Having recently finished watching the final episode of that great football drama series Friday Night Lights, I have a new found love for all things NFL. Over the years I have enjoyed the Madden games very much, but this year I'm even more attuned to the game because of the exploits of the Dillon Panthers and the Lions. So it was with great enthusiasm that I fired Madden NFL 13 up and prepared to do battle. The game was released at the end of August for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360, with a Wii U version in the offing. Our review is of the 360 version of the game.
The system feels more like you are tuning in to televised coverage and it just looks right. The game uses a solitary hub based screen that works well to access all of the menus and this helps you transition more easily to the gameplay mode you are looking for. Indeed, while Madden 13 doesn’t deliver a quantum leap forwards when it comes to texture mapping and other graphical garnishing, the new presentation style is definitely slicker.
The Infinity engine doesn’t just shine when tackling either. Players run, throw and hit the deck more fluidly and you don’t so much feel they have been “animated,” but that they are simply reacting to the normal everyday laws of physics as they ply their trade.
So, while the textures and lighting effects haven’t been improved significantly, Madden 13 manages to look far more believable than its predecessors. When it comes to matters of motion we are more readily convinced we are watching the real thing rather than an animated rendition.
On the other side of the coin, defenders have more flexibility and you will be delighted by how much easier it is to intercept a poorly chosen pass. Madden 13 still favors the offense, but this is something the series has always done and it makes sense as it is always more fun to be going for yards as opposed to defending.
The commentary team from Madden 12 has been given the boot and the dynamic duo of CBS’ Jim Nantz and Phil Simms represent a much better fit. This new pairing happily go about the job of delivering smooth flowing chatter that isn’t too repetitive.
You can even build your team from the ground up, experimenting with free agency recruiting or by using the draft. This allows you to massively personalize your team and will suit serious fans of the sport. There are seven coaches with names like Lombardi, Flores and even Madden on offer too. Not all of the “superstar” players and coaches are available at the start of the game, though. You will have to earn the right to use many by achieving success on the field.
Thus there is much to like about this latest iteration in the series. However the physics system does suffer the odd hiccup. There are moments after tackling pile ups when players extricate themselves demonstrating suppleness that is unnatural and looks plain wrong. Legs are only meant to bend one way.
Sometimes close-in ball work, like hand off passes, can seem to miscue as the ball moves seemingly by itself and without human contact. That said, the physics engine is for the most part a welcome development and many will find they are returning to play the game time and again because everything moves so well.
The controls are responsive and the game blends the right degree of arcade style playability with serious tactical depth for more focused fans of the sport. Kinect support for play calls has also been added, but this feels like an irrelevant afterthought to us and it doesn't often work accurately either.
Madden 13 is the best game in the series yet and the physics system is a big part of why this is the case. It is no wonder the series is one of the longest running out there.
Images provided courtesy of EA Sports
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