Madden 13 – The Midnight Release Review

Looking for some last minute advice to help you make that release day or midnight launch decision for Madden 13?

Here it is –

You should buy this game if:

  1. You are a Madden fan
  2. You liked NFL Head Coach
  3. You want deep online leagues
  4. You want deeper offline career modes

You shouldn’t buy this game if:

  1. You prefer open player editing for career modes
  2. You prefer fantasy drafts
  3. You prefer to have Franchise Mode with people on the same console
  4. You don’t believe in performance on the field being a factor in progression or building XP

The Midnight Release Review – (yes, we have multiple reviews – more feedback and evolving reviews are better than one you read in a crappy magazine or website that doesn’t look at the game over an extended period of time)

The current grades for Madden 13 in terms of scholastic levels would be a B- or in the typical (just as subjective) ‘number’ grade it would be around an 8.3 out of 10.

The justifications for a review and score start with what was deducted and why.

Gameplay – The Infinity Engine

The Infinity Engine makes the game ‘look’ better in terms of players on the field having a wider range of motion and trying to trick your eye into not seeing the canned animations that are still there, but are more hidden due to the ‘rag doll’ effects of the new engine.  You will see players flopping and falling all over the place at times and on occasion it will make you laugh (at one point Eli Manning took a knee to end the half against my Browns and as my defense pushed through the line – the kneeling Manning looked like he got hit by a truck… no penalty was called.)

It still plays like Madden 12 if you discount the flailing.  As we stated in our earlier review of the game, it seems at times like players are running at eachother with numb arms at their sides and jumping into opposing players (and sometimes their own teammates).  If you try and picture the players up close drooling with lazy eyes it will make the game a bit more entertaining – at least for a few seconds.  (If you are saying or thinking “You’re wrong for that.”  I might be, but you can’t say I’m not honest.)

Customization – No Editing Players for Career Mode

This has been one of the most commented topics here on NTTV.  It is a fact that Madden 13 is extremely limited on editing players and rosters for career modes.  While EA has stated that they are considering the option of maybe patching this into the game, you shouldn’t hold your breath or grasp for hope and change when it comes to this – the bottom line is that EA Tiburon pushed this game in a new direction and had to leave some things behind to do that.  Customization is one of the things that I would think could be more of an on/off option but apparently they don’t see it that way and maybe my assumption is over-simplified.  (Programming isn’t often a matter of ‘turning something on or off‘.)  You can still edit players in exhibition mode but it won’t carry over to CCM (for now).

To go along with customization, you also won’t have the ability to run a fantasy draft for your connected careers.  It is unfortunate and somewhat confusing if you consider the fact that it doesn’t involve editing players and you can trade and pick up free agents in CCM.  My best guess is that it would screw up a lot of the commentary, storylines and twitter feeds if someone suddenly had a team with Peyton Manning, Trent Richardson and Ray Lewis.

Playing CCM With Friends On the Same Console

Perhaps the second most infuriating issue with our readers is the fact that you can’t have a league where you are competing with a friend, sibling or roommate on the same console.  This is one of the most confusing issues I have come across.  It really doesn’t make a lot of sense if you consider the fact that people have had this ability for years.  It follows the same lines of logic as player editing, but really – this is flat out ridiculous.  If you consider the release date of Madden you will see that it often coincides with the start of college classes and students returning to campus.  This is where most of my sports league gaming with friends happened back in the day and now it is gone.  To this, all I can say is that I hope you held on to Madden 12.

The Reasons You Should Buy This Game Today

Now that we have given you the reasons why this game had the deductions, we will further enlighten you with the reasons why this is one of the best Madden games ever released.  We have already given a couple reasons why this game is awesome.  If you want a few more reasons to buy Madden – here you go.

The Deepest Career Mode Ever

Madden has had a tough time over the past few years trying to push a better franchise mode.  Madden 12 was decent but it lacked logical CPU teams and it also lacked intelligent contractual negotiations.  This year they have gone above and beyond what they had in the past and that is the primary reason I chose to get this game with the Season Ticket… I had to see Connected Careers with my own eyes.

You will see storylines from college recruits that have had violations, injuries and even breakout seasons.  They will climb and fall on the draft boards and you will feel the pressure to find the diamonds in the rough and avoid the potential busts.  The scouting in this game will make you think more than Madden 12 did with simply picking a player and getting information given to you.  You will have to pay for information and if you want more specific scores you will have to pay more.

Players will want to negotiate extensions of their contracts through the year and you will have to make decent offers when you are given the chance, otherwise they will stop negotiating and test free agency.  It is yet another small detail that makes it stand far above Maddens of the past.  To go along with this new contract approach you will have to start determining how you want to build your team.  If you are creating a new coach and want to change the schemes and mindset of your team it will take time for you to find the right players and personnel that fit what you want to do.

If you decide to be a player you will have other things to worry about – namely, your player’s storyline and how he will progress throughout his career.  You will have to earn XP and put it into the right areas if you want to become a superstar in terms of OVR ratings and such.  The bottom line is that your performance will dictate almost everything.  If you come in and stink it up, it might be a quick career for your version of JaMarcus Russell.

