Madden NFL 09 Preview (PS3)
Ah yes, Madden, the game I was most eager to get my eyes on at EA Sports Vancouver. So no time for intros or idle chit-chat, because this is Madden you guys know the history, so I won’t bore you with those details.
Upon arriving for the Madden festivities Phil Frazier (Senior Producer) and Dale Jackson (Executive Producer) greeted everyone as they walked into the room. The first thing they talked about was the new "Virtual Trainer" mode, where you can play up to 12 different modes in a holographic environment. These modes included the likes of running, passing, rush defense and pass defense drills, and there are three drills within each category to sharpen your Madden skills. Behind the scenes, as you are playing these modes -- and games in general -- there is a system that studies your abilities as a Madden gamer; which leads us to the new Madden IQ.
Madden IQ automatically tunes the game for each gamer. Let's say you are good at passing the football, but not so good at running the ball. Well, this is where Madden IQ steps in and adjusts the game to your skill set. You can still customize sliders to your liking, but this is another route to take, as it adapts to your abilities. To me, it seems as though it will help out the beginners, which leads me to the next feature.
I doubt the typical OS'er will be using this feature that much, but it's there nonetheless. The new feature is called “Backtrack.” This feature gives you, in golf terms, a mulligan. A do-over, if you will. In a way, it gives the non-football gamer a chance to beat even the best Madden gamer. Just threw a pick? Bah, no problem, use the Backtrack and do the play over again, but this time, throw it to the guy that isn't triple teamed. By default, you have three Backtracks; however, you can turn them off, or set them to as many as you like, according to the team. The Backtracks are also situational based, so you can't just use them at any time. Some situations the Backtracks can be used in include when getting sacked and not finding the open receiver; throwing into coverage with an open receiver; after a bad playcall; or after choosing the wrong play for a situation.
Next the team compared the visuals from Madden NFL 08 to Madden NFL 09 and it was easy to see the graphical improvement. In ’09, the shadows were realistic; the fog effects looked very real; even the snow games looked cold. One of the art directors from NBA Street Homecourt helped out with a lot of these graphical improvements, including a blue tint to snow games that adds a unique touch to the game.
They have also updated the presentation with some fireworks and camera flashes before kickoff (which you folks probably noticed in the Patriots/Giants video), which we were told was getting toned down a bit before release. The sidelines are populated very nicely with players, security guards, snow banks, snowplows and the lines on the field have been shoveled. Phil Frazier mentioned he wanted "snowbunnies" in the game, but it didn't make the cut. Yes, he did say "snowbunnies.” We were told the snow will come down hard and heavy, and then lighten up on occasion. Also the snow will slowly fill back in the footprints all over the field. Though we won't see player slides graphically embedded in the snow, we were promised 60 FPS for the 360 and PS3.
Presentation wise, all 32 teams will not only have the interior portions of their stadiums shown, but the exteriors have been added as well. John Madden is the host of the game this year; he is also the first person you see as the game loads up. He will kick it over to Tom Hammond and Chris Collinsworth, after welcoming everyone to the stadium. He'll also chime in at the half with highlights from the game. I only heard bits and pieces of Tom and Chris during our presentation, so I really can't comment on that. I did hear Chris on one particular occasion going in-depth during a highlight package. He talked about what the offense ran, what the defense ran and who the ball should have went to on the particular pass play. The audio was a little behind, but the team is aware of this and will have it fixed before release.
As a “hardcore” gamer, we want to be able to access options on demand, instead of pausing and scrolling. This year, from within the playcall screen, you can do just that. Now within the playcall screen you can now access the instant replay, formation subs, stats, Madden IQ and quite a few other options. The playclock will pause when scrolling through the options, so there is no need to worry about a delay of game penalty. You can make formation subs before a game as well.
A new free downloadable Fantasy Football product will be available for Madden NFL 09 as well. You can import your fantasy football team into Madden and take them up against any NFL team or another fantasy football team. You will pick the key players during the fantasy football draft, but the other players will get filled in automatically. As these are created teams, you will have the ability to edit the uniforms to your liking.
Madden Moments is another new addition for ‘09. This mode allows players to relive the classic moments from last year, including the Phins winning a game. There are quite a few games in this mode that you can take control of, but most were locked. Since I didn’t get hands-on with this portion of the game I’m not sure if the Moments were just locked on the version being displayed, or they’ll actually be locked in the final version and you’ll need to unlock them somehow. Nonetheless, it may be a mode quite a few of us would like to play around with. I also didn't get to see the list of Madden Moments, but I'm quite sure the Ravens almost upsetting the Pats was in there.
The Franchise mode has also undergone a foundation upgrade. Now variables in trade logic, progression, drafting and simulation have been greatly improved to provide more realism. EA said there will be fewer 2,000 yard backs this year as well. Unfortunately for Madden fans, NFL Head Coach 09 will have 70-man rosters, while Madden NFL 09 will again have 53. Speaking of NFL Head Coach 09, you can import plays from that game into Madden NFL 09.
As a side note, you can't use custom playbooks online, but they do give you classic playbooks, including five unique classic playbooks from the older Madden games.
During the course of the event the team mentioned that presentation was #1 on their list of improvements to make, but #2 was online leagues. You and up to 31 of your friends can set up a league, complete with a playoff system and championship game. Fantasy drafts and player-for-player trades (that’s singular) are also included. However, you can only trade for a player that has the same amount of games played. Also flex schedules are in and administrators can control whether they want multiple people to use the same team or not. Stat tracking and a basic messaging service to communicate in the league has also been included. Since online leagues are a major focus this year, they have been tweaking the server side to make it as lag free as possible, no matter where you are located. But there will be no Spectator Mode this year and injuries will not occur in these leagues.
A final nugget of information: Madden NFL 09 comes with an emulator that lets you play the older versions of Madden with the current teams and rosters. I didn’t see the emulator itself so I’m not sure which versions made the cut.
Now for some quick hitters: 
  • CPU vs. CPU games are in this year. 
  • They are working on fumble recovery animations.  
  • They tune the game via All-Pro, and the higher the difficulty the better the pursuit angles.
  • They are looking at adding a pursuit angle slider next year.   
  • Spectacular catches have been toned down. Yes you will see them, but not nearly as often as last year.   
  • Superstar Mode is about the same, other than a few camera tweaks.   
  • There will be no custom soundtracks. But they did want it in the game.   
  • No accelerated clock.   
  • In-game saves were brought up, but not confirmed. We tried it in the room and it didn't work, so we'll see in the next build.   
  • More gang tackling animations this year. Todd Zuniga of 1UP pointed out to me the punt and kickoff receiving animations, where they gather themselves before advancing the ball. It’s a small thing, but still very cool.
  • The team explained how the catching animation system is a lot better this year because now the receiver can make catches from all sorts of angles and positions. They also mentioned adding a ton of new animations overall.
I did come away a little bummed since I wanted to see more gameplay; but from what I've seen and heard, we could be in for a treat this year with Madden NFL 09. Hopefully I get a beta build fairly soon.

