Madden 2013 (Demo)During a moment of entire dissolution of all common sense, I downloaded the Madden demo today.
Surprisingly, though, there have been improvements.
The environment seems much more dynamic (better audio). Menus are easier to navigate and more logically laid out. Onscreen displays and overlays are very sharp and minimally intrusive. The pre-game is entertaining. The Gameflow feature actually seems usable (and useful) this time. Even the in-game announcing has been upgraded from awful to average.
That's quite a lot of improvement, actually.
There was only one problem: I still had to play the game. And the game looks like ass, like it was made five years ago. At least.
Here's what happens. You go through this spiffy pre-game that looks very, very sharp graphically, and finally, the game begins. At that moment, the graphics go from "ultra-sharp" to "ultra-dingy", the camera is far, far, behind the action, and I swear I felt like I was suddenly looking at a PS2 game. That's an exaggeration, obviously, but Madden is light years behind NHL, NBA2K, and MLB: The Show in terms of graphics and animation.
It's so far behind that it's painful.
I think some of this has to do with the lighting effects, which are an abomination. Lighting effects should enhance sharpness, but Madden's lighting effects (for years) have done the opposite: they've made things duller. The NCAA series has had the same problem.
Okay, so the graphics are a disappointment--again. How do the players move, though? Um, like they've moved for the last five years, pretty much. What about that new Infinity Engine to generate unique tackle animations? That's 99% horseshit. Seriously, I didn't see one tackle animation that looked unique or impossible with the old engine, and I played a game that consisted of probably 40 plays. Even worse, I saw one incredibly blatant suction tackle, where the running back was pulled to the defensive player. Yes, that's how real physics work, kids!
In sum: it's bog-standard, way-behind-the-times Madden in terms of how it looks and moves.
Oh, and in a game with five-minute quarters, I saw six ads. Six. Well, five plus one egregiously obvious product placement. And here's a prediction: Madden is going to add a 30-second advertisement between quarters. It hasn't happened yet, but the commentary is set up perfectly to do it (Jim Nance talks about "a word from our sponsors" at the end of the quarter), and it's coming at some point. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.
So to speak.
This is the only game in town, unfortunately, for a graphically-based football game with the NFL/NFLPA license. And EA will have this license locked up long after they've given up the others. So we can eat it and like it, or just go hungry.
Or play Backbreaker, with mods.