Sneaky Gamer

Madden NFL 13

This time of year we start to see the annual sports games making an appearance. EA, the leaders in the sport genre, churn out sequel after sequel of popular games such as FIFA, NHL, Tiger Woods and this title Madden NFL.

Now unlike the rest, Madden NFL has no obvious rival like FIFA does with ProEvo, and sometimes this can result in a stale and uninspiring game that doesn't seem to evolve as quickly as those with competition.

Thankfully the developers of Madden NFL haven't rested on their laurels. Last year's game brought the series to a more realistic level - especially the tackling. This year Madden NFL builds upon that and makes some interesting tweaks in both the offense and defensive aspects of the game as well as an improved physics engine.

Madden NFL's Infinity engine enhances the physics of the game allowing for better collisions, better detail and rendering of tackles, break-aways and animations. There is definitely a notable difference from last year's game and it all feels a lot tighter and more rounded - a more believable experience even if sometimes the animations can be rendered a little quirky.

Offensively the passing game has been improved, notably in two specific areas. You are now able to better influence the plays after the ball has been snapped. Receivers can be moved away from oncoming defenders using the left stick and start to gather passes that have been purposely thrown into space. Also, the button icons that appear over receivers now only become active once they are looking for a pass. This almost eliminates the frustration of throwing a pass to an unsuspecting receiver.

Defensively Madden NFL has balanced out the new offensive tweaks by making interceptions a little easier to pull off. The AI is a little better at determining key positioning to counter certain plays and defensive players seem to react a little quicker and this helps tham to be in the right place at the right time.

Kinect has been somewhat introduce on the 360 version. It is now possible to introduce Audibles into the gameplay by shouting out voice commands to your offense or defensive players pre-snap. This is a nice idea but can be a little frustrating when the Kinect fails to interpret your voice. But when it works it really adds to the game and introduces an important aspect of American Football.

There is a new career mode called Superstar mode that rolls the previous offline and online modes into one. You can choose to play as a manager or player and can choose any existing player/manager or create one of your own.

Playing as a player doesn't always mean that you are going to be picked to play in the games. If you are not a high draft pick or playing as one of the current or legendary NFL stars then you might find yourself on the bench. You can also expect long spells on the bench if you are injured during the season.

As a coach you get to control every aspect of the club. You control both offense and defence on the pitch and also control all the off-pitch dealings as well. For the casual player most will leave the off-pitch stuff to the Ai and concentrate on the games but if you do venture into this side of it be prepared to lose large chucks of your life playing the game - it's endless.

Despite the lack of a serious competitor Madden NFL has constantly improved the game year after year and this year sees some really great improvements. It may not see sweeping changes on the scale of some of the other sports titles but it does consolidate its position at the top of American Football games making it nearly impossible for a rival to emerge.