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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Madden NFL 13: First impressions from demo

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So, the demo of Madden 13 is out, and what better to do than make dramatic assumptions about the full game from two games and four of 32 teams that it includes?

~The graphics and presentation are better than ever. Players still look weird, but they're almost out of uncanny valley and into "Good videogame character" territory. Additionally, the new CBS/NFL Network-styled presentation, menus, scoreboard, etc., are all absolutely perfect - they look like they're from a real broadcast, not a videogame. As fun as Gus Johnson is, he's too over the top, if I want that, I'll play NFL Blitz. I want Madden to feel like a real game, and Collinsworth was plain boring(No offense Cris) Nantz and Simms do a much better job, and it definitely helps that they have more than one line for every situation. It gets old hearing the same lines over and over whenever you make a play you like. At least there's some variation in here.

Also, did I mention there's original music? Rather than the usual assortment of pop music, they actually went out, got an orchestra - or at least some really good synths and a keyboard players - and made some great pantomimes of the real themes that major networks use for their openings and break tags. The result is a much more pleasant and more authentic experience, down to the 20 seconds of music.

~Kicks are weird now. My first five minutes of gameplay weren't making any plays. They were me futzing with the controller, trying every button to kick off until I accidentally hit it and kicked it 20 yards out of bounds. For reference to everyone else used to button kicking, you flick the analog stick back to start the meter, then flick it forward to kick.

~The offensive lines are better now. Don't know if it's because of the new physics engine or something else, but the pass blocking lasts a lot longer now than it ever did in Madden 12.

~Motion blur everywhere. I really hope there's an option to either turn down or turn off motion blur in the full game, because it is ridiculous how much there is in this game. This is the one issue with the new presentation I have with it; everything else is so much better, but the motion blur is almost laughable.

~The new physics engine is much better. It's not perfect by any measure(Especially after the play, where some hilarious bumps and collisions players are very nonchalant about often happen), but it's much better than Madden 12. If you slam into a tackle on a run, the game won't transfer the defender onto you and drop you for a loss, you'll trip, and stumble forward for a yard or two. There aren't any more stupid hits and strips, or at least many fewer, and the tackling is much more responsive now(Read: Actually responsive). Speaking of stupid defense,

~Linebackers are no longer rocket-powered, and corners are no longer psychic. The days of having to worry about a linebacker jumping five feet into the air or a DB turning for a ball he never saw are gone, or at least reduced to the point they seem like glitches instead of a stupid engine. Passing is no longer "Oh god please catch it please please plea--FUCK NO HE WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FIELD THAT MAKES NO SENSE", but can actually be run efficiently for more than two or three yards.

The removal of ESP from DBs also makes sideline passes so much more useful since you can throw passes past a defender who wouldn't have seen it until the receiver was holding it without him inexplicably picking it off. This makes so many plays usable that were horrid in Madden 12, including a number of deep passes, which is wonderful for my Favreian "Shoot from the hip" gunslinger preference for passing games. Speaking of bad things from Madden 12 being useful,

~Play-action is useful again! It's still not something you want to do on a vast majority of your passes usually *CoughCamCameronCoughCough*, but it's finally not handing the other team a free sack. It's wonderful. And as long as we're talking about bad things that are suddenly good,

~The Redskins are awesome now. This is the last piece of my first impressions, and it's going to be very longwinded, so just skip down if you don't want to read me gushing about the RG3skins.

I don't know if it's that the Seahawks D is just horrible(Which it shouldn't be, they have a good defense), or that I am doing everything right to use this team to its fullest(Which I doubt with how I underuse RG3's mobility), but whatever it is, the Skins were the most entertaining, most dynamic team in the four-team demo. The Niners and Giants were mostly the same outside of San Fran's much improved receiving corps. The Seahawks I've only played one game with so can't say too much of, but they feel like again, the same team, except with a decent QB now.

But the Redskins...well, lets start by saying that offense, which was sickening to watch last year, is quite potent. Chris Cooley and Fred Davis are underrated at TE, as is Pierre Garcon at WR. Santana Moss is still a good target. The backfield isn't Baltimore or Jacksonville or Chicago strong, but it's still good enough to get you yards, especially when you add RG3 to it. On that note, RG3 is a great face for Washington at QB. Not top-ten yet, but assuming his rookie season doesn't go horribly awry and ruin him in real-life and Madden, he's a quick, fairly accurate thrower with a strong arm and good legs who can throw on the run and from the pocket. It's wonderful, he's better than a lot of higher-rated QBs I've used.

On the defensive side, as I've said over and over again, that defense is underrated because the 3rd-worst offense in the league when it came to holding onto the ball made them constantly work from within their own territory, and all those INT TDs or fumble TDs got counted against the defense. Kerrigan and Orakpo are good pass rushers. London Fletcher is like Ray Lewis, but lower-key and not quite as all-time great. Josh Wilson was only 2% higher on completion percentage allowed than Revis Island. Give that defense an offense that doesn't suck(See above), and they'll surprise you quite pleasantly.

The Skins aren't just a workable team now, they're a fun team. Are they enough to get you a 16-0 in franchise mode? Not unless you're on easy. But if you know what you're doing, you'll have some fun, exciting games and some relaxing blowouts in your favour on the way to a winning record, plus you can finally use them in online.

I know I'm devoting a lot of text to them, but that's because they're not only the biggest surprise of the demo, but they work wonderfully for me. They worked better than Seattle, New York, or San Fran for how I like to play now that the defenders aren't magic anymore. I didn't expect much, but the Redskins are much better than their number in the game, a lowly 79 if memory serves.

So, all-in-all? If the demo is any judge, Madden 13 is looking good. If you're not a football freak like myself, wait for the reviews to come in to be sure, but for someone like me who loves the sport with a passion, between the updates, the improvements, and the new rosters - especially teams that are completely different like Washington - this game is looking worth the money in every regard. The turbulent days of Madden 12 are finally drawing to a close, and football videogames are going to be fun again, instead of just bearable, right Peyton?

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