There’s been a lot of press in the gaming industry chronicling Electronic Arts’ efforts to revamp the “Madden” football series. But it still feels like “Madden” to me.
Football players do seem to move quicker (faster running, faster tackling, faster games). But “Madden” also feels somewhat weirder than before.
This is because Electronic Arts ditched its previous “engine” for a new “engine,” the software that regulates a game’s gravity and body movement, among other things.
The most notable result is a tougher defense. Defenders swarm ball carriers as if they were mercury-fast magnets. It’s, like, kill-the-man-with-the-football, leading to serious injuries from hard tackles. This game is a tackle box.
And yet, “13” still doesn’t come across as a radical departure from the past.
You choose a play. You snap the ball. You run and pass. On defense, you control one guy at a time. You get the point.
The quickness of players make them seem (to my eye) slightly herky jerky. And I don’t think my running blockers are greatly effective on the corners.
All my old winning “Madden” tricks still work. I change hot routes for receivers on every passing play, exposing defensive weaknesses.
On defense, I pull one linemen off of the line (behind the line or to the left or right) before the snap, which can befuddle the game’s artificial intelligence on offense. That leads to my wracking more sacks.
It took me an hour to adapt to “13’s” few menu changes. For instance, in previous “Maddens,” once your offense lined up on the field, you could alter a receiver’s running route by pressing the “Y” button (on Xbox 360), thereby making him sprint to the end zone, or to cut a new slant, and so on.
In this new “Madden,” you don’t press the “Y” button. Instead, you press “up” on the D-pad, then choose the receiver and tell him which way to run. That’s fine, but it’s hardly revolutionary.
I do like the defensive tightening. I used to win games in old “Maddens” by 38 to 60 points. My victories now generally run 31-0 or 28-7.
As for downers, I’m not sure I love the feature whereby my players flop-fall to the ground sometimes when they slightly bump a teammate.
Personally, I preferred a few previous “Maddens.” But I respect the fact game designers attempted new things. Yes, I realize I don’t sound enthusiastic about this game. But it’s OK.
“Madden NFL ‘13” by Electronic Arts retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 — Plays fine. Looks good. Easy. Rated “T” for animated blood and violence. Three out of four stars.
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at http://www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html. Twitter at VegasAnonymous.