Madden NFL 13 Review

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Title: Madden NFL 13
Developer: Electronic Arts
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 2.9 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: Yes

As the year goes by, and we approach our site’s first-year anniversary, we take a look at the games we have reviewed over the past year.  As we approach that, we are also reaching a milestone, as the review you are reading right now is our 150th review since December of last year.  As we look towards this milestone, we would like this review to be a special kind of review.  Not only will this be a game that is relevant this time of year, but a type of game we have never done before.

As we look back on the year, we have reviewed all types of games.  We have reviewed games from the RPG, Shooter, Music, Fighting, Racing, Endless Runner, Adventure, Action, and Platforming genres and more.  However, there is one distinct genre we have never gone into before.  That genre is something that many people have played and talk about, particularly when their favorite team’s season starts.  Today, we are going to dive into our very first review of a Sports game.

With the football season in full force right now, a lot of gamers are jumping into the Madden NFL game series.  Although Electronic Arts has not released a handheld version of Madden in a few years, Vita gamers do have an option to experience the gameplay and putting their favorite team through a season of football.  Originally released 2 years back, here is our official review of Madden NFL 13.

Story

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When it comes to sports games, is there a story?  In essence, there really isn’t a huge storyline attached to the game.  The main campaign is running a season of the sport with a team.  This could be looked at like a storyline, in a way.  Or, maybe putting a Superstar through until they get into the Hall of Fame.  Those kind of things could be viewed as a story or plot, but there are scenes on that note, and there’s no big huge plot that revolves around a person or team.  It’s just there in game modes.

Sports games, at the end of the day, aren’t played for a plot.  They are played because you like the sport.  Or, maybe you have a friend who likes the sport and wants to play through a few matches or even a season with you.  Or, maybe you just want a time waster to play as you’re with your family when they’re watching sports.  But, at the end of the day, you don’t play sports games for story.  You play them to have an interactive version of that sport.

Gameplay

Madden 13 is like a Sport Simulator.  It simulates you taking control, whether as a coach, player, or an entire team and enjoy that sport with the players from a specific year.  Madden is also one of those games that comes out every year, though that cannot be said for the handheld market.  As you know, no handheld device got last year’s Madden 25 or this year’s Madden 15, the effects of which we will discuss later in the review.

When you boot up the game, there are several game modes you can play through, as well as categories.  From the Main Menu, there are the following sections: Play Now, Online, Game Modes, and My Madden.  Play Now is where you can have a quick play session.  Online is where you can go online for multiplayer games, Game Modes is where most of the game’s unique modes are, and My Madden is where you can edit the game’s settings and information.

Play Now has two modes to play through: Exhibition Game and Super Bowl XLVII.  These are both quick play sessions where you can set up a game between whichever two teams you want and play out like normal.  Although the commentators on the game will differ with what they say in the Super Bowl game, talking more in the perspective of this being a Super Bowl game than just a normal game throughout the season.

Online is where you can jump online to play the game’s multiplayer game modes.  This has two sections: Madden NFL Online and Check Invites.  Check Invites lets you see if any of your PSN Friends have invited you into a game of Madden.  Connecting to the online gives you a few options.  You can go straight into a Head-to-Head match with another online player, but you can also look at the Lobbies, Leaderboards, download new rosters, and also look to see how many players are currently online.  Despite being 2 years old, the game still has a semi-active online community.

Game Modes is where you will spend most of your time in Single Player.  This has Franchise, Superstar, Madden Moments Live, and Practice game modes.  All of these are fairly extensive modes of play.  Franchise Mode allows you to take over as the coach of a team as they move through seasons of football.  This lets you look at them, manage and control them, as well as draft in or trade players before the season starts.  This is a fairly extensive management mode but also lets you play through each game as the players.

Superstar Mode allows you to make your own custom player and guide them through seasons until they can be admitted into the Hall of Fame.  This is very customizable, as you can adjust their name, position, team, home city, looks, and several different factors that will affect how they play.  This lets you also gain points as you go through practice and games and improve their skills, overtime.  Even one season through this mode can be lengthy, though you can choose to either play or simulate events and games as you go through the mode.

