NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

For those of you who play video games and are interested in NFL Head Coach, I've put up a preview of my experience playing the game as well as four videos (two in the article, two for some reason not) related to the story at IGN.

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46 comments, Last at 20 Jun 2008, 7:02pm

2 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Haha! Typo on the screenshot, oops! Bad EA.

"Nnamdi Asomugha is ready to negotiation [sic] his free agent contract". Or is that the way the kids talk these days? :)

Great review of the game. Coupled with the videos, I have a great sense of what this game is. I've been curious about it for years but never gave it a chance. I think I just might now.

4 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

The big question, Bill, is: "will this game keep me from playing Football Manager?"

5 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

The real question is whether it has gamebreaking, ridiculous bugs like most EA games. Anyone willing to buy Madden 09, be prepared to watch Marion Barber carry the rock 520 times for 2200 yards, while Felix Jones doesn't even get a touch.

How do I know this is going to happen? Well, because that's what happens in Madden 08, 07, 06, and 05, and possibly even earlier versions of the game. They can't possibly be unaware of it, and they just don't care.

I strongly recommend that all of you approach this title extremely warily.

7 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

:: Bill Barnwell — 6/14/2008 @ 12:24 pm.
Yaguar's point is very valid though.
EA (sports) makes very buggy games and they don't care to fix the problems.
Some "have to see it to believe it" is recommended.

8 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

I don't mind them deciding not to make Madden 09 for PC but they better give us this.

9 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

6: I'm glad to know that the bug is fixed in Head Coach, but I'd be extremely surprised if they actually fixed it in Madden.

I didn't get the earlier Head Coach installment, but don't be surprised if some of the same blatantly obvious bugs from the previous version pop up again.

10 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

:: Yaguar — 6/14/2008 @ 1:05 pm
it's said they ditched the first Head Coach and started from scratch.
So see this not as a Head Coach 2.0 but a "We'd better get this right" 1.0
Is this for PC???

11 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On


true they built it from scratch, but its still based on the madden engine. the same engine that has allowed various wonky stats over the years.

im hopeful, but still extremely skeptical about this new version. It should be the kind of game that appeals perfectly to the kind of person that comes to this site. It could be like Front Office Football but with better graphics, a smooth EA interface, and well just all the general benefits that should come with having the power and money of EA behind a game. But between the first version of the game, and the way EA treats the Madden franchise, i won't hold my breath for the kind of game i'm looking for.

12 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

The best feature of the original game was its loading. Every switch between screens (of which there were many) was accompanied by a beautiful load screen, with a quote from a famous head coach, which the loading provided ample time to contemplate. These zen-like pauses gave the game a regal pace not seen since the early days of the PlayStation.

So, while all of the information in this article is nice, the key question is: will this important down-time be included in the sequel?

13 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Jeers to EA for not making madden 09 for PC. I'm not buying a console to play a single game, either. They've lost one customer, although I doubt they'll notice.

14 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Too many people pirate PC games to make it a worthwhile effort. You should really blame them, not EA. I'm sure if everyone paid for the game, they'd be happy to make it. The fact that some of them will redivert to the consoles only makes the decision to shut down easier.

And considering the problems they had with 08 at launch (it appeared that noone had ever sat down and played an entire quarter) - I'd hope that a more focused effort brings a better product on fewer systems. Also, you could blame the Wii for stealing PC's spot.

15 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Don't you DARE say anything bad about my beloved WII! Now if only they'd incorporate balance board functionality and appropriate gesture functionality.

The game should be able to tell when I'm hopping up and down and flipping off the ref at his poor calls, and fine me appropriately.

16 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Nnamdi Asomugha is ready to negotiation his free agent contract

Holy crap - raiderjoe works for EA!!!

17 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Maybe they would sell more if they would put some effort in their games.

18 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

EA has managed through taking their customer base for granted to severely alienate this fan. I love video games, and love sports management. I once stood in line at midnight to get madden (this is someone who has NEVER ONCE PLAYED A GAME IN MADDEN, only simmed them). I won't be getting it this year, and sorely regret getting it last year after I was of two minds about it.

The straw that broke the back for me was the fact that they for the second year in a row forgot to have player's salary demands increase along with the league revenues and salary cap. So after about 3 years of playing the franchise mode became pretty worthless.

Not to mention the myriad of other things which were just plain sloppy. I can always forgive difficult/expensive to solve coding problems, or database errors, but a lack of basic play testing has plagued this series for quite a while.

I plan on giving HC a chance , I also plan on being sorely disappointed.

19 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Oh I got so sidetracke din my disgust for EA, that I forgot to make my main point. That the past 5 years of the madden franchise is a standing argument to danger of monoplies (if cable providers' customer service wasn't good enough for you). With that exclusive license, madden would have lost its market share long ago.

