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'Madden' franchise being ruined by so-called upgrades

So, like many of you loyal Gap Shots & Whiffs readers out there, I have played the newest version of Madden football this fall. Considering that its been out for months now, and sold a record 900,000 copies the first day it was released, you likely have too.

Like me, you may have ponied up the $60 for whatever game system you have to own a copy of the NFL facsimile game right away. While I didn't wait in line for it, I did buy it the night it came out.

To say that I was disappointed almost immediately upon opening the package is an understatement. In fact, I had to jump online to verify if my favorite part of the Madden football franchise had been removed. To my chagrin, it had.

For whatever reason, EA Sports and the powers that be decided to dump the Fantasy Draft portion of the game. For those who may not know what that is in Madden terms, it's this: You used to be able to take any franchise you wanted, dump all the existing NFLPA players into a common pool and then draft your team from scratch. This either against the computer or online opponents.

This used to be the No. 1 thing I used to do when I opened Madden every year, so I was immediately disappointed with the purchase.

There is a "career mode" available to Madden 13, but you basically have to pick a team and then build on that roster. It was a poor second to the fantasy draft, but I worked with it and it was by far my favorite thing about the new game.

The graphics are fantastic. I have to admit that and all of you thumb jockeys will be pleased with the game-play ability of the new franchise.

However, this brings me to two more things that I did not care for at all about the new Madden. No. 1, they took away the ability to play in a "coach only" mode in the career mode and there is no way to shut off instant replays like there was in the past.

Coach only mode is for players who don't want to pass for the quarterback or run for the running back or tackle for the middle linebacker. That kind of person is me. I like calling the plays and I like the way the game lets you do that, but why do I have to "play the game" instead of calling the plays and watching the outcome?

In the 2012 version of the game, for the first time ever, they forced a player in "coach only" mode to kick field goals and punts — which I detested, as well. Though I was able to get past this change in the game last year, I still hate shanking punts on a regular basis with an All-Pro punter. Now they are making us pass for the quarterback, too.

This is the No. 1 reason that graphic baseball games in the past went right into the tank. Every game from the inception going back to computer games had the "coach only" mode. One by one the gaming companies ditched the "coach only" mode in the baseball games until none were left. Plain and simple, this is why I do not play baseball on the Playstation 3. Now it looks like the greatest football game ever made is moving this same direction.

I don't know why they had to do it. Can it possibly take that much memory that it has to be removed?

To be fair, you can still play "coach only" in the solo game feature, but that's it. In fact, my friend Dave and I played the Vikings (his team) and Dolphins (my team) that way up in Minnesota on the opening weekend of the real NFL season. He won but I think he was cheating by controlling the plays (an option even in coach-only mode) in secret. For the record, I also shanked a 24-yard field goal right before the end of the first half which killed me.

Hate it. Not just because "coach only" is gone, but also because I lost to Dave.

I have tried to actually play the Madden game like all the rest of the thumb jockeys out there, but it's just not for me. I can't stand throwing four interceptions in the first half because I am not really Peyton Manning.

My copy of the game has now sat on the shelf for nearly the last two months and I doubt I will play it again soon. In fact, there is no way I'm going to run right out and buy the 2014 version of the game next August, either. Not without reading a review or two to find out if the fantasy draft or coach only modes are restored to their rightful positions in the Madden classic franchise.

It's sad to think the Madden franchise's best days may be in the past.

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