Presentation and gameplay get an overhaul this season.
As developers from Tiburon started talking about the presentation and gameplay of Madden NFL 13, it became clear that IGN's Madden vs. NCAA video had to be completed and out the door before this preview, because EA's looking to change everything that video bitches about.
Improving Madden NFL 13 starts with making the game look and feel like a polished NFL package. Each time you head to kickoff, EA wants this to look like an NFL game you'd be watching on Sunday afternoon. That means the generic overlays are dead. Now, everything's blue, silver and strikingly similar to a CBS telecast -- a feeling driven home by Jim Nantz and Phil Simms manning the commentary booth. Each game opens with a lip-synced cutscene of the boys in the press box as they give you a rundown of the matchup and a bit of history. From there, EA's promising constant chatter and adlibbing; thus, burying last year's awkward pauses and terrible audio patchwork.
There's motion blur for the on-field action, depth of field effects, sharper field art and the return of halftime states, but this is the icing on the cake. After a few games, we'll all start skipping the introductions and get over the fact that every stadium's press box view is the real life one. Gameplay is where it's at, and EA has done a bunch to make it feel fresh.
Now, NCAA Football fans, let's have a chat. Below is an infographic showcasing all the bells and whistles EA has added to Madden NFL 13, and you're likely to notice the list is pretty much the NCAA Football 13 list from last week. See, there is still a Madden team and an NCAA team at Tiburon, but there's also a gameplay team that oversees both games. This way the best minds are working on both products and the games can evolve together.
Megatron at the announcement.
Not too shabby, right? The developers said they're really focusing on "pass and catch" this year, and the additions above seem to be up that alley. Here's some more explanation if pretty 49ers infographics aren't enough.
Dropbacks - No longer will every snap look the same. Quarterbacks are getting 7-step drops, 5-step drops and so on. EA doesn't want you holding down on the stick to try and get away from the line -- let the QB do his job.
Trajectories - Remember last year when you'd throw a screen pass and the ball would arc in the air just long enough for the defender to screw everything up? Tiburon's created 25 trajectories to get the ball to the receiver in the most appropriate way. This means shovel passes, dumps and so on. Sure, you could always choose between a bullet or a lob in Madden NFL 12, but the trajectory of the ball was always the same. Not anymore.
QB Avoidance Moves - You're going to move slower in the pocket this time around -- at least when looking to pass -- but now you have the eight directions of the right stick to move your quarterback. These little stab moves buy you time to get free and make the play.
Receiver Awareness - All those times when you'd complete a pass well before the receiver completed his route? You're not going to be doing those as much if EA has its way. This year, the icons over receivers will light up when a player is expecting a pass. This doesn't mean he's open. This just means the receiver is looking for the ball. Similarly, you can throw when the icon isn't lit up, but the chances of a catch are lower.
Read & React Defense - The days of the blind swat are over. To make a play, the defender is going to have to have his eyes on the ball. Also, coverage is going to be disguised this year. If the offense sends a man in motion, zone coverage is going to send a man, too, so as not to tip its hand.
How Does All That Feel?
Unlike NCAA Football 13, I got lots of time to play Madden, and the changes feel good. Good to the point that I might be more excited to jump in and fool with this slick version of Madden more than the tried and true NCAA franchise.
The new ability to lead passes with the left stick is going to really help my scramblin' ways once I get the hang of it. I still fell victim to a Play Action Sack, but I was playing as the Bears, so that's probably more on Cutler's O-line than anything else.
Still, the thing I'm most ready to get more time with is switching to user-control on players. I've tried to take control of receivers as the ball is in the air to them for years in Madden, but I always seem to lose a step or get off my route. This year, EA has slowed down switching to receivers and defenders so that chumps like me have a chance. I didn't get a chance to really kick the tires on this, but I'm looking forward to doing it one day.
What do you think of Madden NFL 13 so far? Let us know in the comments below, and be on the lookout for more Madden coverage here on IGN.