Disclaimer: This is for football fans, be they hardcore or casual. Check this out; haters need not comment.
So while looking through the PSN store today, I noticed the demo for Madden 10 was up. "Cool," I thought, "maybe EA will actually put some effort into the game this time... or maybe pigs will fly."
Well, pigs did fly. Madden 10 features a nearly completely reworked game engine, one that is much slower and realistic, creating a very sim-like feel and much less arcadey shenanigans.
The biggest feature in this game is something that's been very
long overdue: An overhaul of the trenches. IE, new AI and physics for the offensive and defensive lines. The most highly-touted of this area of attention is the fact that in this game there will be a true
pocket for the quarterback. Linemen will, with surprising intelligence and reflexes, pick up on their assignments much like their real-life counterparts do, and instead of simply being roadblocks for the pass-rushers they now have the ability to fan rushers outward, thus creating a "pocket" for the quarterback in which to survey the field and throw. It works surprisingly well, but fear not: don't think EA went their traditional route of buffing one position while nerfing the opposite--the defensive line and pass rush has been greatly
improved. Your spin and bullrush moves have been assigned to the right thumbstick, and a well-organized blitz scheme can foil the realistic offensive line.
I suspect the secondary has also been given a few new tricks, as defensive backs would often (successfully) jam my receivers at the line, and as long as your pass rush is merely average, the secondary seems to hold their weight rather well.
The game's hit detection has also been incredibly buffed up. Gone are the days of an engaged defender miraculously jumping through a blocker to get through to you, as an agile ballcarrier can slip through even the tiniest of gaps with a good block.
As a result of this improved AI blocking, screen passes have been incredibly
improved. In previous installments, screens were a crapshoot, as often your blockers would overshoot their defenders (or ignore them outright), resulting in a horrifying loss of yardage. No longer is this an issue, as even if you only get one lineman released to block for you, their effort will be just enough to give you a few extra yards than you normally would have gained.
Tackles have also been greatly improved, as not only has EA implemented a long-overdue gang-tackling feature, but they've also created a neat little minigame where a fumble will cause a dogpile, and you must tap the QTE-indicated button to win possession of the ball. The most important feature of all this is how quick the players are in reacting to a fumble--the engine has been reworked to where they'll dive and swipe their arms like real players do. In addition to this, I'm not sure if EA put in a dynamic tackling engine, but I rarely saw tackling animations repeated, and on one occasion, witnessed what appeared to be a completely dynamic reaction: From the goal-line, I ran my runningback under center and the linebacker shot the gap and made contact with my RB behind the line. The defender had too much inertia to wrap up, but was able to swipe at my RB, which caused him to spiral forward... into the endzone.
I could go on with many other impressions from the demo (I've played it all evening), but the takeaway is this: I've played a lot of football games... scratch that, I've played a lot of good
football games, but if this demo is any indication, Madden 10 will be the real deal and will finally be the ultimate realistic football game that will let us recreate what we see on television (and in the stadiums).
I'm not asking anyone to buy the game--but what I am asking you is to give the free demo a try. If you fancy yourself a football fan, you would be doing yourself a grave dishonor by ignoring it.