Deep Pass, Down The Sideline
“Has Madden always looked this bad?”
I was in the middle of choosing a play in the Microsoft booth; I faced a 3rd and long, and I couldn’t help but notice that all the players on the New England Patriots looked, well, the same. There was a distinct lack of detail and polish on the Xbox 360 build of the game.
I wonder if I would have noticed it if I hadn’t just come from the EA Sports Ignite presentation.
Now, I will say that while, yes, the trailers look quite pretty, the in-game graphics aren’t necessarily all there just yet. In fact, they may never be. There is, however, a noticeable difference in visuals between the Xbox One and Xbox 360 versions of the game.
But enough about how it looks. How does the most successful sports franchise in gaming play?
It plays like an actual game of football.
I know that people have been saying that for years, but there’s a specific reason why it applies to this version of the game. A reason that was pointed out by one of the game’s designers. As I was playing the Ignite passing scenario, he noticed a nasty habit of mine.
“Don’t drop back that far,” he told me.
He then took the controller and booted up the replay. He pointed out that Aldon Smith, linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, was using my deep drop back to blow by the offensive lineman. I took his advice and only did a three to five step drop. What happened? An actual pocket formed around me.
“That’s new,” I mentioned.
The scenario also offered a feature found in the game’s debug mode; it allowed me to watch as my offensive lineman picked their blocking targets and as they switched on the fly after they assessed how dangerous a defensive player was. Better yet, I could adjust my offensive line scheme in the same manner I did in previous Madden games, and the AI adjusted its blocking schemes as necessary.
But don’t think that the offensive side of the ball is getting all the love. New animations were given to defensive players. These animations allow them to unleash a new arsenal as they attempt to rush the quarterback. It all adds up to an all-new sense of urgency to release the ball in a timely manner when making a pass from the pocket. It’s also a feeling that’s more profound in the next-gen version of the game. New blocking and double teams were found in the current-gen version of the game, but they felt lacking compared to what the Ignite engine looked capable of.
Let’s go back to my Madden game in the Microsoft booth, which I handily won 34-17. While I played, I could feel some of the improvements. But these improvements are nothing compared to what we’ll be playing when the Xbox One and PS4 come out. It’s so noticeable that when I had a friend inquire about fantasy football, he also asked about next-gen consoles. I said he should by all means wait until this November to pick up Madden so he can get it on the next-gen systems.