Every year EA Sports releases a new Madden and every year it makes slight improvements. Some like Franchise mode, Audibles, and Hit Stick survive to bless later iterations. Others are gimmicks that have gone the way of the Dodo, like the horribly implemented QB Cone and the seldom-used player weapons from Madden NFL 08. But after playing the Madden NFL 13 demo at E3, I knew that I experienced a radically different improvement–a good one. EA Sports has marketed and touted the greatness of its new Infinity Engine, an engine that allows infinite collision animation possibilities. The Infinity Engine captures jarring collisions extremely well, but it’s not without small faults.
It’s hard to say that this isn’t the best Madden in years; Madden NFL 13 is polished and well thought out. There’s also a new robust and absolutely wonderful career mode that allows everyone to digitally live out dreams of being a NFL superstar, including the highs and lows that comes with the fame of being a star athlete. EA Sports has also done an amazing job in streamlining all of their menus, as navigation is fast and efficient, keeping you in the game more often than not.
It makes you wonder whether EA Sports worked on Madden NFL 2013 for longer than a year. EA Sports has crafted an authentic NFL package; gone are the hit or miss Hip-Hop and Rock songs. Instead you’re greeted by original orchestrated pieces by Colin O’Malley that are NFL Films worthy. Each one is amazingly crafted to fit the NFL’s competitive culture. The presentation is completely overhauled, too. There are now numerous new intros and camera angles that give the game that authentic broadcast presentation that you’d expect from ESPN and CBS. To further solidify the TV-quality presentation, EA enlisted New York Giants legend turned commentator Phil Simms and the loquacious, but informative, Jim Nantz. The dynamic pair does a wonderful job commentating and even ad-lib most lines, which adds excitement and life to the games.
The presentation improvements are great, but let’s face it: You’re here for the football. This year’s game doesn’t disappoint, as the Infinity Engine adds a level of realism that I didn’t think possible for Madden this console generation. It’s a physics engine that allows for almost an infinite number of collision animations (hence the name). Previous Madden games featured a limited number of outrageous and unrealistic collisions. There were instances where the ball carrier would run into a blocker with no penalty to speed or forward momentum. That’s no longer the case. In Madden NFL 13 you’ll see tailbacks push blockers forward for extra yards. Being a former college defensive player, I’m fond of the big hits, the bone rattling, jaw gnashing, jarring tackles. The Infinity Engine makes me look forward to a receiver catching a pass across the middle, as each time becomes an opportunity to crush the opponent.
EA Sports has taken the steps to move the Madden NFL franchise forward into the next generation with this year’s iteration. Football fans hanging on the sideline, go out, buy this game, and jump in.
Sadly, like with any physics-intensive engine there are bugs. Madden NFL 13 is no exception. You’ll see arms bent at odd angles, and players falling through the ground. The Infinity Engine also ensures that you continue to play until the whistle, but there were multiple occasions when I thought the ball carrier was down, but he’d break for a huge gain.
Blocking needs work, too. Linemen are still lethargic brutes that miss blocking assignments too often. Luckily for EA the good heavily outweighs the bad. Another plus: Receivers now have to have the ball within line-of-sight in order to catch it, which cuts down on controller-throwing miracle receptions.
Madden has taken a huge step forward with the new connected career. This year’s Madden now interconnects Franchise mode and Superstar mode both online and off. This means players can now get together and experience the game how they want. If someone wants to play both sides of the field they can go in as a coach, while another person controls their own created player and no one else. Offline these features are great, but it’s when you join an online league that you really see the connected career shine. You shape your Madden league the way you want, and it constantly changes at a persistent pace due to the fact that there are other players affecting the game. EA has also added a few presentational nods to the real world with Twitter.
These imaginary Twitter lines capture the snarky comments of ESPN analyst like Skip Bayless or informed analysis from Adam Schefter. They’re entertaining and cover events occurring around your league. I do feel the need to dismiss many misconceptions about connected career–it is still very much franchise mode if you choose to play as a coach. The only things you’re unable to do is edit player ratings, hold a fantasy draft, or import your draft class from NCAA. Besides those few things the team is in your control. There’s also an RPG element. Performing well earns you experience points that are spent on any of your player or team attributes. In previous Madden titles gamers avoided practice (in the words of Allen Iverson “Practice! We’re talking about practice!”) they wont want to this year as practice earns experience points.
If you don’t want to create your own player or use a current coach you don’t have to do so. There are a number of legendary NFL coaches and players to choose from such as John Madden, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Barry Sanders, Troy Aikman, Kellen Winslow, Sr., Walter Payton, and even Deion “Primetime” Sanders himself. In total there are 33 Legends, each with their own signature celebrations and motions.
EA Sports has taken the steps to move the Madden NFL franchise forward into the next generation with this year’s iteration. Football fans hanging on the sideline, go out, buy this game, and jump in. If you play alone or online you’ll have plenty to do on the gridiron. Needless to say Madden NFL 13 is an amazing sports title that captures Sundays’ excitement.
Staff Editor Eric Guzman will play any game at least once. Any game. That even means Detective Barbie, although he prefers to flex his video game muscles with fighting games such as Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. When he isn’t in the digital dojo, he loves watching films or reading comics.
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