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Michael Vick is a video game Hall-of-Famer, but in which game was he the best?

An investigation.

If there were a video game athlete Hall of Fame, it would have entire wings dedicated to Pablo Sanchez, Bo Jackson, and Michael Vick. Vick was a problem for NFL defenses and video game developers alike — rightfully so, he was an explosive athlete — and you can see his influence in all the Maddens after 2004.

Bring up Madden 2004 in a conversation, and it’s likely followed up with “Michael Vick was OP in that game” OR “Michael Vick was unfair.” This persistent statement that Madden 2004 Vick was the most unstoppable video game character ever got me thinking: Do we just agree that he’s the best video game character because of the legend and nostalgia attached to it?

So I took that thinking a step further. Is Madden 2004 Vick even the most unstoppable version of Vick? If not, which other candidates are worthy of the title? I took a small poll.

Do I have too much time on my hands? (Not enough, in my opinion.)

Those three games are, of course, Madden 2004, NFL 2k5, and NFL Street 2. And I spent many hours late at night replaying each one to see which game takes the crown for having the most dominant Vick.

The case for NFL Street 2

When compared to NFL 2k5 and Madden 2004, NFL Street 2 is unpredictable as hell. The jukes were crazy, and you had style passing and style catches.

But most of all, you could use the walls. For those of you who have never played this game, think of arena football, but the walls are still inbounds when you touch them.

You could do crazy trick moves off the wall:

This includes using the wall to throw a pass:

And using the wall to catch the ball:

With a few wall jukes, you could turn a bleak situation into a huge gain.

Bringing someone down in NFL Street 2 was already pretty difficult due to the frequent laterals and broken tackles. With Vick, it’s damn near impossible. If he does scramble, you have to worry about his blazing speed and the freaking walls:

The wall is an added element both behind the line of scrimmage and past the line of scrimmage. Vick is fast enough to run out of the pocket, reach the wall, and throw a wall pass in the same time it takes regular QBs to do a fraction of that. He can even pass to himself:

LOLOLOLOL.

My middle school basketball coach told me that on defense the out-of-bounds lines serve as an extra defender. If that’s the truth, then this game doesn’t give you that. On certain field levels in the game, you can step out of bounds, but it’s not that noticeable.

In Madden, you could just try to suppress the damage and force Vick out of bounds. You can’t do that here.

Unlike Madden 2004 and NFL 2k5, the passing icons don’t go away or hide while you’re scrambling, so if you’re playing a non-AI opponent, they have absolutely no idea what your next move is. This adds yet another level of deception that makes it hard for the other team.

He played defense, too

An underrated feature we don’t think about is that NFL Street 2 uses seven players to a team, and they play both offense and defense. You could put Vick at safety and blitz, and just his speed alone can give other offenses nightmares on that game. The fact that he has the potential to be a nuisance on both sides of the ball is incredible (even though his attributes don’t hint at it).

JUST LOOK AT THE SPEED OFF THE LINE!

You could try that in Madden, but Vick’s stamina and low defensive attributes in Madden would make him more of a liability on defense.

I tried.

This is important to note because in Madden 2004, you have a break from worrying about Vick.

Hindrances

Yes, there is a turbo bar that replenishes over time, but Vick is fast enough that it doesn’t even matter in most situations. If there weren’t a limited amount of turbo you could use in this game, then it would be the obvious choice for most OP (Overpowered) characters.

The game is simple from a strategy standpoint compared to Madden. You can’t customize a playbook and go to town. You have three receivers instead of up to five in Madden and NFL2k5, but you can see that as having more space to terrorize defenses and take it to the house.

The case for Madden 2004

From a game-play perspective, Madden had a supply of fire jukes and spins that made any fast ball-carrier hard to tackle. The spin move was cheese...

... but no one cared because it’s a video game. No, this was not the highlight stick in Madden ’07, but these moves were still hard to defend against.

What it did have was Playmaker Control.

For those of you who don’t remember how annoying this function was to defend against, Playmaker Control allows you to tell a receiver what to do post-snap. Now imagine video game Vick scrambling and the user having the ability to direct his teammate's routes/actions at the same time.

So you could theoretically do shit like this:

This function made Vick so OP that Madden itself recognizes how dominant this combination is.

Another feature that kind of counts is the ability to create your own playbook. If Playmaker Control didn’t turn this into a glorified backyard football game, then this feature will surely put it over the top. You can create routes that only rival the ones that you did when you used to draw the imaginary route on the football with your finger.

Here are a few I made when I was a kid. These all work when Vick is at the helm.

