Disaster averted, the NFL season will happen. Sans some training camp time and a meaningless Hall-of-Fame pre-season tilt, it's business as usual.
This also means the annual release of Madden is close. It releases on August 30, which is a little late this year, but I think EA was trying to give the powers that be time to work out there differences so the game could arrive amidst the seasonal buzz for the gridiron.
For now, we have the freshly-released demo of the game to evaluate and enjoy. Let me preface this by informing anyone that isn't aware, you are limited to playing with the Bears or the Packers. The game takes place in the daytime at Soldier Field, There are no commentators, just the PA announcer. Though, I had read some information that said updated rosters would be available, I've yet to see anything beyond rookies.
So the Bears do have Gabe Carimi starting at OT, but no Roy Williams and Marion Barber. Of course, all of these things will be included in the full version. Demos are usually a pretty early version of the final product. That said, I was impressed with a few visual details immediately. Scuffed helmets, much more life and personality in the faces of the players. There are more players that are recognizable than before. Even on the sidelines, Cutler was sitting with his helmet on the crown of his head as he often does.
The lighting was very nice as you can see the shine off of the helmets and the shadows were very natural. Madden also employs 3D grass for the first time in the series. As is the case with NCAA 12, which also upgraded their ground surface, it is really only noticeable in close-ups.
The biggest visual upgrade comes through in the presentation. It is sort of a cross between being on the field and watching on television. Its a great mix from a camera-angle perspective, but I am still disappointed with no halftime show, if indeed one doesn't make the final build.
There are so many TV-style additions made to the presentation, it kind of builds you up for some type of halftime show, but no such luck in the demo.
If the demo is a fair indication of the AI, this game will have to be played on All-Pro for experienced Madden players not to go 16-0 with any decent team. Then again, as I said, this demo is from an early build. According to Casey Mosier a EASports Game Changer on twitter, it is from May @LM_CaseyMosier.
The gameplay is very fluid and along with the presentation is the most pleasant part of the demo. Some of the best concepts in the full version aren't on display because they involve online franchise and franchise mode.
The running is bolstered by new tackle breaking animations and vice-versa. The same positive effect is had on tackling in general as there are some cool new tackle animations.
I definitely got a more individualized feel from star players. Case in point, when playing with those despicable Packers, Clay Matthews was a load for the CPU to corral off the edge.
Israel Idonije was decent, but not nearly as fierce as Matthews. Clay seemed to be a better pass rusher in the game than even Julius Peppers. I didn't have a problem with that because, Matthews has 23.5 sacks in two years and Pep has 18.5 over the same span.
Overall, I'm optimistic about the game's full release. For a demo, this is pretty solid and offers a good idea of what to expect on August 30. I will provide a full review when I have a full-retail version.
Click here to see all of the videos of the Madden 12 Demo Gameplay on franchiseplay.net