As a Madden veteran, I’ve experienced the many changes EA Sports has implemented into their annual football series in an effort to keep it fresh. Everything from introducing defensive playmaker, to yellow vision cones for quarterbacks (mockingly called flashlights by some) and new technology that Madden 10 boasted called Pro-Tak, EA has thrown a lot of stuff at the wall with varying degrees of success.
While a lot of the features were one and done (the Pro-Tak technology I thought had potential, but EA didn’t continue to build on it) the new features EA has rolled out for Madden 13 has helped make it one of the best playing Maddens in a minute.
The Infinity Engine and the new Connected Careers mode are the meat and potatoes of this year’s title and while several aspects need to be improved, the potential is there. Connected Careers which is pretty dope combines the franchise and Superstar modes into one virtual universe. This year the online franchise mode and offline one have identical feature sets in addition a XP system was introduced to upgrade players and coaches. CC has also breathed some life into the Superstar mode, which I never had any use for and generally makes your virtual seasons seem more alive. It’s not all good news though as the diehards that were used to full player editing for their respective franchises will find that isn’t possible to do this year. You are stuck with whatever roster update EA rolls out and won’t be able to make any alterations to take into your CC career. When that news first came out, the roster gurus were infuriated. The scouting combine and pro days have both been removed and the option to import draft classes from NCAA 13 has also been ethered. When removing options that have been in the series for years, EA risked alienating some heads, but they insisted certain aspects had to be sacrificed in order to lay down the foundation for CC going forward. According to them, the Connected Careers mode will be the standard for all sports games in the future. There is a saving grace as the Madden generated draft classes have their own unique story lines that play out during your season. All in all, CC plays like a sports RPG.
The new passing system is similar to what was introduced in NCAA 13 and it opens up the field to quarterbacks, allowing them to pass to areas of the field that wasn’t possible in past iterations of the game. Madden’s new passing game is a nice addition and one that fixes the super-jumping linebackers of the past.
Ah that Infinity physics engine. For the first time ever, Madden 13 utilizes a real physics engine for collisions instead of canned tackle animations. Because of the spontaneity to each play I’ve seen some bone rattling hits, I’ve never seen in this series before and defenders who get knocked down will get back up and continue fighting to make the tackle. Because of the freestyle environment they tried to bring to each play it opened the door to some crazy animations that will have you scratching your head. There are weird occurrences of players tripping over other players still on the ground (after the play is dead), unrealistic tackles and handoff animations but there is more good than bad.
I like the risks EA took this year, they all helped to revive a franchise that had lost a step over the last few years. Without 2K Sports around (or any company for that matter) in the football field to push them, many people felt EA was in cruise control with their football title. If they can continue to build on the foundation and refine the formula they introduced this year in Madden 13, then maybe they can change that perception.
Rhude’s Score: 8.7 out of 10