Published on April 26th, 2012 | by Danny Concepcion, Contributor
Madden 13 Hands-on and New York Event Recap
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PC
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
On Wednesday, April 25th, EA Sports, along with ESPN’s SportsNation, commandeered Times Square to promote Madden NFL 13 and unveil this year’s cover athlete: Detroit Lions’ wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson Jr.
As determined by fan polls, Johnson narrowly beat Carolina Panthers’ quarterback and 2011 AP offensive rookie of the year Cam Newton with 52% of the votes. Prior to the reveal, EA let us have some hands-on time with an alpha build of Madden NFL 13.
From the game’s new mechanics to its presentations, it’s apparent that EA Tiburon is shooting for realism. The most noticeable change is in the game’s presentations. Everything in regards of looks make it seem much more like what you’d expect to see when watching NFL games on TV.
CBS’ Phil Simms and Jim Nantz lend their commentary to this year’s entry, and are even featured in the pre-game shows. Uniform details, such as padding and jersey collars, are also much more visible and detailed. Fast movements are accompanied with a slight motion blur effect, and I didn’t witness any players “pinball” when bumping into others on the line of scrimmage.
The gameplay is far from a complete overhaul, but EA Tiburon have definitely fixed several of the issues that plagued Madden NFL 12.
To start, the game no longer feels like an exercise in determinism. If you’re getting blitzed, you can now cancel out of a play action fake by pulling the right trigger after the snap, or can tap the left thumbstick so the QB doesn’t automatically drop back 5 yards. The AI players don’t have that “eyes on the back of their heads” feel anymore either. So you won’t see cornerbacks or safeties magically make interceptions without even looking.
The passing system is deeper this time around too. Players have more control over where they throw the football with the left thumbstick. For example, holding the stick in the same direction the receiver is running will result in the pass leading him. As mentioned before, AI players won’t catch passes they don’t see, so Madden now features “ghost” buttons similar to that of older NCAA Football games, wherein the button to pass to a receiver will be faded when he isn’t looking towards the quarterback, indicating that he won’t catch the ball.
It makes sense since it would require too much attention to track every player’s awareness, but hardcore Madden players might find issue with the lack of judgment required to make passes. To be frank, the ghost buttons make passing feel almost too easy. It was only an alpha build, so this will probably see a few tweaks before August.
Another passing improvement is with pass trajectories. Madden NFL 12 had two pass trajectories: the lob and the zip, with almost no middle ground. This year’s installment has many more trajectory animations, so linebackers won’t swat your passes down from 20 yards away like in previous entries. Overall, the passing, animation, and A.I. tweaks are welcome additions to the franchise.
Until we get to see the rest of the features that make up Madden such as the coaching options and any additional gametypes, it’s difficult to gauge whether this will be significant step forward for the franchise, or just another annual entry with slight advances. But with all of the improvements it makes over its predecessor, combined with new visual presentations, Madden NFL 13 looks like a better effort to appease both hardcore and casual players.