Sticky Situation: Will My Thumbs Be Able to Handle More Complex Madden NFL 10 Controls?

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I’m excited to get my hands on the newest iteration of everyone’s favorite NFL video game – Madden NFL 10.  I have added the release date to my calendar (and getting psyched for the early August PSN demo).  I have dreamed of this year’s release, excited that a sports game that I really enjoy will include trophies.  There’s only one thing I’m having a hard time grasping – the controls.

I’ll admit that I took two years off from the franchise (I was just that bitter about the E3 announcement that Madden NFL 08 would only be 30 fps on PS3, but 60 fps on Xbox 360).  And now after being out of the game for so long, it’s not going to be easy to sort out all of the intricacies with the control scheme.

As EA Sports strives for more realism and expanded gameplay, they are running out of places to put the controls for it!  It seems like too much is being stuffed into one place – the right analog stick (er, ONLY analog stick for PSP).  This year we will find yet another new “stick” feature under our thumbs.  Wait, how many sticks does that make now?

  • Madden NFL 04 introduced the Playmaker stick to make pre-snap route adjustments
  • Madden NFL 05 added the Hit Stick on defense for big fumble-inducing, stick-flickin’ hits
  • Madden NFL 06 brought us the Truck Stick which was basically an improved Hit Stick but for offense.  Also new was QB Vision (using right analog) for precise cone-lit passing
  • Madden NFL 07 delivered with the Highlight Stick, a refined Truck Stick with more finesse
  • Madden NFL 08 and 09 didn’t have any new right analog functionality but I didn’t buy them (did you already forget?!)
  • Madden NFL 10 picks back up with the QB Avoidance Stick which you use to avoid pressure in the pocket.  As our friends at PastaPadre describe, “By hitting the right analog stick the QB will make a quick move. Push up and he’ll step up in the pocket, right to shift right, and left to shift left.”
Finally - more buttons for EA Sports to assign!
Quick hide these from EA Sports before they assign more complex controls!

I probably missed a few right analog controls in there (feel free to add them in the comments), but I think the continuously expanding controls create a serious barrier-to-entry that intimidates new players to the franchise.  What do you guys think?  Does anyone else have friends that won’t buy Madden because it’s just “too late” for them to start learning?

Oh and while I’m here – please, EA Sports, stop branding every new game engine enhancement as its own technology!  Last year it was Madden IQ, the Adaptive Difficulty Engine (ADE), EA Sports BackTrack, EA Sports Rewind, and the all-new Total Control Animation System.  This year it’s EA Sports Pro-Tak, Adaptive AI, Procedural Awareness, Madden NFL Your Way, and the aforementioned QB Avoidance Stick.  While internally I’m glad the team is refining the game, each year these buzz words make it seem like the game is completely reinvented when much stays the same (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it).  If you want a real insider’s look into the behind-the-scenes technology in the game, I recommend reading the posts from Sr. Producer Ian Cummings at the Madden Blog and ignore the marketing mumbo jumbo.