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Top 10 Best Madden Features

Updated on June 24, 2013

On August 27, 2013, the Madden franchise will have officially reached its twenty-fifth year. The date marks the release of the newest edition of the popular game, dubbed "Madden 25" in honor of the franchise's anniversary. From the trailer I'll admit, the game does look pretty good. If you haven't seen the trailer yet take a look:

The game marks the beginning of a new era in Madden, as it moves on to a new generation of consoles and a new generation of football fans. I bought my first Madden game way back in 2003 and was immediately hooked by the fast-paced gameplay and engrossing game modes. Over the years I've been amazed by just how much the game has changed, developed, and improved.

Each year, the developers add a new feature or two into the game to keep things fresh and players coming back for more. They can be small changes such as adding the ability to change the direction of a play, to big things like the creation of the Franchise mode. There can even be a few changes to keep up with the current trend of play in the real NFL (there are bound to be some read-option plays added into the new game). To celebrate 25 years of Madden, I decided to take a look back and offer a salute to ten of the best additions they have made over the years. So, in no particular order, here are the top 10 best Madden features of the last 25 years.


10. Passer Vision

first appearance: Madden 06

last appearance: Madden 08

Right off the bat, I expect a lot of people to disagree with this one, and I completely understand their complaints. Passer vision was a cone of light that projected out from the quarterback a certain distance downfield. Throwing to a receiver inside the cone would produce an accuracy bonus while throwing to one outside the cone resulted in an accuracy decrease. The problem was that the cone was hard to control under pressure, making throwing on the run a difficult task. It also highlighted the receiver you wanted to throw to, making it easy for your opponent to adjust on defense.

Still, despite its problems, I liked the concept, especially giving the better quarterbacks wider fields of vision, making good quarterbacks significantly better than average ones. Passer vision was a great idea that was poorly executed, and I kind of wish they had tried to improve it rather than drop it from the game completely.

9. The Wildcat

first appearance: Madden 10

last appearance: Madden 13 in certain playbooks

Just like the read-option today, the Wildcat formation burst onto the scene in the NFL three years ago when the Miami Dolphins used it to upset the Patriots. Soon teams across the league were using it and Madden followed suit, adding the Wildcat formation into the game.

The Wildcat isn't quite as effective in the game as it was in real life, at least when I've used it. I'm sure there are players out there who have had success running it in the game, but I always played the Wildcat more when I wanted to mess around and have some fun. The running back pass plays were always a personal favorite and I try to make a point of running at least one successfully whenever I take the Wildcat for a spin.

8. Mini-Camp

first appearance: Madden 03

last appearance: Madden 09

Standing as my favorite game mode outside of Franchise and Superstar is the wildly addicting Mini-Camp. It allows you to perform drills for passing, kicking, tackling, and just about every facet of the game for points. Based on your score, you were awarded a gold, silver, or bronze trophy. There also existed a version of this mini-game within Franchise mode that could be used to gain attribute points for your players.

The drills were fun to play and plenty challenging (I still haven't gotten the hang of Precision Passing) and provided a great alternative to the monotony of head to head play. Definitely something I wish they would bring back in future games.



Mini-Camp at a Glance

 
 
Pocket Presence
The quarterback must dodge projectiles and throw to the highlighted receiver while remaining within a small circle.
Precision Passing
Run plays with only quarterback and receivers, Points awarded for throwing passes through small hoops.
Rushing Attack
Run the ball with a fullback as a blocker against 2-4 defenders and try to score.
Catch Ball
Run to the highlighted area on the field and catch a pass. More points given for consecutive catches.
Trench Fight
Run a lineman through a gauntlet of blockers as quickly as possible.
Chase and Tackle
Play as a linebacker and tackle the running back before he scores.
DB Cover
Break up passes thrown to one of three dummy receivers. Bonus points for intercepting it.
Clutch Kicking
You have one minute to kick as many field goals as possible. More points given the closer the kick is to the center of the goalposts.
Coffin Corner Punt
You have five tries to land as many punts as possible in the "coffin corner." The closer you get the higher you score.

7. Superstar Mode

first appearance: Madden 06

last appearance: Madden 13

Whomever came up with the idea to add a game mode into Madden that allowed the user to create their own player from scratch and try to build him into a Hall of Famer deserves a gold star. It's about as close as you can get to living the life of an actual NFL star and allows you to inject yourself or a made up player into the NFL as a rookie at the position of your choice and try to build him up into a Hall of Famer. Though the recent iterations of the Superstar mode are pretty impressive and complex, I favor the earlier ones in their simplicity, with the 2008 version standing as one of my favorite game modes in sports video games as a whole. Because what's more fun than practicing, game-planning, and playing an NFL season while also being able to chat with agents, give interviews, star in movies, get haircuts, and read annoying emails from your virtual family and friends? Not many things.

