It’s almost that time again. There will be long lines out in front of GameStops, BestBuys and other stores at midnight for yet another Madden. But does this one have that little extra something to get me back on board? I tried out the demo yesterday to see.
The last time I played a Madden and held onto it for any kind of time was back in 2008 when Vince Young was on the cover. I skipped 2009 and tried 2010 in hopes that they were on track to the greatness that was ESPN 2K5. No dice. My biggest complaint has always been that after Madden 2006 and 2007, the series was more and more feeling like a roster update with no real changes to the series and after 2K5 had set the bar (which EA promptly scooped up the NFL licence preventing more from being made) EA just got complacent with letting the series stagnate. Oh sure they added so called new features here and there but nothing that excited me long enough to really want to play and in my opinion, if they couldn’t get a presentation to exceed 2K5, then what was the sense? Look at the NCAA series, EA has the licence to ESPN and they ran with it in NCAA and I could never see why they never did the same with Madden, so I sat out for a while until I heard that this year’s version had undergone a major overhaul.
So far, the demo really shows off the changes needed to make this game fresh. Granted the core mechanics and joystick movements basically feel unchanged from a few years ago but the overall feel as far as the presentation really feels more of what i have been seeking out of a Madden game. After playing 4 demo games, the commentary rarely ever repeats, with Jim Nantz and Phill Simms really making each game seem as it it’s a live broadcast.
Other small things I picked up from the demo is that the QB cadences again come from the actual QBs instead of canned audio.
Also, finally crowd noise rises and falls and feels more like a real crowd as opposed to just static white noise.
Also I noted that EA still hasn’t quite figured out RB momentum yet. When a player runs into a line man he just stalls instead of pushing forward or around and also I noticed some weird sliding animations when spinning or juking.
A few things I hope that are fixed before the final product is released are:
Play challenges – The whole flow of animations from the time a play is challenged to the time the refs rule on it are completely out of synch and rarely can you really tell what happened to see what caused the play to be challenged.
Player Injuries – When players get injured, I need to know why a guy with a torn ACL gets up on his own and walks off while a guy with a sprained wrist gets the medical team to walk him off? Nitpicky I know, but still. And even the commentary which notes a guy going out never comes back to tell you if he is ok or not or even when he is back in the game.
So after playing, this demo has given me a tiny bit of hope that this franchise may finally be back on track since the 2005 version and with the addition of the Ultimate Teams option (borrowed from the FIFA series) and hopefully a great franchise mode, Madden may win me back.
I know a lot of people will wonder how I can pick on the game so much for its presentation but face it, anyone that picked up 2K5, the presentation is what sold you on it.
I will let you know later once I have a full version if you should or shouldn’t take the plunge.
Demo rating – 7.5 out of 10