‘Madden 09’ maddens gamers

'Madden 09' maddens gamers

Video gamers worldwide made their annual pilgrimage to local Best Buys and Wal-Marts for the midnight release of “Madden 09.”

As everyone has heard by now, Brett Favre is the latest edition’s cover boy (or in this case the cover senior citizen). Any thoughts that sales would be hurt by the former Green Bay, former retired, current New Jersey Jets quarterback’s outdated picture were quieted early when the regulars started lining up outside video game departments.

I was at Wal-Mart, for journalistic purposes, of course, to get my hands on the game and find out what features were added for 2009.

The biggest improvement from last year is the variation of skill levels. The second gamers turn on the Xbox 360 or PS3, they are treated to a full screen view of Madden’s fat face as he introduces how the ratings work.

Players then take the field and run through drills to determine how skilled they are individually in pass offense and defense, as well as rush offense and defense. Rather than play on a set skill level like “Pro” or “All-Madden,” all four categories could be set at a different difficulty.

Theoretically, a 12-year-old girl could compete in a nail-biter against the most experienced gamers if the skill levels are calibrated properly. With this knowledge, I decided to play as the Chiefs and starting quarterback Brodie Croyle, who conveniently happens to have the throwing ability of a 12-year-old girl.

My 2-0 record against the Raiders and Broncos proves that skill doesn’t necessarily matter.

The second noticeable difference was the announcing. For years, people begged Madden to record new sound bites to replace his increasingly annoying comments on “setting up the wedge” and “boom!”

The solution was to bring in a new booth team altogether. Unfortunately, Madden and Al Michaels were replaced by Cris Collinsworth (satisfactory) and Tom Hammond (oh no).

As if the nation didn’t get enough of Hammond’s commentary during the Olympics, gamers are now subjected to his nonsense remarks in the digital world, as well.

With 22 seconds left in my game against Denver, Bernard Pollard picked off a Jay Cutler pass to seal the Chiefs’ victory.

Hammond chimed in with, “It’s going to be a long game if he keeps making throws like that.”

Thanks, Tom.

Aside from the welcome difference in skill levels and the not so welcome change in announcing, there were few tune-ups in the game that jumped out at me. After 20 straight years of Madden football, it has become nearly impossible to make any monumental improvements.

So, as always, my recommendation is to buy the game and immediately press the mute button for full enjoyment. As Hammond would say, it’ll be a long game if you don’t.