Madden NFL 13

9 Overall Score
Gameplay: 10/10
Features: 8/10
Fun: 10/10

Physics I Passing Improvements I New Career Mode

Kinect still doesn't work well enough.

Written by on August 25, 2012 in [, , , , , , ]

Madden NFL 13 is one of those games that you hear so much hype about that you just tune it out.  It’s like that for me for any new Madden title, honestly.  It ends up being just a huge love fest for the series by those who go out at midnight every year to play it as well as those who make the game.  Those of us who have no real vested interest in the title; i.e. those who don’t make the game and jaded fans of the defunct 2K series, shrug our shoulders and buy the game whenever we can afford it if at all.

For those of you that fall into that latter category, please heed these words:  buy day one.

The improvements made to this year’s installment of the popular franchise are so much better than its previous incarnations that it may finally unseat NFL 2K5 as my favorite gridiron game of all time.

After you finish watching the fantastic opening cinematic, you are treated to what I can only describe is football if it was played in the world of TRON.  The interface from there is deceptively easy as you find anything you could possibly want from the game menu.  It even has a huge graphic showing how many people are playing online at anytime.

Once you start playing you suddenly realize why the hype machine at EA Sports kept hammering in the fact that the game features the Infinity Engine for its physics.  It is because it changes the way you play in almost every way.

On offense, the most impacted part of the game is rushing.  Momentum and positioning have a lot more to do with how successful your ground game is.  You can bounce off of the line and regain footing, shift from one direction to another and fight your way to a first down in a far more satisfying way than previous Madden games.  You simply have more control over whether or not your runner can bust through a defense or lose yardage on a play.  The canned animations are obviously gone.  It is incredible as you continue your forward progress even after the line has slammed into you at all sides.  It changes the way you play so that you never stop fighting until the whistle is blown.

I would argue that playing on defense has the most notable changes; however.  I am hesitant to admit that I used to just pick a play and let it play out automatically, but that all changed as a direct result of the physics engine.  Now when I slam into the offensive line, I feel like I have a really good chance to break free and create pressure, tackles, and deflections instead of feeling like I was the victim of limited motion captured animation.  Tackles are limitless and sometimes, bone crushingly brutal.  Trips, pile ups, and midair slams rule the day.  No two hits are alike.

Now, this is not all to say that there aren’t still issues with it.  There are some clipping when showing close ups of people’s feet.  There are strange stumbles after the play that a person would never take in real life…well, a person in the NFL anyways.

The passing game didn’t want to be left out, so now quarterbacks will drop into the pocket without the need for input, you can now read a receiver’s awareness of the ball, and there are more than twenty different trajectories that will assist you in hitting your receiver exactly when and where you want to.  These improvements have reduced the number of incomplete passes I throw; however, I have been picked off a few more times than I remember being the norm.

These enhancements to the core gameplay mechanics are enough to give the game a glowing recommendation; however, the EA team didn’t stop there.

Madden NFL 13 has a few returning features, such as the “Madden Moments” in which you recreate or change history and exhibition play, the mode that really stands out is the new “Connected Careers”.

Starting out as a coach or player, you try to guide your way through the life of an NFL star.  If you choose to participate as a coach, then you will be able to play as the entire team and if you decide to guide a player, you control just that player.

Each star can be real, created, or even one of the greats of the game that you have to unlock in the “Ultimate Team” mode that I’ll explain in a bit.

The thing that sets this apart from previous career modes is that it plays like an RPG.  Each week you have a checklist to perform and the results will net you XP points that you can trade in for upgrades in your avatar’s stats.  This leads to a bit of strategizing to go along with your Gatorade as you figure out if the cost of improving your downfield game is worth the price point or if you should just save for something that might become important down the line later.  This system gives you a little more incentive to keep playing even after multiple seasons, especially when you factor in the fact that if you leave enough of a legacy, you will be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, like the legend you are.

The aforementioned Ultimate Team mode is something I never even touched before this game, though it was around.  It is an interesting mix of card game and fantasy football where you actually play the football game.  It starts you out with some free starter cards to choose a captain from and then you open a random booster pack to fill out the rest of your roster.  It is fabulously random and surprisingly fun.  You can go in and trade, buy, and win new cards as you progress.  This mode is necessary to unlock some of the locked players and coaches in the career mode.

It would be wrong and irresponsible of me to miss out on calling this the best representation of televised football ever to get into our homes.  The camera angles, commercial breaks, and graphics harken to the CBS set up.  This includes the finest sports commentary in sports games to date with the natural sounding voices of Phil Simms and Jim Nantz.  The best compliment I can give commentary is that I don’t notice how bad it sounds, because it really doesn’t.

On the Xbox 360, EA has implemented voice inputs using Kinect.  This is a neat idea and it works a whole heck of a lot better than it did in the demo, but I ultimately had to use the menus more than half the time since it couldn’t hear me.  This may be on purpose, since the crowd levels would sometimes drown me out and that happens in real football; however, it just felt a little off and I don’t see me using it a lot.

Madden NFL 13 is so much fun that I urge you to pick it up before Roger Goodell finds out about it and bans it.

A copy of Madden NFL 13 was provided to The Married Gamers for the purposes of this review.


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Author: Wallace Phelps View all posts by

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