The time has come again to put away your beach chairs and get ready for the upcoming football season. What better way to do that as a gamer than to play the latest edition of EA Sports’ Madden NFL 13? However, fans have complained that the series has changed little in recent years and that the franchise is getting stale. How does this year’s edition stand up? Read on, and let’s get ready for some football video games!
This year, EA Sports has upgraded the game’s engine to the Infinity Engine. Whether the player is hit from the front or is pushed from the side, the engine is supposed to simulate a more realistic scenario than in previous years. In this aspect, the game definitely lives up to the advertisement. The game looks fluid and is certainly an upgrade in the visual department. The tackling is dynamic and looks good, even when compared to the real game. If aesthetics is an important aspect to your football experience, then this year’s game will certainly live up to your expectations.
In addition to a new engine, there are several new game mechanics and animations that have been added that give this game more diversity than present in the older games. Things like new balance shifts, stumbling animations, new pass trajectories, and receiver awareness all add to a more encompassing and realistic experience. There was also a lot of work done on the quarterback animations, including different drop backs, new throwing animations, and new sack avoidance animations, all of which improve the control and look of your quarterback. On the other side of the ball, things like new defensive alignment rules make sure that your match-ups are where you want them to be. Also, depending on which coverage you choose, throwing plays will either be easier or more difficult to pick up. The list goes on and on, and it is easy to see that there is a fair number of small improvements to the system as a whole to make Madden NFL 13 a more realistic and fun game to play.
If you are a hardcore fan of the series, you should be able to notice and appreciate these changes right away. There is a noticeable visual improvement with the new engine, and the game mechanics have been tweaked enough for this version to be the best in the series. While more casual fans may not notice all the tweaks, they will easily come to see that Madden NFL 13 is a visually appealing game with lots of replay value, which is a definite improvement from past games. One of the most noticeable improvements over Madden NFL 12 is the addition of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to the commentary booth. While Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth were entertaining at first, the pair became difficult to bear after a while. Nantz and Simms provide a much more commercial commentary, and while it may not be the most exciting play-by-play calling in the league, it is always informative and manages to have some entertainment value. On top of that, your game style sets the tone for Simms and Nantz. If you take to the skies, the commentary will be upbeat and exciting, but if you focus on the ground game, the commentary will slow down and focus on the technical aspects of your game. It is very well done, and it is one of the best improvements from Madden NFL 12.
However, the largest and most sweeping changes is to the Franchise mode. It is now called the “Connected Career” mode, and it completely revamps the old system in new and engaging ways. This mode allows you to take control of literally anyone in the league, including your favorite player, coach, or even a retired legend. This mode allows the average football fan to really control any aspect of their favorite team. If playing as an established player isn’t enough for you, you can create your own superstar and play any position in the organization, whether it be the head coach or a player on the field. This level of control gives you the ability to play the parts of the game that you want to play. This system also allows you to switch between players and coaches at any time. You can literally play any aspect of the game at any time, and that is what makes this a vast improvement over the older games in the series.
In addition to improved control, you will have a number of goals to meet over the course of your career, and meeting those goals give you experience points. You can use those experience points to improve your player’s attributes which directly lead to better plays. If your quarterback has a weak arm, put your points into arm strength, and you’ll get the ball to your receivers down field. However, if you are a coach, your experience points will go into other things, like signing recruits, keeping players from retiring, and even boosting your current players’ stats. Progress is always constant, and you never feel like you are too far away from achieving any goal you set out to achieve. The system is easy to learn and master, so newcomers won’t have to worry about getting lost and veterans will quickly feel right at home.
Finally, Kinect makes an appearance in this game and allows you to use the controller-less device for the first time. However, it’s limited and ultimately awkward in execution. It is not nearly as responsive as an actual controller, and those momentary lapses in control can mean the difference between winning and losing. Most will find that the gamepad controller is still the best way to go. It is fun to actually call out audibles when you get to the line of scrimmage, but when you realize that you didn’t mute the mic and your opponent just heard everything you said, it loses its novelty fast. However, it is the first year of Kinect support, so we’ll see how this control mechanic gets refined in next year’s edition.
Overall, Madden NFL 13 is the best Madden game so far. There are many new and improved additions to the game, including Connected Careers, the new engine, and better commentary. Football fans have more control over their team now than ever before, and that can only be a good thing. However, there are some minor technical glitches present, and Kinect integration still leaves a lot to be desired. However, these flaws are certainly not detrimental to the game itself and most will find that Madden NFL 13 is a great game. We certainly enjoyed our experience with Madden NFL 13, and we are confident that you will too. A game with this much replay value is hard to pass up, and it will certainly keep you entertained for the rest of the year.
This review is based on a review copy of the Playstation 3 version provided by EA and a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version for Kinect testing. Madden NFL 13 is published by EA and developed by EA Sports.