Madden 13 A Sport's Monster
- Saturday, September 08, 2012
I rarely sit down to watch an entire NFL game, but for some reason, I really enjoy playing football games. Just something about them scratches a particular itch for me. So, I've taken the opportunity to play the latest releases of both NCAA Football and Madden and combine them into some kind of Frankenstein's Monster of a review for your reading pleasure.
First off, I'm a much bigger fan of the college game than the NFL, so some of my enjoyment of the games is tinged by that preference. That being said, the 2013 version of Madden has gotten football RIGHT. From the analysts in the booth to the physics on the field (more on that in a minute), it feels like you're watching a game on the TV on a Sunday afternoon. Most of the time, I'm fairly hesitant to recommend an upgrade to an annual sports title to someone who has a relatively new (1-3 years) copy of the title in question. Madden 13, however, has made a bunch of changes that may even cause those who just bought a copy last year to want to drop another $60.
Connected Careers, 2013's replacement for Franchise and Superstar modes, allows the player to take control as a coach or player, guiding their avatar through either an offline or online career. If you choose offline, you're in basically a single-player Franchise (for a coach) or Superstar (for a player) mode. If you choose online, though, you and up to 31 other friends can choose a team or player to control and play against each other. Play can occur asynchronously throughout the week, but in order for the league to advance a week, all players must have completed all tasks required of them for their team (typically, a practice session where you play through scenarios to earn XP, and a game). Once all players have completed their weekly tasks, the League Commissioner can advance the clock to the next week.
The physics in Madden have been revamped, as well. The new Infinity Engine promises (wait for it...) an infinite number of animations for plays that could occur, rather than the game engine choosing an animation from a pile of "stock" events whenever a tackle occurs. You should, theoretically, never see the exact same play twice. After quite a few games, I can attest to that. The hits always look real and react as one would expect given the lines the defender and ball handler take to collision. It's pretty cool, actually.
One ability that I miss is the opportunity to create a player in NCAA Football and import his draft class into Madden, as has been an option in prior years. The two games are totally disconnected now, which is a shame, because I probably would have enjoyed Madden more had I been able to bring my 3-time Heisman-winning running back from Boise State into the game.
NCAA Football doesn't boast the same Infinity Engine as does Madden, but other than that, the games have a very similar feel. I personally enjoyed the game much more (probably because I am a bigger fan of college football). Recruiting players to come play for you as a coach is a blast; much improved over prior years' implementations of this feature.
Additionally, if you'd prefer to go the player route, the Road To Glory mode still exists. You can create a high school player, select some schools as ones you'd like to attend, and play through a full high school season trying to catch their attention. You have the opportunity, as in the past, of playing as either a one-way or Iron Man (offense and defense) player. If you go the Iron Man route, colleges will recruit you (or not) individually. So, one school could want you as a wide out, while another could want you in their defensive backfield. The choice is yours as to which you accept.
Another new feature for NCAA Football 13 is the addition of the Heisman Challenge. You can choose to import a former winner of the Heisman Trophy (like Desmond Howard, Eddie George, Doug Flutie, Marcus Allen or Carson Palmer) onto a team of your choosing and see how they'd do. Wanna put a dominant player like Barry Sanders onto a team like North Texas State and see if just that one change can bring a podunk school to prominence? Here's your chance. Lots of fun wish-fulfillment in this game mode.
All in all, both games are great. For me, it really boils down to the fact that, as I mentioned, I like the college game more, so I enjoyed NCAA Football's atmosphere and gameplay more. If you're the opposite, you certainly won't be able to go wrong with Madden 13. Madden is probably the more technically impressive of the two, but I assume that the Infinity Engine will make its way into NCAA's next version, due out Summer 2013.
Both Madden 13 and NCAA Football 2013 are rated E for Everyone by the ESRB, but online interactions are not rated. I noted the following things that may be of concern to some of our readers:
Violence: Football is a violent game, so if broadcast or live games cause you to be squeamish, then there may be a problem here. However, I never noted any gratuitous injury animations or anything like that.
This Review First Published 9/8/2012
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