Is there really a better time of year than football season? It’s hard to imagine a new NFL season without having a new Madden football game be released. We are now in the last years of the current generation of consoles and this can be some of the toughest times for sports games to differentiate themselves from previous outings. Often times sports games become overly bloated with modes and extra content and on-field action remains unchanged. So what’s going on with Madden NFL 13? Well the good news is some of the best changes in this years game are on the field.
There is something special about starting your first game of Madden and having Jim Nantz welcome you with his famous opening phrase “hello friends”. In fact one of the big updates to Madden NFL 13 this year is Jim Nantz and Phil Simms take over the broadcasting booth. It is a bit funny to see the CBS duo take part in an ESPN game, but needless to say the new duo does a far superior job then in years past. There are still the occasional odd calls where you kind of scratch your head and think if they were really watching this game they would never say that. However that would be nitpicking what is actually a gigantic improvement for the series.
Each year there are a couple of new features that EA will be touting to try and earn your hard earned cash. This year a lot of that can be found on the field with their new Infinity Engine. To avoid sounding like I am recounting their press releases this is one of the few gimmicks in recent years that actually does have a big impact on the game. The biggest change I have seen is for the quarterbacks and wide receivers. I played a lot of my games with the 49ers with Alex Smith under center. I noticed after a few snaps how important it is to hit a player in stride. If you have a receiver running a curl route, you want to throw it before he breaks or the defense will be smart enough to react and intercept the pass. On both All-Star and All-Madden difficulty levels you have to make the right reads or things will go bad in a hurry. Trust me I had a ton of multi-interception games.
On the defensive side of the ball things get a little sketchy on those difficulty settings. I found that a lot of times unless I was hitting the running back with Patrick Willis my defenders would bounce off the backs and it would take a few more hits to bring them down. The realism starts to go downhill in a hurry when even the smaller backs are breaking multiple tackles from lineman that are twice their size. This in turn makes it even more important however to call the right defensive plays or you can literally be caught in a pickle. Remember how I mentioned that I had been throwing a lot of interceptions? Well I also have found that picking the ball off this year from the user side is far easier. If the computer throws a bad pass you have a much higher likelihood of being able to pick the ball off rather then awkwardly swatting the ball down like in previous years.
In terms of modes the big push this year is for connected careers. The mode can be played offline or online. Offline the mode is exactly what you would expect from previous games career/franchise modes. Create a player or coach and take your team to the promise land. Online however is a different story where there is far more competition and social aspects to be had. Since I got my copy of Madden pre-release it makes this mode a little harder to judge because their wasn’t a huge population online like there will be at launch. Luckily I was able to get in a league and start a career. The mode itself is pretty great from my experience. My big recommendation though would be to play this mode with people you already know. The chances of a league of random people working out the way that EA wants it to is staggeringly low. It takes quite a bit of dedication to the mode to reap the benefits.
Playing the mode offline is what we have seen in years past. The franchise mode is still extremely deep and has all of the trades, salary caps, draft, etc that you would want from the mode. I mostly played a career where I inserted my face into the game using the much improved new GameFace service online and created my quarterback. The mode can actually be quite the challenge and takes a lot of dedication to get to the starting role. You also have the option to play the career mode as some past legends which was a neat touch. Once again playing as a quarterback was a tough sell
Besides the fact that you get to see Jim Nantz and Phil Simms at the beginning of each game the presentation/graphics of Madden NFL 13 aren’t a huge improvement over previous years. The only other noticeable change in the visual realm has to do with the new engine which makes for a variety of tackles and catches. Otherwise Madden is starting to look a little dates especially when you compare the game to some of the better looking sports games on the market there is a huge room for improvement here.
One thing I haven’t talked about yet is the Kinect support which when it works is pretty fun. Lets face it is actually quicker to pick a play with your controller but sometimes its fun to yell out an audible and hike the ball. I did have a few instances where the Kinect didn’t do a great job picking up my voice but those issues aside the Kinect support works as anticipated. The game of Madden hasn’t changed much over the years and even with the new features on field this still feels like a very familiar and accessible game of Madden.
Madden NFL 13 is a great game of football. It is also a shining example of a series that could really use a new console to help freshen up the franchise which is starting to feel in need of a pick me up. If you’re a die hard Madden fan it probably doesn’t matter what I say you have already bought your copy. However for those on the fence I would say this is a great version to jump back into as it has a ton of content, great commentary, and even better action on the field.