Photo: MaddenNation1/You Tube
Yesterday, EA sports released a demo of the 2012 instalment of their most valuable series of games, Madden. The sample comes with videos explaining the new features in Madden NFL 2012, and a playable demo that pits the Green Bay Packers against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.One of the biggest criticisms of sports games is that they don’t add enough features in between off-seasons other than roster updates and new graphics. But that criticism is unfair. The base engine of a video game takes years to program and execute. It’s nearly impossible for video game designers to totally revolutionise the gameplay a sports game in a single year.
Madden’s gameplay was solidly established in last season’s version. The plays ran crisply, and the defence could stop the run more often. On the other hand, their long vaunted “hit stick” feature wasn’t anywhere close to perfect, and practically every defensive back in the game, Ed Reed and Nnamdi Asomugha included, had hands that were apparently sculpted out of granite. The problems that have long plagued Madden such as their terrible announcing and poor production value were still abound.
The newly released demo can only tell us so much about the game, but the wizards over at Electronic Arts have added a few new wrinkles, and surprisingly enough, the game feels pretty fresh.
The tackling component of the game has been improved vastly. The collision detection never seems to clip, and the game won’t skip a beat if a player’s animation becomes interrupted. The players movement has more fluidity, and the bone crunching hits only come when they are earned.
Speaking of bone crunching hits, the “hit stick” has been solved. A selected defensive player won’t kneel forward and rush with his head down towards the ball carrier like a drunken bull anymore. Instead, the defender will better read the movement of the ball carrier and make the most solid hit possible. Runner’s juking ability has also improved to make the game more fair.
Although the demo doesn’t have any commentary in it, the production value is leagues ahead of where it was last year. The game’s graphics, camera angles, and player introductions act as if they were ripped directly from a Sunday NFL telecast.
Other features added include more lifelike player celebrations (Aaron Rodgers actually does his championship belt routine after scoring), improved ball physics, a revamped and more RPG like “Franchise Mode,” improve online communities, and the game seems a bit faster.
Even with all their improvements in the production department, EA didn’t add player tattoos or cheerleaders that look like human beings. The demo is surely an inferior product to what will come out in stores August 30th, so it’s possible that these additions will be made later.
But it’s evident there will still be room for improvement once Madden NFL 2013 rolls around.
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