Real Talk By : Hero Sandwhich

It’s that time again. Well not quite, but almost.

We’re in the midst of another iteration of Madden 2013 Another year of pushing the digital pigskin. It’s almost time to reassemble the crew and start debating who’s  the best. Time to start randomly calling out people on facebook and twitter with the hash tag #ifyoufeelinfroggythenleapsucka. Time to start randomly issuing challenges to anyone old enough to hold a controller. Just ask my 3-year-old twin nieces they each have gotten a finger to the face with me proclaiming, “If you think you’re bad, get on the sticks and show me then!”.  But hmm it seems I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself.

As I’ve yet to stand in line for 3 hours at midnight to get my copy ( I know it’s not just me), nor have I called in sick to my job the next day using my best Christian Bale Batman voice ( Don’t act like I’m the only one). As the game has yet to drop all I’m left with are the scraps that the demo offers …and let me tell you to a starving football fan who’s waited a year to throw his first pick to some rated 65 middle linebacker the demo comes off as more than a feast.

This year’s demo offers you the chance to play a complete game on 5 minute quarters on the pro difficulty. Offering up your choice of the New York Giants(away) vs the San Francisco 49ers(home) or the Seattle Seahawks (away) vs the Washington Redskins (home). This actually isn’t bad compared to Madden demo’s of the past especially if you’re a fan of either team. The new development team has made a lot of promises with this year’s Madden. Seeking to address passing, defense, tackling (hyping their new Infinity Engine), and ai issues all in the same game. Which is pretty ambitious citing past maddens and their focus on one part of the game of football (Ie: passing, rushing, coverage, receiving etc..). To be fair I’ll divide this into 3 small parts: Offense, Defense, and Special Teams.

I’m starting here because this is how all football games start so why not start here. I’ll start by saying that kicking while not perfect it is nice to see it get moved back to the right stick. The flick motion for kicks feels fluid and is still a bit finicky at times as it was in past iterations of madden. After a bunch of games I did encounter that from time to time that the direction of kicks and punts were not the most accurate in relation to the position of the right stick. Hopefully in the full retail version of the game this is fixed or at least patched.

Now on to the thing that continues to befuddle me with madden. Madden has been around for almost twenty years now and still has not even come close to fixing their punt returns. As seen in past iterations of madden punt returns are almost automatic tackling sprees with no chance of returning the ball as coverage players are almost always there for the catch. There were occasions where I managed to get more than 5 yards or more, but for the most part I could bet solid money that there would be no chance for a punt return. It almost seems as if the developers need to either adjust the speed of players on punt returns or maybe the punts themselves by decreasing air time. For a serious football fan it has to be perplexing as well as disappointing to see punt returns not addressed on madden year in and year out. Especially with the league boasting some of the best punting talent ever seen with punters and team averages mostly around 50 yards with longs generally around 70yds. As for field goals I’m not going to go too much in-depth here as they are really not too different from last years. Expect the computer to make all of their extra points and don’t expect to see any blocks.

The same play calling system from last year returns for offense and defense so gamers familiar with madden will recognize it immediately. The first thing I’m going to say is that while I was playing offense …it really felt like I was playing football. I’m to go way out on a limb here and say that the passing system has improved tremendously. I found myself passing with ease and success, shredding the defense on my way to 400 yard games with any of the quarterbacks I played with. I’m going to call the passing improvements for the time being a success or at least success in the making. It’s clear that madden took a good hard look at the passing on NCAA football and incorporated them into madden. You’ll be able to throw over the heads of the defense for the first time ever in Madden (Seriously lol).  You’ll see a gap in the defense and actually be able to try to fit the ball in there. Your qb will make more realistic throws when leading the pass. And 1 on 1 deep throws are more a roll of the dice than the isolated auto interception or deflection it was on Madden 12. Also in all of the games I played I kept waiting for some ridiculous interception where some linebacker jumps 50ft in the air like the hulk to make a miraculous catch in traffic and much to my surprise …..it never happened. There wasn’t one interception that I did throw that wasn’t me gambling or just making a bad read or throw. Yeah I know everyone is looking around like what, no way, but how? Somehow in the demo it just wasn’t there. Also what wasn’t there were ridiculous interceptions by cornerbacks who have their back to the ball or are completely out-of-place to make a play on the ball. It seems as though the new developers were serious about addressing the ai of the defensive players on the field.

What I could say that wasn’t perfect was the running game. If feels and runs pretty much like last years Madden with some questionable blocking and ai blocking logic from time to time. It wasn’t anything worth noting as a “serious” problem but more of the same with Madden 12. I’d be interested to see if any changes or made to the retail versions of the game.

One thing I will use this section to touch on is that the speed in all aspects of the game seems off a bit. It seems as if things are happening and moving maybe a tad too fast. It looks as if something that the developers should look at tweeking before the game is released. You’ll see a few movements that happen way too fast giving a bit of an arcade blitz feel to the game from time to time.

This will be a short section, but on all sides of the ball you can definitely see the Infinity engine on display. Tackling all together has just improved tenfold. You’ll see dynamic gang tackling, guys fighting for extra yards, and just more robust tackling and movement animations. Gone are the suction tackles, the skating players, or the tackles in which the outcome you already know from the moment it initiates. I think it was beyond time for Madden to shorten the tackling range of its player slightly. In past iteration it felt artificial and not very realistic. Also gone are the insane coverage abilities of the defense…like being able to jump 50ft in the air to pick off or deflect a ball that should have clearly been thrown over his head.

Another thing that seemed to have been addressed were the implementation of zones for the player. In Madden 12 some zones used on defense just did not work properly allowing the CPU and other players to just completely exploit them. From what I saw they seemed to be implemented a little bit better. But this may be something that I’ll need to check out in the full retail version of the game on All –Madden.

Another thing I noticed right off the bat is that controlling a lineman and battling with an offensive lineman seemed to have more continuity to it. And also seem more realistic, with lineman even if they get knocked down continuing to fight to get to the quarterback. It also seemed as if it didn’t take them as long to get up as it did in Madden 12. But this may also be more dependent on the speed of the game. There were also a few times where I felt that what was going on in the trenches with the lineman was happening way too fast. With guys shedding blocks to be able to arrive at the qb within what seemed a second or so. This may be something that needs to be tweeked, but it did not seem to be a significant enough “problem” to interrupt the flow of the game. But it was just surprising now and then to hike the ball and have a lineman barreling down on me seemingly unblocked even though a replay will show that he was.

This demo makes me think, that maybe for the first time in a long time Madden 13 might actually be Legit.

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