Madden NFL 09 Preseason Report

We chat with senior producer Phil Frazier about the 20th anniversary version of EA Sports' Madden series.

OK, we'll admit right now that, beyond a few screens and a single movie, we haven't seen Madden NFL 09. However, that doesn't mean we haven't found out a whole bunch about the game in the past two days. EA Sports is in New York City this week to unveil NCAA Football 09 and also announce former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre as the cover athlete for Madden NFL 09, the 20th anniversary of EA Sports' football series. Though EA isn't quite ready to show the game yet, it was definitely talking about the new features and improvements that should make their way into the game when it's released later this year. Today we met with EA Sports' senior producer Phil Frazier for a "preseason" discussion of what this highly anticipated game will offer.

We already know that NCAA Football 09 is taking online play seriously with the introduction of online dynasty, but it seems Madden NFL 09 is looking to up its online game as well. Online leagues will be one of the biggest features in the game this year, allowing up to 32 real players to take each other on in a real competitive environment. According to Frazier, this is something that the fans and developers alike have wanted for a while now.

"We're real excited about it," Frazier said. "It's one of those features that has been called out in reviews; it's been called out on message boards. We know people have wanted online leagues, and we're finally delivering." Up to 32 players will be able to compete in games, participate in the NFL Draft, conduct trades between one another, and more in this mode all on a schedule that works for each player in the league. "The nice thing about it is flex scheduling," said Frazier. "You can play your games in any order, at any time. You don't have to play one game a week; you can play five games a week if all five of your opponents are online." The ability to skip games sounds like it will be a crucial tool toward ensuring that your online league--many of which fall apart because of the rigorous scheduling--continues through multiple seasons.

While the league play will surely be a lynchpin in the Madden NFL 09 experience, it certainly won't be the only feature in the game. Frazier is quick to point out the improved animation system that will be found in the game--one that builds off the work that was begun in the improved branching animation system from last year's Madden. When asked how the animations are improved over Madden NFL 08, Frazier points to the animations themselves, as well as the controls with which you'll be playing.

"First, it's more control. I think that's going to be the one thing that people really pick up on from day one. It was really important for us to make sure that we get the responsiveness back in the game. And [second], we've added a lot of animations of course...we have bobble catches this year, which look fantastic. For the first time ever, you'll see a guy go to make a catch, the ball will fly up in the air, and [the player] will actually go up to make a play for it. There's going to be a lot of new animations you see for the first time ever, the game is more responsive than ever before, and I think the combination of the two make the game more responsive than ever before."

As Frazier puts it, part of the challenge in developing Madden on a yearly basis is creating a balance between catering to the series vets and those who might be coming to a football game for the first time. In Madden NFL 09, part of servicing both crowds will be what Frazier refers to as "real football intelligence." A prime example of this will be the EA Sports "backtrack" feature, which will serve as a valuable tool for the hardcore and casual crowds alike.

"When you're playing the game and you make a mistake, the game is going to highlight that mistake and tell you what you should have done in that situation. Guys that are really hardcore don't need to be told that they should be throwing to [a particular] receiver. That's not what they need. But what they will like is the fact that on that specific play, [the game] will lay the play art out on the field of the two plays that were picked on offense and defense. And on top of that, [the game] will show who was hot-routed and why they were hot-routed, and [the game] will give percentages on how often that play is going to be successful in this situation."

As Frazier describes it, the backtrack tool will be both a teaching tool to show you what you did wrong on a play, as well as a method for people to turn back the clock and start a play over again. Using the "rewind" feature, you'll be able to try a play over again from the start, select a different strategy, and ideally end up with a more successful play. New drills (known as the virtual training center) will also be added to these tools that will be more related to the actual gameplay in Madden (as opposed to the 40-yard dash and bench press minigames of previous versions).

The 12 drills are not only designed to improve your skills with the sticks, but they'll also affect your so-called "Madden IQ," which is a numerical measurement of your skill with the game. We expect a number of factors go into determining your final Madden IQ, but it doesn't seem like this feature will be used when it comes to finding matchups online. Frazier said the weapons feature, introduced in last year's Madden as a way to quickly identify impact players on the field, will return in Madden 09, and the team is currently hard at work evaluating the talent in the game to see who will be categorized as what kind of weapon in the game.

Fans who want the full football experience will probably want to shell out the $90 it will take to get the collector's edition of Madden NFL 09,which will also include a packed-in version of NFL Head Coach 09. Players will be able to create plays from scratch in Head Coach, and Madden 09 will be able to automatically append those created plays to your Madden playbook. So far, that sounds like the only interaction between the two games, but the collector's edition of Madden 09 will also include an emulated version of John Madden Football '93, as well as some custom videos that will only be found in the collector's edition.

