A lot has been written this year about how this year marks the biggest gameplay changes in the history of the long Madden franchise, and ever since sampling the game at E3 2012 I have eagerly awaited the demo version to see if the game I played in Los Angeles was going to be strutting it's stuff on the demo. In past years I have noticed the demo releases were very dumbed down compared to what I'd sampled months before, but this year in an exception.
Infinity Engine.... and Beyond!
Ok... that's corny, but the biggest headline in Madden NFL 13 is the Infinity Engine, a new physics engine that makes the game act and feel more realistic than ever before. The difference was noticeable during my sampling at E3, but it had it's fair share of oddball bugs and glitches that somewhat took away from it.
I was pleased to see that the demo version, thus far, has seemingly worked out most of those glitches. The tackling is more realistic and brutal than ever before. A major change in how to play comes into the picture here as well, as you now collide with your own players. Madden veterans will have to adjust how they read and use their blockers in a different way than they have been used to.
It also changes defensive strategy. In a sample game this afternoon I stopped a running back I couldn't reach by pushing his blocker back to him, tripping him up.
Commentary You Can Stand
Coming off what I think was the worst year ever for in-game commentary, Madden NFL 13 brings Jim Nantz and Phil Simms into the broadcast booth. The improvement is instant.
Not only are Nantz and Simms a veteran sportscasting team, but they have years of video game commentary experience as well. The duo have appeared in many of those Golden Tee LIVE golf games you'll find in practically every bar in North America.
The commentary is still repetitive at times, but far less than in previous years, and I'm not certain video game sports commentary can ever totally avoid repeating at times given that it's all pre-recorded anyway. Worth note is that the commentary now reacts better to what is actually happening in the game, even when you change the call on the line of scrimmage. If you are adjusting up into a blitz formation you need to know the broadcast booth is likely to stooge you off to your opponent, so plan accordingly.
Some Things Never Change
A few minor flaws present in pretty much every Madden ever made still manage to remain in Madden NFL 13. None of these really have an impact on the in-game action, but can still detract from the overall experience.
Players can still pass right into stadium walls and sideline players as if they were next in line for a remake of Ghost Dad. After a touchdown play one of my players even walked through the goalpost on a close-up. While certainly not a priority for EA Sports to fix, you'd also think they would have by now, especially with a brand new physics engine.
I did see the folks holding the down markers back up a bit when a sideline play took place, but the rest continues to remain.
Facebook and Twitter Sharing
Seems everything can be shared on social media these days, and this now includes Madden game results. The demo version allows you to share your results live with Twitter and Facebook.
It's not perfect, missing the @ symbols by the username and, in my experiment using it, the auto-post contained a typo. To all the world it appeared that I was playing the Madden NFL 13 demo with "Giantsin" in a great example of how a missed space could make me the target of the local church group or something.
Minor, but worth note.
Overall, the demo of Madden NFL 13 manages to show off what makes this year different, and will be a good way to do so while we await the full version release later this month.