Despite the criticism, we think it is safe to say that Madden football is not only the most anticipated release every year, but also the most celebrated. Every August, gamers will line up around their closest retailer at midnight in order to be one of the first to score a copy of this prestigious franchise. With a disappointing 2008 installment, it has left most football fans with a bad taste in their mouths hoping that EA Sports can't rectify the disaster that was Madden 2008. With the cry of lack of innovation on a yearly basis from fans of the series, it only seems fitting that EA Sports and the guys over at Tiburon implement something this year that we've been crying for for ages, Online Leagues.
Online Leagues will feature up to 32-player controlled teams, player stats, team stats, player trades, a fantasy profile draft, news options and a plethora of other features. If you're wanting to run a much smaller league with just a group of buddies, you'll have that option too. The only real requirement is that every team is controlled by a user. One of the coolest features within online league is the flex scheduling options. Flex scheduling will allow you to play whichever game you want on your schedule at any given time, so long as that other player is logged on and online. This means if by some miracle every other league guy is on, you could complete your entire season in one sitting. This definitely will help leagues from stalling, unfortunately there is no mention on if you're able to remove and add users to the league if someone becomes completely inactive.
As for player trades, the GM will be given the option of placing restrictions on trades or not. If the restrictions are on, players can only be traded for players that have played the same amount of games. This is to obviously prevent people from trading Randy Moss around in order to stack up 5,000+ yards in 30+ games played. This would imply that having the restrictions off would give you the ability to make that trade. For those of you who enjoy offline fantasy drafts, you will be very pleased to hear about the Fantasy Profile Drafts for online leagues.
The Fantasy Profile Draft is a fantasy draft for your online league with a bit of a twist to say the least. Much like standard fantasy football, you'll be given the opportunity to pre-rank players in order of importance before the league starts the draft. Once the draft has commenced, those players will be selected in the order that you have ranked them. EA Sports has yet to implement a live online draft to enjoy, however, it is something they're working on for a future Madden title.
As for online league team selection, what happens when you live in Dallas and everyone and your mother wants to play as the Dallas Cowboys? Well, EA Sports has set it up so you can. If you and your buddies really want to find out who is the best Cowboys owner out there, you'll be able to set-up a league with unique teams set to off and find out. If you're more simulation-style, you'll be able to set unique teams on and force people to select teams that haven't already been chosen by other users.
If all of this hasn't added to your excitement level for the next game in the franchise, we're going to leave you with a gameplay video of an early build of Madden 2009. We're sure everyone will agree that the new player models that have also been designed from the ground up are a huge step up from what we've been looking at for the past 2-3 years.
As more information surfaces about Madden Football 2009, we'll be sure to keep you up to date with it.