Madden NFL 09 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 eaglesfan27 @ 05/09/08 10:57 AM
Great article. Disappointed to see that Gamespot is wrong and that In-Game Saves aren't confirmed yet. Thanks for the info.
# 2 Sausage @ 05/09/08 11:02 AM
The emulator to play older versions with updated rosters sounds cool. I would love to play 05' with updated rosters. Info sounds good as usual, but we need the real thing. EA is great at getting us excited.
# 3 RGiles36 @ 05/09/08 11:07 AM
This is a good read Steve.

Glad to hear they are paying attention to animations. They could use quite a bit of work to make them look smoother during transisitions. I find it odd that we didn't see too many new animations in that Gametrailer vid though.

It is disappointing to know that their won't be an accelerated clock this year. Hopefully, if the presentation is anything similar to 2K5's, the instant replays and stat overlays prior to the snap can kill some of the excess play clock.
# 4 cch99 @ 05/09/08 11:13 AM

Do you happen to know if they've added multiple playable camera angles this year ?

# 5 drlw322 @ 05/09/08 11:16 AM
hmmm, half time show. how was that like and is there a post game show?

thanks for the article steve.
# 6 poster @ 05/09/08 11:41 AM
Thanks Steve!
# 7 ausar72 @ 05/09/08 11:42 AM
No custom music, hmmm... That sucks!

And I wonder what the deal is going to be with in-game saves. Did they say that they were working to get that put in by the next build?
# 8 ewto16 @ 05/09/08 12:05 PM
Well, your preview is basically the best so far. Sort of sucks that no one apparently got hands-on time with the game. I assume EA reps just showed off whatever it was they wanted you to talk about at the time. At least you were objective and actually went into some detail on what you thought about each bullet point, rather than just reposting EA's marketing.

Presentation sounds like it might be better. I'll beleive all that crap about imporved stats, sim-engine, animations, and other actual gameplay related stuff when I actually see it. EA is notorious for just putting a new coat of paint on stuff, shining it up real nice, and having it still be crap. Every year they claim that stuff is "all-new", and every year, it is basically the same.

