Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Pull List: August 21, 2013

I read too many comics.  It's a habit that so far has only benefited my local comic shop.  That changes now as you can learn from the mistakes of my purchases, and perhaps even be intrigued to check out some of the cool picture books of the week.  There's always the option to make fun of my tastes, too.

It's been a while, but don't worry.  There'll be a post on the missing month of comics.  Right now though the focus is on the fresh stuff, if you count five days old as fresh.


-Nova #7 (Zeb Wells, Paco Medina)
I'm a bit bitter that there's a new Nova, but Nova #7 is a great comic book.  The series has been mediocre so far, albeit fun.  Things are looking up in this issue as Nova learns some important lessons, like superheroes can't just barge into any situation and recognizing that New York City already gets too much attention in comics.  At one point I was complaining about the lack of superheroics in superhero comics, so having a book where someone is actually learning to be a hero is welcome.  This trend and the New Warriors tease are certainly reasons to celebrate.

-Superior Spider-Man #16 (Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos)
Things seem to be ramping up in the pages of Superior Spider-Man as each storyline that concludes organically flows into the next.  Doc Ock's tightening grip is also exposing more cracks in his attempts at playing hero. The capture of the Hobgoblin this issue was interesting, but I felt  the best parts of #16 were the hooks meant to get the reader interested in the next installment.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Video games do horror better than any other medium can.

Frictional Games' Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs was recently made available for preorder before the game releases September 10. It's a sequel to the critically-acclaimed 2010 indie smash hit Amnesia: The Dark Descent. I'm torn.

I want to want this game. It's co-developed by the Chinese Room, the studio responsible for my beloved Dear Esther. And the original Amnesia revitalized survival-horror in gaming. After mainstream horror mainstays like Resident Evil and Silent Hill decided they would be more action-oriented in an attempt to appeal to the widest possible audience, Amnesia embraced horror's status as a niche genre.

Amnesia didn't succeed with a triple-A budget or massive marketing campaign. It succeeded by being fucking terrifying. Word-of-mouth goes a long way in the internet age, where YouTube videos of people being fucking terrified while playing Amnesia were the best marketing any horror game could hope for:

Immigration reform through games: Papers, Please review

Ever wanted a game where you play as an immigration inspector and the primary gameplay mechanic is "stamping visas"? You're in luck! Papers, Please: A Dystopian Document Thriller is for you!

You work the border of a fictional Soviet country in the '80s, deciding who gets in and who doesn't. As the game progresses, rules and regulations get more complex. Foreigners require ID verification. Everyone needs polio vaccines. Entrants from a certain district need to have their passports confiscated. It becomes ridiculously difficult.

Of course, it's not a simple numbers game. Someone doesn't have the right papers, but they're seeking political asylum and they say if they go back to their home country they'll be killed. An elderly woman has expired documents but she needs to find her husband before the border is closed permanently. You're the one who can change the course of these people's lives.

But it's not that easy. Your salary is based on the number of people you process, and if you make too many mistakes, your pay is docked. You also need to pay rent at your apartment and feed your family. Papers, Please presents moral dilemmas in a more sophisticated manner than the vast majority of games with so-called morality systems. In most games, "good" and "evil" are easily identifiable, and the "good" option is as equally viable and easy to obtain as the "evil" option. That doesn't work, though: when both options are presented as equal, almost everyone picks the "good" option.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

2013-14 Premier League kit rankings

It's been a few years since I did a Premier League kit ranking. With the 2013-14 season starting this past weekend, let's get started. How do you think these compare to the 2013 Major League Soccer uniforms?

20. Cardiff City

Puma continues to be the worst major kit manufacturer in soccer. A bland red shirt with the crest up way too high; it's basically on the shoulder. But by far the worst transgression of this shirt is the change in color. Cardiff have worn blue shirts for over a century. Their nickname is "the Bluebirds." But last year, new Malaysian owners of the club decided to change the primary team color to red, because red is a lucky color in East Asia, where the owners want to market the club. The bluebird crest was replaced by a red Welsh dragon crest, with the bird relegated to a small place at the bottom of the logo. I guess red is what the club needed to gain promotion to the Premier League, but it's a shame a century of history is lost in the process.

