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Platform: PlayStation 3

Madden NFL 13 Review

Let's put it this way: there's a reason NFL promos used to feature rival helmets colliding

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Madden 13 follows that trend in the majority of its package, but the lone exception comes where it matters most. We've all heard it said that gameplay is paramount, and if there's any truth to that, then it's certainly with sports games. Thus Infinity engine bears a heavy burden, even before considering that it's the only major renovation on the offering. Luckily, the new engine is up to the task. For anyone tired of seeing their running backs magnetically pulled into generic tackle animations, or watching as their linebackers bounce off of ballcarriers ineffectually like so many electronic football table pieces, the new system is a boon. Infinity does a strong job of simulating lifelike limb movement, inertia, and yes, collisions. Tackles have taken a big step up in believability, incorporating factors like speed of players, positioning, and user inputs with realistic flair. Gang tackles are finally realized, and line play feels a bit more tangible, as well. One disclaimer: the physics engine may look great while plays are going on, but afterwards they often devolve into a comical mess of pratfalls and flailing limbs as the players trip on every bit of anatomy they graze.

Madden NFL 13

That aside, I can't say enough about the effect that the new physics have on Madden's gameplay. There's real glee to be had in watching your players struggle out of arm tackles, or seeing them bat a ballcarrier around in a vicious gang tackle. But Infinity's truest achievement is a new sense of player agency. It's a subtle effect, but after a little playing time you'll begin to appreciate how subtle inputs can now more realistically modify on-field outcomes. Get a bit more space from a defender, and you've got a better shot to stiff-arm him into the turf if he makes his move too early. Get into the secondary with a head of steam, and defenders will have a tougher time bringing you down, (especially after a well-timed truck or spin move).

The Infinity engine gives the impression of divorcing play from the rigid metrics that govern things behind the scenes, striking a great balance between empowerment and unpredictability. Consequently, Madden 13's exhaustive repository of stats and random number generators seem like less of a factor. Though that effect may be illusory, it still helps immersion immensely. You'll come to the edge of your seat hoping that your running back can shed a third consecutive tackler. If he does, it’ll seem the result of his physical actions, rather than a computer’s algorithm. That's a coup for players, and Madden 13 deserves praise for it.

Madden NFL 13

Yet there's no completely getting away from the statistics, of course. They're ubiquitous, even if you're not interested in number crunching to maximize your skill set. They come to the fore with created players, where control of franchise management options are ceded to the AI. The computer is a ruthless coach, as it turns out, doggedly adhering to the cold logic of its own player ability stats in the face of the evidence of on-field performance. Take this example: when Jahvid Best inevitably went down with an injury late in the season, 2nd year running back Nick Capozzoli finally got a chance to shine. He made the most of it, rushing for three touchdowns and catching another two, as the lowly 3-11 Lions went on to smoke the division-leading Bears in a surprise win.

Madden NFL 13
Madden NFL 13 box art Platform:
PlayStation 3
Our Review of Madden NFL 13
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Madden NFL 13 is ranked #754 out of 1980 total reviewed games. It is ranked #72 out of 145 games reviewed in 2012.
753. Q.U.B.E.
754. Madden NFL 13
755. NHL 13
Xbox 360
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Madden NFL 13
14 images added Oct 23, 2012 22:21
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