Chandler thinks the Madden series is finally moving out of its former rut and in a better direction. What do you think about this latest entry in the franchise?
The Madden NFL games from publisher Electronic Arts have arguably grown worse and worse as time has gone on this console generation, gradually dipping lower and lower with the critics. Last year’s entry was one of the worst in the franchise’s history from my viewpoint, so development studio EA Tiburon had a lot of work to do over the off-season to reel me back in.
One step at a time. That’s how you should correct the errors of the past, and that’s exactly what Tiburon did. It excellently revamped the presentation with over 82 hours of commentary from CBS’s very own Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. When you add the reworked passing game and AI, I was impressed by the amount of work it did just under a year, so the game could hit its targeted August release date.
Righting the wrongs
This year, the reworked presentation system makes great strides toward making every game look and feel like it actually is on television. Tiburon decided to bring in CBS’s most-liked commentary crew of Natz and Simms to become the new anchors of Madden to both narrate and appear in over 200 cutscenes that take place between plays, before games, and so on.
But perhaps the biggest change to this year’s Madden is the new Infinity Engine that the game runs on, which adds real-time physics to a NFL game for the first time. This engine makes every little hit count and play out different from the one before it.
If you’ve thought you’d seen it all in past Madden games where developers had to individually incorporate thousands of different ways for player to be tackled, think again, because now they don’t have to do any work. There is practically an infinite way for players to go down to the ground in pain. Whether that will be on their own or because of another player is in your hands.
The new engine isn’t without its flaws however, and it make take a few games to begin to appreciate it since this isn’t the same Madden game you’ve played before. Running into your own lineman on a hand-off play to the running back will result in you falling and the play being over with a “tweet.”
The system will sometimes really get on your nerves when you see plays blown dead because computer-controlled linemen on your team stumble over one another or a receiver trips mid-route over a defender’s leg.
In the end though, the game just looks and feels right. It feels like the real deal. Seeing a player hurdle over someone for the first time, then struggle to regain his balance only to trip and fall forward another few yards was a cool sight to see in a Madden game. Watching players stumble out-of-bounds was definitely a nice touch of flair as well.
Reworking the ways to play
Connected Careers is a fantastic mode you’ll want to jump into that introduces an XP system in both online and offline franchises that you can use to upgrade your team’s players and coaches. It also improves on the former Superstar mode by adding the ability to call your own plays for once!
The XP system will let you progress your players in the areas of your choosing; you can also increase their skill through natural player progression as well with good performance in not only games but practice sessions as well. But if you don’t feel like jumping into all of this technical stuff and just want to get to the nitty-gritty of playing football, then you can let the CPU automatically tweak these stats for you.
Tiburon also rewrote the scouting and free agency systems in the game, which were, quite frankly, horrible in last year’s game. Players can now individually choose which attributes and traits they want in a player when scouting for them.
The system is constantly and dynamically working in the background, changing things around and incorporating numerous variables that will mix up the already jumbled formula that may kick your scouted player off your list due to an injury or character concerns.
Retired players might even return from past Madden games! In one of my franchises, quarterback Kurt Warner came back out of retirement.
Another great addition from Tiburon in Madden 13 is the new passing game system. With a heavy resemblance to those made in this year’s NCAA title, Madden’s new passing game opens up the field to quarterbacks and allows them to throw where they want to throw.
Former restrictions that you may not have known about prevented QBs from throwing the ball to certain parts of the field. Those have now been removed, and you can throw the ball practically anywhere you want it to go. Another welcome fix in the passing game addressed the super-jumping linebackers of the past few Madden games. No longer can they jump ten feet into the air to block one of your perfectly thrown passes!
Madden 13 is a great football game and probably one of the most polished NFL games ever released. Granted the Infinity engine isn’t always perfect, it still improves a lot more than it breaks. I think that if EA Tiburon wasn’t too busy fixing its mistakes from last year’s installment, it would have had time to incorporate more exciting new changes to the game besides the new engine. All in all though, this is finally a Madden game worth getting.