The demo for Madden 09 dropped a day early.  I don’t like the way the demo is set up: you get the virtual trainer and get to play as the Giants during their game winning drive in last year’s Super Bowl.  So your actual play time is very limited and you don’t get to play defense at all.  Hmm.

Now for the good.  First, the game is drop-dead gorgeous.  The visuals are just outta sight, looking like the cut scenes from past Madden games.  The game plays quite a bit like NCAA only a bit tighter.  Supposedly the obvious flaws in NCAA were corrected in Madden.  The passing seems well done though drops are a common occurrence.   I think EA wants to put more more of an onus on the users by making us hit the manual catch button.  We’ll see how that goes in the final version of the game.   The offensive line doesn’t create a real pocket, but it does a better job of protecting you than in the past.  Also, if the QB drops back too far passing is no longer an option.  This should help against the online cheesers.

The running game seems pretty nicely balanced as the ball carrier fights for extra yards if you use a special move while being tackled.  These moves are not only effective but look nice as well.  We’ll have to hope this isn’t too effective.

Defense is obviously a big question mark, as you aren’t allowed to play that side of the ball.  The CPU gets an effective push with their DL, but no one knows if the same will hold true when you play defense.  I have not played enough (or been good enough) to notice if the pursuit angles are broken the way they are in NCAA.

My hopes are high for Madden, which is unusual since I have not enjoyed it in quite a while and I was pretty disappointed with NCAA 09 (pre-patch anyway).  The Madden developers say that a patch should be available  on release day, so game play should be even tighter than it is in the demo.  If that’s the case and the most glaring problems from NCAA are taken care of, Madden could be very special indeed.  I find myself being skeptical but falling for the hype once again.