It’s only April and I already can’t wait for the 2012 NFL season to kick off. After spending a few hours with Madden NFL 13 I can’t wait to hit the virtual fields as well. Before the live taping of SportsNation today, where we saw Calvin Johnson named this year’s cover athlete I was lucky enough to spend a few hours with an early build of Madden NFL 13. This hands-on time I got showed off the games revamped presentation and new gameplay additions.
To begin with Chris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson are no longer in the booth. This year gamers will have their games announced by the CBS commentary team of Phil Simms and Jim Nantz. I can not tell you after two seasons of Collinsworth and Johnson how great it is to have new voices calling the game. Plus since the two actually call games together the realism and chemistry in the commentary is great. This year’s overal broadcast graphics look has been changed as well. It seems the development team took a lot of cues from CBS NFL coverage as the ticker and various stat pop-up are blue and look strikingly similar to what you’ll see during a CBS televised game. I think this was a good move seeing as they are using a CBS commentary team.
Moving on to the actual on field action. There have been many changes made to the action on the field and when combined you get an amazingly smooth and real looking game. The first thing that popped out at me is the new motion blur on the camera. This is really apparent in replays and in-between plays. And I must say it really gives you a true to life feel. The motion blur really helps smooth out the graphics and no longer do the players just look layered on the field with harsh sharp edges. To further make the motion of the game look more realistic the physics engine has been reworked quite a bit. Players feel like they have weight to them and fall, tumble and move really well.
Also as we saw last year in NCAA Football the A.I. has been greatly improved on both sides of the ball. Players now read and react to other players around them. No longer do you get a general swat and punch for the ball from defenders, they attack the ball in much more varied ways, again leading to a much more realistic looking game as far as motion goes. This revamped A.I. also tackles much smarter, you’ll see defender drop there shoulders for big hits when needed, or finally they wrap up runners legs/feet for shoe string tackles.
Speaking of the A.I. one thing I noticed is players seem to actually have true to life personalities. I always felt that post play reactions were always very general and every seemed the same. Now it seems like various NFL stars are unique and have their specialized celebrations or reactions. When Tom Brady blows a throw he throws his arms and has that annoyed Brady look. Or when Victor Cruz scores a TD he’s got the energy to him, and of course does is staple endzone salsa dance. The players in Madden NFL 13 just feel more unique and less cookie cutter then years pass.
One new system that I really liked is the Pass-Ready System. As the receivers run their routes you’ll see the button icons light up. This indicates that the receiver is looking at the QB. This really helps you to know who is actually ready to possibly make a catch.
Graphically there has been some big tweaks to the lighting system. Similar to what we saw last year in NCAA Football 12, we get a nice HDR lighting system with multiple light sources, allowing much more realistic shadows on the field and on players. Also the 3D grass system has been tweaked. Unlike last year, the grass doesn’t seem to have that sudden drop off from the 3D grass to 2D. I think the addition of motion blur has helped smooth our the depth of field effect, hence making the 3D to 2D transition much better.
While the game still has a way to go before it’s launched at this point in time I’m quite excited for this years outing. It seems that a lot of effort was put into the various physics, and A.I. system, and when combined you get amazingly life-like motion and action ont he field. I’m really curious to see what the team has done to the game’s various modes. But based off of how the game looks and plays I must say this might be a great year to upgrade if you have been holding off the last season or two.