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Review

Madden NFL 13 Review

  • Game release: August 28, 2012
  • Reviewed:
  • PS3

Madden NFL 13 trots out the same basic experience one more time, creating an enjoyable game without any major improvements.

In 1984, Dan Marino set an NFL record by throwing for 5,084 yards in a single season. Decades passed with no quarterback coming close to that hallowed ground, but things began to change a few seasons ago. With stricter rules governing how tight cornerbacks could play and a safety initiative implemented to eliminate dangerous hits to offensive players, passing numbers skyrocketed. In 2011, two players eclipsed Marino's record, with two more close behind. These numbers are not an anomaly. The NFL is a league built on trends. As new strategies arise and rules are introduced, old ideas are left in the dust.

Enter Madden NFL 13. With an overhauled presentation and a more refined animation system, this is the best version of the long-running franchise yet. But it's still Madden. Unlike the real sport, it hasn't evolved in meaningful ways. The tactics that worked a decade ago are still effective here. And unlike in the NFL, where every team has to use its specific skill set to succeed, there is little diversity. Despite this clash with reality, Madden 13 is still an eminently enjoyable experience. But by focusing on improvements to the aesthetics instead of the core mechanics, Madden NFL 13 does little to separate itself from its predecessors and cements the growing disconnect between it and the real sport.

Teaming Gus Johnson, the most enthusiastic play-by-play man in the business, with Cris Collinsworth, a no-nonsense analyst, seemed like a dream pairing. But the stilted chatter in Madden NFL 12 forced people to scramble for the mute button. Thankfully, these commentators have been escorted from the premises in Madden NFL 13, replaced by CBS's number one duo, Phil Simms and Jim Nantz. Their presence is less invasive, often letting the rhythm of the game speak for itself, but this has its downside. Automated replays, long a thorn in Madden's side, are once again clumsily implemented. The commentators often clam up, and disjointed cuts make it tricky to see what happened, ruining much of the broadcast charm the game attempts to evoke.

Rod Woodson came out of retirement and he doesn't even get to return punts.

The biggest changes are seen off the field. Connected Careers is where you play out your franchise dreams, and there is an enticing twist that makes it more engaging than in years past. Joining an offline or online league, you choose whom you want to control. Fancy taking over your favorite player's career? Or maybe you have your eye on a retired great? Playing as Steve Young in the modern era is a dream come true for 49ers fans who have suffered through subpar quarterback play the last 13 seasons, and when it's time for him to hang up the cleats, you can take your pick of someone new. There are a handful of former players in a variety of positions, so if you'd rather dance to the end zone as Deion Sanders or abruptly retire as Barry Sanders, the choice is yours.

Connected Careers is a big improvement over Franchise mode. Now, you can choose exactly how much control you want over your organization. Play as a quarterback, and you only have to worry about throwing the ball. When your team is on defense, you just simulate the action, and then you're back in the huddle calling audibles to keep the ball out of your running back's hands. But if you want more control, you can be a coach. Current coaches along with all-time greats are present, or you can put yourself on the sidelines. Being able to switch between player and coach when you want to experience different aspects of Madden gives you new appreciation for how much depth is present in this game. Building a team through free agency, trades, and the draft is trickier than just taking the field blind to the front office's struggles, and you decide how much influence you want.

On the field, things haven't improved nearly as much. There are more animations (which is true in every new Madden release), and there is certainly appeal in seeing a receiver snag a poorly thrown ball out of the sky or a linebacker deliver a crushing hit. But uneven transitions between the animations make for awkward-looking tackles. Unlike in Backbreaker, where every hit reverberated with scary realism, the players in Madden 13 still move in a jarring way that's often distracting. Couple questionable animations with problems that have existed for years, such as random ball physics and unsettling character models, and you have visuals that look great on the surface but fall apart under closer inspection.

But such lamentations are minutia compared to the wealth of strategic joy Madden NFL 13 offers. The franchise has existed since 1988, and the various tweaks that have gone into the game in those 24 years have translated into an incredibly fun experience. As always, Madden 13 is at its best in competitive matches, and it doesn't matter if you're playing a buddy on your couch or across the country, going head-to-head is when the beauty of this game surfaces. Calling hot routes and blitzes to keep your opponent off guard, or evading a heavy rush to deliver a perfect pass, is exciting. Although luck occasionally is a factor (especially with turnovers), you're usually in total control of your actions, and considering the amount of depth present, the more time you invest, the more you grow as a player.

However, one problem that stands out is that there isn't a great diversity between teams. This has always been true in Madden, but it's still disappointing that this aspect hasn't been addressed. If you choose the Michael Vick-led Eagles, you can certainly scramble more than Carson Palmer and the Raiders, and having a fast running back allows for more outside runs than a slower runner, but these are small differences. The philosophical discrepancies that separate teams in the real NFL simply aren't present here. You can forgo the running game and run tight end seam routes as every team in the league, even though only the Patriots have a roster capable of such an attack in real life. Having this flexibility does make Madden 13 accessible for those who just want an exciting football game, but it also highlights how different the virtual interpretation of the sport is from the real thing.

Mark Sanchez should keep in mind that getting sacked is better than riding the pine.

Despite a few small issues, Madden NFL 13 is the best version of the same basic game that has existed for years. Nominal improvements in most aspects create a more believable experience, both on the field and off, and the expanded career mode lets you decide how much control you want in creating your team. But these changes never go beyond what you'd expect for a yearly sequel. And though the aesthetics have been improved, the core gameplay lacks the dynamic changes that make the real sport so exciting to watch. Madden NFL 13 is certainly enjoyable, but the dearth of evolution is more glaring every season.

The Good
Connected Careers offers a healthy variety of ways to play
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms provide solid commentary
Competitive play is great fun
Roster of retired coaches and players brings back fond memories
The Bad
Little difference on the field from previous years
Old issues are still present
7.5
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
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About the Author

Discussion

2 comments
Thesuperstar2k
Thesuperstar2k

pretty good game even though the game is the same just like others.


8/10

Derugs
Derugs

Still love this game... :)

FalconG1
FalconG1

this is  GREAT madden game. No need for hate at all

laplace985
laplace985

No franchise mode lol. That's the only mode that actually allows you to pretend like it's actually a game worth playing.

sekon51
sekon51

Worst madden ever . whoever reviewed this game obvioulsly didnt even remove the disc from the box...........THE GAME JUST SIMS MATCHES.............. you dont even get to play it.u only seem able to play in exhibition mode. Seriouly..........

Proper review score is 0

-Fromage-
-Fromage-

Was nobody else available to write a review for this game?

JXJXJF
JXJXJF

Madden is a piece of trash franchise sucking up valuable licensing. I'm tired of them tweaking "modes" and ignoring the only thing that's actually relevant to the game...physics. Real, quantifiable interactions between various people and a ball is THE ONLY THING FOOTBALL IS. You can just pay licensing fees and someone else will code the physics for you. It's so ridiculous.

 

And giving the game a 7.5 because it's a football video game with depth makes zero sense. Starting at a zero, Madden having depth because it is a literal copy of a game balanced by other people should not add even a quarter of what a perfect game is.

 

2/10...die Madden. DIE.

wilson336
wilson336

"Connected Careers is a big improvement over Franchise mode"

 

Really? Connected careers is horrible. Franchise mode was the best part of Madden, with the ability to have total control over the team and play as any character on any given play. Now you are stuck playing only parts of games as one character, and you can't customize the entire team. 

 

Huge disappointment....going back to last year's Madden.

tklubie
tklubie

Like many of you, I typically do not comment on games.  I also typically don't buy games right when they come out because I have a really hard time justifying $60 for the majority of the titles released.  A friend wanted to play football so I reluctantly purchased Madden 13.  This is one of the worst sports games I have ever played.  I will be trading it tomorrow for the sad $12 and feeling like EA stole my money.  It will be a long time before someone can convince me to buy a Madden game again.  Whatever happen to the 2K series of sports games?  This was a train wreck.

SOBeleven
SOBeleven

I've been reading this website for almost 10 years & have never commented till now. Worse Madden game ever. I play Franchise more then anything else & import from NCAA, plus I usually do a two player Franchise with a friend of mind. After I spent $60 bucks to find out how useless it was I traded it in today to get 12 back. Very sad, I'm very upset with EA. Who ever allowed this game to be approved for release should be fired. I found this game to be insulting too a loyal follower who bought the crappy games like 06-08 when they were adjusting to the new systems but still played them because of Franchise.

gix47
gix47

"Madden NFL 13 trots out the same basic experience one more time, creating an enjoyable game without any major improvements"

and Tom gives it a 7.5....mmm.

seems Tom went soft on EA

Thanos1960
Thanos1960

The game overall looks cleaner, of no franchise mode but oh well. great run game better defender contact and hit applications, wich I really like because I always though Madden was too offensive -oriented gameplay. Way to step the defense!

SuddenTragedy
SuddenTragedy

Well this game after playing it for a couple of days I have taken it in and believe this is the best madden game in years everything has been flushed out and looks nicer more HD and crisper. passing is more fluid and presentation has stepped up all in all this would be a 9 out of 10 here's my only gripes.

 

1: There is no local multiplayer for Career mode (franchise or player) so that means my fiance can't play running back for me as a travel through the years of nfl season after season. To me this is big, this actually stifles everything great about it.

 

2:Kinect functionality is nice but your room has to be quiet including the crowd noise if tv volume is up high for your commands to register.

 

3: The run game is great however the new physics engine allows for your RB to actually fall from incidental contact from lineman or others on team which can make for some frustrating situations.

 

so all in all I personally would give it an 8 because I can't play with my fiance in frnachise mode (coach career) so that really sucks. If this is not a big deal to you then this is the must have if you enjoy online friends and football.

 

Online Players: 9 out of 10

Offline Players 8.5 out of 10

 OH AND BY THE WAY THANKS TOM MCSHEA FOR POINTING OUT THE MISSING LOCAL MULTIPLAYER. INSTEAD OF SLAMMING THE GAME FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS WHY DONT YOU TAKE OUT MADDEN 12 AND INSERT MADDEN 13 DISC I'M SURE YOU WILL LIKE IT AND CAN GIVE AN HONEST REVIEW INSTEAD OF COPY PASTE THEN SLEEP

bigman2cool
bigman2cool

Madden 13 should have all the mode like madden 12 from career to franchise and season mode as well 60 dollars worth EA sport had alot of people upset and I was very upset as well when the demo came out I know the game is going to be sold out but when the game came out and I play it and franchise mode at all I call gamestop and ask them what happen to the franchise mode and season mode they told me ea and madden 13 took it out this year thats not worth 60.00 at all EA and madden 13 need to fix it now and bring back the mode because I like to play more than one team in the season and the superbowl with my team or a other team.

anthonyt2325
anthonyt2325

I was going to pass on this years Madden but purchased it on a whim. I was more than suprised...this is not the same old Madden. The game play is more fluid and linebackers no longer jump 20 feet in the air and close a gap of 10 yards when throwing over the middle.

 

The career mode is also 100% better. For example, when playing as a WR in years past you would have to wait forever for your team to call a pass play and it was rare for the QB to look your way unless you ran a perfect route and called for the ball. Playing as a WR now you can break off your route and deek your defender and the QB will look your way often. Also, when you break off your route you often draw other defenders which leaves other players open.

 

You also cannot reorder the depth chart to make yourself a starter.If you are a QB you're not going to GB, NO or the NYG and playing anytime soon. I had to go through the rosters to see what teams were weak at what positions.

 

Running the ball has also improved. I used to hate getting the ball handed off only to get hit 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage. You can now get directly behind your blocker and turn a loss into a 2-3 yard game by having a little patience.

 

I came here often to check out reviews before I purchase games but am glad I didn't for Madden this year as I would have passed. Madden 13 is not a 10 but I give it a solid 8.5. By far the best Madden made thus far.

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

"Madden NFL 13 is certainly enjoyable, but the dearth of evolution" - this is probably indicative of the sport itself, I mean they could add weapons to the game (literally) and give us an NFL game that is more like "Brutal Sports Football".... but the NFL may not approve :)

 

Perhaps, to truly evolve they need to drop the NFL license from the game.  You'd lose official teams and players and gear etc... but really this game has and is become like the WWE wrestling games - it's a promo tool for the league, so it needs to mimic the last season, the game needs to become more flexible in it's simulation, but it's hamstrung by NFL regulations.

bigman2cool
bigman2cool

nothing is better than the franchise mode in madden .

jtuds
jtuds

I'll take a pass until they decide to find a way to stop gamer geeks from sitting in their basements and figuring out which 4 plays they can run over and over again to exploit the programming, or what player they can move to a different position to make him unblockable/uncoverable, or which stupid formation they can put LBs and DLs in to make sure a guy comes free on every play.

 

Those are the losers who ruin the game and EA does nothing to stop them, while the real football guys continue to wait for an actual NFL simulator as opposed to a game for the Halo geeks to buy so they can win cheap and feel like they know sports.

mapmaker187
mapmaker187

Horrible! I’ve been playing madden since the Sega genesis and have never had an experience as this.  The flow seems choppy, the “blur” animation is annoying, and who cares about old coaches!

 

Seriously, their selling point this year is legacy..LOL..really?!  EA, give it up!  Your franchisee is toast. 

Please, let the powers that be bring back balance to the football videogame landscape, and allow other companies to compete. 

 

On a side note, I thought monopolies were illegal.  Shouldn’t there be an antitrust issue here??

steveholt67
steveholt67

I'm not going to bitch and complain about the review. I am usually an EA hater and usually consider Madden just to be a roster update. This game however is not, it feels more fluid, more responsive, and feels like football. Simply put, if you like football video games, you will  like this game.

Spring_Rubber
Spring_Rubber

It's Jim Nantz, not "Nance". It looks pretty sloppy getting something like this wrong not once, but twice.

McCashy
McCashy

Where the hell is franchise mode!!!

hunter8man
hunter8man

Connected Careers mode sounds like a slightly more enhanced Road To Glory mode from NCAA. Still, I'm not spending $60 for this. Thankfully, my copy will arrive from Gamefly tomorrow.

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

Haven't been excited about a football game since EA bought out the NFL license.  Won't be excited about this one, either.

 

I'll pass, and not in the RG3-to-Garcon sorta way.

requul1
requul1

How about some competition EA?  EA would have been forced to fix some of the classic Madden problems if it weren't the only football game.  Then again, Madden had competition back in 2005, got womped, and defeated its rivals the only way Madden knew how.  Throw some money at the problem. Besides graphics I still enjoy NFL2k5 more than every Madden since, especially Madden 2007.

Drfreakk
Drfreakk

Madden apologists, you've got to be kidding me...are you all indoctrinated by EA Sports.  Has anyone ever wondered why we keep getting all these new features and the gameplay still sucks? The player faces look like the players but their bodies are all similar, unless you're a coach.  Coaches look like The Hulk.  Why does Mike Shanahan look more muscular than RG3?  The review was extremely fair to me.  The gameplay or player models are NEVER the focus for EA.  Always some new physics engine, feature or presentation upgrade.  Never more realistic player models and gameplay that actually resembles real football.  Aren't you guys tired of the cartoonish players?  Just look at what 2k does with the players in the NBA2K series.  It's not perfect but you can still identify players by body type alone.  The game plays like the players do in real life.  Madden is a joke and continues to rip people off with slight upgrades to the unimportant.

NotCeo
NotCeo

I'm sorry, but did the reviewer actually play the game?

The commentary is about as bad as it gets in sports games.

The physics engine and career mode are nothing like they had been in past years. This is the first time in a long time that you can say the game has significantly changed year to year.

FoxExecutive
FoxExecutive

In all honesty, this review doesn't really match up well with the score.  And one thing I notice is he seems to contradict what others are saying, along with himself.  He mentions a revamp in the career mode making it much better and the new physics engine seems to make the game much more enjoyable.

 

But then he just paints a red streak across the whole review when he says the game is the same old game as previous iterations.  Really, a lot of your review seems to say otherwise.  In addition, looking at other sites, they seem to feel the new physics engine and changes to modes, gives the game a refreshing feel.

 

I haven't owned a Madden game since Madden 04 for the Gamecube, which was a great Madden game at the time.  And with the changes many other sites and people have been saying, it seems like this is finally a worthy game to pick up.  But for whatever reason, Tom here, decided to phone in this review.  It's a football game, what do you expect? 

dkirchen
dkirchen

In playing the early release I would say this is the best edition of the game in quite some time, the game just plays right, they have come a long way even from last year.  The physics are much better with the addition of the infinity engine.  It isn't perfect, but gone are the cookie cutter animations of yesteryear and they are replaced with something that almost feels right.  There are some minor quirks that I have noticed with it like players getting up and falling over one another but that does not detract from the gameplay at all.  

 

The passing mechanics seem much better as well, you have more control when it comes to ball placement for your receivers.  You can lead a receiver in to space much like they do in the NFL when reading coverages and attacking the soft spots in zone coverage, etc... Being able to cancel the "play-action" in a play-action pass play is great as well and works very well. On the contrary, playing as a defender it is actually possible to get User Picks again, last year the game seemed to herky-jerky and it never quite felt right while controlling defenders, i'm sure this is attributed to the better physics in this years game.

 

My only complaint is that I would like the option to shut off gameflow during online play.  It simply does not work the way it should, I have used it in the past and too many times do I end up with LB's covering wideouts etc...  but this is a minor complaint.

 

 

LingeringRegime
LingeringRegime

Gamespot is becoming the Eurogamer of the West.  That isn't a bad thing. 

moe050
moe050

There are improvements that I haven't even noticed yet since i only played the demo... so with that said there's definitely an oversight on the part of these people who review the game. the visuals are obvious, the CONTROL of players feels better, the fact that they change the hot routes you assign by position is a BIG improvement too (I'm referring to how the hot routes for WRs ARE NOT ALL THE SAME for, say, the RB... this makes a TON of sense and I was wondering when/if that would ever change), and now I'm hearing that you can cancel/change the ball fake of a playaction? seems like this will this game deserves a better score than it is receiving.Maybe... just maybe... instead of it being "same old madden" it's actually a case of "same old critiques" or something... maybe because it's madden people are looking at it with very biased eyes and missing the improvements... as far as "same tactics from a decade ago still work" ...THEY SHOULD. the real sport of football is a SLOWLY evolving thing, generally speaking. like Madden games, the changes are usually EXTREMELY SUBTLE, with only a few significant changes occurring over any 3-5 year span. there's changes in the CULTURE the sport sometimes... but that's not necessarily something that "changes the game" ... and the changes in culture usually get some sort of spotlight in the madden games too - which is why passing the ball the will probably be even easier.

 

People have STUPID expectations of sports games - why expect a completely revamped/change product? Madden games are supposed to generally play like a madden game... if 2K had rights, their games would feel and play similar too.

Lord_Python1049
Lord_Python1049

I'm not surprised Gamespot gave it a lower score than everyone else. It's because the scoring system is a little harsher!!! We need to stop looking at the metacritic score because its an aggregate of scores from a wide variety of scoring systems that simply aren't compatible with each other. In any case, I have noticed that Tom is usually much more critical than his colleagues, but is that really a bad thing?

alexh111
alexh111

 @gix47 A game has to be reviewed on its merits. It is not at all unreasonable to think the game is a 7.5 (i.e good) and point out that it's basically the same game as Madden 12...by that logic it should get a 3.0 or 4.0 because it's the same as Madden 8.

jtuds
jtuds

 @mapmaker187 not antitrust because they entered into a contract with the NFL, and the NFL is an entity which owns all it's logos etc.. Also, people can go buy other football games, just not NFL football games, but that's not illegal because there is technically competition in the marketplace.  If Nike decided they'd only let one store sell Nike products, that wouldn't be illegal, right?  Also, video games are not essential so there's little reason to litigate such an issue.

requul1
requul1

 @steveholt67 If you like football games, shouldn't you be upset Madden is your only choice?  If you like football games, wouldn't you expect a real sequel for $60?  I'm not sure steveholt67 likes football games...

mapmaker187
mapmaker187

what ever your smoking, I want some! 

