On Tuesday, EA Sports officially opened up the Madden 25 demo for download, setting the stage for the debut of the 25th anniversary of the game on August 27. Inside the demo you can fire up "Skills Trainer," a preview of the newest version of "Connected Franchise," "Play Now" and a preview of "Additional Features."
Naturally when I fired up the demo I went straight to "Play Now." And I was definitely pleased with the two matchup options: you can play as the Ravens and 49ers (Super Bowl) and, in a twisted humorous decision, the Packers and Seahawks (Fail Mary).
Even nicer? The newest rendition of Madden includes heavy read-option choices as well as something EA incorporated into NCAA 14 -- indicators on how to read certain plays
The gameplay's pretty impressive as well. It doesn't differentiate too much from previous years although the simulated computer seems much more impressive. (I was beating the Packers inside the two-minute warning, 21-3, and Mike McCarthy didn't even use his timeouts!)
Eddie Lacy is the top Packers halfback, listed at 76 overall, with 87 speed, 79 strength, 88 agility, 86 acceleration 71 elusiveness, 83 ball carrier vision, 76 stiff arm, 91 trucking, 89 carrying and 96 (!) spin move. Johnathan Franklin is 73 overall with 94 speed, 59 strength, 91 agility, 88 acceleration, 83 trucking, 65 elusiveness, 90 ball carrier vision, 65 stiff arm and 78 spin move.
For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson is an 89 overall with some nasty 92 acceleration, 90 ball carrier vision and 88 juke move. He's also got, more importantly a 93 throwing power, 87 short throw accuracy, 85 medium throw accuracy and 85 deep throw accuracy. I believe splitting those up is new but I could be wrong.
New acquisition Percy Harvin checks in at 92 overall with 96 speed, 98 agility and 98 acceleration. He's fun to use. Having the defensive end rotation of Michael Bennett (86), Cliff Avril (83), Chris Clemons (90) and Bruce Irvin (81) is downright unfair.
One of the first things I wanted to compare when I saw the available teams was Wilson versus Colin Kaepernick. Kaep is an 89 overall as well, with 92 acceleration, 93 ball carrier vision, 88 juke and 88 speed. He's got a beasty 96 throwing power, 83 short throw accuracy, 86 medium throw accuracy and 88 deep throw accuracy. Clearly the makers of Madden prefer him a little over Wilson.
The 49ers rookies were interesting too. Marcus Lattimore is a 70 overall with 86 speed and 75 strength. He does have a 65 injury rating though, which could be worse all things considered. Safety Eric Reid checks in with a 76 overall rating (88 speed); stout for a rookie safety. Tank Carradine is a 73 and Corey Lemonier is a 68.
For Baltimore, Joe Flacco is finally elite, getting a 93 overall rating. My sleeper for 2013, Aaron Mellette, barely cracks the Ravens WR depth chart as a 63 overall. Arthur Brown, beastchild, is a 74 overall (with 82 speed) and slots in as the backup MLB. Matt Elam's even more impressive, checking in at a 78 overall with 88 speed.
In the preview for "Connected Franchise" (a.k.a. "Owner Mode"), Patriots owner Robert Kraft actually gives a speech over a virtual video of the Patriots running on the field and shots of their Super Bowl banners.
"Even to this day we try to run our team like we're still fans," Kraft says. "I remember sitting on those metal benches in November and December and my backside would get frozen to those metal benches with my buddies and my sons around me. There's no greater feeling of a community."
So that's sweet. Don't forget to jack up your chow-da prices in the game to maximize revenues.
As usual the announcers for Madden are the No. 1 CBS duo, Phil Simms and Jim Nantz. Hello, friends:
Handling duties for the "More Features" explanation is Trey Wingo of ESPN. Wingo notes that you can upload custom playbooks -- the video features Denard Robinson as quarterback of the Jaguars! -- and share with the Madden community. There are online seasons available this year, where you can try and get into virtual playoffs.
The "Skills Trainer" is an always welcome addition to the game. I used to spend approximately 18 hours a day not going to class and trying to win those stupid gold rings. (Embarrassing? Sure. But won't 20-year-old me be thrilled to know that doing so actually paid off?)
As for new additions, there are combo moves available this year -- sort of like using a finishing move in Street Fighter (or some such) it requires a combination of moves plus hitting the right stick. I can safely say I didn't pull any of them off. I'm old school like that.