19. Southampton

Another club who changed their century-old identity to a bland red design for promotion to the Premier League. I know Southampton didn't want to become the third Premier League club with an "S" name and red/white stripes, but it's a shame they decided to forego their history in favor of a more generic all-red kit. I also dislike the monochrome crest; it can work on third kits and even away kits, but home kits are meant to have the "real" team crest in full color. Especially with such a complicated crest that's by no means iconic, all Southampton has done is make itself more anonymous. Not a bad shirt, just generic. At least they have striped socks.

18. Stoke City

Did someone say "club with an 'S' name and red/white stripes"? Stoke's newest design isn't ugly, but it's nothing new. It looks exactly like any other jersey released over the last five years. It's disrespectful to the fans to make them pay full price for a "new" kit that wouldn't have been out of place in 2008. And the Stoke crest is strangely small. It all looks very low-budget, especially compared to some of Adidas' other designs this year. They get bonus points for striped socks, though.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nintendo GameCube: the most underrated console ever made

Everyone loves to make fun of Nintendo's purple little box, with its half-size discs and handle on the back. They disparage its fundamental misunderstanding of the gaming market at the time, from lower horsepower than its competitors to lack of online play to a focus on "kiddy" games. It didn't have the huge library that Sony's PlayStation 2 had, and it didn't have the edgy first-person shooters that Microsoft's Xbox had.

But the GameCube is the most underrated system of all time, with some of the most underrated games of all time.

Let's start with the console itself. It's a work of art. While most other consoles look like drab cable boxes, GameCube launched in a pleasant violet color. And everything is exactly where you think it should be. The controller ports are big and right in front, and the discs go right in the top.

The controller is the most ergonomic official first-party controller ever made for a console. It slides into your hands like butter and fits them like a glove. The shoulder triggers are lush and analog, and the satisfyingly large green "A" button is front and center where it should be. The "B" button is smaller and red, as it should be. The Start button is right in the middle, where it should be. None of this superfluous Select button shenanigans. When was the last time you actually needed a Select button? Not to mention the WaveBird, wireless years before Sony or Microsoft produced wireless controllers.

The primary control stick has nice grips on it, and has little guides on the edges to help perfect 8-directional motion. It doesn't have the rubber covering on the control sticks, but that might be a good thing. Compare the control sticks on my first GameCube controller (from 2002) to my first Xbox 360 controller (from 2009):

But a great console is nothing without great games. Games trump all.

What about the launch lineup? When the GameCube came out in 2001, it launched with Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, one of the best Star Wars games ever made. And despite being a launch title on an underpowered platform, its cutting-edge graphics still stand out today.

Its other major launch title was Nintendo's own Luigi's Mansion, which I've written about before. It was disparaged at the time because it wasn't a "real" Mario game, and the GameCube was the first Nintendo console not to launch with a Mario title. But Luigi's Mansion flipped convention and used the more interesting Super Mario Bro as its protagonist.

Luigi is shy, unsure of himself, cowardly, which all makes him... human. A much more interesting main character than main man Mario. Luigi's Mansion was able to succeed as a survival-horror game while still being kid-friendly, something rarely seen in gaming.

Perhaps the greatest metaphor for the GameCube in its library is Super Mario Sunshine. It's by far the most widely criticized entry in Nintendo's main Super Mario series. People complained it wasn't a "true" Mario game because of its focus on story and Mario's role as a glorified janitor, cleaning up graffiti around a tropical island.

But isn't Mario's actual profession... plumbing? Not exactly world-saving fare. Super Mario Sunshine took the series in a new direction, providing a unique gameworld for Mario to explore while still giving players a challenge with the platforming segments.

