With the all-new Madden 13 now in our hands for over 24 hours, it’s time to review some of the deeper features in the new game. I’ve decided to review the offline features first, since I really wanted more time to work with the online features before handing out grades.
If you missed it, be sure to check out Part 1 of my review: Graphics and Gameplay.
Below you’ll find reviews for both the major offline modes, followed by trio of things that really annoyed me when I was playing the game. I needed to fit them in here at some point, and this seemed like the logical place.
Connected Careers – Player
The old Superstar mode is replaced with the player portion of the connection careers mode. In it you’ll find the usual progression of picking a current player, or your own custom player, and playing through their career one week at a time.
Some wont agree, but I really like the changes to how players are created. Instead of lame mini-games being used to set the players starting ratings, those are set automatically based on the “back story” you choose. This allows for this part of the game to feel like 2 separate modes.
Pick to play as a “high draft” pick, and you’ll start with great ratings and will be expected to start and produce right away. Fail to put up big stats, and you’ll see your rating begin to drop. Let down your team enough, and they’ll ship you out of town. The pressure is on not just to win, but to look good while doing it.
Start as a “low draft” pick or undrafted player, and you’ll start out with low ratings and low expectations. (low draft players have rating in the 70s and are backups. Undrafted players have ratings in the 60s and are fringe roster players) In these 2 settings you’ll find yourself having to work hard at practice trying to improve your ratings just to get on the field on gamedays.
Luckily, practice isn’t simply boring drills and the franchise’s tired old mini-games. Instead, it is primarily offense vs defense scenarios that play out just like a game: Down by 3 in the forth quarter, drive the team to the win. Up by 2 with 4 minutes left, try and run out the clock. That sort of thing. They can be really fun, and are rarely tedious.
Succeeding in the practice scenarios, or contributing to the team on Sundays, grants you experience points (xp). The xp is spent on upgrading your player’s ratings and helping turn them into a better player. The nice thing is that you can pretty much allocate the points wherever you want them (within reason). So you can build your player into whatever type of player you want over time.
Overall the mode works rather well. It isn’t groundbreaking, but it is fun, and the tweaks that were made keep things fresh. Additionally, the mode seems to stay fresh and fun much longer than in past years, when after a season or 2 everything became monotonous. I found that simply trying different practice scenarios kept things interesting for me.
Connected Careers – Coach
The old Franchise mode is gone, and replaced with the coach branch of the connected careers mode. It progresses much like the player branch on a week to week basis with practices and games. You are also responsible with negotiating with players with expiring contracts, or who are vastly underpaid.
You are also changed with choosing players to scout for the draft, and setting up game plans, should you choose to. These things, along with player negotiations, can be skipped, but I’m sure you can see how that might be detrimental to your team in the long run.
As with the player version of this mode, you earn xp along the way, but this time you use it to upgrade the players on your team. This is how you get that rookie to develop faster, or help your offensive line not suck quite so bad. It’s not a great feature, but it keeps things interesting and makes you feel like each practice and game matter.
This mode isn’t perfect. You can’t simply play it through in “GM mode” anymore. (skipping everything but the offseason and personnel decisions) Or rather, you can, but your team will forever underperform. You can’t cant sim past multiple weeks at once anymore, making the entire game progress very slowly at times.
There are also things missing that really need to be there, but I’ve decided to make them their own category.
Missing: Create a Team
One thing that is getting a lot of press is that the Madden team has decided to remove the “create a team” feature from this version of Madden. I understand the complaints, putting together a new team, with a new logo, colors, stadium, uniforms, etc. was fun.
The reason why this is a big problem is that you can no longer relocate your team. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it was the one way for fans to take over a hated team and not want to throw their controller at their TV. I mean, leading the Raiders back from the dead would be fun, but not if I have to actually lead the Raiders.
Normally I’d just move them to LA, change everything about them, and then lead that new team. It would allow me to play through the interesting challenge that their current roster creates, w/o having to put up with being in charge of a franchise I can’t stand.
Like I said, it’s doesn’t sound like much, but it was an important feature for me.
Missing: Edit Player
This one is especially annoying. I can understand a little in the online versions of the career mode, but I really can’t support this being missing. And no, I’m not referring to being able to supersize players or their abilities. I really don’t care about the ability to do that.
Instead, what bothers me is the inability to change someone’s position. For some reason, EA decided that I can’t play an OT at Guard, or vise versa. Because clearly Paul McQuistan didn’t do that last year, or Robert Gallery the year before, or countless over players that have moved around on the offensive line during their careers.
This was really annoying because I actually drafted a RT with the intension of moving my current RT inside to RG, and couldn’t do it. My only option was to try and trade him, and no team was willing to offer my anything comparable. So basically it went down as a waste of a first round draft pick.
This is frustrating because there was no need to remove this little feature, or to limit players from playing out of position so much. It just doesn’t make sense.
No More Menus
In the past, if you like the GM aspect of Madden, and tend to sim the majority of games, then you ended up looking at a menus. In fact, you looked at nothing but menus. It was annoying. I really thought that getting rid of those menus would be a very good thing, and mostly it is.
The one problem is that the new screens that replace those menus are laggy and just slow. Every time I move over to a new “button” to choose something, I shouldn’t have to wait 3 seconds before my controller works again. This is especially true on the front screen where there is a large much of buttons to scroll past. Moving from the left side of the screen to the right side can take 10 seconds. There’s just no reason for that.
This wont stop me from playing the game, but it will annoy me on a regular basis.
Part 3 will come out tomorrow and will include a review of the online features.