By: Ryan Wooley
With the official release of Madden 13 just a week away I took the opportunity to download the demo on the Playstation 3 this week and have to admit I can’t wait for the game to hit stores shelves on August 28th!
I’m actually kind of surprised I feel this way though, as last season I made the decision not to purchase the game for the first time since 2002–which was the first Madden I ever bought–as I used to play “NFL Gameday”.
The main reason I elected not to buy the game for the first time in 11 years was because I’ve been sucked into the “Call of Duty” Franchise and didn’t like wasting $60 on a game I rarely played, but also because the game as a whole was just stale.
Whether it was the 2006 version, 2008 or 2010, the game was the same with a few upgrades to game modes and rosters. The poor tackling, bad commentary, visual presentation and overall feel of the game was the same year to year and the franchise needed a complete overhaul.
Well, lo and behold EA Sports must have thought the same thing because after playing the demo, most of my issues have been answered.
This year’s version of Madden has a new physics-based Infinity Engine that dramatically improves the overall animation on the field. Not only do you see realistic pile-ups on tackles, but you can watch your running back trip over the feet of a player that is down on the ground, as well fight for extra yards after the initial hit or get pushed back by a pack of defenders.
The overall running game also feels like it has been upgraded as the A.I. of your teammates is no longer set at “dumb as a brick”. Offensive linemen actually seek out defenders and block who they should, instead of skipping over the blitzing defender to run up and engage someone playing in zone.
My favorite part of this new Infinity Engine through is watching the receivers catch the ball in the air and take a hit on the way down and see how their body changes direction. It looks very realistic.
If you’ve played the series long enough you probably can admit that getting rid of Pat Summerall on commentary was one of the best decisions the franchise ever made, but going to a random play by play guy that was supposed to be the voice of your team was clearly the wrong move and then adding Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth was an upgrade, until you heard the same five lines in a half.
Well in this year’s version they basically created a CBS broadcast as they have Phil Simms and Jim Nantz on commentary. They open a game from the booth and talk about the keys to the game and then as the game goes on, they show replays, talk about the top performers and even put together a highlight package at halftime.
Now of course with any form of commentary, you’re bound to have some repetition. But in the time I spent playing my five-minute quarter game as the Washington Redskins against the Seattle Seahawks, I didn’t hear one thing repeated by the same guy, only Simms or Nantz echoing what the other had said a few seconds prior.
The only gripe I do have with the commentary is that if I was to pinch my defense line in because I was expecting run or pull my corners back off the line of scrimmage for a deep pass, they’re quick to point it out—which could be a bad thing while playing a friend.
From the very start of the intro screen with the players standing without their helmets and holding the football, you can clearly tell EA Sports spent a lot of time trying to capture the exact features of the athletes.
The same can be said with coaches on the sideline. Both Pete Carroll and Mike Shanahan look just like they do in real life and it was kind of cool seeing them walk up and down the sideline and signal to their team with cut scenes.
You can also clearly see the grass being torn apart as the game goes on and even see chunks fly as you make cuts with the ball carrier. I also noticed when kicking field goals that little blades of grass would come up as the kicker grazed the field. Now keep in mind I was playing with the Redskins on a natural field, so I don’t know if the same will happen with the field turf–but it would be cool to see the little pieces of rubber pop up.
Actually Puts You In The Game
Every year with sports games a developer always does their best to make a “create-a-player” bigger and better than ever and I think Madden might have topped all games. Not only can you create yourself in this year’s version like in the past, but now you can actually upload a photo of yourself and the system will generate a digital version of your face! Don’t know how exact this will be but I am curious enough to give it a try.
If I was to give the demo an overall grade, I would have to give it a B+. It proves that the franchise is trying to shake some things up and move forward with not only new features, but addressing their biggest needs. It also was a pleasure to play a full five-minute game and give the option to either play as the Redskins/Seahawks or 49ers/Giants.
I’m sure that many Detroit Lion fans will purchase this year’s game because of Calvin Johnson being on the cover and if the actual game is anything like the demo, I think everyone will be happy.
Follow Ryan Wooley on Twitter @WooleyMammoth85