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Madden 13 Early Hours Impressions

I have had a retail copy of Madden 13 for about a week now and while my time has been limited of late I have managed to play about 10-12 games and fiddle a little with the Connected Career mode.

So, below are some rapid fire style impressions, certainly not a “review” as I’m not ready to write that yet.

My impressions thus far are based solely on All-Pro level, no slider adjustments.

  • It looks fine. I am rarely one to go all crazy about graphics and this one looks fine. Looks like Madden.
  • There are a shocking number of new animations and as a result it plays like a different game; this Infinity Engine change is evident the minute you start playing. You can hit receivers literally in stride. It looks, in that regard, more like football than any Madden game, ever. There is no more Magic Bullet physics when passing. Everything looks and behaves pretty darn accurately. I haven’t seen anything physics related that looked like a clear case of “videogame” physics. Not saying there aren’t some issues but I haven’t seen any.
  • I love that receivers can get jammed on the line and the better ones can escape the jam and get wide open as a result.
  • In fact, the passing game as a whole I really enjoy. Dropped passes, passes thrown into tight coverage that before were auto-incompletions as passes would bounce off hands, helmets, whatever. You can really thread the needle now.
  • The run game, as a user, isn’t bad. The runners feel a little tiff but it’s still entertaining and the blocking feels extremely well done.
  • The issue, thus far, is the CPU. The CPU run logic is not good. I see far too many cases when a RB gets caught on a lineman or has a CLEAR lane and instead weaves into its own man for no gain. I do not FEAR a good RB right now —
    even playing as Cleveland. And Cleveland hasn’t had a good run defense since the first Clinton administration. Again, this is without slider tweaks but on base All-Pro, not so much.
  • I played a week 1 game against Philly and the Eagles had a total of 112 yards of offense as Cleveland won 20-0. At NO TIME did I feel threatened by Philly’s offense. Again…playing as Cleveland, that should simply never happen or it should be crazy rare. So much of this stems from both weird playcalling and bad running lane logic.
  • When I want to choose a play why can’t I see the down and distance? If i choose gameflow and change my mind and backj out..I can no longer see it.
  • No more Collinsworth. Win.
  • Looking for realistic penalties? Keep looking. Nothing to see here.
  • Connected Career shows ENORMOUS potential. This has Josh Looman’s fingerprints all over it. It looks incredibly deep and I hope there are no killer bugs the deeper I go because after the pre-season and a couple of weeks of the regular season I am loving this stuff. Only problem? It SCREAMS PC interface. There is a LOT to look at in this mode and therefore there’s a tom of screens and sub screens. I need a mouse, a keyboard and an excel-style interface. Some people don’t mind this stuff but I despise doing this level of management on a console. But the RPG style design is so cool it might just be worth it. You can get sucked into this mode for hours, seriously. It’s clearly been designed by a football fan. If you liked what NFL Head Coach was trying to do, well, here you go.
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So, thus far, I like it. It’s rough im spots,; it’s not the revolutionary step that NHL took a few years back with shot stick, but it’s a direction the franchise needed to go as the old engine was…damn old. Question is, do you want to pay $60 for potential? When it works Madden 13 is a blast but when the CPU looks like the Bad News Bears of the makes it hard to get into.

I can see online franchises being ridiculously fun with the Connected Careers in full effect. If I had the time to do that these days it would be an auto buy because most of the issues I see are AI related.

Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

22 thoughts to “Madden 13 Early Hours Impressions”

    1. Agreed. While I probably wouldn’t get Madden for the PC, I’d definitely get NHL for the PC. EA, make the thing that I want so I can give you money!

      1. I have some great memories of playing NHL games on the PC over modem, then as soon as the game was over, hanging up to call up my opponent to talk belated trash about the game. That whole sentence seems so terribly weird sounding with broadband and voice chat (let alone the death of these games on PC).

        I took a year off from Madden in favor of trying NHL out. I’ll probably go back, but all the advertisements really ticked me off before, and I hear they’re practically introducing commercial breaks now with words from their sponsors between quarters…

  1. I think Bill points out what is the biggest problem with sports games today: brain dead A.I. The NHL 13 demo has the same issues and it isn’t just the CPU opponents it’s your CPU teammates also. That is where the next innovation has to happen.

    1. That’s the problem with all strategy games though, isn’t it? The AI in Total War: Shogun 2 can dig into position on the high ground pretty well, but what’s the point when I can force it to charge across half a mile of empty fields with some artillery or commit too early with a few units of light troops?

      I don’t really care about getting my ass kicked. There are difficulty mods and slider adjustments for that. I just don’t want to win because the AI clearly is missing something important about how to play the game.

    2. Dare I say it was better when you knew the game was cheating but the stats came out right. And it would do what I call cheating Fairly not frustratingly.

      The quest for Real AI probably started 2 decades to early in games.

  2. I saw the lead image and thought for a split second that I’d stumbled into a review of Max Headroom meets the Thunderbirds.

  3. My problem with Madden has always been how completely inept the defensive controls and AI were. My friends and I could, quite literally, run 3 plays all game, tell each other which play we were running, and still be unstopped. Sure the odd 120-116 score fest could be fun on occasion, but it got very old.

