Not too ‘Madden’ing
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 22:09
Let’s be honest: last year’s “Madden 12” was a bad game. The AI was bad at best, frequently not knowing how to play football. The game’s difficulty swings made it almost infuriating to play. And EA’s lack of updates on the yearly formula, along with tons of glitches, ensured it wasn’t worth the $60 price tag.
Of course, like a lemming happily hopping over the cliff, I got sucked up into the hype again this year and pre-ordered a copy of “Madden 13” as football season reared its beautiful head. Maybe it’s because I’m actually winning more games this year than last, or maybe it’s because I only had to pay $45 through some savvy shopping (thank you, Toys ‘r’ Us), but “Madden 13” is a pretty solid game. It’s not perfect, but there’s marked improvement from last year’s edition, and to see that EA might actually care about improving its cash cows is heartening.
This year’s highly-touted addition to the game is a new physics system, meant to create more fluid, realistic tackles in the game, moving away from the robotic movements of years past. This is not only a noticeable improvement, but helps the entire flow of the game; hits feel natural. It does make running the ball harder, because contact with other players usually sends a dude to the turf, but it is mostly a huge improvement.
I say “mostly” because physics system replays show off a disturbing alternate-reality NFL, where bodies don’t follow the rules of gravity and awkwardly, painfully lie in horribly organized piles after plays are whistled dead. While this makes the physics system look bad, I actually love it, if only because it is an absolute riot when playing with friends or looking on.
The game’s presentation is another aspect that has seen improvement. Commentaries no longer lag ten seconds behind plays’ conclusions, nor are the comments made completely incorrectly. The game’s framing devices are actually really nice now, although after a few matches, they lead to furious button mashing to get to the action already.
And, of course, I can’t forget the action on the field. The game plays the same as it always does, although things are a bit more forgiving this year than last. Interceptions are actually possible, especially user-picks, making one incredibly frustrating aspect of last year’s game a thing of the past. Running is still tough, so passing is still the name of the game, but quarterbacking is always fun. The slight changes to the passing system are a big improvement. Maybe this is because I am just user-catching more, though.
I am having trouble figuring out if I really enjoy “Madden 13” a lot more than I did “12.” I might just be coming away from it more positively because I can actually beat people at it. But as far as dorm room staples go, “Madden 13” is decidedly worthy of your time, though it’s not a resounding success, merely a major first step toward a potentially great product in the future.