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Madden NFL 13: First Impressions
This year’s Madden NFL 13 looks to up the realism ante; we took it for a quick spin to see what the new Infinity physics engine is all about.
It’s nearly fall, and here in America, fall means football. And with every new season comes another iteration of the vaunted Madden game franchise; this year it’s Madden NFL 13.
Changes between versions can be subtle and incremental, but this year’s release looks to bring unprecedented realism to the virtual pigskin world with its new Infinity physics engine. So is this new fancy term just another gimmick? We took it for a spin to find out.
I should admit, it’s been a few season since I picked up the ‘sticks and dove headfirst into a Madden game. I played the last few games, but never saw enough to draw me into a full-on obsession like with Maddens of the past. This year I plan on fully immersing myself in the Madden universe, so expect a full review in the coming days. For now I’ll give you a few quick first impressions after playing a handful of exhibition games.
The most hyped feature of this year’s release is undoubtedly the Infinity Engine, and let me tell you right off the bat, this is no gimmick. Big hits look harder, jukes are more devastating, and you can’t help but cheer for your ball carrier as he fights through crowds for every yard. It’s not just the new array of animations at work here; it genuinely feels like players are making contact and reacting in realistic ways. And this actually affects game play, too. I was so used to being able to simply bounce off crowds and over fallen players to get through holes that I often got frustrated when the Infinity engine showed its colors and tripped my ball carrier up. So much daylight, gone to waste. Receivers collide on crossing routes, linemen form impenetrable walls, and running backs stumble free from weak arm tackles only to be cut down by lurking safeties. It’s exhilarating, as you feel that all players are at the mercy of true-to-life physical rules.
The real NFL has become a passing league, and EA Sports set out to reflect that in Madden NFL 13. It touts a new “Total Control Passing” feature that is supposed to give players more control over how each ball is delivered. Instead of the traditional lob, touch, and bullet passes, EA has added a few new variations for different situations. These seemed fairly nuanced to my eyes, with screen and dump pass delivery in the backfield appearing mildly different than a lob pass to a receiver in the end zone.
A new feature called “Receiver Awareness” attempted to simulate how real receivers can’t catch the ball if they aren’t looking for it. This definitely affected game play, and I noticed more errant passes when I tried to force the issue. Still, I found it a little too easy to simply air it out—especially to dominant players like Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, who happens to grace this year’s cover.
There is also a new single player mode called Connected Careers. It’s billed as a bit of a sports-RPG crossover, putting you in control of either an on-the-field player or a coach on the sidelines. You build up your character’s stats through accomplishments and progress through the course of a normal career. You can also choose to play this mode offline or online with other real players. I haven’t had a chance to give this a meaningful spin, but given my penchant for RPGs and love of football simulations, this seems like a match made in heaven.
From a handful of exhibition games, I came away impressed with the latest Madden. The Infinity physics engine is a definite plus, and adds a new level of realism to the game. I’m looking forward to giving some of the more time-consuming features a spin in the coming days, so stay tuned for a full review.
By Eugene Kim, PCMag