A Night on the Sticks

As many of you probably don’t know, today (Aug. 30) is the release date for Madden 12 from the highly acclaimed EA Sports Madden series of video games. Now to most of you, this means nothing, but to a select few including some of my closest friends and myself, this is nothing short of a holiday. We look to this day months in advance, speculating about what new exciting features will be brought to the table. The thought of online ranked matches let our imaginations wander, whether it is about taking advantage of a ten-year-old Vick abuser or a smart Madden veteran in a close defensive struggle. It is a late night, or early morning depending on how you look at it, of nonstop action and competition. We ride the high of a user “pick-six” and experience the low of conceding a “scoop and score.” It’s a rollercoaster, the kind good enough to keep getting back in line for. And that is what I do every August.

This “holiday” so to speak started out yesterday (Aug. 29), during the afternoon before the midnight release. My group of friends and I try to make the release as many years as we can and luckily this one worked out schedule-wise for all of us. As usual, we pre-ordered the game at our local GameStop to ensure we would have a copy when midnight struck.  Around 5 o’clock in the evening (7 hours before the release) we hear news (thank you Tyler) that the local GameStop did not receive enough pre-orders to hold a midnight release. They informed us that the closest store to have the event was in South Renton, about a half hour drive from where we live. I scrambled to contact my fellow Madden enthusiasts, unsure if we would be able to get our hands on the hot off-the-presses copy of the game that sports a carnivorous looking Peyton Hillis on the front cover. After meeting up, realizing that the drive to Renton would not be the ideal route, we went over our options. Local Best Buy? No. Fred Meyer? No. Best Buy Bellevue?…YES. We quickly called over to the store and, to our relief, were informed that many copies were still available for purchase. We made the trek down I-90 and I-405 to the store and staked our claim on our soon to be prized possession. The night would not be ruined. The waiting games ensued until we departed at around 10:45 PM. We made the usual stops at the Quality Food Center and McDonalds to replenish and refuel in preparation of the long night ahead of us. We arrived at Best Buy at approximately 11:15 PM and were 6th in line, out of what would become about 50 people. Not huge, but fun nonetheless. The employees there even gave us free sodas and a Madden Cover poster, which will fit on my wall quite nicely at college. At 12 o’clock on the dot the doors opened and we flooded in. As quick as you could say “T.J. Houshmanzadeh,” we were in an out, on our way home to play the game we had waited months for.

My good friend Patrick offered up his bunker of a laundry room known as “The Cave” as our place to set up shop. It is a great setup because it is in his basement and two of its walls are concrete, allowing us to be rather loud into the wee hours of the morning. It is also placed nicely below where his wireless router sits, a crucial part of online gaming as some of you joystick junkies already know. We each had previously set up our own TV’s and Xbox’s so we were able to immediately jump into the action (I was rolling with my 27” Samsung LCD).

“The Cave” in its full glory.

Some decided to start their online campaign right off the bat. I prefer to take a slower approach; to get a feel for the game and how it varies from the previous edition. After playing a game or two against the computer, and extensively perusing the depth charts and playbooks of several teams, I chose to begin as my hometown Seattle Seahawks. This is when it started to turn for the worse.

I was killed in my first game and had to concede at halftime. Charlie Whitehurst didn’t cut it and a couple of fumbles doomed me in the early going. A little flustered, I chose to shake it off and move on, now rolling with my usual run-heavy, thunder and lightning combo of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Football Giants. At this point in the night, “The Cave” began to get very warm and cramped and the games started to blend together, so the middle two of my four games I don’t really remember other than that I went 1-1. My overall record was now 1-2. Not what I had hoped for out of the blocks but it was early in the Madden 12 season. Game 4 was an entirely different monster. I again ran with the Giants and my opponent chose the Bills. I was feeling great going into it and hoped to get back to .500 with a win. Little did I know seven first half turnovers, including 4 “nothing I could do about it” fumbles would ruin my chances. Halftime rolled around and I was down 38-7. Easily the worst game of my Madden Career, and everyone around me could tell given the amount of expletives I was producing. I decided that my night (now morning) was over after that. I mean, it was 8:30 AM! As I write this now I have yet to play another game since, but plan on doing so upon completion of this post.

The game is beyond impressive, which I expect to report on in an article to come soon. I strongly suggest you go buy it if you are of the sports gamer sort. It will not disappoint, even if you turn it over seven times every now and then. Thanks for letting me share my “Maddenoliday” with you. Good luck and happy gaming.

Night by the numbers:

Online Record: 1-3

Hours of gaming: 8.5

Hours of Sleep After: 3.5

Outscored: 31-107 (went 75 W-25 L last year so I’m not usually this bad)

# of People in a small room: 4

Food/Drink Consumed: McDonalds, Doritos, Monster energy drink, Coke.

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