Madden NFL 13 Review
Once more into the pocket, dear friends.
If you’ve only been looking at gameplay screenshots, or video, from Madden NFL 13 I’ll forgive you for thinking that it looks just like Madden NFL 12. While the in game graphics only have a few, minor, visual upgrades this is an entirely different game from those in the past. Extensive work has gone into the physics engine, and major work has gone into the presentation and online game modes. I promised myself I wouldn’t open with any Football puns so let’s just kickoff the review.
Firing up Madden NFL 13, you’ll immediately notice some of the presentation differences. EA Sports have ditched the confusing list menus for tiled look, a type of interface we’re all becoming for familiar with thanks to smart phones. This approach works well because you get a quick glance at all of the different game modes available to you. The flashy background, and popular music are also gone from here and have been replaced with broadcast style graphics and music. Madden NFL 13 just feels like it’s ready to get down on the field.
As always you can just hit Play Now to pick two teams, alone or with friends, and play a game of Football. The Play Career tile will bring you to a much different set of options from last year’s game though, as Connected Careers have taken over. Franchise, Online Franchise and Created Players have all been rolled into Connected Careers. You can still choose offline or online, and can still create a player, but the new distinction lies in the online aspects which I’ll get to later.
When you start your career you can either live life as a player or a coach. If you choose coach you’ll have full control over the lineup, playbook, transactions, etc. If you choose the player route, you’ll be controlling one player, and one player only, for the duration. If you’re a wide receiver, you’ll only be running routes; if you’re a quarterback you’ll only take part in the plays you’re involved in. The rest you can watch or simulate, but the career is about you personally, rather than the team.
When choosing either option you’ll be earning experience toward advancing your cause. For the player, experience will go directly to your stats but on the coaching side of things, experience buys upgrades that affect the whole team. Extra experience can be earned by taking part in practice sessions during game week. You can still choose to simulate or skip these, but they’re kind of fun if you ask me. Practice still plays like a game, but you’re in the team’s practice facility taking part in scenarios like holding a lead, or making a fourth quarter comeback.
Once you get out on the field you’ll notice a ton of new tweaks courtesy of EA’s new Infinity Engine. Last year they introduced realistic physics for the ball, but now it applies to everybody. This means that instead of having a stable of set animations for tackles, bumps and jumps, each part of the players is now an object that is subjected to the laws of physics. You also won’t see defenders batting down passes they weren’t even looking at as the ball now has a bunch of new trajectories to take when leaving the QB’s hands, and defenders all have separate lines of sight so they must see a ball to interact with it. This can lead to some goofy looking stuff, but also allows for the type of realistic spinning and flying bodies you see in a real NFL contest.
The in-game presentation also keeps evolving with this year’s entry in the series. You’ll now see actual animated versions of the CBS commentating team of Phil Simms and Jim Nantz. The replays and commentary are all accompanied by the type of visuals and cuts you would see in a real TV broadcast. Madden NFL 13 looks as good as it plays.
For those of you playing on an Xbox 360, you can also use your Kinect’s voice sensor to call audibles. This system works about as well as it should but I didn’t find it any easier than using the controller and menus to switch things up from the line. Voice commands are more of a “because we can” thing, than they are something that is actually useful.
Connected Careers are where you’ll likely be spending most of your time as they offer you the chance to play out a career, however you want to, with up to thirty one of your friends. Each league can have a mix of player and coach teams all competing for the Lombardi Trophy at the same time. These careers can play out for up to thirty years and if your player retires you can pick up a new one. Communities are also returning so you can still join an online community to compete, match for match, against a larger group of players, if you like.
You can still play single online games, away from all the bells and whistles mentioned above, and I really enjoyed the Team Play option. This has you playing games with three players to a side, each taking a specific section of the offence and a specific section of the defense to control. You can choose to control the wide receivers when on offense and the defensive line when on defense, for example.
There is more Football in Madden NFL 13 than you’ll ever be able to play. Between Connected Careers, online Communites, Ultimate Team and all of the other modes you’ll be busy for quite a while with this one. Despite a few hiccups with the new physic system, this is some of the best looking, down on the field, action yet. Whether you’re a fan of the Madden series, or just a fan of Football, you should get this game.