How does this year's Madden NFL 13 stack up among the rest? Well, this year, EA Sports decided to revamp much of what was Madden for the past few years in an attempt to find a fuller experience.
Let's start with the opening video, which has always been an combo of NFL highlights of the previous year mixed with some voice-over work from the cover athlete.
It always did a pretty good job of getting me pumped to play, but this year, they bring in Ray Lewis to do the intro speech to end all intro speeches. Lewis' speech pulls you into the Madden experience before the game has even started and is entirely effective.
The crisp feeling that you are entering something completely revamped definitely flows into the actual gameplay, presentation and modes that Madden features.
The presentation, whether it be in the menus or during the game, has improved significantly. The home menu this year is a block menu with everything on one screen, so it's not easy to get lost in menu after menu.
As for the in-game presentation, authenticity is the name of the game this year for EA.
Gone are Cris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson, replaced by a real commentating team in Phil Simms and Jim Nantz. Simms and Nantz talk cooperatively, and only once did I run into a problem where Nantz was talking about something that wasn't happening during the game.
Not to mention that most of the graphics and replays that are shown remind you of a CBS broadcast despite the announcers.
The game modes this year can be a bit disappointing if you were a fan of traditional franchise mode and/or playing offline game modes with friends. This year, the big addition is Connected Careers, a revolutionary mixture of Superstar and Franchise modes from years past.
However, that means that both Superstar and Franchise modes are not included in this year's addition. Another notable absence is that there is no offline multiplayer on any modes except for your basic exhibition.
Connected Careers is both an online and offline mode; though clearly meant for online, it allows you and your online friends to start a career as a coach or player and play through as them together or offline by yourself.
You may also choose to be a legendary coach or player and re-insert them into today's league ,which is pretty fun when you get creative with the combinations. For example, I took Walter Payton in his prime, placed him on the Colts with Andrew Luck and managed to turn them into a juggernaut.
When you create your player, you can decide your own background and playing style that fits how you want to play and then choose the team that suits you best. Growing based on XP points that you earn in practice and in play, you can build yourself into the next great Hall of Famer.
Same thing goes for creating a coach, but you'll find yourself able to upgrade your ability to keep your players together and grow in areas you need to. So altogether, Connected Careers is a great new addition, but removing traditional offline multiplayer modes was unnecessary.
Saving the best for last, the gameplay itself, is the crowning achievement of this year's Madden.
The new Infinity Engine introduces physics to the gridiron and brings a whole new realism to each and every game. Every play is different, and you have to really think where you are running so you don't trip over or run into your own player. Momentum matters on a tackle, resulting in realistic collision rather than old canned animations.
The only drawback is after the play, the physics go a little crazy and the players trip over themselves, but that shouldn't really stop anyone from playing and even results in a few laughs.
The number of pass trajectories have increased, and with it, the defensive AI. Slant plays were nearly unstoppable in previous editions, whereas now, if not aimed correctly, they can become traps for ball-hawking corners. Also, every play-action play can now be aborted and it isn't an automatic sack if the defense calls a perfectly timed blitz.
All in all, this year, EA has achieved a lot in revamping Madden 13 despite a few missteps here and there. With everything that they have done this year in changing what the Madden experience is, I don't know how they can top themselves in the gameplay area.
If they had kept offline multiplayer, franchise mode, and fixed the little gameplay issues, I would probably have been close to giving the game a perfect score.
Madden NFL '13 on the PS Vita is more or less Madden 12 in gameplay, but the addition of the presentation gives it a sleeker feel. So it takes on the same issues that the predecessor had gameplay-wise, with the repetitive gameplay and canned animations.
The intact franchise mode is good to see, but lack of any new additions leads one to believe that this was a bit of an afterthought. However, this is still a nice bit of Madden on the go and not a bad game by far; hopefully, they put more into it next year.
PS Vita Rating: 7.0/10