20 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Question from a newbie who's never played Madden or HC and whose last experience with a football game was FPS Football: I assume you can do a "career" league, playing season after season after season? If so, does the computer then generate new players each year for the draft?

21 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

yaguar - according to a interview with an EA guy that I read recently, madden 09 is focusing on creating 'less 2000 yd rushers'. So they seem to be trying to address this - although 'very rare 2000 yd rushers' would have been a more heartening statement.

22 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Re: 20

Yes, Madden's Franchise Mode allows you to play season after season after season. However, with the exception of the immortal Tyrone Sellers, the players that the computer generates for the draft seem to be rather. . . average. I tend to lose interest in a particular "franchise" after about 10-12 seasons, when all the actual players i'm attached to have retired.

23 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

re:20 But one of the great things about the EA football games is that you can save the graduating classes from the NCAA game and import them into Madden as the draft classes. I recommend finding a NCAA roster file somewhere on the internet which provides accurate names and stats for the current college teams which helps to prolong interest in the franchise mode in Madden when you import the draft classes.

24 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

I am an avid gamer and an avid football fan and have not bought a version of madden since 2004. The reason they "dont fix their bugs" is because they dont change ANYTHING. If you go back and play madden 2002, it will feel very very similar to madden 2009. 2002 was ahead of its time, but the system is old and done now. Some company will make madden go in the tank by coming up with a better version. This just happened with the skating series (tony hawk 1 was way ahead of its time, built off itself and culminated with their 5th installment Tony Hawk undeground, and then they stopped adding anything. Next thing you know "skate." takes the skating gaming world by storm)

as for headcoach, all it really is is a sim game. You can get sim games for free or very cheap on the web that will probably be BETTER than head coach. (for example for baseball, for hockey are both really good. I heard is pretty good for football, i never got into it though). The only sim type game for console that I thought was really fun and worth the money was MLB Power Pros.

25 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

oh, i think 2001 was the first good madden game not 2002. Whatever, same thing.

26 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

This may not be the best place to ask this, but does anyone know if there are plans for EA to release HC09 in Australia? We always get the Madden game, but NCAA has never been sold out here as far as I know, so just wondering if HC09 will be off limits to Australia as well

27 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

I always thought that it would have been more fun if the draft had an option to cycle in retired players, rather than random newbies. Or at the very least, have randomly named players that are clones of the retired players to keep the balance the same.

But what I really want to see in Madden is a time machine mode. Franchise is flawed because the future is pretty meaningless if it's all random. Instead, I want to take over a team say, in 1995, and then get to re-run the subsequent drafts and free agencies.

Sigh...I imagine there's some stupid legal concern.

28 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

I suspect that the Madden 20th anniversary edition will be sold in Australia, which (I believe) is still going to hold Head Coach.

I can't say that I agree or disagree with the talk of Madden not fixing/changing anything, but as I've stated more than once, this is a totally different game that has been rebuilt from the ground up. For better or for worse, it's totally different beyond the gameplay engine.

29 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

It looks like the game will be deep and very involved, which is a definite plus. However, I'm worried about the accuracy of things. Briggs gets a contract that far above what he actually received? The best CB in football has a rating in the 80s, and all this just from preliminary, coincidental viewing?
I love Madden, and will no doubt get the Collector's edition for Head Coach. But I'm not too optimistic.

30 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Mikey, I believe that's correct: that's why APF 2K8 was able to use so many retired players, it seems as though the licenses for current and former players are practically exclusive.

I think I will add this to my GameFly queue, but as with some of my fellow FO readers, I won't be buying it new. The only series I really enjoy right now that has EA's name on it is Rock Band.

Let's be fair, though: FPS Football did have its flaws (although the user community certainly did rise to the task after Sierra moved on), and if they weren't bad enough, FPS Baseball was a disaster in terms of accuracy ...

31 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Throwing this out here: I've always thought that someone willing to work with a FPS engine would be able to make a half-way decent NFL game, ala International Online Soccer.

Heck, when I travel I play Tecmo Super Bowl during my spare time and at the airports (laptop). Currently I'm in the midst of trying to get a season that ends with every team 8-8... but its been a whole lot of fun to play in this fashion and see how the stats fall out. I suppose one could call me easily entertained... but if I wanted something better to play I'd probably choose 2k series for Dreamcast...