Today, Nintendo is criticized for recycling its Mario formula with predictable entries like New Super Mario Bros. 2 and New Super Mario Bros Wii. I firmly believe Nintendo only started doing this because it got so much crap from everyone for actually trying something new with Sunshine. At the end of the day, Super Mario Sunshine is hands-down the best Mario game.

Nintendo also took its Legend of Zelda series in a new direction on the GameCube. When they announced The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker would be cel-shaded and cartoony, Nintendo took a heap of criticism for dumbing down the venerable Zelda name. But when it was released, The Wind Waker was a creative, well-written gem with a unique seafaring setting. Today, Wind Waker is rightly lauded as a bold step in a new direction for the series.

My personal favorite, Metroid Prime is much the same way. Nintendo took a beloved series that had been dormant since 1994 and made it a first-person game. Many fans, myself included, feared this would be a simplified, stupid first-person shooter to appeal to the popularity of Halo. Instead, what we got is perhaps the greatest game ever made. A first-person adventure that stays true to its Metroid roots while courageously taking the series in new directions. I think I like this game. I think I've written about it before.

Nintendo is criticized for all the best-selling games on its consoles being games made by Nintendo themselves. The critics are right, but Nintendo makes some damn fine games.

The definitive versions of perennial multiplayer favorites Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. are both on GameCube. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! refined the series without dumbing it down for the casual crowd like Mario Kart Wii would. And Super Smash Bros. Melee is still so widely loved that the twelve-year-old game was one of the games played at this year's Evo Championship Series, the most important fighting game competition in the Western world.

Mario Kart isn't the only classic Nintendo racing game on GameCube. F-Zero GX was overlooked by most people, but among hardcore racing fans it's considered one of the toughest, most brutal, greatest racing video games ever made. GX still hasn't seen a sequel.

Speaking of "niche, brutal Nintendo games," Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance was the first 3D entry in the series, and the first home console release of Fire Emblem outside Japan. It's a hardcore tactical role-playing game with permadeath--a game mechanic popularized by DayZ in 2009, but used by Fire Emblem for decades!--that flew under the radar of most gamers.

But GameCube didn't just have great sequels. Animal Crossing and Pikmin are both colorful, genre-bending, kid-friendly-but-deceptively-deep series with devoted fanbases, with their beginnings on GameCube. Today, both series are major players for Nintendo.

It's not all games for kids, though. Hideo Kojima remade his seminal Metal Gear Solid with The Twin Snakes, exclusively on GameCube. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem was a milestone in psychological horror, surprisingly published by Nintendo. And outside Nintendo, there's Capcom's beautiful remake of the original Resident Evil, and of course... Resident Evil 4.

Resident Evil 4 is widely considered one of the best games ever made. It eventually landed on other platforms, but it was designed for GameCube. RE4 was part of the "Capcom Five," GameCube-designed games that inevitably ended up on other consoles to make more money. Other members of the Capcom Five? Killer7 and Viewtiful Joe. Ya know.

Speaking of games designed for GameCube then ported elsewhere, there's the home console release of the Greatest Shoot 'Em Up Ever Made, Treasure's Ikaruga. Nintendo is slammed for its lack of third-party support, but in fact, many of the generation's greatest multiplatform releases came to GameCube. Beyond Good & Evil, SoulCalibur II, Prince of Persia...

With the Wii and Wii U, Nintendo has gone in a different direction. The GameCube represents its last attempt at a traditional console. It was misunderstood and glorious. Don't hate on the purple box. It may not have the staggering volume of games that PS2 had, but its games have certainly aged more gracefully than the Xbox's library. One day, GameCube will get the respect it deserves.

Gone Home review

Gone Home, the first game by Portland, Oregon indie studio the Fullbright Company, has been mildly successful. Even the New York Times has written about this game.

But please don't read any of that. Don't read this review. The best way to experience Gone Home is with a clean slate, not knowing anything about it going in. I'll attempt to convey my thoughts on the game while spoiling as little of the plot as possible.

