We made sure we made off with the press screenshots and videos. EA was adamant about showing off Madden 13 as one of the biggest upgrades the franchise has ever had. At the Microsoft E3 Press Conference, it showed off voice commanded audibles and formation changes with Kinect but the biggest change has to be its new animation system where every tackle and limb of each player is physics-based. No more of the this dynamic “interrupt” animation system. The whole point of this new animation system is to actually show off details we usually see in an actual NFL game. So if you’re a running back pushing through the creases, you should see your shoulders shift and bump against DBs and tackles as you’re trying to “hit the holes”. The same goes for tackling. If someone grabs you by the ankle, we should see the RB stumble, try to gain balance and still see realistic feedback if an opponent tackles you during “mid-animation”.
So how was it?
When Sean and I played the game briefly, he played as the Pittsburg Steelers while I played as the New York Jets. All of pre-snap stuff we’ve seen from previous installments are still there: line shifting, hot reads, faking blitzes, audibles, redirection, fake play overlays, playmaker, spins, jukes, hit sticks, truck sticks, you name it. Almost everything you’ve experienced in the previous games are pretty much all there minus the fugly QB Vision Control (ie. vision cone) which was supposed to simulate the QB’s field of vision we saw back in Madden 06 and the Lead Blocker control from Madden 10 and 11, which I discovered was missing – or, at least from what we’ve played on the floor.
The new animation system showed off the ability to steer tackles during running plays while passing plays created a more realistic pocket around the QB. It also added realistic passing controls as you can place the ball on a receiver’s back shoulder, out toward the sideline, up high, down low, and other places where only your receiver can get it and their heads would turn towards the QB mostly when a window was open for a pass. It seemed like there are a variety of catch animations as well – nothing repeating, at least with our experience. The new system showed off some impressive animations where the player momentum made all the difference in acceleration, deceleration, planting & turn rates.
Play-action plays were alot more seamless and didn’t require much too much faking from a focused camera. This was especially true when I used Tim Tebow on a QB sneak play – a play that Sean was pretty annoyed with when he stopped me three downs consecutively at the goal line. Tebow squeezed through the tackles and you can see his legs buckle as a strum of defenders realistically pull together to push the pile over the QB – but not after he broke the plane for a touchdown. Best of all? He tebowed. If it’s in the game, it’s in the game.
Once I got used to the reorganized pre-snap control schemes, I poured on the score. But that was mostly due to Sean’s special teams play as his kickoff team turned PBA and bowled the football towards to my first team’s ankles for better field position. After he got used to control scheme, both of us noticed the hiccups we were experiencing when we were choosing between plays. Part of it maybe due to its alpha stage of development.
The animations looked extremely realistic as wide receivers were pushing of defenders to finish their routes but we also noticed animations where players were getting tossed around and limbs being bent in weird angles where would one say “that dude should be injured at that point”.
Graphically, the Madden 13’s system seems to not only improve the visual quality of the game but allowed a more realistic broadcast experience. Although subtle, the multiple pre and post play cutscenes along with camera angles such as coaches on the sidelines and quarterbacks talking on the phone add that realistic flair that we’ve grown accustomed to in not only Madden but previous football franchises in the past.
Overall, we wanted to see more. We knew this was a huge upgrade but the animations still seem to need to clean-up. But that’s ok. Football season is still a few months away. Until then, you can rest assure that the latest installment should give the Madden franchise the shot in the arm it needs.