Video game review: ‘Madden 13’ marks franchise’s biggest improvement to date

By Nick Wesdock

Football season officially began last night with the defending champion New York Giants taking on “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys, but for video game enthusiasts, the season started last week with the release of EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 13”.

Many people expected this latest addition to the “Madden” franchise to be the most advanced sports game to date, and the title was rumored to exhibit the biggest leap forward the series has ever taken in a single year.

I have to say, the game does not disappoint on these fronts.

“Madden 13” features a number of new technologies that enhance both presentation and game play.

A fresh new broadcast team in Jim Nantz and Phil Simms adds to the experience, while a virtual commentary booth creates aesthetic appeal.

Another advancement in the presentation is motion blur, which some of you might have seen in EA Sports’ “NCAA Football 13.”

While this reinvented version of the game still has some kinks to work out, most of the new components of “Madden 13” are unprecedented.

Motion blur is the one development that seemed unnecessary.

The game play element is designed to “blur” the screen during fast moments in the game, but unfortunately it does not bring any substance to the game’s presentation.

One seemingly flawless transition of this edition, though, was the new CBS-style commentary.

In recent years, the repetitive Chris Collinsworth sayings got old quickly. Now, there are more than 9,000 recorded phrases, with Nantz and Simms sounding as calm and natural in the game as they do on live national television.

This makes the “Madden” experience all the more realistic. With the replacement of the previous annoying phrases every few plays, “Madden 13” deserves a check-plus.

As far as game play goes, the brand new Infinity Engine was easily the biggest change. Infinity Engine gives “Madden 13” something no sports game has ever had before: real-life physics.

The engine implements physics into each and every collision, providing unique hits and tackles each play. Players no longer “morph” through one another, and it also allows for in-air contact. In previous editions, receivers and defenders had to come back down to the field before being tackled, which is neither realistic nor gamer-friendly.

With revolutionary technology like Infinity Engine, initial imperfections are to be expected. “Real life” physics create some awkwardly overdramatic player movements, especially in the secondary and after the whistle.

Regardless, other elements of the game make up for this small misstep.

The pass ready system, for example, is another game-changer in “Madden 13”. This feature allows the receiver to catch the ball only once when he is ready and looking for the pass.

This feature means receivers no longer catch the ball before running their routes; they must be actively looking for the ball. When a receiver is looking for the ball, the icon above his head will turn from grey to color, and only then can the player make a catch.

However, if you choose to user catch with a receiver, this feature is almost a non-factor.

The new read and react defenses further add to the realism of the game, essentially allowing the playbook to open up for the receivers. Before, defenders would occasionally jump routes before receivers even made their cuts, almost as if they knew the play. Now, defenders must read the play and react to the motion of the receiver, making both out routes and curl routes much easier to complete.

Last but not least of the game’s innovations is the 25 new pass trajectories thrown by quarterbacks.

Users can choose to throw to a number of different places in attempt to put the ball where only their receiver can catch it. This skill is very difficult to master, but the advantages are numerous.

Combine these new factors with improved graphics – due in part to Infinity Engine – and a slightly faster pace, and “Madden 13” provides a freakishly-real playing experience.

This game is revolutionary in the world of sports video games.

EA Sports has brought football fans closer to the field than ever with “Madden 13,” undoubtedly earning the hype surrounding its release.

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