Madden NFL 13|
Iím a casual Madden NFL player, and by that I mean that I donít rush to the story every year to pick up the latest installment just because the number on the box goes up by one. I usually wait at least two years between games; sometimes three if thatís how long it takes for something significant to change. This year was one of those years where I would break that trend. After going from Madden 10 to 12 I was prepared to do a single-year update. With the new Infinity Engine and a host of new immersive career features I was there day one for the PS3 release of Madden NFL 13, and yes, that new physics and animation engine is pretty slick, but overall the game left me wanting more. So when the PS Vita version came up for review I figured I had nothing to loseÖright?
Wrong. There was a lot to lose, or more specifically, there was a lot lost in the translation starting with the new Infinity Engine, and without that, Madden NFL 13 on the Vita looks, plays, and feels more like Madden NFL 12. We have last yearís physics, a super-easy passing game, hell; even the stats and rosters are from last yearís game, which means you are getting data from 2010. Seriously?! At least pretend to care about Vita owners EA.
Nothing that makes Madden NFL 13 new or special on the console made it over to the Vita. As long as you donít mind playing last yearís game on this yearís system, Madden NFL 13 does pack in the content including Create a Superstar, Franchise mode (offline only), Madden Moments, and a serviceable online head-to-head mode. Itís a near-console like experience that you can take with you, but despite the power of the Vita there are some disappointing performance issues.
The framerate stumbles during any type of cinematic or TV-style replay, which is surprising because at first glance, Madden NFL 13 is quite attractive but upon close inspection youíll see the players arenít that well modeled or textured, their animations jerk around, and even the stadiums lack the detail, both in signage and spectators. Thankfully, once you are in the actual game the performance returns to something, not only acceptable, but surprisingly good for a handheld. The audio presentation is also impressive with some surprising good music (not the rap and hip-hop I was expecting), minimal sound effects, and some fresh commentary by Phil Simms and Jim Nantz.
Youíll probably never forget you are playing this on the Vita but just to be sure EA has not only introduced a few touch and motion controls; theyíve made them mandatory. They arenít terrible, but they are slightly intrusive and gimmicky. I mean, this is the first time we get a handheld with twin sticks, so at least give me the option to play the game like I do on my PS3. The touch and motion controls just add a level of imprecision that is both unnecessary and takes you out of the moment.
The PS Vita offers the unique ability to let you cloud save and resume games or even careers between your PS3 and Vita copies of some games; sadly, Madden NFL 13 isnít one of those. Not that I am entirely surprised given the huge gap in technology and even the roster data. The last FIFA game didnít have it either, but after experiencing cross-platform play in Sony's MLB 12: The Show, this needs to be a mandatory feature in all sports games that release for both systems. At least owners of both systems and both games can unlock a special Ultimate Team Pack if you play an online game on both systems.
Perhaps my expectations were too high, or perhaps EAís efforts were too minimal. With portable gaming audiences growing day by day I hope and expect to see more effort put into future Vita games. Sony needs to demand it otherwise the Vita is going to follow in the footsteps of the now-extinct PSP. Madden NFL 13 isnít a bad game; just a disappointing one. Yes, you can play a reasonably attractive and fundamentally sound football game when you are out of the house, but Iím not sure there is enough here to really make you want to.