Madden NFL 13
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Platforms: Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, PlayStation 3 (Reviewed)
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Price: $59.99 – Available Here
With the heat of summer starting to wind down, it is starting to feel like football weather in the United States, and with the NFL season about to kick off it only makes sense that the next release in EA Sports’ annual Madden franchise hit store shelves. This year’s offering is Madden NFL 13 and it promises a number of new enhancements over the last few years’ releases. Do these changes make Madden NFL 13 worth picking up for those who just can’t get enough football in their lives?
Perhaps the biggest improvement over past Madden titles is the fact that Madden NFL 13 is sporting a brand new gameplay engine that delivers some rather impressive realism, making Madden NFL 13 one of the most realistic feeling football games that you will have ever played up to this point. This physics engine, called the Infinity Engine, makes it so that players will rarely experience the same play the exact way as players will stumble, bounce off of each other, shed tackles, fight for more yards and go for the ball in so many different ways.
This means that the hard hitting tackles that some football fans look for will come in many different shapes and sizes, often resulting in spectacularly painful looking hits. To top this off, the whole presentation of the title simply oozes in style. Everything from the main menu, the introduction of the teams to the final seconds of the game feel are genuinely enjoyable to watch and may even trick family members into believing it is the real thing.
It is worth noting that the Infinity Engine does have a few issues of its own. For one, there are a number of times that a seemingly sacked quarterback, about to hit the ground with tacklers taking him down, is able to throw a laser pass with perfect accuracy to a receiver. It also struggles terribly with post-play scenes where players try to stand up and untangle themselves from one another. During these instances players will literally stumble all over each other and players walking past them will trip over them, falling on top of them and look absolutely terrible with some players even falling into bone-shattering positions.
Madden NFL 13 features a new commentary cast provided by Jim Nantz and Phil Simms who provide some rather believable voice work as they commentate matches. However their commentary is also inaccurate at times which can ruin post-play celebration as they describe the events of the play entirely wrong.
The title does feature some minor background music in the menu screens though this is nothing to really write home about, though the in-game sound effects do sound similar to what one would expect on the field.
Besides the visuals and the physics improving, a number of basic occurrences throughout a standard match have been modified and improved. Some of the biggest changes have occurred in the air game as EA Sports has added in a number of new throwing trajectories which change the way that a ball is thrown depending on the type of play, player thrown to and situation. It is also worth noting that both offensive and defensive players need to actually be aware of the ball before trying to catch it, making it so that receivers’ throw icons can be grayed out until they are ready for the ball (though they can still be thrown to) and defensive backs cannot intercept balls they couldn’t have known they were there.
Besides this, in combination with the Infinity Engine, tackles in Madden NFL 13 have been improved and given a higher chance of failing. Considering the fact that hitting a player doesn’t automatically mean that he is going to be taken down anymore, gamers who choose to use the hit-stick can sometimes be shed easily, allowing the runner to advance. This means that simply taking a wrap-up type of tackle may be the better choice at times compared to steam-rolling hits.
Outside of the field a number of adjustments have been made to the gameplay modes. Besides your standard play-now options, gamers will find that the online Franchise, offline Franchise and Superstar modes have been combined into one mode that is now called Connected Careers. In Connected Careers players will be able to start a league of their own, pick whether or not they want it to be offline or online and then whether they want to play as a coach or an individual player. Gamers who select an online league have the option of selecting a coach only league, players only league or anything goes.
In both Player mode and Coach gamers can choose to start a fresh player or coach or choose from a current player and even select a legend in the NFL if they feel like. Now if you choose to play as a normal player you will be forced to play as only that player, (like Superstar Mode) and will be given a chance to even create your own backstory by choosing whether you went undrafted, signed as a low draft player or a high draft pick. These selections can slightly affect your starting statistics as well as the team’s expectations of you.
As a single player, gamers will be able to advance their players by meeting certain goals set to them on a weekly, monthly and seasonal basis as well as participating in practice drills to gain XP. This XP then transfers into various stat upgrades which will boost the performance of your player. It is worth noting that players can spend a long time playing as a second or third-string member of the team and see little actual gametime in a normal match which can be a bit frustrating at times until you have advanced your character enough. You can continue to play as your character as long as you want, possibly even making him one of the best players ever in his position or retire whenever you feel like and switch to a different player in the same league.
As far as playing as a coach goes, players have the chance to take advantage of everything previous franchise modes have allowed, such as playing as any player on the team on both offense and defense, managing the team, hiring players, issuing trades and more. The coach will also receive various XP which can be put towards different perks that can help your team and your coaching abilities. Some of the managerial option have been improved and may take a bit of getting used to, though once you do get the hang of everything, most tasks can be handled simply enough.
The Madden Ultimate Team game mode has returned once again in its trading card style and players may find themselves spending hours trying to literally create an ultimate team to take on their friends with and also play against other MUTs online. However gamers can also choose to play against the CPU with their MUT for the first time, allowing them to test them out on the CPU or simply enjoy a basic match against the computer. As far as the online mode itself, gameplay has never been smoother and finding matches have never been easier, as I was always easily able to find a match and play through a game without having any significant lag or questionable connections.
Madden NFL 13 does a lot of things right and improves upon an already excellent formula by offering a number of changes to the passing game as well as the overall physics of each play. It is a bit strange to see the Infinity Engine cause players to fall all over each other after each play or bend in absolutely horrific ways, but during the running of each play it looks wonderful. Plus with the newly compacted Connected Careers mode, players can find themselves spending hours making their draftee into a superstar ready for the Hall of Fame or become the best coach the league has ever seen and find themselves enjoying almost every minute of it.