Gone Home is an interactive story in the vein of Dear Esther. Evoking classic children's stories like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and CoralineGone Home is about exploring a creepy mansion. It's not quite a horror game, but it teeters on the edge of becoming one: creaking floorboards, secret passageways, and of course, a dark and stormy night outside.

You play as a college-age girl who's returned home to Oregon after a trip backpacking around Europe. Your family moved to a new house while you were gone, so you're unfamiliar with the imposing mansion you've come home to. Your flight was late, so you arrive in the middle of the night... and no one's home. There's a handwritten note taped to the front door from your younger sister, Sam, telling you she's gone and "Please, please don't go digging around trying to find out where I am." Of course, this is the natural videogame impetus to do exactly that. Gone Home is all about digging around.

The gameplay of Gone Home is fairly simple. It's more interactive than Dear Esther, but there's no combat or puzzle-solving (aside from solving the mystery of the story). Its bread and butter is environmental storytelling. You explore the abandoned house, rummage through cabinets and closets, and try to figure out what happened to your family.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Everyone owns the same ten Nintendo 64 games.

I never owned a Nintendo 64. The only game consoles my parents let me have as a kid were Game Boys. The only time I got to play N64 was when I went to friends' or relatives' houses. It didn't matter where I went: everyone had the same ten games.

People say Sony's first PlayStation "won" the console war against Nintendo, but I definitely saw way more N64s than PS1s. Maybe it's because N64 was aimed at my demographic and PS1 was aimed slightly older. Today, I know a lot of people my age who still have their childhood N64s and play them regularly. Everyone has the same ten games.

Recognize these cartridges?

The launch title

The game people are still playing today

"No screen looking!"

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ranking the Metroid series

Metroid has always been close to my heart. In my "100 greatest games of all time," it was the only series to be represented three times on the list. Choosing between Metroid games is like choosing between my children. So let's do it.

11. Metroid: Other M - Nintendo / Team Ninja / D-Rockets - Wii, 2010

The only Metroid game I actively dislike. It's an admirable risk to try to add dialogue and a wider cast to a series about isolation and solitude. But Nintendo gave the task to Team Ninja, best known for... boob physics. They turned one of gaming's only major strong, independent, non-objectified female protagonists into a woman who longs for nothing more than a man to tell her what to do.

10. Metroid Prime Hunters - Nintendo Software Technology - DS, 2006

Nintendo's attempt to make first-person shooters work on its handheld DS. It's admirable, but it's not the most comfortable control set-up for players. When it comes to gameplay, Hunters has more in common with Halo than with Metroid. None of the series' trademark exploration elements are there, and instead of a lonely, moody atmosphere, Hunters focuses on linear levels and multiplayer deathmatches. Some good remixes of classic Metroid Prime music, though.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Non-Mario Mario: top 10 Mario spin-offs

Mario has some of the most spin-offs in gaming history. Some of the spin-offs are so good, they're up there with mainline Super Mario platforming games. This list was incredibly hard to rank. What do you think?

10. Mario Tennis - Camelot / Nintendo - Nintendo 64, 2000

Camelot is one of Nintendo's most trusted studios. In the early '90s they created the venerable Shining Force series for Sega, but since sparking the Mario sports craze with Mario Golf in 1999, they've been partners with Nintendo. Also created the much-loved Golden Sun RPG series for Nintendo's handhelds.

9. Mario vs. Donkey Kong - Nintendo Software Technology - Game Boy Advance, 2004

This may be more of a Donkey Kong spin-off than a Mario one, but Mario is the protagonist and headliner, so I'll let it slide. Based on the highly successful 1994 Donkey Kong Game Boy game, it's a puzzle-platformer through and through. Created by Nintendo Software Technology, Nintendo's Redmond, Washington-based studio focusing on games that appeal specifically to the North American market.

