So along with Gears of War, I also got Madden 2007 for Christmas. I’ve come to appreciate football—or any sport in general—only recently, and it’s arguable that my fondness for football stemmed largely from hopping on the Patriots bandwagon over the last seven years (hey, at least I’m a native New Englander).
But I’ve found a lot of things to like about football. The pace isn’t as slow as baseball or as frenetic as basketball, but instead, it has a kind of dramatic feel as two teams of modern-day gladiators smash into each other, trying to drive a wedge through the enemy or turn them back. Football is great on television, whereas TV reduces baseball to little more than the pitcher/batter duel. There’s room to appreciate all the players in football. The quarterback is important, but he’s more like the lead singer of an ensemble band (like Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam) than, say, Daughtry.
Now, while I have become interested in football, don’t mistake that for having any functional knowledge of the game. DG, who has won a football fantasy league tournament, knows more about the game’s mechanics than I do.
So anyway, my dad got me Madden for the 360. And in trying to play it, I was immediately confronted with a bewildering array of options. Countless plays, formations, and—dear God—pre-snap options?! What did it all mean? I ended up having to go with whatever play the computer (i.e., John Madden) suggested (which meant no fourth-down conversion attempts…ever). Of course, that didn’t help me when it came time for my quarterback to throw the ball. I don’t think Tom Brady has been sacked as many times in a season as he was that first game. When he wasn’t being sacked, he was running around the field like a maniac while I tried to figure out which button would actually throw the ball to someone. Who it was, and whether he was actually open, didn’t matter—I would deal with that later. DG greatly enjoyed watching those early games.
Eventually I decided to try the “Superstar” option, where instead of controlling the whole team, you focus on one player that you create yourself. Thankfully, the computer calls all the plays for you—all you have to do is control your player. Initially I created one Jason Clarke, a former Harvard halfback born in 1985 (a 28-year-old rookie just seemed like a bad idea), from Carver, MA. The game makes you choose everything from your agent to what your parents were like, so maybe picking Harvard as my alma mater was a bad idea, since my player (ahem) wasn’t very good. Also, when it came to draft time, he was immediately snapped up by the Indianapolis Colts. Dammit.
I went back and re-created Jason. This time he was from FSU and, when I saved the videogame just before the NFL draft, it took me only two tries to get drafted by the Patriots.
It took some practice, but I now manage to average a six-yard rush rather than getting smacked down at the line of scrimmage. In the first preseason game against the Falcons, rookie Clarke rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Though, in the interests of full disclosure, I have to confess that I was on the lowest difficulty level, and the Pats won the game handily with a final score of 78-7. I may have to turn that difficulty up a bit.