Does this play work?

Yes. (Custom routes were basically a cheat code.)

What about this one?

Yes, this “pass” play works ... because it’s actually designed run.

Now, can you theoretically make any playbook OP for a number of characters? Yes. Are there other running QBs in the game who you could cook with as well?

Yes. You have Daunte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb, and Aaron Brooks. However, as you can see from the chart, the speed discrepancy is noticeable. Oh, I forgot to mention that rookie Seneca Wallace is an option.

Would McNabb be a dangerous player to use? Absolutely. Is the combination of Randy Moss and Culpepper OP? Hell yeah, but it’s just not the same as having a quarterback who’s faster than most of the RUNNING BACKS in the game.

Using Michael Vick in a game against your friends was already frowned upon, but if you really never wanted to see a person again you would use Michael Vick and a custom playbook.

Hindrances

Honestly, this all comes down to how you’re playing the game. If you’re playing it on an easier level, then Michael Vick is even more of a video game god.

NFL Street 2 does not have an overall stamina bar, but it still does limit the amount of turbo you can use at a time. Madden has a fatigue element and a wider variety of plays to keep a running QB in check. You can’t stop Vick, but you can theoretically ease the damage. It’s just too bad that it’s going to be a lot of damage, especially if all the tools I just mentioned were utilized in conjunction with Vick.

The case for NFL 2k5

NFL 2k5 is one of the best football games of all time and feels more realistic than Madden 2004. A spin move doesn’t freeze an entire defense, and there are way more drops in this game.

While Vick could still scramble ...

... it just doesn’t feel as dominant as Madden ’04 or NFL Street 2.

It just feels like the defense is more cognizant of Vick’s shenanigans. You also can’t spam the ball-carrier controls because of “The Charge,” a feature that requires you to charge up if you want to pull off the more extreme moves. This prevents one from pulling off totally unrealistic combos of said extreme moves.

In addition to this, spamming the scrambling abilities can absolutely tire out this version of Vick easily. It’s like running full speed play after play can tire you out.

Who knew.

Also, throwing on the run is extremely difficult in this game — as it should be. Like Madden, you are not able to just hold down the sprint button and press the corresponding receiver button at the same time. You have to let the trigger go:

In Madden, it’s a toggle system, but I’ll let your personal preference decide which one is easier for you. The difference that I’m trying to stress is the passing accuracy while on the run. This is thanks to the maximum passing feature:

There is a considerable difference in this game and you can’t just use Vick as a cheat code to throw an accurate pass across the field like he hasn’t been running for a while:

While this game did have a bunch of things that prevent 2k5 Vick from being as annoying as Madden 2004 Vick, I kind of appreciate the little blips of realism in the game. Both Madden and NFL 2k5 have fatigue, but it’s the passing feature that sets the two games apart difficulty wise.

Madden 2004 was made before EA Sports tried out the QB Vision Cone, so you could pull off some passes that made Vick seem like he can see everything except why kids like Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

It’s the taste you can see, Michael.

So what have we learned?

NFL 2k5 Michael Vick doesn’t seem to be the most dominant version of him. Like Madden, if you play the game on rookie difficulty then, of course, you can go off. However, when I increased the difficulty levels in both games I felt more of a change in NFL 2k5 then I did with Madden 2004. The features implemented prevents users from spamming Vick the same way you can in the other two games. I’m not saying he isn’t dominant in this game, I’m saying he doesn’t feel as much of a cheat code in this game compared to the other two.

As for NFL Street 2 and Madden ’04, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. I think that NFL Street 2 and Madden ’04 both provide unique strengths and different ways in which they’re OP. Both characters are borderline impossible to deal with.

In terms of football video games, dual-threat quarterbacks are the most fun characters to use and it’s not even close. You can pick almost any football game, college or pro, after Madden ’04 and find a dual-threat quarterback to ball out with. Here’s a quick list of other dual-threat quarterbacks who I can think of off the top of my head over the years. (Yes I know; some are in both.)

Madden: Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, RG3, Russell Wilson, Tyrod Taylor, Marcus Mariota, Terrelle Pryor, Joe Webb.

College Football: Every quarterback who played for Oregon, Denard Robinson, Johnny Manziel, Tajh Boyd, Tim Tebow, Braxton Miller, Pat White, EJ Manuel, Taylor Martinez ... all my created players (except for the time I made a running back).

I could go on. The point is that there have been many dual-threat quarterbacks who have been featured in video games. None of them were as OP as any of the versions of Michael Vick that I mentioned.

It’s not even close.