8. Mario Paint - Nintendo R&D1 / Intelligent Systems - Super Nintendo, 1992

One of the strangest games on this list, Mario Paint was part of a string of Mario edutainment games during the late '80s and early '90s, along with games like Mario Is Missing! and Mario Teaches Typing. But Mario Paint was the cream of the crop. It came with a mouse and mousepad and provided a basic drawing application for the Super Nintendo, but also had a slew of other "minigames." Most notable of these was the music editing program, which may be even more famous than the painting program.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

5 More things Madden Needs to Figure out in its 20s

If you missed Part 1, here it is.

Part 2: Controls

There's not a lot wrong with the controls in Madden. In the thirteen years of the DualShock era of controllers, Electronic Arts has been fairly conservative with their button configurations. The most radical, and welcomed change was when EA decided to map sprint to R2 (RT on Xbox) instead of X (A on Xbox). This freed up the user's thumb for stiff arms and spin moves. Madden 2005 introduced the greatest conceivable feature in a sports game: the Hit Stick.

Madden 25 touts a “Run Free” feature that is designed to give the user more control as the ball carrier. It makes running with the ball more like controlling a player in FIFA, which is always a good thing. There are other areas where Madden can improve its controls so let's hit the list.

100 Greatest Games of All Time

Entertainment Weekly recently published lists of the 100 greatest everythings. Greatest movies, greatest books, greatest TV shows, greatest albums, greatest plays. Of course it's impossible to write a 100 greatest anything list without making people angry. But they left out their 100 games list. So here's mine, in chronological order. It'll make you angry. "Greatest" is a pretty ambiguous term. My criteria lean towards games that push the medium forward as an art form.

Pong - Atari, 1972 - It's Pong. If you're reading a website like this one, you already know what Pong is.

Colossal Cave Adventure - William Crowther, 1976 - One of the most important early text-based adventure games. Crowther based it on the real-life Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky, as a way to connect with his daughters. Sometimes referred to simply as Adventure or Colossal Cave. You can play it for free here.

Space Invaders - Taito Corporation, 1978 - The first international blockbuster in gaming history. Expanded the medium from a novelty to an industry. Designer Tomohiro Nishikado was allegedly inspired by a dream about schoolchildren waiting for Santa Claus who are attacked by invading aliens. He also took influence from The War of the Worlds.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Do you have sentimental attachment to game demos?

Today, Kotaku posted an article about Nintendo's limited-play game demos. Steve Marinconz wrote, "Now, of course I don't plan on playing a demo more than once or twice, as I'm sure most people don't." It got me thinking. Is that really true?

When I was a kid, I remember playing the game demos on kids' edutainment compilation Club Kidsoft for hours and hours. When I got a little older, I wore out all the demo discs that came with my PC Gamer magazine subscription. I poured dozens of hours into demos for games like Dungeon Siege, Wizardry 8, and Galactic Civilizations; I've got vivid memories of them, but to this day I've never played any of them in full-game form.

When I first got an Xbox 360, I wanted to play EA's NHL 09. But of course, NHL 10 was on its way only a few months later, and I couldn't justify buying 09 just to have it immediately outdated. So instead, I downloaded the free NHL 09 demo from Xbox Live and played it nearly every day until NHL 10 arrived. I became intimately familiar with the 5-minute game sessions between the predetermined matchup of Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.

For people without tons of disposable income, demos can be incredibly important. Are there any game demos from your childhood (or later) that you've got a sentimental connection to?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sonic and Crash Bandicoot are the same series.

Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot are essentially the same game. Let me count the ways:

  • Both characters were created to compete with Mario in the platformer market, and to compete with Nintendo's consoles.
  • Both were originally first-party games on their consoles, Sonic for Sega's Genesis and Crash for Sony's PlayStation.
  • Both became mascots for their respective platforms
  • Both companies marketed themselves as "cooler" than Mario. The infamous "Genesis does what Nintendon't" commercial:

         And Crash, with a decidedly more direct attack. But it's basically the same argument:

  • Both characters are anthropomorphized, bipedal versions of small, obscure mammals. How many of you had heard of hedgehogs or bandicoots as a child before these games came out?
  • Both series have the name of the animal in the title, in case you couldn't tell from just looking at them that duh, Sonic is a hedgehog, and of course, Crash is clearly a bandicoot.
  • Both characters have first names that are edgy-sounding English words to kids in the '90s. Maybe the next series should be about Boom Wallaby or Pow the Wombat.
  • Both anthropomorphized animals wear sneakers because they run fast, unlike that chubster Mario.
  • Both series feature a human main villain who's a mad scientist: Doctor Eggman in Sonic, and Doctor Neo Cortex in Crash.
  • Both series featured tons of mediocre spin-off titles no one cares about.
  • Both series eventually fell from grace and ended up releasing on platforms made by competing console manufacturers. Today they're both relics of the '90s.
How does it make you feel on the inside?

Silent Hill 2 & Ico: best game release date of all time?

Ico, developed by Team Ico and published by Sony,

and Silent Hill 2, developed and published by Konami,

were both released for the PlayStation 2 on September 24, 2001. Strange that both of these haunting, melancholic games were released less than two weeks after the September 11th attacks.

Best game release date of all time?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Elysium review

I expected the worst when I saw the first trailer for Elysium. South African director Neill Blomkamp's previous movie, District 9, is one of my all-time favorites: a metaphor for apartheid in a grimly beautiful science fiction Johannesburg. It's one of the first things I ever wrote about for this blogElysium just looked like a shallower District 9 with a big Hollywood star, Matt Damon, tacked onto it.

But Elysium delivered. If you couldn't put 2 and 2 together from the trailers, it's a metaphor for class inequality. All the rich people live on the utopian space habitat Elysium. Everyone else is stuck on a polluted, impoverished Earth. It explores the themes of immigration, both by poor Latinos to the United States and by rich white people out to the suburbs.

I didn't realize going into it that Elysium would be so specific and political about America's treatment of undocumented immigrants. Set in a dystopian Los Angeles where the upper class is gone entirely, it's become a predominantly Latino city. The futuristic robot cops patrolling the streets are emblazoned not with "POLICE" but with "POLICÍA". Many of the early expositional scenes are entirely in Spanish, and the de facto language of Los Angeles has become Spanglish.

I loved this. The marketing didn't hint at it at all, but it's a very honest way of dealing with racial inequality in the U.S. But that leads to my #1 problem with the film: Why wasn't Matt Damon's character played by a Latino actor instead?

Damon's acting is great, but the part of protagonist Max Da Costa seems like it was written almost exclusively for a Latino actor. Nearly the entire supporting cast are Latino, and Matt Damon even speaks some Spanish to his friends in the movie. Yes, of course in real life there are Latinos of European descent with white skin and blue eyes like Damon, but Matt Damon isn't hispanic. This would have been the perfect opportunity to advance the career of an up-and-coming Latino actor, but instead we're left with the status quo: White Protagonist Saves the Brown People, an unfortunate trope we see all too often today, one we've even already seen this summer with The Wolverine.

I would say Blomkamp only made the decision for box office sales, but Matt Damon was his third choice for the main character. Blomkamp's first choice was Eminem (hey, he was decent in 8 Mile!), who turned it down because he insisted the film be set in his native Detroit. But Blomkamp's second choice was... Ninja, frontman of the South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord, who turned it down because he didn't want his first film role to be with a fake American accent. I absolutely love Die Antwoord, but I don't think they exactly carry name recognition with most American filmgoers. So obviously Blomkamp was willing to cast a slightly more obscure actor in the main role. It's a bummer he didn't choose a hispanic actor, especially as Latinos become a more widely accepted part of the American cultural patchwork.

