The demo for EA Sports' Madden NFL 13 has been out for a good bit now, and many people have had a chance to try it out. We've had it on hand for awhile now and have been itching to share some impressions. EA has been hyping up the new "Infinity Engine," which is a fancy way of letting folks know that there's advanced physics in the game. Previous years have seen the company talk about changes to its engine, new animations and smarter collision detection but it's always fallen short of other sports games' offerings.
So how does Madden do? Make the jump for more.
To answer the question: pretty well, actually. Some of the biggest issues with the game has been canned animations, and while it's hard to tell at times if the game has really intelligently decided what would have been the best way to execute something, it's generally much more on point than in recent games. Each individual player feels like just that - an individual. You're no longer just a writhing mass of bodies hurtling toward the guy with the ball on defense.
Instead, you're one player with one purpose and the smallest mistakes can be unforgiving. All of the animations are very fluid, from changing directions as the ball carrier to changing directions as ... the guy chasing the ball carrier. The first few times you over-extend your chase, you'll give up a 50+ yard touchdown and get a littler irked with the new engine, but as you play, you'll find a tighter, more controlled experience on that level.
Running between the tackles is smooth and fluid, but it's hard to master. Jukes are now very precise, and aren't always the same animation. Using them preemptively with poor timing will make you look really dumb. That being said, the game's best moments come with the ball in your hands and you're running. The offensive line blocks well and as already noted, the running controls make it a more tighter, cohesive experience. Breaking a 70-yard touchdown run has never felt this fun in a Madden game before.
When it comes to the passing game, it's a little bit disappointing when it comes to the short game. The new engine creates many variables - plenty of new ways your pass gets from your quarterback to the receiver, but too often I've felt like everything is out of my hands once the ball is in the air.
For short passes, I hit the button and it feels like no matter what happens from then on, the result is pre-determined as far as catch/drop/interception is concerned. That all feels canned. That being said, when you're playing the long game, there seems to be a lot less "ball off the hands, immediate drop" and a lot more actually fighting for a chance to snare the ball.
Then the ball gets in your hand again and you snap back into that awesome feeling of turn, run upfield and don't juke too early and look like a damn fool.
Is the "Infinity Engine" worthy of its title? Probably not - but that's mostly because buzzwords are getting very old from EA at this point. The word "tighter" has been used a couple times in these impressions and that's the best word I'd use to describe the whole experience. It's much more in your hands when you've got the ball, and defense can be equally unforgiving. Run blocking works well, but I've noticed blocking in space is just as buggy as it always has been, with wide receivers throwing blocks on random people and going after guys that are well behind you.
If I was on the fence after Madden NFL 12 and I was looking for a reason to buy Madden NFL 13, this demo might just do it for me. Who knows how much of the engine is actually physics rather than just "better" canned animations - the point here is that it's working well, and provides a fresh enough experience to make it all worthwhile.