32 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

8, 10: Sadly, I'm pretty sure that the answer is no -- I couldn't find anything about a PC version on EA's website. I think it's pretty clear that the market for PC sports games is drying up ... hopefully it will be rejuvenated at some point, but right now, I'm skeptical. It's too bad, because I don't think people should have to invest money in a console plus all the accessories they require in order to have an entertaining game. Oh, well. In any case, it's encouraging that EA Sports appears to be putting some effort into at least one of their football titles, even if the other has been ruined by the security of an exclusive license.

33 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

"It could be like Front Office Football but with better graphics, a smooth EA interface, and well just all the general benefits that should come with having the power and money of EA behind a game."

So it would still have lots of bugs and not work in an intuitive way.

520 carries for 2000+ yards is realistic. What isn't realistic is the player managing to do that without getting hurt. FOF won't let you run a guy like simply can't get him the carries, which is just as bad as what madden does.

34 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Sports games always have a bias against injuring players, and I think they do it on purpose, not as a bug. It's frustrating to play a game like Madden and start losing your stars all the time.

You gotta remember, EA's in the entertainment business, not the sports simulation business.

37 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On


true FOF is far from perfect, i was just giving it as an example of a more text based sports management sim which is what people should be comparing Head Coach to more so than madden.

that said i'd give much better odds of FOF fixing its bugs before madden fixes theirs.

38 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

This is exactly what I wanted. Thoughts on the game from someone who truly knows football and the intricacies that exist within it.

39 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

That's great that they redid part of the game, but it will still have that garbage Madden engine. I like assembling a team, making trades, setting up strategies, etc but it's all just leading to gameday. And if the actual gameday experience is lame (hey, it's Vince Young firing a 70 yard pass downfield while on the run, awesome), then the whole thing is useless.

I was burned badly by Head Coach last time, I'll definitely pass on it again. If they had this game with the NFL 2k5 engine, I'd be there.

40 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

It's true there's a new Tecmo Bowl game coming out (see link in my name), but thanks to EA's exclusive deal it won't feature any NFL teams or players. As far as I know they're currently planning a version for the Nintendo DS (previewed in the link), as well as a Wii version, which they haven't revealed anything about.

41 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Re 32;

Actually the PC game market has stayed steady for the past few years, if you go by retail sales. However, that doesn't count subscription games like world of warcraft, and it doesn't count on-line sales. So, in all likelihood PC games is a growing market, it's just dwarfed by the console market.

42 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

Thanks for the preview, Bill. I definitely like what I see and will be picking up the game. I too love Madden Franchise mode, but have been frustrated by EA's refusal to make simple changes like correct roster numbers, etc. In Head Coach, it looks like many of these things are finally fixed.

43 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

"that said i’d give much better odds of FOF fixing its bugs before madden fixes theirs."

I wouldn't. We've been dealing with the Run Aggressive/Run reversed settings, and goal-line defense getting called in passing situations for almost 3 years now.

As much as it hurts me to say it, Madden's engine is much more complicated, and much more accurate, as it actually tracks behavior of players, instead of just summing the whole unit and doing a dice roll.

44 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

43: I was writing about the PC sports game market. I'm sure that the PC game market as a whole is doing just fine, but if there were really as much demand for PC sports games as there was a few years ago, I don't think the offerings would be so measly these days. Admittedly, I haven't seen any figures for retail sales, but my guess is that those figures are being driven by role-playing games, first-person shooters, etc.

45 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

That last comment should've been directed at 41, not 43 (obviously).

46 Re: NFL Head Coach 09 Hands-On

I think there still is a demand for sports games on the PC - it's just been so hard for potential buyers to find any good ones in the last few years.

I point the finger at EA mostly - my favourite versions of their games were Madden 04, NBA Live 05 and MVP 05 and Tiger Woods 05. Since then, they seem to have neglected the PC versions entirely to work on their next-gen console versions. Haven't played the newer Tiger Woods games as much, but the recent versions seem far more complicated - unnecessarily so, and of course MVP 05 was the last of its kind - it got cut. Subsequent versions of Madden and NBA Live have had not matched the realism and feel of the titles I've highlighted - they've merely added eye-candy features like the hit-stick or more freestyle control. I personally don't care about these if I can't return a punt or perform a decent pivot move.

So it's no wonder that fans have turned to piracy - all they've been getting is some updated rosters and a few gimmicky features each year. If you play the PC versions you can always find much more accurate user made rosters on the WWW anyway.

It's possible in future that game engines will become more friendly allowing games to be designed for all platforms at once - an advantage for the PC, since no one can be bothered porting over any good games at present.

I'd like to see game developers really try to make a good PC sports game. I think fans of good games would reward a high quality game by going and purchasing it, but they aren't going to be fooled any longer by half-arsed repackaging jobs, leave that to console users.

Until then, PC sport gamers have to play Football Manager or one of their old collection of EA Sports classics from 5 years ago.