I do find it interesting that all the previews from the different sites have contradicted each other at some point or another, including this one. You say in-game saves aren't totally in yet, which Gamespot confirmed. Not saying you are wrong, I just find it funny that everyone has slightly different info, while you were all apparently sitting in the same room.

Nice preview though and thanks a lot!!
# 9 yamabushi @ 05/09/08 12:12 PM
So, by their on admission on-field gameplay is at best their #3 concern, at worst #??
Ive seen and heard nothing to lead me to believe that madden has 'turned the corner' and improved the core aspect of the game.
# 10 Shadymamba @ 05/09/08 12:17 PM
hey all this sounds fine and dandy, but I will not be suckered in like last year lol!!!!...hopefully the make sure that all the annoying glitches are fixed like those constant fumbles..and those damn hum INT's if this game plays great out of the box (wishful thinking) then great going EA until then we all should wait for it before we think its going to be great
# 11 Hurricain @ 05/09/08 12:21 PM
Originally Posted by yamabushi
So, by their on admission on-field gameplay is at best their #3 concern, at worst #??
Ive seen and heard nothing to lead me to believe that madden has 'turned the corner' and improved the core aspect of the game.
I gotta agree. It appears that they are really focusing on the casual fan. The backtrack mulligan thing is the most absurd thing I have ever heard for a football game.

No accelerated clock is a huge let down for me.

Thanks for the preview Steve!
# 12 mvb34 @ 05/09/08 12:39 PM
Originally Posted by Hurricain
I gotta agree. It appears that they are really focusing on the casual fan. The backtrack mulligan thing is the most absurd thing I have ever heard for a football game.

No accelerated clock is a huge let down for me.

Thanks for the preview Steve!

You do know that backtrack feature can be turn off!!
# 13 Hurricain @ 05/09/08 12:51 PM
Originally Posted by mvb34
You do know that backtrack feature can be turn off!!
Ya I realize that but I am still amazed that they wasted time and money to put this in game. Not sure if you can turn it off online unranked games. Either way, what a pointless feature.
# 14 yamabushi @ 05/09/08 12:52 PM
Originally Posted by mvb34
You do know that backtrack feature can be turn off!!
On or Off, its a ridiculous feature, and time spent implementing it could have been put to much better use.

@Hurricain; great minds think alike.
# 15 acarrero @ 05/09/08 12:55 PM
EA should have better throwing animations for the QBs. The preview on the front page shows Favre throwing and it just doesn't look smooth or very realistic. It also doesn't look like Favre's throwing motion - if they can get a player's signature shot in NBA games, they should be able to include each QBs throwing motion. I want to see Manning throw like Manning, and actual motions for Brady, Vince Young, etc. Just seems like something Madden should've had since they made jump to next gen.
# 16 Garrett67 @ 05/09/08 01:02 PM
Originally Posted by Hurricain
I gotta agree. It appears that they are really focusing on the casual fan. The backtrack mulligan thing is the most absurd thing I have ever heard for a football game.

No accelerated clock is a huge let down for me.

Thanks for the preview Steve!

No accelerated clock is a huge deal to me too. I can't stand the fact that you can jump right to the line and still have 34 seconds on the clock. This forces us to put the game on like 6 or 7 minute Qtrs to get the amount of plays right.
# 17 clarkerots @ 05/09/08 01:07 PM
I would've preferred accelerated clock over the "do over" system.
# 18 roadman @ 05/09/08 01:08 PM
Last year people were screaming for more presentation and no more radio guy. Last year they focused more on gameplay.

Pastapadre comes on here last year and said presentation will be number 1 focus next year and no more radio guy.

Most people seemed pleased with that direction.

EA ramps up presentation and has a broadcast booth again for this year.

Yet, it's three months away and yet people aren't happy.

The only thing I'm disappointed in so far, is no accelerated clock again. As far as the backtrack feature, it's not something I care about and will turn off, so, I don't sweat the small stuff.
# 19 Mintsa @ 05/09/08 01:42 PM
Steve.....was anything discussed about the ps3 ns the 360 version of the games for 09 ??

If so, what was said.
# 20 WDOgF0reL1fe @ 05/09/08 01:55 PM
Steve, thank you so much bro. This is AWESOME stuff. Sucks to hear that only 53 man rosters are in madden... But its good and awesome to know that Madden is in the game as a preview and a half time guy. Pretty neat

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