Madden NFL 13 Cover Star Decided [UPDATE]

By Mark Delaney, 6 years ago
It's a great time to be an NFL fan. The Draft is this weekend, Peyton Manning is on a new team, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl, and offseason workouts are almost underway to let us all forget about how boring baseball is. Like the long, grueling road ahead of two-a-days and cardio drills for NFL vets and rookies, the team at EA Tiburon has an equally difficult uphill battle. The last few Madden games haven't been reviewed very highly. Though there will always remain a feverish group of people that will buy the annual release no matter what (myself included), most people are growing weary of the series' inability to match the quality of NCAA Football's gameplay and presentation.

Part of the problem has been that the series can't seem to ever build on its successes. There exists an unfortunate 'one step forward, two steps back' aspect of the franchise. Many of their features that are highlighted prominently also have been known to get axed from the series entirely just a year or a few years later, like QB vision and the halftime show with Alex Flanagan. Last year's addition to the series toned down the product placement, which was nice, but when linebackers still jump like olympians and cornerbacks still drop easy interceptions, something was still lacking in defensive AI.

The presentation of the series has also been "revamped" every year for the better part of the decade, but with the new details emerging today, it seems the Madden team may finally be addressing these concerns and others too.

EA announced a huge list of changes coming to the game this summer. Rather than discuss them all one by one, here's the full list.

- This year, CBS' number-one commentary crew of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms anchor the game with more lines of dialogue. EA Tiburon promising non-stop banter that is situationally aware of the playoffs, big games, divisional games, etc.
- Nantz and Simms appear in an in-booth cutscene before the game that includes stadium-specific backgrounds.
- 200-plus new cutscenes between plays, before games, and more. These cutscenes are inspired by broadcast TV presentation. Replays are also being overhauled for more dramatic effect.
- Halftime features a new stats overlay, but there is no halftime show.
- The game contains all the new Nike uniforms and alternates on the disc. Some of the unis may have to be unlocked via a code as they are released in real life.
- Lighting changes based on the time of day occur per play instead of just at quarter breaks.
- Madden NFL 13 features the improved high dynamic range lighting and motion blur of NCAA Football 13.
"For the first time ever, CBS' varsity squad will handle the game's commentary."
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- Improved the left-analog stick passing controls so you can place the ball on a receiver's back shoulder, out toward the sideline, up high, down low, and other places where only your receiver can get it.
- Madden 13 integrates new pass trajectories and ball speeds to open up more areas of the field in the passing game.
- New pass animations speed up the time in which quarterbacks get rid of the ball, including a new shovel pass and specific set-ups for throws on the run.
- Pump fakes are now directed toward specific receivers, occur faster, and contain specific animations when performed outside of the pocket.
- Like NCAA 13, Madden features more than 20 new quarterback dropbacks, including those for 1/3/5/7-step variations, screens, and plays with auto-pump fake dropbacks. QBs even drop back automatically and set-up in the pocket if you don't touch the right analog stick after the snap.
- To improve the receiving, more than 430 new catch animations have been included, some of which are fueled in part by the changes made to the left-analog passing stick. EA Tiburon says it also wants to make user catches easier to do by slowing down players when they select a receiver.
- The quarterbacks have new moves for avoiding the pass rush. A slowed down pocket speed give you more control when you're trying to not get sacked.
- Tweaked play-action to include an abort command that cancels the animation for those situations where a defender is barreling in unabated. The play-action also unravels faster in general. Running backs should be better in blocking after the fake (as well as release for passes) and defenders will be faked out more by play-action.
- Receivers have timing windows in their routes. When they expect the ball they'll turn their head to the quarterback. Until this time, their passing icons are grayed out. Passing to a receiver who isn't expecting the ball will often result in an incompletion. However, receivers will sometimes look for the ball earlier if the cornerback across the line of scrimmage blitzes or the receiver beats the jam at the line.
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"Mark Sanchez doing what he does best."
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- Neither receivers nor defensive backs react to a ball unless they are expecting it (like in the case of a quick slant for receivers) or they have their heads turned and are looking at it.
- Defenses line-up opposite receivers in a best-on-best designation. This prevents your linebacker from matching up against an elite wide receiver lined up in the slot, for instance.
- Defenses disguise their man or zone coverage before the snap so offenses can't try to use motion to uncover the defense's plans.
- Defenders use different coverage techniques such as off coverage (where they start seven or so yards off the line of scrimmage and attempt to read the ball), trail techniques (including hand fighting), and split techniques (where the linebacker stands between the tight end and slot receiver).
- New animations allow for simultaneous tackles while the ball is being caught (including being able to knock out the ball in mid-air), and in general the development team says it's been working on the interplay between players while the ball is in the air.
- EA promises enhanced AI playcalling for two-minute drill, goal line, clock draining, and red zone situations.
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Special teams coverage has been revamped to get rid of player clustering. Cover and lane logic, new formations, and better wedges on returns.
Madden's control scheme is now synched up exactly with NCAA's.
"Save your breath, you're not gonna catch him."
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Edit: Do you want to see some of these changes in action? Well, since the publication of this article, we have a trailer to show you that focuses on the presentation and gameplay improvements:

As you can see, the list of changes is quite extensive and mirrors a lot of the changes we heard about for just a few weeks ago. Hopefully, they can be implemented successfully and we football fans will have ourselves a great sim for the upcoming season.

Now the news many of you were waiting for. The cover athlete has been announced. The finals came down to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton a.k.a. "Superman" and Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson a.k.a. "Megatron". And the winner is...

Calvin Johnson!

It's time to rethink your fantasy draft strategies. He said he isn't afraid of the "Madden Curse", but with an injury prone quarterback and having just signed a huge contract, Megatron already has a few strikes against him. It should be a fun season. Look for Madden NFL 13 on August 28th.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is one of three voices on the TA Playlist podcast. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his fiancée and son. He almost never writes in the third person.