Monday, August 27, 2012

Madden NFL 13 : Video Game Review

Madden NFL 13's new Infinity Engine creates an authentic rushing experience.

NFL offenses don’t rely on one-play TDs. They methodically work their way down the football field, hoping to end each time-consuming drive with a touchdown.

And so it is with Madden 13. When gamers pick up the latest edition of the storied sports series on Tuesday, they’ll land one of the finest Madden games in years.

Several years of fine-tuning and only subtle upgrades set the table for this year, when Madden 13 aims for the end zone, seeking to revolutionize sports career modes and improve on-field action. Developer EA Tiburon doesn’t reach all those lofty goals, but it does set a new bar for football gaming.

Madden 13 is the kind of game that will satisfy those who have grown jaded by the franchise. There was a time when any and every gamer would happily shell out $60 for a yearly copy of Madden, but more and more people now think twice; Madden seemed to make few gains in recent years.

But all those years of driving downfield finally pay off in Madden 13, starting on the field, where a new physics engine, dubbed the Infinity Engine, creates an authentic rushing experience. Ball carriers move realistically this year; you’ll see Adrian Peterson slip over a fallen lineman and watch LeSean McCoy stumble forward after a hit from the side.

The passing game receives similar upgrades, although they don’t all work as well. Quarterbacks can now “throw open” a player, as Eli Manning often does, leading a receiver to an open spot with the right thumbstick. It’s empowering against zone defenses, and underthrowing receivers is absolutely lethal.

Unfortunately, it’s not all that realistic. When real-life QBs use this tactic, they sometimes miss, especially if they aren’t familiar with their targets. That reality is missing in Madden 13.

That doesn’t ruin the fun of the new career setup, Connected Careers. The new mode tries to merge several sports game mainstays — immersive Franchise mode, RPG-like Be-a-player mode and an online Franchise mode — into one. It’s largely a successful marriage, introducing unprecedented interactivity with Facebook and getting you to watch a fake Twitter feed, just to beat your online buddy to an online franchise draft pick.

The community experience trumps anything in online sports gaming, but it’s not perfect. If you’re not online, nothing in Connected Careers feels truly permanent or realistic, not when draft pick QBs instantly leapfrog the likes of Michael Vick on the depth chart, and not when you can take over Tim Tebow, “retire” after a year or two with him, then watch him come back controlled by the A.I.

Still, the overall Madden experience is a fine one. EA Tiburon aimed for the big play this year. It wasn’t a 99-yard catch by Victor Cruz, but it does find the end zone.

Reviewed on Xbox 360

Available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and PS Vita

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LOVED IT: Infinity Engine lives up to billing, Connected Careers mode shines online, overall wealth of options

HATED IT: Offline Connected Careers lacks realism

GRAB IT IF: You haven’t picked up Madden in a few years

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