Feeling old yet?
With the NFL draft fast approaching, this year’s Madden couldn’t have been introduced at a better time. For the last two and a half months, young college athletes have been thrown through a rigorous gauntlet of mental and physical challenges created to test their football characters. Much like a job interview, the most experienced and well-prepared candidates get chosen and the rest are thrown to the wayside (mostly).
Complimenting the draft, EA has begun releasing first looks at Madden 14… I’m sorry, correction, Madden 25. For a second there I thought this was eleven years ago. How did we end up in the future? I’ve already missed a ride from Marty McFly, so it couldn’t be the future, right? Ah, the "25" signifies the anniversary. This year’s installment will mark the twenty-fifth year John has been slapping his face or some injury-cursed athlete’s face on a cover that needs a draft of its own.
For the cover of 25, there’s actually already been a tournament going on, determined by fan voting, to pick the illustrious front art. "Old School vs. New School", they call it, with the choices narrowed down to Adrian Peterson and Barry Sanders through brackets. (Barry Sanders won!) With AP already blowing out his knee a season ago and Sanders injuring his own career early, 15 seasons ago, hopefully the curse takes a year off.
But not taking any time off, the development of player movement and interactions has been hustling nonstop for EA Tiburon. The majority of the improvement will be coming within the run game, with about 30 new ball-carrying moves added. This is a huge step up if you consider that there have only been a maximum of eight until now. In order to achieve this, button combinations and max power moves are now available. These "max power" moves mean that if a player has a rating of 90+ in a certain ability category, he may use a more effective version of the normal move. What would normally be a regular tackle, Marshawn Lynch’s Mack bus truck hit sends his opponents reeling.
Other features showcased include stumble recovery (pushing down at the proper time can save a player from tripping), switch assistance, a better hitstick, and an upgraded player targeting system (i.e., accurate-landing stiff arms). Bringing back Infinity Engine 2, to some, may seem stagnant, but there are noticeable improvements over the other recent under-performing motion engine. Many of those troublesome annoyances with gameplay have been mitigated or removed entirely. Some of the other modes were inaccessible or incomplete in the preview build I played, but more should be revealed as we head into this year's E3.
Madden 25 will drop, as it is tradition, near the beginning of the NFL season for Xbox 360 and PS3.