For the first time in years (since 07), I may actually play Madden again. It seems a lot longer than four years though since I jumped into an entirely-too-close-view Superstar Mode complete with annoying speed and weight lifting drills. I’ll admit, I’m not the prototypical Maddenite that slaves over stats, challenges and conquers countless online foes, and scoffs at the tournaments that I never enter. Honestly, I’m more prone to look for the next iteration of Head Coach that probably will never surface!
That’s right people, I’m a football fan that would rather play a coaching sim than the skill based sports sim that dominates the American sporting world. Since way back I’ve preferred the RPG nature of a coaching sim over the glitch abusive or controls heavy nature of most Madden games. At times, even proper knowledge of the game and its strategy are trumped by simply knowing who the fastest player is on the field and constantly throwing deep routes to him.
I remember playing games like EA Sports Front Office Football, Super Sunday, and Sierra’s Front Page Sports: Football Pro. In each game, I could craft plays and strategies that catered to the teams that I drafted (except Super Sunday of course). The amount of stat tracking and strategy involved was intense. Things like substitutions between plays, audibles, and custom playbooks were easy to use and set up in games of this genre. Of course the computer AI was a bit harder to play against as well making franchise modes an actual challenge that didn’t feel cheap.
As time went on and these games faded, I had a glory day period where 2kSports had their NFL games that I played easily enough. Even then, victories were moreso because the controls were easy to grasp than actual strategy making up for any kind of lack of skill. I even remember not liking the Franchise modes for these games back then due to the lack of options and roster control that were typically found in coaching sims.
Then there was EA Sports’ Head Coach game. In many ways, I was in heaven for a good month as I played the crap out of this game. Unfortunately this game played out more like a chore than an RPG. At least RPGs make you feel like the time you spend on them are improving your character. Head Coach just made you feel like you were wasting your time all together. I only just recently took the Head Coach 09 dive in hopes of finding a bit of what could be in store within Madden’s ambitious new revision. I’m quite certain the complexity and large number of tasks featured there will make it into Madden. Still, the scouting, college visits, combine results, and so forth will make for interesting gates to reveal the stats of targeted players in hopes of landing impact players in the draft.
As I play through just the preseason in Head Coach 09, I remember the immense amount of strategy and preparation that is needed to have a successful team in coaching sim games. Just calling plays that seem complex or deceptive aren’t enough to defeat the opposing team. Assuring players’ recognition and mastery of plays is key for the resulting execution. Sounds hard right? Depending on which team you select to crawl through this detail oriented chess match, IT TYPICALLY IS!
So as my ’09 Panthers trudge through preseason, I’ll refresh my football strategy as I await a lockout free new Madden season.