Madden 13: Full Review
By Bob Montgomery
The end of August is always exciting for many reasons, the end of the preseason, fantasy football drafts and maybe most importantly, the newest version of Madden comes out. This year’s version, Madden 13 was featured with a midnight released which took place yesterday. The makers of the game, EA Sports have been pressured in recent years by consumers looking for more innovation and better gameplay. This year’s version, may just quiet the crowd with significantly enhanced gameplay and a more realistic experience.
Madden 13 features EA’s new “Infinity Engine” which controls players movement in relation to the environment around them. Finally, instead of the same animations of players fighting to get to the same spot, players now react to the opposing players positioning and provide specific animations for these actions. The amount of provided animations and movements within the “Infinity Engine” ensures that no two plays look the same. EA got it right on the money. Player movements are much more fluid and dynamic than last year’s version, adding a sense of realism not previously seen in the Madden series. Players no longer just sprint into other players backs, they can simply manipulate around stalemated lineman and fallen defenders.
The biggest negative I have for Madden 13 is the all new Main Menu configuration. This new layout is strikingly unfamiliar and seems to add confusion to what was a fairly consistent staple of Madden’s past. There are now different pages, and squares to navigate as opposed to the familiar scrolling and drop-down menus that have been Madden staples for years. Another gripe with the new layout is with the format of the play calling. One of the most consistent things about Madden NFL Football has been the basic three play calling squares with the names of each play listed above. This year, the squares are the same, only the play name has been moved to the bottom of the square. This was maddening as I kept looking to the top of the play for the name. A little nit-picking but just a small annoyance that will go away with time. (I’ve only played a few hours)
The graphics and presentation of Madden 13 are greatly improved from last year’s game. The graphics have improved considerably and some of the slow motion replays can be down right impressive. While basic game play graphics are marginally improved, it provides close ups and replays that really show the big improvement graphics-wise. In-game presentation is possibly the biggest improvement over previous offers. The pregame introductions and in-game showcasing are top notch, much more closely resembling a television broadcast than any previous edition. The game fluidly cuts into nicely presented replays and the commentary of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms is a big improvement in the booth.
On offense the gameplay is similar, but featuring smoother player movements and slightly faster game speed. I have played the last few versions on the “Fast” game speed setting like most do, and Madden 13 felt a step above in the speed department. The new animations help significantly in the run game as backs can now find holes and get through them without being caught on someone’s leg, or running into a lineman. The passing game is also upgraded in the ability to control the pinpoint placement of throws. You can now place those deep outs high and outside consistently, opening up the field with some routes you would seldom run in Madden 12. Another change that adds to realism in the passing game also adds some difficulty with new receiving animations. Players icons will be dark and faded until the “look for the football” causing their icon to fully display indicating they are ready for the throw. Throwing before players look to the ball leads to many incompletions and poor yards after catch. While realistic, it does take time getting used to, as the quick dump offs and slant routes require more timing and precision than the old aim and press method.
Defensively the new dynamics engine really shows off with countless methods of tackling/laying out/smashing your opponent into the turf. Gameplay is identical to years past but again featuring more fluid movement and better awareness. When on defense the CPU controlled defensive lineman seem to get better pressure, forcing the computer controlled quarterback to backpedal into a sack. It does seem that the offensive line creates a better “pocket” around the quarterback and edge rushing has a less significant impact. Along with the altered WR awareness defenders must also be looking at the ball to make a play. No longer will linebackers just wildly stick their hands up with their backs turned to knock down passes as if they possessed telepathic powers. While this definitely opens up the passing game a little bit I did witness my CPU controlled Antonio Cromartie make an amazing play on a curl route and walk it in for 6, so defenders definitely still make plays.
The kicking game has been redesigned and utilizes the right stick once again. Pulling back and then pushing foward on the right analog stick to kick the football. Almost as easy as pressing A and has little effect on the game. Madden seems the change this feature back and forth every couple of years, apparently just in the name of changing something.
and Yes, there’s Tebowing!
Overall the game is the biggest improvement in recent memory. The improved animations and more fluid movements add enjoyment to what is already a much better presented product. The game seems to possess a certain quality about the experience that seemed lacking recently, answering many of the ongoing questions about lack of innovation and apathy at EA. Hats off the EA Sports for putting out their best product yet in the Madden NFL Football series.