Other additions, such as better weather effects (including snow that accumulates on the field) and 60 frames per second for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions are smaller but notable improvements that look to improve on last year's game. Of course, talking about Madden 09 is all well and good, but we are looking forward to actually seeing and playing the game for the first time in the coming months. You can be sure we'll be following up with full reports on the game as we lead up to its release later this summer.

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Discussion

96 comments
NoseWeed619
NoseWeed619

It is too bad that Brett Farve got traded to the Jets, they should come out with a new cover with him in a jets uniform. I can't believe the whole "rewind" thing that they're doing! That's like a mulligan in golf!

BabyChrome
BabyChrome

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

heartbreakkid84
heartbreakkid84

does anyone know if favre is gonna be in the lineup of whatever team he plays for this season now that he's been reinstated?

aass9900
aass9900

I JUST TRIED YOUR NEW DEMO, MAN THEY CAN EVEN CATCH. I THROW TO THE RECEIVERS AND THEY CAN EVEN CATCH. PLEASE FIX THAT PROUBLEM BEFORE THE GAME COMES OUT.OR ELSE IT WILL BE A DISSAPOINMENT...

DemBoys46290
DemBoys46290

MADDEN 09 BABY cant wait til the 12th preseason and madden al at the same time

xfactorstl
xfactorstl

I don't understand why they don't make the Online Leagues the same as Ncaa 09. It is so perfect on there!!! Half of the experience is getting people together and playing their scheduled games. Oh well another reason to buy the game next year. Basterds

LilSlugger1
LilSlugger1

Does anyone know if the ps3 version is going to run at 60 frames per second this year? Last year only the 360 version did.

cometkd
cometkd

does it offer the feature like ncaaa 09, where u can import ur own music? and are u able to imort ur own face like tiger woods when u create a person? hope so!

CameosisJ
CameosisJ

to sebs3: (found on wikipedia entry): Revamped franchise mode: Simulated stats have been improved (e.g. fewer running backs gaining 2,000+ yards in one season), rivalry games have special value and played games have more crowd and television intensity. So not only is franchise there, they improved it a lil as well.

Itriphus
Itriphus

I might check it out, seeing as I haven't played Madden in a long time (my gamercard only shows I have 06 because my friend and I played it) so I might give this one a shot.

sebs3
sebs3

does anyone know if the franchise mode will return in madden 09? then again my friend could just be a fool ... he told me there was no franchise mode (aka 20+ seasons) in the next gen madden 08s. Can anyone gimme some insight?

USASandman
USASandman

Give me a break!!! Its a video game if you want realistic get off the couch and go throw a pigskin around jesus. We all wish this and we all wish that but get over it EA is the only one making nfl games so if you dont like it then do without. I love the NFL and everything about it so when kids are complaining about the grass on the field not blowing in the wind and the sweat not dripping in the eyes of players it just gets annoying. If you were alive when you had blips on a green rectangle tossing around a pink square you would be amazed at what it has become. "Strength is not gained overnight; it is cultivated over time." ~ David Shaw "

corespoon
corespoon

madden 09's big thing is updated players and they made the fields HD now. wow took them a few years. maybe the NFL will get sick of seein them selves look like shat every year and let someone else make a NFL game. if 2k was still makeing NFL games no one would know who madden is. thank god ncaa is still worth playing. at least they make college games worth playing.

j-bldes
j-bldes

*Sigh* Another lame release from EA recycling more than New Yorkers on a Saturday. I doubt this game will do anything different and provide anything making it good.

ou661
ou661

both on the same day but the 20th anniversary has nfl head coach also and nfl head coach comes out indivitualy september 3rd

lil_champ_15
lil_champ_15

im cofused is madden 09 20th anniversary coming out a different day or is it comen outh aug. 12

itwiz90
itwiz90

Wishbohe right halkback option. TE hold and release. Oops, sorry Pro set veer right HB option, TE hold and release. Ok I can't wait either

bottaboomstick
bottaboomstick

Ok...the ps2 versions have been better than the ps3 versions....I hate the radio announcer guy...And i'm suspect about the online play....The online league is something i've wanted forever...with that said the online league play will fail if they can't fix the lag issues...The lag was so bad last year you were limited to script plays only....

xophaser
xophaser

They should make Madden an upgrade options like Window, Photoshop and other software. For new players and uniforms. Only when they revamp a new engine or have new a concept then they can charge full price. Actually these sport games do drop in price rather faster then any other games after like half a year. Milking us for $90, no way.

rdiehl99
rdiehl99

I agree with most of the views pointing out the minor, some major, flaws of this game. Not too mention, the brand that seems to only add a few tweaks each year that some how makes consumers buy this piece of crap. ----One other thing, what in the heck happened to hiding the plays you pick from your friend that you are playing a game against. It was quite simple before, pressing 'square' gotcha one play and 'circle' another without the friend seeing what you picked unless they are eyeing your controller. Now we are like those 360 hobos that move a box around the screen to pick their plays.

