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Madden NFL 13

Fixing Madden
by Matthew Kato on Jul 31, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Release:
Rating: Everyone
Platform: Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Madden NFL 12 wasn't a great entry for the franchise, and a lot of work has to be done if this year's game is to repair the series reputation. We take a look at some of the things that need to change for this to happen and discuss how Madden NFL 13 is faring in these categories so far.

Every year the team at EA Tiburon has to balance its development time between fixing old problems and introducing new features. Madden NFL 12 didn't do a great job of either, which means this year's game has a lot of work cut out for it.

Here we outline a few of the main things we want to see changed for Madden NFL 13 and discuss what we know about how the development team may address these issues.

GAMEPLAY

  • For years fans have wanted more realistic player motion and physics, including true gang tackles and fewer pre-determined outcomes.

Madden 13: This year's new Infinity physics engine endeavors to truly represent players' physical attributes correctly and the resulting outcomes – including multiple points of contact on the body for simultaneous impacts. In my hands-on preview time with the game, I noticed some cool big hits that were different from the pre-determined outcomes we've become used to, but I didn't perceive an overwhelming change.

  • We want to see the elimination of legacy issues from past Maddens like poor blocking, super jumping linebackers who automatically intercept passes over the middle, poor AI ball awareness, and ineffective defensive ends.

M13: The new ball trajectories and head tracking directly address the jumping linebackers, and hopefully EA has plans for the other legacy issues, too. In particular, the poor offensive line play needs to be addressed, which includes suction blocks and the AI's inability to consistently seal the edge on an outside running player or identify who to pick up on the second level. We'll have to wait until the review to fully understand how these issues have or have not been addressed.

  • This series' passing game needs an overhaul to account for secondary awareness, the aforementioned super jumping linebackers, fixing play-action plays, and to give the QB more passing lanes around the field.

M13: If the implementation of these features in NCAA is any indication, Madden 13's passing game will be much improved. Having said that, NCAA didn't fix past problems in both EA Sports' football titles like passive wide receivers and both receivers and defensive backs' inconsistant ability to go up for jump balls. Will Madden 13 fix these where NCAA did not?

  • The Gameflow feature was introduced in Madden 11 to streamline the playcalling process. While it did this by suggesting plays, last year's game didn't provide enough context like a play's formation.

M13: This has not been addressed in this year's title.

  • Special teams blocking needs a complete overhaul so there are more varied running lanes and outcomes.

M13: In the few special team situations I've faced in preview builds, I noticed better punt blocking in particular, and the result was a few extra yards in some returns as opposed to Madden NFL 12.

 

Read on for more areas Madden NFL 13 might be addressing.

PRESENTATION

  • The  commentary has gotten stale, and it hasn't helped that EA Sports hasn't found a good play-by-play partner for color man Cris Collinsworth. Comments haven't always been timely or relevant.

M13: Adding Jim Nantz and color analyst Phil Simms is an upgrade no matter what. Although we'd like to hear what the duo say in the booth over the course of a full season, the commentary in Madden 13 is noticably better. It sounds more like the real TV broadcasts, the two announces have a good back and forth, and there isn't a lot of dead air.

ONLINE

  • Players have demanded a fully-featured online franchise mode for years.

M13: Online franchises get a huge boost with Connected Careers, which makes no distinction between your online and offline franchise. This is a night-and-day change for the mode from previous years.

FRANCHISE MODE

  • Madden 12's franchise mode was a bust primarily because of how scouting left you in the dark when it came to draft day. It also lacked restricted free agents, undrafted free agents, more varied contract structures, practice squads, and more.

M13: This year's game overhauls the scouting system entirely by letting you spend coaching XP during the season to scout players. You'll also receive a minimum amount of info on every player whether you scout them or not. Madden 13 includes undrafted free agents but not RFAs, practice squads, or different kinds of contracts like those which are back- or front-loaded. Also gone is the eBay-style free agency system in favor of a straightforward free agency period featuring multiple rounds where you can bid against other teams for players' services.

SUPERSTAR MODE

  • Since its inception, this player-focused mode has been largely neglected. The worst offender is the playcalling, which does not feed players good plays. This handcuffs any player who isn't the QB (who can audible out of those he doesn't like).

M13: Madden 13's Connected Careers subsumes the old Superstar mode within the traditional franchise structure, which at a minimum should add more structure and drama to playing as a player since you'll spend earned XP on upgrading your player.

Madden NFL 13 comes out for Xbox 360 and PS3 on August 28. Versions of the game will also appear on the Wii and Vita (Aug. 28) as well as a Wii U version that may be different than the PS3 and Xbox 360 editions.