Madden Moments Live is a unique mode that lets you replay important moments from the 2011 NFL Season to play through and experience them yourself, or even play to change how things played out.  Lastly, Practice lets you go into specific types of situations and practice passing, running, kicking, and more.

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My Madden is more of an information section.  It contains the Roster information, Game Settings that can be altered, Coaching Options, Credits, a Tutorial for the Vita-specific features, and being able to Save and Load your game.

Actually playing a game has you controlling one player at a time.  As these plays go through, you can swap your controlled character and will be periodically choosing plays as the game goes through.  There are different ways to do each game.  When you’re the offense, for example, there are dozens upon dozens of different plays to choose from, from passing to running to more.  You can cycle through plays or ask Madden for recommended plays.  Once you do so, you act out the play and try to get as many yards as you can.  You can also spectate games, if you’d rather just watch and let the CPU do it for you.

The biggest thing to mention is that Madden 13 doesn’t have everything the full console release has.  First of all, it has the 2011 roster built into it, so it will not reflect this year’s teams and performance.  Second of all, it doesn’t have as many game modes as the full console release, even of Madden 13.  It has a pretty good amount of modes and things to do, but it’s not as much as the full console release does.

All in all, Madden 13 can be a short game or long game, depending on what you want to do.  I could see a player spending several hours in Superstar Mode, getting their player into the Hall of Fame, or I could see a player just jumping in for a quick game and only spending an hour or two on the game.  It’s all on what you enjoy and what you want.  But, for someone who enjoys football and wants a handheld Madden, it could last a long time.

Controls

Controlling Madden can be intimidating if you haven’t played the serious before, or in quite a while.  It has multiple control schemes, depending on what you’re doing, be it Kicking, Offensive, Defensive, etc.  Though there are touch controls that help the game out.  You can use the touch screen or rear touch pad to quickly switch which character you’re controlling or tell them to do a certain direction.

No matter who you are, controlling movement will always be with the Left Analog Stick.  The other buttons depends on what you’re doing.  When you’re on the offensive, other players will be set to another button, be is Square, X, L, and otherwise, and you use that button to toss them the ball.  But once they catch the ball, the control scheme changes as you’re now the runner and can use L which you just used for a pass to keep steady and not drop the ball when tackled.  There are a lot of schemes, but once you play for a while, you get used to it.

One thing to note is that there are a couple limitations when playing on the PlayStation TV.  While the PSTV can simulate touch screen play with the L3 and R3 buttons, kicking is an issue.  On the PS Vita, you tilt the system to adjust the arrow for Punting, Kicking, and Field Goals.  The PSTV has not yet been made compatible with motion sensor gameplay.  So, for the time being, you cannot change that arrow at all if you’re using the PlayStation TV.

Presentation

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Presentation is the biggest part of the game that will help you decide whether you want to buy it or not.  Visually, the game looks good.  While the spectators are very pixelated, the field and the players have a lot of detail put into them.  This is from the looks on their faces to the designs and detail into even wrinkles in their shirts as they run and huddle.  The game even allows you to change the jersey name for your player in Superstar Mode.  The level of detail in the players is pretty impressive for an early Vita title.

The big negative is how the game plays.  When you’re cycling through menus or watching the short animations that occur between plays, there’s a lot of lag and screen-chopping.  While this never happens during gameplay, and playing through each play runs very smooth, these animations and going through menus definitely takes some patience and getting used to.  Loading is also an issue.  Loading a game can take anywhere between 20 and 40 seconds.  These are some of the longest load times I’ve seen in a Vita game.

Summary

Madden NFL 13 for the PS Vita is a way for football fans to have the iconic Madden gameplay on the go.  On the downside, it has old rosters, not as much content as the console releases, and has some major performance issue for animations between plays.  However, it does provide a fun football experience and is the closest you can find to a true Madden experience on the go.

6/10