Progression Is Based On Performance and Development Ability

Making your players better whether it is as a coach or as a single player will depend on two things.  You have to perform well on the practice field and in game situations when you get the chance.  Some people are obnoxiously pissed about this for some reason, thinking that ‘potential’ should be the sole factor in how a player progresses.  This is a common misconception that people make when they want to determine whether a game is being realistic (hopefully you can see the irony there).  If someone works a job and busts their hump to make their quotas and they go above and beyond whether they have good potential doesn’t matter.  The same goes for people or players (see JaMarcus Russell, Vince Young, Todd Marinovich, Vernon Gholston, the list goes on and on) that have all the talent and potential in the world and it goes to a waste due to laziness, purple drank or factors beyond their control).  This is why the development rating is so important.

Development will determine how much and how fast a player can gain XP.  If you want to increase this trait you will have to pay for it with, you guessed it – XP.  It isn’t like running for 500 yards every game on Rookie Difficulty will make it easier to get a player to some sort of inflated rating.  Well, in that extreme case – it might.  Either way, it will cost you 50,000 XP just to take someone from the ‘Quick’ Development Trait to ‘Superstar’.  If you consider the fact that it could take you an entire season (or two) to get that many points it suddenly becomes clear that some players might only progress to the mid-80s for an OVR, but the best part is that you will have groomed them on your own (if you want).  If you prefer the hands-off approach you can also set player progression to automatic and let them grow as the CPU sees fit.

The Infinity Engine

Yes, this was one of our downsides, but the fact of the matter is that this game looks so much better with players that move due to reaction to other people and objects.  That is after-all what physics pretty much revolves around.  You will see players moving in a slightly more realistic fashion (especially if you play with game speed set to slow or very slow).  You will also notice that momentum is a bit more prevalent in this game and you won’t be able to stop and move on a dime.  It will be more like stopping and moving on a… quarter.

That said – the game still plays like Madden.  You can move players without some sort of strange delay like on 2K football or something like that, so don’t get scared off when people talk about momentum and real time physics.  Also, you will notice that the big hits in Madden 13 look and feel bigger than any Madden during this console generation.  A lot of this has to do with the infinity engine and how the players react to different speeds of play and how they are positioned.

We will have more coverage of Madden 13 over the next days, weeks and months.  Hopefully this more detailed review will help you decide whether or not to go out and spend the $60 on Madden today or this week.

As always – Happy Gaming!

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!

Madden 13 Review Coming Soon

As it happens, EA Sports is allowing XBox Live and Playstation Network users to play their sports games early.  It is in this spirit that we are going to try and help you decide whether or not to buy or pre-order Madden 13.  You will still have ample time to make an informed decision before the game is released on August 28.

To call it a review is a misnomer – we will be featuring a series of reviews over the next few days that will cover everything from gameplay to specific modes and even the online experience.  If you have any questions or requests please post them in our comments section or hit us up on Twitter – @NoobTubeTV. 

Stay tuned to NoobTubeTV for reviews and updates on everything Madden 13 over the next few days.

For a full run-down of how we review games please check out our R.E.A.L.© Reviews  section for a description.

Click The Picture Below to Pre-Order Madden 13 from Amazon!

Does Madden Matter Anymore?

Over the past two decades it has been a fixture in sports gaming.  On occasion it has even been hailed as one of the best games of the year in that genre.  However, the Madden Franchise has fallen on hard times as of late and it looks more like Tiki Barber trying to make a comeback rather than Brett Favre making a Super Bowl run after his 2nd retirement.  Either way it goes and however you view the analogy –  Madden is getting worse every year.  Only a few weeks ago we were looking at Madden 13 as the rebirth of a franchise after a long drought.  Now it seems as if it has lost its luster and even its marketing steam.

The NFL season is set to start in just over two months and Madden is slated to come out in the middle of Pre-Season games.  How on earth can it be that this game doesn’t have a single commercial in wide circulation or even some sort of hypemobile rolling through forums drumming up blind support?

While it isn’t terribly surprising to see a sports title come out and grab the core audience, it is rather shocking to see the publisher pretty much throw in the marketing towel this early/ late in the game’s development cycle.  With high profile titles such as Halo 4 and Call of Duty coming out within a few months of Madden, it is going to be interesting to see how EA’s sales for their football games perform without any real concerted effort at this point.

Madden has its core of fanboys out there that live up to the stereotypes of sports gamers with false bravado and a sharp case of ego-stroking football knowledge that should place them at the sidelines of any local youth football game screaming at children as they try to live out dreams they never should have had in the first place.  These gamers tend to ruin the online experience as they exploit the poor animation and AI system in order to rank up the leaderboards or win some sort of digital league.

The typical Madden Online/Tournament gamer.

The rest of the Madden fans out there don’t even play online.  They want a game that focuses on Franchise Mode/Connected Careers and some sort of longevity to keep them coming back.  Sadly, it looked like a promising year for this group of fans until EA dropped bombshell after bombshell crushing the dreams of franchise fanantics (yours truly, included).  It seems that the time has come to call EA on their bluff.  They have been bluffing for almost seven years now and there are still people out there folding under the pressure to buy this game on release day.

Are you buying Madden this year?  Are you avoiding it like the plague?… Or, are you simply going to wait it out a little while and see what the reviews look like?