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Critical Reception: EA's  Madden NFL 13

Critical Reception: EA's Madden NFL 13

August 29, 2012 | By Danny Cowan




This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Electronic Arts' football franchise update Madden NFL 13, which reviewers describe as "the best Madden of the generation." Madden NFL 13 currently earns a score of 81 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

Richard Grisham at Games Radar scores Madden NFL 13 at 9 out of 10. "While the game's tackling and collision systems have gotten incrementally better this generation, Madden NFL 13 has taken it to an entirely new level," he praises. "Thanks to the introduction of the Infinity Engine, a physics system that takes into account complicated things like muscle tension, mass, and momentum, the interactions of players when they collide are wildly entertaining -- and often appear extremely painful."

Grisham describes the Infinity Engine as "a game-changer for the Madden franchise in the truest sense."

"Running backs stumble when their feet get tangled with teammates," Grisham writes. "Wide receivers spin to the ground after absorbing huge in-air hits. Quarterbacks bend backwards when sandwiched by tacklers. Each game brings something previously unseen -- and Madden revels in it, showing slow-motion replays liberally with a 'look how cool this is' vibe."

"There are plenty of other core improvements to the game this year as well," Grisham continues, "including a beautiful new passing system that has eliminated our fears of throwing slants and seam routes, a much more polished TV-style presentation with classical theme music instead of bombastic rock and rap, and a built-from-scratch commentary system with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms."

"It's not often that a stalwart franchise like this reinvents itself so significantly, but Madden NFL 13 has pulled this off with aplomb," Grisham says. "Brimming with innovation on the field and off, it's the best Madden of the generation."

EGM's Brandon Justice rates Madden NFL 13 at 8 out of 10. "Whether EA Tiburon will admit it or not, Madden NFL's been in a bit of a slump," he notes. "But after a few rough seasons, the developer went back to the chalkboard and drew up an aggressive new gameplan for Madden NFL 13 that promised to rewrite the playbook on key elements like gameplay, animation, and game modes."

Justice describes the game's varied improvements: "First and foremost, the animation system is a huge step in the right direction. Essentially advertised as the future of football animation, the Infinity Engine comes through for the most part, delivering the most diverse visual representation of the NFL to date."

"The AI received a similar rewrite to handle all that horsepower, and it succeeds in most instances," Justice says. "Receiver-to-DB interactions are much improved, linebackers are a lot less shady, the line play is often as organic as in NaturalMotion's Backbreaker, and the way the AI makes use of this new movement model brings about much-needed additions like blown coverage, overpursuit, and second-effort yardage."

"But for all the improvements, Madden NFL 13 isn't without its rough spots," Justice warns. "For example, despite the fact that the AI is now required to actually see the ball to make plays on incoming passes, players are still instantly aware of the ball once it's caught. Also, defenders still make ridiculous plays on the ball once you bump up the difficulty, and line play suffers from some horrendous feats of holding that make it hard to play on the D-line."

"All in all, it's clear the team at Tiburon took a hard look at ways to bring the franchise back to its former glory," Justice summarizes. "Some annoying bugs persist here and there, but overall, Madden NFL 13 stands as one of my favorite football experiences of this generation."

Giant Bomb's Alex Navarro gives Madden NFL 13 3 out of 5 stars. "Whereas Madden NFL 12 felt lackadaisical and directionless," he begins, "Madden NFL 13 paints a very clear vision of where the series is headed from here."

"Where Madden NFL 13 ultimately stumbles, sadly, is in its execution," Navarro writes. "There are new ideas here, great ones even. But those ideas don't translate especially well into this year's game, coming off as either half-baked, or simply not reasonable by modern console standards."

Navarro finds that the new Infinity Engine produces uneven results. "EA has taken the Infinity Engine and stapled it onto Madden's collision detection, resulting in what should be a more natural-looking tackling system," he says. "Unfortunately, what happens in real time doesn't look especially good at all. Collisions often result in grotesque bending of limbs and spines that, perhaps in another football game, might be accompanied by an x-ray closeup of bones snapping. Except that's clearly not EA's intent here."

"While the visual and physics engines are left wanting, the core gameplay is still pretty good," Navarro assures. "Blocking and interacting with blockers feels particularly good this year, as does the running game. [...] It's also worth noting that interceptions are especially prevalent this year, though that's not through a computer cheat. It's just easier to time interceptions as a defensive back now, so users who like playing the receivers will have an easier time picking off wayward passes."

"In spite of its misfires and glitches, Madden NFL 13 is a step forward for this franchise," Navarro concludes. "It's a small, clumsy step, but considering how little forward progress this series has made in recent years, any kind of step is a cause for minor celebration. If you can forgive the technical problems and often cumbersome menus, there's a football game worth liking here."


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