Review: Madden NFL 13 (PS3)
Title: Madden NFL 13
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (5.5 GB)
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E
Madden NFL 13 is also available on PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Wii and Wii U.
The PlayStation 3 version was used for this review.
Few times throughout the year are looked upon with such anticipation and excitement. The weather begins to change, school is starting, and above all, football is in the air.
It should be no surprise then that a new Madden is on its way. With Madden 13, the game has undergone some big improvements. There is a new engine, new game modes, and a brand-new presentation package that enhances the player’s experience! With all of these changes, has Madden lived up to the hype or will it succumb to the Madden curse? The answer to the question is a bit tricky to answer in just one word!
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 283 of the podcast.
Madden 13 is, at its core, the same game we have played in the past. You have an offense trying to score the ball and a defense trying to stop them. It is the game of football! With that said, Madden 13 has instituted many gameplay changes. The major change is the implementation of the Infinity Engine into the game. This engine is amazing. It allows the gamer to feel like they are playing authentic football. What this engine does is change the physics of each player in the game, real time. Players now react when they run into their teammates, get gang tackled, or tossed to the ground and hit after the play is ended. All of this is done in real time and offers a different outcome no matter the situation. It was hard for me to actually get the same animations to happen twice! This is a testament to the engine and how well it works to immerse the gamer into the game.
With the greatness that it can often generate, there are plenty of flaws in the engine. On numerous occasions, my running back would run into the back of an offensive lineman and react like he was tackled. I would do the same thing again, and the running back would react like it’s his teammate and bounce off. Another issue with the engine has to do with how it controls the limbs of the players. After a play has ended and the player is on the ground, many times the arms or the legs will be bent in rather uncomfortable directions. One time, I had Eli Manning sacked and his arm was bent behind his head as he lay on the ground. He got back up and kept playing, but it took me out of the immersion of the game. There are other small issues like players getting up after a play and tripping up other players walking over them causing a domino effect, but it isn’t any big issues. The engine really does make playing Madden 13 feel better than any Madden before it.
The Infinity Engine is the big change this year, but there are plenty of other gameplay tweaks. Since the NFL is moving into a passing league, Madden has taken the necessary steps to incorporate a better passing system. Gamers now have more control over the pass trajectories, and the power they put into each throw. Is the DB giving you a small window to make a throw? Well put a lot of power behind it and try to put it where only the receiver can catch it. Along those lines, the wide receivers now react quite different on the field. They will look towards the quarterback when they run their route and also try to locate the ball when it is in the air. If the ball is thrown behind the receiver, he will react accordingly and fall backwards trying to catch the ball.
With all of the tweaks to help the gamer out, what has EA Tiburon done to make it challenging? Well, they have beefed up the AI making it much more difficult to figure out defensive alignments and packages. Lamarr Woodley looks like he is going to blitz, but the last play he went back into coverage! What is he going to do now? It will keep you guessing and offer a feeling like you are a legit QB in the NFL.
The game modes of Madden 13 are what will keep gamers coming back for the whole season. Connected Careers is the brand new mode that has been drawing the eye of everyone who talks about the game. Basically, it is a mash up of the Online/Offline Franchise modes and Superstar mode from years past. It melds them together to create a very unique idea. Trying to keep the idea simple, you get to pick whether you play online with other gamers or offline by yourself. Once that is out of the way, you get to pick whether you want to be a coach or a player. If you play as a coach, you get to control the whole team in the same vein as Franchise Mode from years past. You control all of the operations of the team. If you play as a player, you get to pick whether it is a created player, current player, or a hall of fame player.
This mode acts like an RPG, sort of in the same way as Road to the Show in MLB: The Show. You gain XP for your player by meeting certain goals. Say you choose a QB. One of his goals might be throwing 300 yard in a game or throwing for 2000 yard for a season. Each goal will result in a different amount of XP depending on how challenging the goal is. What you do with those XP points is pick certain areas you want to upgrade for your player. If you want to play as a coach, you will also be able to gain XP and improve areas such as scouting or improving certain areas of your team. Whichever way you play will feel different each time.
The one issue I have with the mode is that sometimes the created players feel undervalued. I picked a RB for the Steelers. He was drafted in the first round and had all of the abilities to play. Yet when I was in the regular season, I saw maybe 6 total plays in a game. This was frustrating, as I had to simulate the game until my player was on the field. I know it is about making me feel like a real player, but I was expecting a bit more playing time. What can I say, I guess I am T.O at heart and want the ball as much as possible!
