Madden Demo Time!

Written for AussieGameGeek.com.au.

It’s that time of year again folks! Madden demo time!

So is there anything in this years offering that will actually set it apart form last years other than the fact that Peyton Manning now has a white horse on his helmet instead of a blue horse shoe? Read on and find out.

Right out of the gate the demo does look a lot prettier. Although player faces still look like something you might find on Easter Island the field, player models, and stadiums certainly look a lot nicer.

Furthermore they seem to have added an odd speed blurring visual when players are in tackles, or generally move with an odd amount of fluidity. AN example I noticed was when an offensive lineman fell over a running back that was in the process of being wrapped up in a tackle. As he went down, he got a strange motion blurring. It might have been my TV but I doubt it.

The much-touted Infinity Engine is mostly what has been advertised… I say mostly because as with all supposedly ground breaking physics engines it suffers from what I call “Video Game Limb Displacement Syndrome” wherein a random player or sideline official will suddenly have an arm, leg or even head take on a life of it’s own and start operating totally independently of the rest of his body, no matter what he is doing. Although it didn’t impact the game overall, it’s still off-putting to see a Running Back’s knee go spastic at the bottom of a pile. Aside from random body part movement however it seems solid. Hit Stick tackles are meaty and well delivered and ball carriers certainly feel like they are getting hit when a defender barrels into them.

The game feels quite sped up from last years offering too. Several times I was caught unawares as Eli Manning dropped back and the Wide Receiver routes were completed before I had even scanned the field by super fast wide outs. It’s not a big thing, but after trying to get the game too feel so realistic, this feel’s like they have gone in the other direction and made it feel a tad arcadey. It’s not a liability at this stage, but just one little thing people will have to get used too.

Speaking of the Wide Receivers, I was really impressed with how well they move, run routes and most importantly sky for the ball. Twice in passes over the middle Hakeem Nicks ran his in-route and caught the ball at it’s highest point, whilst in motion, totally snatching it out of the air. It looked amazing.

On the downside though run blocking still felt atrocious. Although playing against the 49ers and their beyond stout run D I was getting zero help from my offensive line. In fact I had at least one play where the Right Guard who was kicking out to the right ran into and was knocked down by,the Tight End, who for reasons unknown to man or science was heading in towards the line of scrimmage, possibly to seal of the edge. The play resulted in a loss of several yards and an eventual punt. Also frustratingly I was left marooned when O-Linemen didn’t block further up field or ran around not knowing what to do.

Dude has an arm! Image courtesy of operationsports.com

The QB passing felt tight and pretty responsive,, as did playing as defenders. In years past it felt like potluck when you took control of a Safety or Corner Back to attempt an INT. My first attempt and a well timed hit of the Y button saw the Safety pick of Alex Smith no worries at all. It was as easy as you like.

Other than the ease with which I scored through the air against the 9’ers vaunted D and Patrick Willis being beyond a beast I didn’t notice terribly much else worthy of note. The new announcing team is terrible, but that merely follows in the footsteps of real life with Nantz and Simms and crowd noise was a little uneven.

Overall this feels like a solid move forward for the franchise although I would have loved a few more refinements to the run blocking part of the offensive side of the game. Aside from that disappointment I enjoyed the demo, and look forward to grabbing the full game when it’s released in Australia on the 30th of August.

Additional: This piece was also posted on AussieGameGeek.com.au by a couple of good gaming buddies of mine – Give em a look!

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