Madden 13 – Initial Review (Gameplay and Connected Careers Coach Mode)

It plays like Madden.  Don’t come into Madden 13 and expect the new infinity engine to blow your mind with some sort of interaction that would make you mistake it for real-life.  It won’t do that – yet, but it is on the right path.

GAMEPLAY

Madden 13 feels a lot like Madden 12 in regards to overall player movement and feel.  You will notice a bit more momentum for players as you try to change directions in Madden 13, but it isn’t enough to make anyone notice.  EA has always had to keep the crisp controls in Madden for people that want immediate player movement rather than some sort of true momentum (like 2K football) – again, Madden 13 still feels like Madden from the ‘controlling players’ perspective.

The infinity engine is obviously in a very early stage in its retail life as Madden 13 is the first game it has come out for.  There are still some weird looking rag-doll effects that happen on occasion and it often seems like players don’t really have arms as they just collide into eachother for an apparent tackle.  This is something that I expected with the new physics engine this year and I will let some of it slide, but there needs to be a bit of clean-up in the upcoming patch.

In terms of in-game injuries you will most likely want to turn the injury slider up to around 60 as it gives you just enough to make it realistic and keep you on your toes (I lost Brandon Weeden to a dislocated knee in Week 1 but also managed to smack DeSean Jackson and break his ribs for a nice 2 Week absense).  You will notice that many of these injuries don’t really follow the physics, so keep in mind that many of them are random.

It is still relatively easy to stop the CPU running game as they just seem over-matched at the line and a little too easy to bring down if they do get past the line of scrimmage.  The CPU passing game is better than Madden 12 but it could use some help from an AI logic perspective as the CPU still throws short passes when it needs 8+ yards, etc.

Penalties are still a crapshoot.  It seems that EA doesn’t really know how to implement them in the game without them either being too touchy or non-existent.  Roughing the Passer (when turned up to 65) will give you some of the worst Roughing the Passer flags ever.  Outside of that you will also rarely see pass interference, offsides or false starts.

CONNECTED CAREERS (COACH MODE)

Coach Mode feels a lot like NFL Head Coach.  If you never played Head Coach you should simply think of it as a much deeper Franchise Mode that gives you a more personal feel for the game.  Some of the trade logic is still a little wonky as I was able to Trade Colt McCoy and a 4th Rd Pick to the Raiders for Terrelle Pryor.  Whether that was an even trade or not I don’t know but it felt suspect when they accepted it.

Another nice touch is putting players on the Trade Block.  You will see offers on the front page of your tasks and get to weigh the options you have as far as trades go.  When it comes down to logic with the CPU there aren’t nearly as many strange cuts during the pre-season and you will see some surprises by the time you get halfway through the pre-season as far as who gets cut from CPU teams.

Scouting for the draft is a much more intricate experience as you will really need to develop a knowledge of the players rather than picking them randomly throughout the year.  You have a certain amount of points and depending on what type of information you want on the designated player it could cost you a bit of points.  This is by far one of the more interesting and fun aspects of Madden’s Connected Careers (Coach Mode).

THE EARLY VERDICT

This is probably the biggest jump Madden has made in the past seven years.  The Infinity Engine is nice enough, but where this game really gets its mojo is in Connected Careers and the depth that hasn’t been in a Madden game – maybe ever.

This game falls just short of a ‘must buy’ at this moment but if the correct fixes are put in for a patch it will be a serious contender for best sports game of the year.

By The Numbers

Gameplay – 7.5/10 – There is still a lot to be desired from the infinity engine as you will see in some of our videos.  The game still plays much like its predecessors in almost every regard, but it is still lacking in player interactions.  This is something that must be addressed in Madden 14.  On top of direct gameplay and controller interaction – it is vital that penalties get overhauled as well.

CCM (Coach) – 9/10 – Almost everything you could want in this mode.  The only thing that is really missing?… player morale.  While players will refuse to sign a contract with your team there still isn’t a decent interaction going on between the players and coaches.  You will however be pleased with the depth in this mode as it truly opens up player development with the XP System and then the new draft interface… it is safe to say that you will be happy if you love Franchise Mode and decide to buy Madden 13.

 

OVERALL – 8.5/10 

There are still many facets of this game that we need to look at more in-depth, but it is a safe bet that if you need a football fix this year and you love the NFL – get this game.  It is hands down, the best Madden ever, but that doesn’t mean we don’t expect more.  I could easily see this game finishing close to 9/10 if it proves to be a somewhat enjoyable experience online.

Keep checking back with NoobTubeTV for more updates on Madden 13!