PhoenixVenom
PhoenixVenom

Madden is such a money maker cause it is a rip off. dont get me wrong madden is great but the game is basically the same the past 3-4 years. there are sligh changes and additions to each new game but essentially it is the same game year to year. people are paying $60 year to year for the same game that is why i resuse to buy madden anymore. ill play it at a friends house but i wont buy it anymore

Tech-head
Tech-head

I am not as concerned about how the QB is holding the ball as I am with how EA, after all these years, still hasn't adequately fixed the big heads on the player models lol. I though that this version was supposed to have graphically improved player models. Methinks not lol. And for Pete's sake, can we have different camera angles to choose from, like we always used to have until the last few years. The default only camera that we have is too far away to appreciate the higher res players as the game only looks good in close ups (hence why whenever they show trailers or commercials it is always a close up). From a distance, it is difficult to tell the current Gen versions from the last Gen ones. That's why the player models on the 2K games look so much bigger.

white_jaguar
white_jaguar

the madden series is aging, but I will get this as my first next gen sports game. I will not pre order or anything.

datniccah187
datniccah187

I'm might get this years Madden, i haven't really played any Madden in a couple of years.

thekey
thekey

Madden game brand is just that a brand nothing more. 60 FPS WOW! Just like NFL 2K5 five years ago. I'll...... Pass on this one. (MAKE A REAL NFL FOOT BALL GAME EA or eat dust!)

mrvic87
mrvic87

Tech-head, I'm glad you are one of the few that actually see where I am coming from. It just isn't realistic for a pass to be in the air with a DB running with a receiver step for step, with his head facing the direction he is running to, and just as ball comes down, the DB just turns his head in time to break up the pass or intercept it. The only time that would ever happen realistically is when the DB watches the receiver react to the pass and then he'll react. I've manually controlled my receiver many times to which I didn't even bother attempting to make the catch and the DB always turns his head at the last minute as if he had eyes in the back of his helmet. [QUOTE="chopstizzle"]Yes, because the angle the ball makes with the floor...[/QUOTE] chopstizzle, you are the perfect example of what I meant when I said people will blindly buy this game. Do you know what parrallel means? The images I noted doesn't show the football at an "angle" in the QB's hands. It looks like the QBs are squeezing fruit in their hands. There isn't a QB on any NFL, CFL, or any organized football program that holds the ball in their hands that is parallel to or flat as the field. Brett Favre never held the ball in his hands like that! Give me a break. If these small inaccurate details are any sign of how Madden is shaping up to be like come August, I can happily save my dough and shake my head to those who fall for the EA trap yet again.

Tech-head
Tech-head

chopstizzle, I agree with mrvic's point. The gameplay in Madden needs some serious work in order to call itself a sim. The way Madden is now, if you are only a casual Football fan, you actually have an advantage over someone who is a rabid Football fan that knows the ins and outs of the game, because things that would never happen in real life work flawlessly in Madden. What coach in their right mind would play a Goal Line defense the entire game lol?! Not one. But in Madden, it actually works quite well. Why? Because it is pretty much impossible to throw a pass over a defenders head so having all the defenders in the box and having them be beat down the field by a WR is no big deal because they can just swat the ball down even if they are beaten by 5yds. That is if you can even get the pass off with the shoddy OL AI lol. And as far as mrvic's point about the DB not getting his head, it makes a huge differnce to gameplay. Raise your hand if you have thrown an INT when you have had a WR be covered one on one by a DB on a hook route where the DB had his back to the QB, and was running downfield ahead of the WR, and the split second that you hit the button to pass to the WR the DB breaks right to the ball and intercepts it? Everyone should have their hand up lol. The WR did even make his break yet and he was looking in the opposite direction. How could the DB possibly know the ball was in the air. In real life the QB would have the advantage in that situation, but in Madden, it is a roll of the dice as to whether the AI wants to be all knowing on a given play. It is things like this that make Madden not as fun to play as it should be. Bring back NFL2K. And this is from some one who has owned and played every single Madden and only owned one 2K game (2K5) and played 3 (2K and 2K4).

chopstizzle
chopstizzle

@ mrvic87 Yes, because the angle the ball makes with the floor and seeing the DB's head rotate are important gameplay features that have been missing for so long.

mrvic87
mrvic87

Honestly people, what QB in the NFL today holds the ball parallel to the field when dropping back to pass? See image #8, 18, and #33 with Brett Favre back to pass. The only realistic looking pic is image #3. Now check out image #11 where it appears that the DB is running with the WR and then with magical awareness at the last second, he'll swat the ball down without ever looking back for it in flight. Yep, it's the same old Madden I've grown to dislike. Slightly better visuals but same Madden. Alas, so many of you will be blinded and buy this game, thinking this will be a new and improved version. All the online stuff, I could care less about. Give me real gameplay first!!!

enigmatic_evil
enigmatic_evil

I'm really only interested in Madden for its Franchise modes. Online play is great and everything but unless Madden gets its online hosting right, this is going to be a disaster. I hope they work on the single player elements of the game that have been lacking and don't shift their focus to this online franchising. I wish Madden didn't have an exclusive right now...

