Tried and true just like its namesake, EA Sports’ Madden franchise has made a career out of delivering successful football titles with strong competitive mechanics. Outside of real life, there’s nothing that can quite compare to the rush you get when you’re down by seven at the half then come back to win the game with a few fourth quarter drives that would make Joe Montana jealous. The Connected Careers mode gives you the chance to jump between coaching from the sideline and gridiron competition. Online battles are as intense as ever in Madden NFL 13 thanks to Madden’s loyal fan base, which will come back to the game year after year. What else can you do? Madden is the only football game in the business.
Unfortunately, while competition thrives on the football field, lack of competition in the game industry has hindered this series from reaching Hall of Fame heights. The game totes the Infinity Engine, giving gamers more fluid, dynamic animations. Hit a receiver with the hit stick and you’ll feel his pain. However, several nagging issues continue to plague the franchise. Cut to animations often look stilted. Choppy movements can easily snap you out of the action as you watch the automatic replay expose the Madden NFL 13’s shortcomings.
Receivers never really wrap their hands around the ball. Often times, when the instant replay cuts to the close up, you’ll wonder how the catch wasn’t dropped or fumbled. On the other hand, defensive players make mechanical movements when the ball lands in the hand of the receiver. Once a receiver catches the ball, defenders will robotically turn to target the player with the ball.
And, that’s one of the problems with Madden NFL 13. The defense hasn’t really caught up to offensive prowess – especially on passing plays. Rush the ball and you’ll feel Walter Payton, mowing over defenders. One good block from your linemen will earn you a couple extra yards as AI defenders try to figure out what just happened. Short passing routes – especially play action passes and slants – will easily earn you a first down. You can execute these short pass plays over-and-over, whether you’re ranked 72 or 92. The ranking system doesn’t really reflect the gameplay, except on deep routes. It’s always fun to see your passes hit their mark (when your playing with your favorite team during a statistically bad year), but it just shows that Madden NFL 13 still lacks the perfect balance realism and offensive glory.
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms take over as the CBS commentary crew in Madden NFL 13. Nantz and Simms offer a refreshing play-by-play analysis in comparison to Madden 12. However, there are still moments when the game hits its limit with regard to dynamic commentary. If you miss one catch in the first quarter, the commentators can make it sound as though you’re down by seven at the bottom of the fourth. If you like rushing plays, you’ll quickly exhaust the prerecorded commentary. Grab five yards and you’ll get a ‘slow and steady wins the race’ remark, get six or more yards and your making the defense nervous.
Connected Careers is one of the biggest improvements to the core game. Franchise and Superstar modes have been combined to give you a chance play as a legend or build up your created athlete and take him to the Hall of Fame. You can simulate to your quarterback’s next play on the field or feel the coach sweat as he picks out plays and makes important decisions. Simulating play is always dangerous because you’re at the mercy of the computer, but it’s a great way to focus on leveling up your player and take him from rank 80 to 99.
Overall, Madden NFL 13 continues its reign as the dominant – and only – football game on the market. It’s good enough to keep you engaged and addicted to gridiron competition. But sadly, the franchise hasn’t really had any serious development competition since Joe Montana Sports Talk Football followed by NFL 2K on the Dreamcast. As a result, gameplay has only made small improvements from year-to-year. The game is better than its predecessors, but nagging issues probably won’t get fixed until next-gen – hopefully.