6. The Soundtracks

first appearance: Madden 03

last appearance: Madden 12

First, let me clarify what I mean by soundtrack. Almost every Madden has included some sort of intro with music as well as music that plays on the menu screens. In the early days, this was one or two songs at most, usually specifically recorded for the game. It wasn't until 2003 that the music selection increased to about eleven tracks and began including popular songs to form a full soundtrack for the game.

Every year more and more songs have been included hailing from a variety of genres such as rap, rock, and alternative. One of the things I loved about the soundtracks was that they introduced me to bands and songs I wouldn't have known about otherwise, and I looked forward to the each game's musical set as much as the game itself. Madden 13 for some reason decided to use a scored set, which I'll admit, kind of stunk. I'm looking forward to the return of a true soundtrack in Madden 25.


5. The Hit Stick

first appearance: Madden 05 (defense) Madden 06 (offense)

last appearance: Madden 13

In the early 2000 Maddens, the speed back was at a premium. The only moves running backs had were spin, juke, hurdle, and stiff arm, meaning there was no way to avoid tacklers if you couldn't outrun them. Enter the hit stick, which made power backs relevant again by allowing them to actually run over defenders.

Defenders got a boost from the addition too. Instead of only being able to tackle by running into ballcarriers, now you could send them flying and maybe even collect a fumble. Using the hit stick on defense was the ultimate death-or-glory play: hit, and a fumble is a good possibility. But miss, and the recovery time is so long that the runner will be long gone.

4. 2004 Atlanta Falcons

first and last appearance: Madden 04

Ok, so in all fairness this isn't really a "feature," but this team was incredible to use, and few teams have dominated head to head play in Madden the way this one did. As a team, the Falcons rated slightly above average in Madden 04. But once on the field, they dominated, led by quarterback Michael Vick, whose speed rating was higher than most receivers. The ability to run 50 yards backwards with your quarterback then cut back and run for a score is almost unfair to other players and hilarious to watch.

Sadly, Vick was toned down a bit in later games and became slightly easier to defend. For one year though, Vick and the Falcons were a juggernaut and one of the most fun teams ever to use.

3. Fantasy Challenge

first appearance: Madden 08

last appearance: Madden 09 (PS2 only)

For those of you who don't know what this is, check it out on Madden 2008 (I like that game a lot if you haven't noticed). It's hard to explain, and the closest comparison I can make is Franchise mode without the GM aspect. You're given a set number of roster points instead of money, and use these to purchase players. The best part of this was that it gave you the option to buy legendary old-school players such as Joe Montana and Franco Harris, meaning you can use some of your favorite players of all time in the game.

Once your team is crafted, you play a series of short games, earning roster points for winning. These can then be used to improve your current players or go out and buy better ones by outbidding other teams. The object is to go on through four levels of play and beat the unlockable teams, each with their own unique advantage, to win. It's a fun game to play when you just feel like playing some football without worrying about rosters and stats and such.

2. Fantasy Drafting

first appearance: Madden 03

last appearance: Madden 12

What if Peyton Manning could have Calvin Johnson as a receiver? Or maybe you want Adrian Peterson in Franchise mode but he's not on your favorite team's roster. The fantasy draft option makes it possible to get the best possible team while having a chance to get players who may not be on the team you're using. Plus, fantasy drafts are fun. A lot of fun.

1. Franchise Mode

first appearance: Madden 98

last appearance: Madden 12

For those of you who have been vigilant enough to read this far, I doubt I need to explain this one. Franchise mode is the defining game mode in Madden's history and the first one most people think of at the mention of the game. It's the fun of being a team owner, GM, and coach all wrapped into one.

Playing or simming out the season is plenty fun, but the real fun always began at the off-season, with free agency, the draft, and a chance to build up your team's roster. Throw in the training camp mini-games at the end of the off-season and you've got yourself one special game mode.

In Madden 13, Franchise was curiously absent in favor of a game called "Connected Career." Fortunately, Franchise is rumored to return in Madden 25.

Finally...

So there you have it, the ten best things I love about Madden. Remember, this list is strictly opinion, so if you agree, disagree, or feel something was left out, feel free to make your opinion known in the comments. For now though, here's to 25 years of gaming excellence. Hopefully another 25 is well on the way.

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    • profile image

      Ryan 3 years ago

      I remember I would play Madden 07 all day and all night when it came out for gamecube and if you wanted to go 16-0 in every season, then you would have to do minicamps which would raise their overall by like 1-10!

    • profile image

      #nyjetsmj 3 years ago

      Madden 08 was definitely the best. You could get your superstars overall to 91 before the draft in the workout thing. And they introduced fantasy draft. Most customizable game in the madden franchise

    • Raul Sierra profile image

      Raul Sierra Jr 2 years ago from El Paso, Texas

      Nice, nostalgic hub. I think I need to throw my game in and get my madden on!

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