    The thing is that things have been so bad on that end for so long, I have no interest in trying Madden ever again. When a game can replicate the real ebb and flow of a good football game, maybe. Putting 8 in the box on a running play, and still being unable to stop the run as the Bears, no dice.

    Sounds like they still haven’t solved that issue.

    1. “My friends and I could, quite literally, run 3 plays all game, tell each other which play we were running, and still be unstopped.”

      I’m not sure how long it has been since you played Madden. That was true 5 or 6 versions ago. But in the last few years it has certainly been possible to stop most plays if you knew what was coming and were reasonably competent with the pre-snap adjustments and manual DB/LB controls.

      1. Haven’t touched it since probably 2007ish. I was done with it around the time that All Pro Football came out. There are just so many things I dislike about EA and Madden (exclusive liscense, $60 roster upgrade, glacial pace of innovation, terrible AI) that I wrote them off.

        What I wanted from a football game was a game where you could play in normal constraints for a real game (15 minute quarters, ~40-60 offensive snaps per team, ~10~14 possesions a team) and have a realistic outcome. Where 20-17 is a normal score unless it’s Packers Patriots which should be 42-37 or so.

        At this point I’m just so sick of EA that I don’t even think that could get me to have any interest in Madden. If EA can keep me from buying ME3 when ME2 is one of my top 10 games ever, well Madden would have to do something truly amazing.

  4. Madden has an accelerated clock where you can get a realistic number of plays in using 10-12 minute quarters. But most people don’t want to play 2 or 3 hour games. Madden is and always will be an action game, not a stats based sim.

    I’m not sure what Mass Effect 3 has to do with Madden. But I just find it funny to see people bash Madden when they admit that they haven’t played the game for 5 years.

    1. Once bitten twice shy.

      The link between ME3 and Madden is both are published by EA, a publisher I have become increasingly disgusted with. Their products as a whole are less interesting to me because of their business practices. The idea was that if EA’s practices can keep me from buying a game in a series I had loved, what hope has Madden.

      That said I do slag off Madden because I did used to play it, and was left unsatisfied. I saw others do it better, and rather than compete EA locked down an exclusive liscense so they could continue to charge $60 for inferior product (the NFL 2Kx was better and cost $20 new at launch). Madden got it’s shot, failed, and now will have to go far above the bar to earn any respect/ money from me.

      By all accounts this is a bigger improvement to the game than most years. Having just finished listening to the podcast it does sound like they have started to address some of the core gameplay problems.As someone who prefers defense though it still seems that the most work is needed there. By all accounts this sounds like a better game than before, it’s just EA is on the naughty list and has to do better than good, they must make extraordinary in my mind.

      1. This Madden allows you to have everything you asked for. I get about 120 offensive snaps per game total, realistic scores, and realistic stats. With the proper slider adjustments, this is possible. I am currently 4-3 in my season as the Arizona Cardinals, being edged out slightly by the Chiefs, getting smashed by the Patriots, and getting beat out by the Rams. The sliders I used are available on from a guy named Charter04. You can adjust those up or down based on your skill level. For example, I throw too many picks. Instead of throwing 4 a game, I’m now doing 1-2.

        As for EA as a company, let me share this story from just today: I bought the PS3 version of the game. I found out that my friend bought the Xbox version of the game and doesn’t have a PS3. Gamestop won’t take an opened game back. I clicked through the menus on EA’s website to have them call me and received a call within literally 30 seconds. The lady I spoke with, Lorraine, was super helpful and understanding of my dilemma. She explained that they called that “wrong media purchased” and could send me the Xbox version after I send them the PS3 version. This is all well and good, but I don’t want to sit without the game for 2 weeks. I tell her this and ask if I could just go buy the Xbox version and have them send me an unopened PS3 version so I could get a refund from Gamestop. She had no problem with me doing that and gave me the directions to proceed. Then I threw another monkey-wrench in… what about my pre-order codes?? She emailed me new Xbox pre-order codes for when I get the Xbox version. In my book, EA has earned their $60 from me.

  5. So, my PS is dying, and outside of the PC my gaming console right now is the kids’ Wii. I’ve never tried (or even seen) Madden on the Wii, but apparently it’s a thing that exists – but is it any good? Is it playable on the Wii, or should I wait until I can replace my PS?

  6. >> “Looking for realistic penalties? Keep looking. Nothing to see here.”

    I had a heck a moment playing last night. Because of life going on, I’ve only put 4 or 5 hours into the game so far. Last night, Seahawks (home) playing the Packers: Jennings runs down the right sideline and bumps into Sherman the cornerback which causes him to step out of bounds as he turns back towards Rodgers on the field for a comeback reception.

    I’m kind of frustrated by it, but it’s a good throw and a great catch, and all of a sudden there is a penalty and the ref is tapping his shoulders and calling “illegal touching” on the offense.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen that called before in Madden. I was very pleasantly surprised.

  7. When do you expect to have the full review posted? Curious as to your thoughts. I can’t get over the bad play calling and terrible animations post whistle where guys are flopping all over like they’ve been shot.

  8. Bill – When/where will you issue your review of Madden?

    I have limited gaming time nowadays, and would like to know if this purchase is worth my time/cash. Thanks in advance.

  9. sounds like 2014 will be pretty nifty. Working out some kinks. maybe give some consideration to UI design.. all about 2014

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