Tomorrow will be the unofficial but real “Maddenoliday,” in which a few gamers will come down with a bad case of ” Madden-itis.” Symptoms including waiting in line at midnight launches, scoping out YouTube videos for gameplay footage and of course, calling in sick to work. We don’t have hard numbers on how many players actually do that, but it’s common enough that EA itself has referred to it in advertising. It has earned an Urban Dictionary listing as well. I’ve never taken a sick day for it at a job, but I have used vacation days. Now I get paid to talk about it, which is as sweet as it sounds.
Even among gamers, some of my friends don’t understand why it’s necessary to take a whole day. Football is football, right? Some of the same people will vanish for two weeks when a new Final Fantasy releases. While the basic rules of the sport don’t change too much from year-to-year, there’s something about diving headfirst into new game mechanics. Do last year’s money plays work? Did they give my favorite team’s first-round pick some ratings love? These are questions players have to have answers to, and we will happily take a whole day off to get them.
Madden NFL 15has received a defensive overhaul. New mechanics include a camera that displays everything from the defender’s viewpoint. There’s also a cone displaying the tackler’s field of vision. Calm down, don’t have a Madden 06 flashback! Players can attempt a conservative tackle (A on Xbox, X on PlayStation) to generate a simple tackle animation. Defenders who would prefer to lay that dude out can try an aggressive tackle (X on Xbox, Square on PlayStation), which is a combination of a dive and hit stick tackle. If the offensive player is within three yards it will be a hit stick attempt, outside of that it’s a dive. Ballcarriers still have their full complement of special moves, and can leave a defender grasping for air. Success for both the offensive and defensive players is determined by several factors, including the player ratings NFL stars are constantly complaining about.
Heck, one day is barely enough time to get started in a mode such as Madden Ultimate Team. It challenges players to build their own team using cards that represent NFL players. Unlock a card, unlock that player in the game. There are collections to complete, challenges to do and weeks of your life the mode can suck up if you’re not careful. I’ve used up all my sick days, I’m calling in dead.