Madden NFL 13 Review

August 29, 2012

/ by Tin Salamunic

Developer(s): EA Tiburon
Publisher(s): EA Sports
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360, PS Vita, Wii
Release Date: August 28, 2012

Madden NFL 13 might very well be the finest football simulation to date.  It not only captures the spirit of the sport with an overhauled physics engine, but the presentation trumps every previous offering from the franchise.  EA has managed to surpass an already solid series by making it deeper, more accessible, and most importantly, more fun than ever.  Every tackle, every throw, every touchdown carries a refined sense of realism thanks to EA’s new Infinity Engine.  Madden 13 is not just a simple roster update, it’s a reinvention of the franchise.

The Good
- Best football game to date
- Fantastic presentation
- A ton of content
- Infinity Engine ads greater sense of realism to gameplay

The Bad
- PS3 version has strange blurriness and stuttering during gameplay
- Player awareness is oftentimes off
- Occasional ragdoll physics

From the second you load up Madden 13, the presentation grabs you with its striking broadcast-style display and plethora of content.  There’s a great sense of global community from the get-go, due to cleanly designed and stylish menus that display your career, stats, current players online, and even a virtual Twitter chatterbox.  The moment you step onto the field, you’re welcomed with a revamped lighting system that brings a deeper atmosphere to the playing field, and the added details to uniforms and animations make this the most realistic looking Madden game so far.

Jim Nantz and Phil Simms accompany your every action with their commentary, and while repetition still persists, it’s a commendable improvement over last year’s offering.  The broadcast-inspired presentation brings a greater sense of energy to each event and the orchestral soundtrack is significantly more suited than the random hip-hop tracks of the past.  However, crowd cheering appears muffled at times and lacks certain oomph, but it still doesn’t take away from the immersion by any means.

To call Madden 13 the RPG of sports games is an understatement.  The game not only takes your favorite or custom made team through a richly detailed, customizable career mode, it lets you become part of football history as you step into the shoes of some of the sport’s greatest legends.  The role-playing aspect is truly brought to light with the new Connected Careers mode, which takes elements from past installments and combines them into one seamless experience.  Online Franchise, Offline Franchise, and Superstar modes are now combined for more uniformity and accessibility.  Experience points can be earned through several goal specific scenarios and you can reward your player or team just like you would in a traditional RPG.  This allows for a more dynamic team control, although I find that the Experience points don’t always correlate with the difficulty of the task.

You begin your career by selecting a custom player or coach, continue a career of an NFL player or coach, or follow the footsteps of a legend by playing though their rookie years and their journey to stardom.  Using a custom player gives you the option of play-styles like Pocket Passer, Strong-Armed, Balanced, and more – and each has a significant impact on your starting attributes.  You then select a backstory for your character that defines your initial career goals.  You can even use EA’s Game Face tool to create a 3-d version of yourself (using photographs of the front and side views of your face) and apply the custom model to either a coach or player.  But it’s the Coach route that offers the most expansive options.  As a coach, you’re responsible for all aspects of your team, including training, scouting draft picks, managing the roster, and controlling the day-to-day team operations – and let’s not forget the precise strategy management during games.  With the player-only route you’re focusing more on the individual talent development of your character, but the Connected Careers leagues can be set as a mixture of both players and coaches to suit your gameplay style.  

The most impressive improvement to this year’s Madden is EA’s new Infinity Engine.  The refined, real-time physics give the players a more realistic momentum when interacting with each other on the field.  As a result, every single action looks and feels different.  A player’s mass and speed attributes define their behavior, so it seems like you’re never seeing the same animation twice.  On the downside, random ragdoll physics create hilarious, pretzel-like knots when too many limbs intertwine during tackles, but luckily it’s never too distracting.  With a few more tweaks, the engine can become a new standard for sports games.  Passing is noticeably more realistic this time around.  Pass-icons light up when the receiving players see the ball and they grey out when it’s out of sight.  It’s a minor addition, but it brings a welcoming challenge to the QB.  Strangely enough, player awareness is fairly uneven.  There were several instances when an easy pass was completely missed by the receiver because he didn’t register the incoming ball.  It doesn’t happen too often, but it’s definitely an AI element that needs more work.

Madden 13 excels on so many levels.  It elevates the franchise to new heights and brings enough improvements and polish to feel like the ultimate football simulation.  From the immersive presentation to the fascinating new physics engine, EA’s latest offering is an amalgamation of years of trial and error.  Sure, there are a few hiccups and inconsistencies, but the overall experience is unmatched and impossible to put down. 

Review by Tin Salamunic         
Final Score “Best in the Series” 9.0
The Infinity Engine displays fantastic animations and the extra polish make Madden 13 the most realistic football game to date. But the blurriness and stuttering on the PS3 version is very distracting.
Refined to perfection. The many little tweaks to gameplay make this the smoothest experience so far and it's impossible to put down.
Whether you're a newcomer or veteran, the incredible amount of content and the richly detailed career mode will keep you busy for a very long time.
A significant improvement from past installments, especially the announcers and orchestral music, but the cheering crowds can sound muffled at times.
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  1. Now I'm definitely picking this one up!

  2. Can't wait to pick this up.

  3. Looks awesome, but I think I'll go with the Xbox360 version on this one.

  4. Does the Xbox360 version have the same blurriness problems?

  5. I still prefer the NCAA series.This looks pretty good though.

  6. I agree with everything except the announcers, they're still annoying as hell.

  7. I love the new physics engine and all but it also seems to result in more frequent distortions in the animations. Definitely needs some more work.


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