up your mind by then, hopefully those extended thoughts will help you one way or the other.

Pros

Running Game - EA once again nailed the running game in Madden like they did with NCAA. The blocking is much improved and the action in the trenches is just so much better than it has been.

The Feel - Madden feels as if it's big time again, which is always a good thing. I can't put my finger on exactly why this is, but the game has a different feel this year which I think helps the overall quality.

Atmosphere - I think the addition of stadium sounds, the authentic music and crowd chants, they're all moving in the right direction. While indeed, it could be said there is room for improvement here, I could say the same thing about every sports game.

Passing is tighter - The route running is much better this year, the animations are solid. I'm a believer in the passing game this year, although like I said on the Radio Show last night -- I have a slight fear the quarterbacks and passing game might be too tight over time resulting in an overpowering offense.

Dual Stick Controls - Madden's control scheme has gone from an abomination of button mashing to something more like NHL, with dual analog controls. There's A LOT more that can be done with these (see: Backbreaker), but the new controls are a big step forward for the franchise.

Pro-tak/Locomotion - I can't separate the two because they make so much of a difference with the game. I think this might be the big reason for the different feel of the game. I might add I really want to get some dual hit tackles and whatnot back in the game, we need more of a free form animation system still -- but don't kid yourself, Pro-Tak is the best system for tackling outside of Backbreaker ever, in some ways it could be comparable.

Purgatory

Animations - There's stuff that can be liked and disliked here. The skating is definitely toned down but not quite out this year. But the new additions are substantial -- but oftentimes not quite implemented in the most effective way. My emotions are mixed here.

Commentary - Lock Gus Johnson and Chris Collingsworth in the booth next year for a week, have them deliver thousands upon thousands of lines. Kudos to EA for the choice, these guys are perfect for Madden. But the repetitive lines and out of place over the top excitement needs to be tweaked.

Cons

Play Action Passing - This is a patchable offense I think, but the Play-Action passes are just off this year. Definitely a downer.

Special Teams - I think EA misdefined what the word special in special teams mean. Any good football coach will tell you special teams are a huge part of the game, they determine 'little' things like field position and whatnot. This aspect of the game, while not completely broken, is very close to that.

Defense - Whereas NCAA's defensive game was quite solid, Madden's has a bunch of issues from defensive behavior, to secondary play, really just a bunch of little issues that add up substantially. Let's not forget that defense is still a bore to play.

Franchise Mode - Let's just put it this way, both Dynasty and Franchise are abominations, they are boring, stale, and they have few redeeming qualities to make you want to play them if you've ever experienced them in the past. This hurts the game's replayability...a lot.

Superstar Mode - If the competition in this arena weren't so weak, I'd say Superstar mode was one of the worst of it's kind. Instead, I'll simply say it's a bore to play, there's no realism involved, and I see no reason you'd even want to touch this mode if you've played it any of the last couple of years. Bore of the same. (not a typo)

The Verdict

How the success from NCAA to Madden got lost in translation I don't know. But we now know NCAA is the best playing football game ever with Madden trailing it in just about every category on the gameplay front, albeit slightly. Madden is still fun to play on the field, and if you don't own Madden NFL 10 and if you are an NFL fan, this is a no brainer of a purchase. Madden NFL 11 is the best Madden yet on next-gen consoles, which is how it should be. However, if you are a casual football fan then NCAA is the best option for you -- unless you hate the college game. Madden is solid, above average, and definitely not a bad game. It's just not great, and people expect nothing less.

Chris' Madden NFL 11 Score:
My ratings explained.
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS