Madden NFL 13 Review

With few upgrades from last year console release, Madden NFL 13 is a disappointing entry in the long-running series.

The Madden franchise doesn't change drastically from one season to the next, but it's possible to overlook this stagnation if there are some improvements to the well-worn formula. Unfortunately, Madden NFL 13 for the Vita ignores this delicate relationship. Essentially a handheld version of Madden NFL 12, the lone NFL game for Sony's powerful portable features almost none of the tweaks that have been implemented in this year's console releases. Because the core mechanics are solid, it's still a decent way to simulate a real NFL season while on the go, but it's impossible to shake the feeling that you've played this exact game before. And when you factor in plentiful performance issues, Madden NFL 13 for the Vita can't even live up to the standard set by the year-old game it's trying to emulate.

No one circles the wagons like the, um, Indianapolis Colts.

First, the good news: while this game cribs from 2012's console game, that game's lame commentary from Cris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson has been replaced. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms of CBS take over the play-calling duties. They have a tendency to repeat favorite phrases and clam up for interminably long stretches, but they are much better than the team that made you reach for the mute button last year. Hearing Nantz open each game with his welcoming "Hello, friends" line makes it feel like it's Sunday afternoon, and there's nice back-and-forth discussion at times. Commentating still has a long way to go to replicate the real sport, especially when it comes to how instant replays are handled, but this is a step in the right direction.

Sadly, just about every other aspect of Madden NFL 13 is a direct copy of Madden 12. In some ways, this is a good thing. The core mechanics make for an enjoyable game of football, and that holds true on the Vita. Beating the left tackle to sack the quarterback on a key third down is incredibly rewarding, as is fooling the defense with a well-executed draw when they're expecting a pass. With dozens of plays to choose from, competitive contests become intricate chess matches where outsmarting your opponents is just as important as outplaying them. If you know your friend loves to roll right on long passes, a cornerback blitz can shake things up; just cross your fingers that he didn't guess your move.

As much fun as it can be to pull off a last-second victory, the Vita version is plagued with serious performance issues. The game jerks when moving from replays back to live action, and that disruption happens with such frequency that it can be nauseating. This choppiness isn't limited to noninteractive moments, either. The action may freeze for a split second right when you're looking to unload the ball or deliver a crushing hit, and that hiccup could be the difference between a huge gain and a crushing turnover. Menus also suffer from lag. Just navigating to different modes or trying to substitute players mid-game wears your patience thin because there's a brief delay between your press and the game's response.

6-10? The Niners will never wash off the stink from the Singletary era.

If you can deal with stuttering performance, the touch-screen controls do add a dose of novelty to an otherwise lackadaisical outing. Tapping a defensive player automatically gives you control of him. This may sound like a small feature, but it's quite handy if you control different defensive players on every down. Receiver routes can also be drawn before you snap the ball. Smart tweaks like these don't have a huge impact on the action, but they do make it easier to pull off the specific play you have in mind. The other notable Vita-exclusive control tweak comes in how kicks are aimed. By tilting the system, you can kick the ball to various parts of the field. This is logical in theory, but in practice, it makes kicking harder than it should be. Because the Vita is a portable system and can be jostled easily, you may find yourself aiming way off the mark at the last second.

For the most part, the Vita controls feel natural, but it's clear that other areas weren't given the same attention. One element you always expect sports games to update from one year to the next is the statistics, but Madden NFL 13 fails in that regard. Teams sport their records from the 2010 season. For instance, the 49ers were an impressive 13-3 last season, and that's what should be reflected in the game, but when you scroll through the teams, you see a dismal 6-10 mark. Thankfully, the attributes of the players line up with reality, but that doesn't excuse such obvious problems making it to the final product.

This inattention to detail is emblematic of the Madden NFL 13 experience. Aside from new commentary and a few Vita-specific controls, this is the same basic game that Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners played last year, only with a choppy frame rate dragging the core action down. In the console version of Madden 13, Connected Careers combined Franchise and Superstar modes into one cohesive package, but on the Vita, the new mode is nowhere to be found. Madden NFL 13 is certainly a disappointment, but Vita fans looking for a portable football game can still find enjoyment here.

The Good
Solid core mechanics
Hard-fought victories are satisfying
The Bad
Based on 2012's console game, not 2013's
Serious frame rate issues
Outdated team rankings
5.5
Mediocre
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Discussion

2 comments
Thathanka
Thathanka

I just want to say that I love you for this review.  5.5 is exactly what the cynical annual roster and gimmick update that is Madden deserves.  They have not tried to improve on the game since Madden 05.  It's a disgrace and I wish people would stop buying this junk so that EA lose the licence.  Watch as IGN award Madden 9+ again this year.  Thank you for giving this industry some much needed integrity.

rdizz39
rdizz39

It's better but still not good. Does EA sports know 2k is way better at creating realistic sports games? Probably not. Physics is better...less suction...but can we please make players act like themselves instead of one generated player with a different name on the back of the jersey? In 

nba2k13 every player shoots, runs, and acts like their actual real life self. In madden every qb throws the same...which looks like Sh** by the way...every rb runs the exact same...and how come when you play someone like Aaron rodgers versus some crappy backup you never notice a real difference in performance? Do they actually watch the NFL while creating this game or do they just wing it? I want to see Peyton Manning dancing in the pocket trying to find an open man....I want to see Brady bounce back and forth...Come on people...real-life physics here...The game is too generated period. I want to see huge hits that leave guys on the ground not moving.

I want to see penalties...and how about better replays for close catches and guys stepping out of bounds. And how about more realistic challenges. This stuff all lacks big time. Who cares about the ultimate madden team and career mode...AWFUL...make a better game!

ericmatrix1
ericmatrix1

Hopefully EA releases a Patch or something for this game

ericmatrix1
ericmatrix1

Okay so I just bought this game thinking oh boy Madden on my Vita! It came in the mail today and I have been playing it. The FIRST thing i noticed was the lag in the menus. It has SOO many bugs. And EA has COMPLETELY missed the mark here in so many ways. This game sadly just does not utilize what the Vita can do. The graphics are TERRIBLE for a 2012 Game on a Titan Console like the Vita. I am almost tempted to say that the PSP version of Madden was better. If EA had not added Superstar Mode, I would have destroyed the game and never looked back. that all being said, it is fun to play for the simple fact that it is Madden in the palm of your hand. I, however, implore you EA, to really put some thought into MUCH improvement in the 2014 edition for the Vita. 

decoy1978
decoy1978

I'm surprised people still eat this up! I swear this game is Madden 12 just with different interface! Madden NFL is true shovelware! I played this at a friends house a day or so ago and this seems just a minor facelift from last years game. 

Wolverinesmania
Wolverinesmania

I own the game and it runs okay. The biggest knock on the game is the outdated stats etc... Otherwise it plays a very good game of football, and has way less bugs than the console version. (granted their on different engines, but the new engine is struggling from user reports). I'd rank this game at least a 7.5. It's laying the ground work for Madden 14. Hopefully, the Vita is around by then :(

Serious
Serious

It seems to me that you were expecting this to have all the features and frame rate of the console version. I agree that EA could have put more effort in to the game. Especially have seeing what Naughty Dog did with Uncharted Golden Abyss. But I have to say that this is the best portable football game I've ever played.

ConspiracyHeist
ConspiracyHeist

Well I was going to get this and I really wanted it to be great but after the chuggy framerate and half a$$ EA effort I will not be getting it, and the only way I would throw down 40 bones is if they actually cared enough to fix those issues in a patch down the road. Until then I guess I am still just a bit disapointed in my Vita. The only thing saving it is MGS HD and even then without PW it left me feeling alittle raw. I am convinced that the only thing that could really truly save this hunk of plastic is a really great GTA game that or start porting PS3 games like MGS4 if at all possible, but none of that is in the near future... sigh  

Granpire
Granpire

Hey Tom, you don't like Vaseline on toast anymore?! :D

Madden NFL 13 More Info

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  • First 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:
    Football (American), Team-Based, Sports, Simulation
    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