"The absence of structure isn't always Freedom, sometimes its CHAOS."
So yesterday, we were bored and decided to pop in some Madden 12. While we can't play the game regularly because of the number of exploits that ruin competitive gameplay, we needed a break from hoops and BF3 so we decided to enjoy some good ol' fashioned football.
I should have remembered that this is the time of year when exploits are in full-force. With the benefit of the internet, loopholes in gameplay spread faster than wildfire. So my first game is my Texans against the Pats. First thing i notice? 24/7 No-Huddle...sigh...gosh that's annoying. On defense he consistently stops my runs from power sets by blitzing out of Quarter Defense. We don't know about you, but there's a basic element of football strategy that just gets thrown out the window when a pass defense can stone a run formation. It's the basketball equivalent of having your PG guard the other team's Center--works like a charm in Madden though. While I don't see anything wrong with no-huddle from time to time, the whole game? It'd be nice if Madden resembled something close to NFL football from time to time, I mean really? The Play Now lobby is like the the Ninth Level of Hell with all of the little Madden Demons and Trolls. Other than that, this guy isn't very good but he does have this one little gem of an exploit. From time to time he calls a 2WR, 1TE, 2RB set and then he audibles into a 5WR set and spreads out my defense. While that shouldn't be an issue normally as most backs aren't great receivers (shouldn't being the operative word here; almost everyone in Madden has glue hands, couple that with the speed some HBs possess and its a lethal combination, the fact that they're not good receivers in real life is a non-issue, apparently) but this guy has Kevin Faulk matched up on a LB so its an issue. Then we realize that the defender assigned to defend Faulk (who's on the strong-side of the formation) is the weakside LB. How in the world?
Something told us that a few Madden games were going to be more trouble than they were worth--we should have known better. No big deal right? Just use the man align command to make the defender match up with his assignment, right? Atleast that's what it says in the instruction manual. So we do that.....and our LB moves about 3 inches closer to his assigned man. In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: D'OH!
"Why we subject ourselves to this cacophony of loopholes and glitches is beyond me." We think as we start to move our LB into position, but before we can, he quick-snaps us and my LB is atleast ten yards away when Faulk catches the ball and gets about another 10 RAC yards. All we can do is shake our head, "So man defense is out of the question." Herein lies the problem, when the offense can dictate that the defense plays zone because of loopholes in man defense there is a big issue, now the offense KNOWS to expect zone (or blitz) and will be ready to exploit the holes there. There's no way we can be expected to do all our audibles, move all our players into position because the AI can't matchup and make any other adjustments, its just too much. Next, he runs a double move route with Faulk and no matter how many times my 88 rated MLB (Demeco Ryans) sees the route, he falls for it over and over. Sure would be nice if we had some kind of adaptive AI (especially with our high AWR players) that way, people would have to save the better plays in their playbook for when they need them like they do in reality. And even though i'm still running out of power sets, even though he's in quarter, we never get a ground game worth mentioning. But after all that, he throws two picks and we win 28-14. It's a hollow victory, because it doesn't remotely resemble football--feels more like a virtual game of "I bet I can exploit the AI better than you can".
I guess i'm a glutton for punishment because I play one more. Next up? Drew Brees and the Saints. Should be FUN. The first thing I notice is that All-Day No Huddle and exploiting the broken man align is pretty popular, as this guy has the same gameplan. Sure would be nice to see a few false-starts to dissuade people doing that 24/7. He scores first with the infamous "throw it up and user catch" offense and also shows me the beauty of doing Onside Kicks after each score. UGH. Sure would be nice if attempting onside kicks was limited as well. After one score I make the mistake of letting the power bar go past 70% on my XP try. He goes into some familiar formation and easily blocks it. What the? Didn't the last patch notes say this was fixed? You know what? NEVERMIND. I remind myself not to need a FG longer than 20 yards or so to win the game. Then I shake my head after noticing my prize free agent CB (Joseph) refusing to matchup with Colston in a Twins formation. Instead he lines up just outside of Jimmy Graham leaving a LB on one of the league's best WRs. I swear I can't make this stuff up. In the end although he goes for it on every fourth down in the game, (and converts about 60% of them) Brees throws a bad pass on 4th & 5 with 2:03 left and we run out the clock winning 37-31. That's funny, because I don't feel like I won anything.
Many people will say, "you need to play only your friends, join a good community." Keep in mind there are times when my friends aren't on and when no Community Games are available. This is why many people don't play online. In those cases, Play Now is the only alternative and this mockery of football is what Madden Online has devolved into, its not enjoyable, fun or in the spirit of football--not remotely.