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Madden NFL 13

Score: 98%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 / Co-Op 2 - 4 / Online Multiplayer 2 - 5
Genre: Sports (Football)/ Sports/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

Itís actually been a couple of years since Iíve donned EA Tiburonís premiere football title, but it must be said that the presentation of Madden NFL 13 is, in short, impressive. Player model uniforms are outstanding and bring out the visual realism of the sport more than ever before. In fact, as you progress through the game, youíll be treated to adaptive texturing and the more your players hit the ground, the more dirt begins to overlay on their clothing. The same can also be said about weather effects, as footprints become evident in the snow. Star player heads generally look pretty good, although a little more detail would have been nice. Similarly, the stadiums of Madden NFL 13 felt a bit generic in nature, with a simple reuse of geometry and overly saturated fans.

CBSís Phil Simms and Jim Nantz call the action on the field with a TV-style presentation. While the commentators do a fine job and their avatar quality helps with the presentation, the comments are still somewhat vague and repeatable. On the field sounds work well, and help greatly with the presentation element of the game.

Where the game really shines, however, is in the new animation system that provides fairly realistic bone-crushing tackles. More on that belowÖ


Despite concerns that lack of innovation will result from the exclusive NFL contract EA was able to secure a few years back, Madden NFL 13 proves otherwise in huge fashion. The new physics-based animation systems that EA dubs the "Infinity Engine" brings big hits and realistic tackling to videogames like never before. In fact, this system is certainly the start of a revolution for sports titles, and it wouldnít surprise me if it branches out beyond the confines of a stadium.

Every time players contact each other with the Infinity Engine, they interact in a way that mirrors real life. While not perfected yet, this new animation system delivers some great tackles where players actually wrap the ball carrier and drive them to the ground. Aside from a few ridiculous tripping/stumbling problems and the occasional cranked neck, the Infinity Engine improves both the gameplay and presentation in dramatic ways.

Madden NFL 13 goes beyond presentation, however, with its advancements and achievements. The new Connected Careers feature allows you and your friends to jump into an online Franchise like never before. Connected Careers allows you and up to 31 additional friends to play what ends up essentially being a semi-persistent career where you can play as a coach or an individual player. Should you get tired of your choice and want to start over, there is no need to start from scratch. You can actually retire your player or coach and begin from that point in the season with another choice.

Another addition to the franchise is with Total Control Passing. The ability to lead the receiver or throw to his back shoulder helps you take over the field even more. Whether related or not, however, is the fact that receivers seem to drop the ball more than anticipated. With some practice, you can also take control over the catch to improve your chances of a completion. In addition, EA has allowed Kinect-enabled voice commands. If you can call it on the screen with a controller, you can also vocally call a play or change the play with a verbal audible.

Of course, youíll also be able to jump into your typical online and offline modes of play, including the Ultimate Team, where you build your team based on earning coins. These coins, in turn, can be spent on trading cards and the cards are used to populate your team. Youíll also be able to trade or sell cards to build your legacy any way you want.

The gameplay itself of Madden NFL 13 still retains the basics that have driven the most popular football franchise. Aside from the occasional unintentional player collision with the Infinity Engine, running and passing control remains in the userís hands. Play calling has two options, the usual three-play Conventional screen or the GameFlow play-calling method, which essentially is a new way to Ask Madden based on the present situation. The difference is that you can quickly choose between a few automatically-determined plays whether you want to run, pass, or stick with the game plan.


The Madden franchise has always been one of those titles that requires a bit of finesse to become a great player, and is a bit harder for players to pick up and play without prior experience. However, now is as good of a time as any to take the initial leap. The learning curve relies on at least a basic knowledge of football, along with the ability to learn the controls. Passing is certainly a more complex beast for newcomers to master, and to fully appreciate the complexities that Madden NFL 13 holds, being able to proficiently direct players at the line is a must.

With that said, Madden NFL 13 still holds on to the legacy of four difficulty modes and the ability to switch up some of the gameplay settings to customize the experience for everyone. When it comes to the Career Modes, youíll also be able to choose from things like automatic player drafting, and be able to retire your player or coach and choose from another if your season isnít going how you anticipated.

Online and offline versus other human players is, of course, a mixed bag when it comes to the difficulty. You can adjust some settings to help play against other online gamers of similar skill levels, but the reality is that beginners can likely get frustrated easily at first. Just like anything in life, Madden NFL 13 requires practice and learning from watching others better than you. With a little persistence, the frustration will likely subside and make the game more enjoyable.

Veterans of the franchise are going to feel right at home with the options and play-calling system. The new GameFlow play-calling will probably appeal more toward the casual gamer, but the option to switch to the Conventional system at any time still gives players full control. The ability to direct traffic at the line remains outstanding, with pre-set audibles for plays and the ability to change individual playersí routes and assignments.

Game Mechanics:

As mentioned above, the control scheme of Madden NFL 13 can get a bit complex, so newcomers may feel a bit overwhelmed at first. Almost all of the buttons on the controller are used, including the Right Analog Stick and D-pad. What this means is impressive control as you get used to the layout and needs for winning. Those who donít care about audibles will certainly find it easier to control the players, but there is still a significant learning curve involved in playing the game.

Veteran players of the franchise will appreciate the new Infinity Engine in Madden NFL 13 more than anyone. The way that players now interact with each other, especially during tackles, is amazing enough where youíll likely find yourself watching and actually enjoying cool replays instead of automatically skipping them. This new animation system is a huge step forward for sports titles and increases the presentation value greatly.

Sometimes the consensus for football fans is to buy Madden every other year because the number of improvements isnít always that great. However, I would invite all fans to pick up this yearís Madden no matter how long itís been since your last entry into the franchise. The improvements seen in Madden NFL 13 are unprecedented and future gamers will look back at this as a defining moment in sports game history.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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