 

requul1
requul1

 @FoxExecutive But for whatever reason, Fox executive, decided to phone in his comment.  Forgetting that a review he disagrees with isn't written poorly.  He simply disagrees with it.  Thus both parties are entitled to their opinions.

requul1
requul1

 @FoxExecutive How can YOU be honest about about Tom's Review matching up with the score Tom gave the game.  There's a fun drinking game hidden in your post.  If you do a shot every time you randomly switch from 2nd to 1st person and back again, you'll be snockered in no time.

moe050
moe050

 @dkirchen damn that gameflow thing lol. i don't play ranked games online though so i never have to deal with it. i only like to play on all-madden, so i usually only play off-line with friends

requul1
requul1

 @moe050 Why expect a completely revamped/changed product?  Because its a sequel.  I would like to enter into evidence Mass Effect Trilogy.  Mass Effect had an awful 6 wheel tank and repetitive dungeons.  Mass Effect 2 fixed those problems.  ETC ETC.  Feel and Play were similar but problems were solved.  Oblivion, then Skyrim.  NBA2k10 then NBA 2k12.  MGS3 Snake Eater then MGS4 Guns of the Patriots.  There are examples of the opposite too.  Dragon Age: Origins then DA2. 

SuddenTragedy
SuddenTragedy

@Lord_Python1049 That's great that Tom is more critical than others. my biggest problem is that he shelved all the improvements this year and said JUST ANOTHER MADDEN UPDATE 7.5 I see the stuff they did and applaud their efforts to Madden for the first time in probably 5 years! I would have acknowledged their efforts better than him and gave them an 8 for the overhaul they did this year.. There's a thin line between being "critical" and being negligent and I read his review and it's the latter

dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

 @jtuds  @mapmaker187 

 

But you forget that EA also went after exclusive deals with the NCAA and Arena football, so they did in pretty much have a monopoly since unlicensed football games do not sell well. And recently EA has had to give up the NCAA exclusive license in part of a anti-trust settlement.  

moe050
moe050

 @requul1 but like i said... madden too, has changes as well. the significance varies, and some are subtle. none of those games you mentioned are "completely revamped/changed" ...what i meant by that was like... say it was a fighting game... going from SF style to say... KoF... the games fighting styles are basically completely different. when people talk of madden, it seems they want a drastic change like that, to me. madden, no SPORTS games will always have the BS. i sw 2K12 mentioned, and i know that game had it's issues too - esp with online availability...

bb52700
bb52700

 @SuddenTragedy  @Lord_Python1049SuddenTragedy is right on.  he doesnt even mention the new physics engine, which is probably the biggest advancement in Madden gameplay since the hit Stick in '05  He just says it has some new animations.  I cringe reading this guy's madden reviews because they are all the same. 

 

bb52700
bb52700

 @SuddenTragedy  @Lord_Python1049

 and he doesn't even mention all the new passing trajectories or the ability to abort the play-action pass mid fake.  to dismiss this as "same ol madden" is just lazy.  if the improvements this year dont satisfy him, then nothing ever will

SuddenTragedy
SuddenTragedy

@bb52700 @Lord_Python1049 heck yes that hit stick add was the shizz when it came.. Just flick the thumb stick to lay some foo out and possibly cause a fumble or injury was such a good idea.. I still use that even in this demo for 13

Madden NFL 13 More Info

  • Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation Vita
    • + 3 more
    • Wii
    • Wii U
    • Xbox 360
    Madden NFL 13 is developed around the powerful, all-new Infinity game engine and features new gameplay improvements, Madden social/play functionality, and the ability to build a franchise as a coach, NFL superstar, or yourself.
    6.8
    Average User RatingOut of 406 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Madden NFL 13
    Developed by:
    EA Tiburon
    Published by:
    EA Sports
    Genres:
    Simulation, Football (American), Team-Based, Sports
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    No Descriptors