The score’s 10-7 with three minutes left in the fourth. Philip Rivers has picked my defense apart in the last two minutes and the Charger offense is 15 yards away from scoring again. My opponent decides to pass the ball when free safety Michael Huff picks the pass and runs into his teammate Aaron Curry. Then something incredible happened.
When Huff bumped into Curry there was a physical interaction between both players. First, Huff began to fall, but Curry aided him. These three seconds of football might not seem like a big deal, but if you played previous titles you know exactly what would have happened. Huff would have caught the interception and ran through Curry or caught the interception and pinballed off Curry. I lost the contest, but in retrospect those final moments helped restore my faith in the series. So I played again.
The Infinity Engine physics engine finally gives Madden that next-gen sports game feel it desperately needed. Tackles aren’t just pre-rendered animations anymore; angle, speed, and player size all affect the impact and outcome.
Gang tackles are no longer random nor limited to three players; it took four of my guys to bring down tight end Antonio Gates, but after he hit the dirt, a stumbling linebacker also fell on the dog pile. It’s these realistic interactions that really help shape the game and immerse the player like a sports simulator should. You have to see the game in motion to really appreciate the physics engine.
EA has also changed the presentation dramatically. There are new broadcast camera angles like the ones you see during Monday Night Football. There’s swooping camera angles that occur pre-play that convey NFL warfare. The audio broadcast has also upped the ante, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms replace Chris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson as the announcers. The duo sounds energetic and lifelike while they cover the game and never missed a beat. Not that their predecessors were bad, but they weren’t as good as the new team. I distinctively remember turning the ball over and hearing Phil Simms burst out in excitement.
However, the game still feels familiar; the control scheme from the last title appears untouched. Besides the physics engine the graphics have seen a minor improvement. Things like stains on the players arms, turf and grass textures along with the new Nike jerseys improve the games overall aesthetic, but its nothing radically different.
But Madden is back on my radar mostly because of the Infinity Engine. If the career and online modes hold up well, EA Sports might have a winner back in its hands. Madden NFL 13 is scheduled for release (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) on August 28.