Madden 13 is an improved game but does it finally get back to its PS2/Xbox halcyon days? No but this is as close as it’s come in a while.
Madden 13’s big new features are Connected Careers and the Infinity Physics Engine. You probably know all this by now and either love or hate or feel eh regarding these features. I know the first day I had Madden I hated it and wanted to throw it under the public bus. But since then, I’ve come around and have really started to appreciate this iteration of Madden.
My favorite part of the game, that I’ve only discovered upon extensive time in Connected Careers mode as a coach, is the differences in player ratings based on your team’s scheme. While there’s really no excuse for Brandon Jacobs being rated 86 in a power run scheme, the fact that players like Isaac Redman are terrible on teams like Green Bay but have 85 ratings on teams like Seattle, in a power run system, makes for a very interesting mode. While there’s very little divergence in QB ratings, positions like WR, OL and DL can vary greatly depending on which system and types of players you desire at those positions. You can alter your preference to suit your players or go find players that suit your preference. Different players have strongly different ratings. Danny Woodhead is a 59 rating on some teams but over 80 on teams like New Orleans that throw to running backs extensively. Michael Crabtree has a strong rating on San Francisco, a possession WR team, but a horrid one on Pittsburgh, a speed team. You’ll never have the same players twice unless you play this mode a lot and with the additions of fantasy draft to overcome the horrid trade logic and edit player to fix the other issues, this is the best franchise mode since the last generation.
The Infinity Physics Engine looks kinda wonky at first but as you keep playing, you’ll notice more and more non-canned animations that haven’t been in Madden…ever. It makes it look way more realistic even if there are a lot of players vibrating on the ground with their legs caught. Little problems like that are more than enough to deal with when you see players naturally bouncing off each other and reacting as real players would.
The graphics keep getting better every year, and while they’re not shiny like in Madden 06 (:[ ), they’re the most realistic they have ever looked. The player models are fantastic and the jerseys look fantastic too. Plain jerseys like Chicago’s and Oakland’s are finally catching up in graphic realism to the more gimmicky jerseys like Seattle’s and Atlanta’s. But they really just all look fantastic.
The gameplay’s improved once again thanks to that physics engine. Defensive players are more realistic, as you won’t see linebackers jumping 10 feet in the air as much anymore. Quarterback throws are less consistent, a good thing, and have different arcs as in NCAA 13, but they still need to be less accurate and throw more incompletions. It seems 90% of my incompletions are interceptions. But the physics engine if the biggest improvement in this area.
Is this iteration of Madden perfect? No. But if they improve connected careers in the future and keep fine tuning gameplay as they did this year, next year’s Madden could be fantastic. Hopefully they don’t mess it up again when it goes to the PS4/Xbox 720.