BayAreaBlunted
BayAreaBlunted

after reading this artitcle the only new thing that stands out is online league play, man no wonder i havent bought madden since the 04 version, its been downhill ever since. Roster updates is the only thing madden does year in year out. other then adding 1 new feature a year for gameplay which they took from playing nfl2k5, which in my opinion was the last real football game that actually tried to make a real football game. i miss 2ksports nfl games, ever since then its been crappy ol madden. If your a true fan i suggest til proven other wise to veer off this repetitive road til they get it right, and would they finally make a decent ea game for the ps3? i know they say its difficult to program for but come on isnt it theyre job to figure it out and get it right? that is why these guys make all that money and went to school for afterall!!!

amauri305
amauri305

I REALLY DON'T WHAT ARE THE NEW FEATURES IN 09 IF THEY DONT FIX THE SERVER WHICH REALLY MAKE ME MAD ALL THE TIME WENT I TRY TO PLAY ONLINE SO MUCH LAG AND IT FREEZE UP MY 360 ELITE !! SO WHATEVER !!

favre4thewin
favre4thewin

I m sure it will end up having 3-5 major glitches, will remove a feature that serious football fanatics like and the new online feature will have a glaring problem. All in EA fashion like every Madden since 05.

Eman5805
Eman5805

I'm REALLY gonna have to be wowed in order to by this game now. I'll definetly rent and play it, but I was just bored too fast with the last game to think about buying it again.

thepunisher2236
thepunisher2236

It would be really sweet if you were able to use fantasy draft online and actually play a season with friends in that league online. Wishful thinking I guess....

Ardiendo_1
Ardiendo_1

I want improved play calling in Superstar mode. I nearly threw my controller at the wall when a running play was called at a time when I was down by a TD with 30 seconds remaining on the clock. Seriously my Superstar was a WR (and a good one) and I checked the stats and found my teams HB was handed the ball more than any other running back in the league.

BlackMario88
BlackMario88

This definitely sounds pretty good... My only concern is that they do something about the AI in superstar mode... I would always look forward to creating a character and everything but when it came down to actually playing and allowing, for instance, the AI on my team to be the quarterback while I was the running back, resulted in bad passes and a number of interceptions... This wasn't only true with bad quarterbacks it was also true with the most aware and accurate QB on the game Peyton Manning... That definitely screwed up somthing I could have had alot of fun with... I believe that really needs to change

diddyj
diddyj

this sounds....amazing

theevans
theevans

I sincerly hope EA improves its PRESENTATION. I feel the game plays very well to this point. We've been waiting for some good dynamic commentary for years now. Better sideline annimations, a solid pregame, halftime highlights, post game, weekly league review shows (like 2K5 used to do) and some out of town scores and highlighs. Make it feel like a broadcast.

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Dont do a ton of online stuff myself..Defence was enhanced last year ok that was a good thing...Just seamed like the offence lacked last year..Every time id through a pass it be picked off..Reminded me of 2k7, every home run robbed bye that dude running up the wall.. Im in also agreement with the posting down below..Improve the crowd animation...YOu did it with college..What about the pros..Last years model was a right step..How about stepping up even further...Just cause u have the rights to the league..Doesnt mean you can get lazy ,an not make the best game you can make.. Take a step up from ,one guy in your organization...Look no further than will wright..At least his games, always seam to go all the way...From the sims to simcity to spore..He always places 100 percent into his games...

jblaze5000
jblaze5000

am a madden fan,so a must buy for me

jazztrumpet5
jazztrumpet5

While I realize this isn't the place to suggest improvements (I know I already mentioned improving things like offensive line AI and so forth), it would be wonderful if they could actually allow you to develop rookies into viable members of your team in a couple years. Player progression has been broken for years.

twashington9737
twashington9737

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Pipchase
Pipchase

I could care less about the crowd or the look of the sideline. The dev's need to really sit down and balance this game as much as possible. As it stands 08 version passing game is completely overpowered. Way to many 3rd and longs or 4th and longs are being converted. Defensive AI is terrible. Not saying I want my players to do everything but when you do a double coverage and folks still throw to that reciever and just jump catch it that's getting out of hand. Until EA takes pride in getting the core gameplay correct I am still protesting this years version. I am no longer going to shell out 60 dollars and no way I am paying 90 bucks for a collectors version until I read that the devs have put real effort into what I typed above.