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Madden ’13

It’s that time of year again. The weather is starting to cool down and the excitement of football season is well underway. For any gamer that also happens to be a football fan this can mean only one thing; the new installment of the latest Madden. Regardless of the outcry made by many of the franchises die-hard fans this years version might be the best ever. A new game-play engine and better mechanics make for one of the best Madden experiences ever. But do these improvements make up for the complete lack of game-modes that so many Madden fans have gotten used to over the last decade?

Let me start by saying that this is the best looking Madden game that I have ever played. The stadiums are beautiful, players look awesome and they even added a motion blur around the players when they are moving at full speed that takes the realism to a whole other level. The new “Infinity” engine is really something to behold. Players get hit and react in the most realistic way ever. It seems as though each tackle feels different from the last and the physics are so that getting hit from the side will make your player fall or maintain balance depending on the angle and the speed in which you were moving. When rushing the ball your Running Back can be taken down by your own linemen if you run into the back of them at full speed. Fallen players can trip you up so taking your time and following the proper blocks is essential in gaining good chunks of yards. This years Madden has also made major improvements in the passing aspect of the game. If you see that the defense is going to blitz and you have selected a play-action you can “kill” the play-action with a simple tap of the Right Trigger just before the fake hand-off. If timed correctly this can have incredible benefits. For the first time ever you are also able to pump-fake the football to specific receivers. In years past the “pump-fake” button was more of a general motion towards the middle of the field. This year you are able to fake the pass to WR “X” and then throw to WR “B” once the motion is completed. Stringing those 2 moves together makes life hell for linebackers and defensive backs. The linebackers bite on the play action and the pump fake tends to “freeze” the defensive backs and receivers are typically wide open for big gains. Like the Maddens of the past the “user catch” is essential in winning games past the “Pro” difficulty. This aspect of the game is pretty much the same as the past Maddens and something that veterans will be able to pick up on very quickly. Passing has become more precise. Depending on how long you hold the passing button down the difference in the trajectory also changes. This makes it easier to get passes to you wide receivers on crossing routes and much easier to get passes to your tight ends by throwing over line backers. In past installments this has been an issue and it is something that EA had to remedy and something they did a terrific job at.

Defense, on the other hand, is quite a bit different. The “user pick” ability is a lot more difficult to pull off. Passes tend to bounce off defenders hands, which in some ways is typical, but it seems to be something that happens often enough for me to address. Potential interceptions that would take place on the side line never happen. A deflection is the most you will get. Rushing the passer and tackling are a bit more difficult but defense in the NFL is difficult and something that tends to even out over the course of a game. Playing zone defense as a linebacker is my favorite way to play defense. Guard the guys that come over the middle of the field on passing plays and try and hit the right hole when they run. I find this tactic to be very useful and much less frustrating.

Ok, so I’ve put this off long enough … There is no fantasy draft in this years franchise mode. The outcry among Madden fans is well documented and something that EA will not patch into an update this season. This makes the Connected Careers mode the franchise mode. You can take over the responsibilities of any NFL coach or you can create your own coach and get the coach of which ever team you choose to be fired and you take on that role now with your created coach. From there you can play the games for your team, set the depth chart, make trades, etc. Based on how well each of your players do in those games a certain amount of XP is given and player attributes can be raised to improve a players overall rating. Based on how well your team does, XP is given to the actual coach where you can spend it on packages for a better chance on landing key free agents and to keep important players in the twilight of their careers on your roster for a few years long. For the first time ever Madden has taken aspects of RPGs and it is a very welcome addition. You can play this mode on or offline. You can also create a player and play a specific position with essentially the same level up type mode. Instead of having full control of your team you have control of only yourself but it is a fun addition to the game regardless. At first when my friend told me there was no fantasy drafting for your franchise I felt a little bit dooped but the more and more I play this game the better I feel about it. EA is putting out patches and updates all the time so as they come out I will keep everybody informed. On the horizon EA plans to add player editing to the CC mode which will help calm the waters of the Madden community.

Score: 8-10, however this score could raise or lower depending on the updates that EA puts out. Regardless EA is making moves to make their customers happy and that is always a good sign.

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