There are other modes such as the card game, Madden Ultimate Team or the fun, but challenging Madden Moments Live. These are challenges that correspond to real life moments that have happened in the upcoming year. These moments will be updated each week so you can relive some of the year’s best moments! EA has put some intense moments from last year’s season on the disc including the Super Bowl drive the Giants had against the Patriots.
Madden 13’s gameplay is top notch. It is very tight, offering an incredible amount of realism. Granted, there are plenty of hiccups, but these do not take away from what EA Tiburon has done. This game is packed with a lot of content that gamers will be happy with!
The graphical updates that EA Tiburon has introduced help bring a heightened realism to Madden that we haven’t seen before. There is a new lighting system that brings each stadium to life, and each field will degrade over time due to the players shredding it up. Yes, that means that Heinz Field will become a mud-infested wasteland if it is raining or snowing.
The biggest area in the graphical department that they have addressed is the presentation of the game. When you click to start the game, a video is shown, showcasing all of the star players from each team. It is reminiscent to the Sunday Night Football package that plays before each game. If the game is important such as the Super Bowl, the opening sequence will showcase it. When the segment ends, you are welcomed into the stadium by Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in glorious 3D. It feels like a live broadcast!
The one area that does bug me is that some of the faces in the game are a little too bland. Take Jim Nantz and Phil Simms for instance. You can tell it is the duo, but it feels more like they are mannequins on screen. I wish they could have squeezed out a little more detail for them, but I understand that you don’t see them quite that much to warrant the details. The marquee players in the league do look great. Tom Brady or Peyton Manning look very well done. It is just the smaller named players in the league like any of the O-Lineman; don’t look like their real life compatriot. It is a small complaint, and I don’t hold it against what they have done in this game. It really feels like your playing in an NFL game.
I love orchestral music and have never liked what EA has done adding real life music to the game. I love Fall Out Boy and Lil Wayne, but what I want in a game is something that will make me get excited. EA has finally answered my prayers and created an amazing score for Madden 13. It is reminiscent of the NFL Films music that plays for each of their short movies.
The most important addition to Madden 13 is actually a removal of Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth from the announcer duties. They were good, don’t get me wrong, but adding Jim Nantz and Phil Simms is a win in my book. They have a natural chemistry like no other tandem in the league right now. They brought that natural chemistry when they did the commentary in the game. You can just hear how they fed off each other in the booth. I really enjoyed listening to the history of some of the rivalries in the league or how they think Tim Tebow is going to do in the league now. It brought that authentic feel. There is some repetition in the game, but you are going to have that no matter what. They do a good job to spread it out and deliver fresh commentary each game. Gone are the days of the horrible radio broadcasts and in fly some of the best commentary the series has ever had!
This game just has so much to it and gets even more jam packed with the brand new online modes. It still seems like a brand new idea, but having online leagues is not just the only thing that can connect you with your friends. You can form online communities based around anything. You don’t even need to play a game to be in a community. I saw one community based around a popular online website. It really does expand this game beyond just football.
Getting back to the Connected Careers, you can have online careers. What this offers you is the chance to play as a player/coach against however many other people. Say you want to play as a running back, but your friend wants to play as a coach; well you can do that in your league. You can have a league made up of all coaches, or maybe a league made up of coaches and created players, or maybe even a league based around all current players. It doesn’t matter how you play, just that you enjoy yourself with what you end up doing. It is one of the smartest ideas that a sports game could have added.
There is the staple online, ranked matches that Madden is notorious for. The game is silky smooth and did not lag at all with any of the matches I found. Granted, this is not going to be the same for everyone. EA Tiburon even managed to put some videos in the lobby as you wait to play your online match giving some tips and pointers to the new gamers out there. It is going to be the same high intense online match that gamers have been accustomed to.
I can’t say it enough. Even as I write this, I want to get back into my online career with Nate Hens, my running back who was taken in the later rounds but has worked his way up to be in the starting lineup. It just feels like a fresh experience that I want to keep enjoying. It is a strange addiction, one that has hooked millions of gamers each year. The strange thing about this year is you can tell how mad the development team has gotten when they heard that Madden was turning into the same game, year after year. There passion has shown as I can safely say this is the best Madden ever!
There are some bugs in the game like the animations being a little too jerky or the graphics looking a little bland, but that does not take away from the overall experience. This is a truly a great game, not just a great sports game. I tip my hat off to the men and women at EA Tiburon. You will be making the winter months fly by just a bit quicker as I play as my Steelers winning the Super Bowl again, and again, and again.
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