Madden 13 Review: Part 3 - Online Modes

With the all-new Madden 13 now in our hands for over 48 hours, it’s time to review some of the deeper features in the new game. I’ve finally had time to get into the online features enough to be able to review them properly, and there’s a lot to write about.

If you missed it, be sure to check out Part 1 of my review: Graphics and Gameplay, and part 2: Offline Modes.

Single Game

The matchmaking system seems to work quite well. I never had anyone with a substantially different raking than my own end up in a game with me. That said, the ranking system seems odd. Winning a highly rated team over a low rated team seems to have almost the same effect on your ranking that doing the opposite. So if you want a high ranking, there’s no reason to play using the league’s bad teams.

Matchmaking was swift and easy, both when using the auto connect mode and using the lobbies. It seemed to take almost no time to get into a game and get to the ball kicked off and playing.

Once inside the game though, I run into some troubles. I ended up disconnected from my opponent about as often as I was able to finish a game. Some times I was credited with a “win” in that situation and something it was a loss. I’m not even sure what was used to determine who won in those situations. I’d like to think that EA would make it so that the person who disconnects always lost to prohibit people from disconnected to avoid a loss, but it didn’t appear to work that way.

One added feature that I found to be surprisingly fun was the “team play” mode, where up to 6 players from around the world could play on the same team vs the AI. Having a smart teammate that could break of a route during a blitz, or chip a DE on the way out into pattern made the game feel much more realistic.

I should add that inside the game, connection issues aside, there was no lag or any such internet related problems. The gamed smoothly and looked and felt exactly like I was playing offline against the AI.

Connected Careers

This is where Madden 13 really shines. I was very surprised at how well this mode worked online. The fact that it worked so seamlessly was one really pleasant surprise.

This mode is also why the typical franchise mode and superstar mode were scrapped. it’s possible to have a single league where some people are progressing through their career as a player, and others are in coach mode.

I was really fun playing as a “late round” mockup of Robert Turbin, and running into a player coached team that, knowing I would want to run up my own stats, had everyone up on the line of scrimmage trying to stop the run. I was having my QB throw a lot in order to insure the win, while still trying to get my yards as the RB when I could to make sure my player would improve.

In another game, I ran into someone who had created a “high round” MLB. The game quickly became a 1 on 1 matchup of his LB and my RB. I called running plays as often as I could just because of how entertaining it was to take on a single player like that over and over. In the end, I think he won more than I did in that matchup, but it was extremely fun.

Its these kind of unique matchups that make connected careers really work. I never felt that I was at a disadvantage or advantage to the people who were playing as a coach when I was a player, and vise versa. I just found myself wondering what was next, and really looking forward to the next week.

Unfortunately, that was where the problem is. These seems to be no set timetable before the next week began. It was up to the league commissioner to advance to the next week, and if they went offline there was no telling when that would be. There were other times when it also seemed that it could be almost no time at all between weeks. I went outside and played with my kids for a while, and came back in and 3 weeks had been simmed in my absence.

After the first few weeks of a season, getting people online for games was a real mess. In order to play a game, both people must be online at the same time, and I’m sure you can guess how difficult that was pull off.

As fun as it sounds, getting 32 people together to make a league really slowed down the fun. I found it to be much better with leagues of 5-10 players. This was especially if I knew the people in the league and thus could set up times for games as opposed to public leagues. So keep that in mind.

Ultimate Team 

This is easily the weirdest mode I’ve even seen, at least in terms of one where we’re supposed to take it seriously. The basic premise is that you collect football cards, and you use the players from the cards you have in order to make a team. You can then play as your makeshift team against other people’s teams.

Want better players? Get better cards, and to do that you have to get packs of cards.

You can get packs of cards in two ways. The easiest is to play the other modes of Madden 13 and reach certain milestones. I found that I ended up with a number of card pack just from playing enough to write this review.

The other way to get cards, and the reason why this game mode won’t work for the majority of us, is to pay real money and buy them. If you’ve got $6-$20 dollars to spend, you can get a number of “legends” that will insure that your team is better than everyone else’s.

I just don’t see how playing as a team of USFL fodder against a team with Steve Young and Jerry Rice is supposed to be fun. I get that this is a way for EA to increase revenue for this game, and that eventually the people who spend real money on player cards will have team ratings high enough that I wont have to play them, but the unbalanced nature of this mode right now really turned me off.


I’ll wrap up this review in the next installment, and finally issue grades for each of the features, and for the game overall. That should be ready and posted no later than tomorrow morning.

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