You could argue District 9 did the same thing. For a film set in predominantly-black South Africa, the main character was played by white South African Sharlto Copley. But I think it was more justified in District 9, as the racial preconceptions of the white main character are a major part of the storyline.

Monday, August 5, 2013

5 Things Madden Needs to Figure out in its 20s

For those late to the party: The 25 means its Madden's 25th release.

Rabble Rabble Football! 

It's August.
Madden turns 25 this year.
The human brain is not fully developed until age 25.
Madden is not fully developed at age 25.

PART 1: Infinity Engine 2.0
Backbreaker 2010
Last year Madden added the Infinity Engine which introduced "real-time physics" to the gridiron. That's EA's line, not mine. What actually happened was EA finally took a baby step towards what Natural Motion had already accomplished attempted with Euphoria Engine in Backbreaker (2010).  The Euphoria Engine made Natural Motion's football game an impressive tech demo, but the game was hardly playable.  A radical camera angle kept most window shoppers at bay. The unpredictable passing game kept everyone else out.  On the other hand, every kickoff was accompanied by the first seven seconds of P.O.D's "Boom".  Every kickoff. Every time. A rough outing indeed for the first football game to feature a physics based collision system.

Before Madden 13
Before physics were introduced to Madden, the ball-carrier and defender would meet, and Madden would takeover to decide the outcome of their encounter with an animation. Based on the animation Madden selected for you, your player may or may not get to where you needed him to be. The animations were generally okay, but they removed control from the player.  An animation based tackling system turns every collision into a cut-scene.

Madden 13                      
Swapping animations for physics gives players more control over the collisions that happen on every play. The Infinity Engine 1.0 replaced most tackle animations with physics, but there are many other collisions where it is poorly used, or not used at all.

1. Getting tackled by your teammates.

This doesn't happen on Sunday...

The Infinity Engine needs to do a better job discriminating between gentle contact and knockdown force. Far too frequently, my ball-carrier made contact with a friendly lineman, stumbled, and then crumpled to the ground before any defender made contact with him. This problem plagues all but the very best running backs which makes running between the tackles nearly impossible for some teams. This is bad for balance.  What's worse is that a great deal of plays end in an uncontrollable stumble among your own lineman. 

2. Hurdles!

This looks like Sunday.
This is beautiful.  This is Backbreaker (2010)

This is Madden.
This is ugly. This is Madden 13 (2012)

3. Stumble Control

In Madden 13 there are times where your player breaks a tackle and will begin stumbling.  Sometimes he regains his balance, sometimes he falls.  The issue is that when the character begins his stumble, control is removed from the user.  The user should be granted some control over a stumbling character in much the same way the user is granted some control of a sliding car in a racing game. Stumbling in its current state, just brings the user along for the Madden ride, which is what the Infinity Engine sought to remove in the first place.    

4. Magnetic-Static Blocking 
A player gets blocked in Madden in two steps.

Step 1: Defensive player is drawn in by the offensive player's magnetic blocking field.

Step 2:  The pair engages in a static "blocking embrace".

In Madden, control is wrenched away from the player as soon as they get too close a blocker.  This is the reason it's not fun to play as a defensive lineman. The Infinity Engine 2.0 should make blocking more dynamic and user-controlled....also...pancakes.  

5. Why does everybody run hard?

If Andy Dalton, an average sized quarterback, were to ever scramble out of the pocket and allow a linebacker to hit him, he would go straight to the dirt.  Neither occurs in Madden 13. Quarterbacks consistently behave like their much bigger teammates at the moment of impact. In reality, quarterbacks do not fight for extra yards at the moment of impact, they look to get down on the ground as safely as possible.

See: Tom Brady

In Madden 13, every quarterback fights for extra yards, and more often than not will try to bulldoze defenders. There are a few slippery quarterbacks in the league, but most of these guys are elusive, not powerful. Also, when these guys slip away, it's usually in the backfield, not fifteen yards downfield.

Stay Tuned for Part 2:Controls