Madden 13: Changes on the Horizon

Another year, another Madden. Typically, most people complain how the game is nothing but roster updates, and for the most part; this is true. The Madden franchise has pretty much been a copy paste of the previous years version. Save for a few game tweaks that would make some parts of the game better while taking a step back in other aspects of the game. But no matter how much we know this and continue to complain about it; we still go out to the store and pick it up.

This year will be the first time we can actually expect a major change as Madden will now be using the brand-new Infinity Engine. With this, you may as well forget everything you know about the Madden world because nothing will be the same. Its focus is on player interactions, and will affect every play. Before, players could determine how a play would turn out based on the animations. Now every interaction will be unique, creating different outcomes every time. An example of this would be if a quarterback's arm is grazed while he is throwing the ball; it will be off target. If a running back is hurdling, you can take his legs out from underneath him and watch as he flips onto his back.

Balance will be another factor in the game. It is determined based on a few key factors, such as player size, weight, height, and how players interact. All of these attributes combined will help to determine where a player may stumble and how hard, or fast he will do so. Running into your own players will also cause you to lose balance, even if they are on the ground. However, if you happen to fall on top of defenders or your own players, you could actually get back up and continue running. In addition, because predetermined tackles have been taken out, you can fight for extra yards as long as you can maintain your balance. Players with less agility will lose balance fairly quickly if they try to cut too hard running through the hole.

The physics was not the only thing to get a huge overhaul. The game modes have been changed or rather, replaced with one overall game mode called Connected Careers. Don't worry, you still have Franchise and Superstar mode. They have simply been combined and will be playable both online and offline. To control your franchise like before, you select a Head Coach. For Superstar mode, you pick a player. You can choose between existing coaches and players or create your own. Want to put yourself in the game? Or better yet, want to play as a legend such as Joe Montana or Michael Irvin? You can do that as well. At any point in a career, you can retire your player or coach and pick a new one without interfering with the rest of the league.

Player progression was one of the major problems I have had with Madden. You could have a player who performed very well throughout the year, but would not increase in skill or overall rating until the following year. That changes this year. Player progression is now based on an XP system that allows you to improve your player throughout the year. You get XP from practice, completing weekly challenges, season challenges, and for reaching milestones in each player's career. The challenges will be based on what kind of player you have, or when the player was drafted. If the player was drafted late in the draft, the challenges will tend to be easier at first until they prove that they are starting material. Players taken in the first round would be expected to meet harder challenges like that of seasoned players. Additionally, the predetermined potential rating is completely gone. Any player has unlimited potential and could be a superstar. If you meet your challenges, you will improve in your overall rating. If you do not complete a set amount of challenges you may see a decrease in your overall rating. Because of this, backups will also need ample time on the field. How can they really progress in the early years if they are always on the bench? And backups will be important now, as injuries won't just end at the “end of season” but can continue into the off season or the beginning of the next season. Injuries can cause players to lose stats, so if a player is prone to injury, they could end up being a liability rather than a resourceful player.

I always felt that it was hard to feel connected to new players coming into the league. But now they have added a few ways to get acquainted and actually care about newer players. You will get scouting tokens to unlock attributes and stats of college players. You will also be able to follow their storyline, so if they had a bad game, did particularly well in a game, got injured, whatever; It will tell you, and it can affect the player building up to the draft. All of this with the new XP system gives you another reason to be more involved with your new players.

Some final additions to the game. There will be a salary cap for online mode. When you sign your players, it will be based on actual NFL contracts; such as signing bonuses and incentives. Players may play differently based on what kind of system you run. A player who is rated 90 for you may be an 80 for another team, or even a 95. You can sign free agents during the off-season and have a roster size of up to 75 for training camps and pre season. The CPU can make trades with you, not just on draft day. There will be a new legacy feature that will compare you to the rest of the members of your league. There are several things you can do to increase your legacy score, such as breaking NFL records, getting your players to the Pro Bowl, winning the Super Bowl, etc.

There is still so much more that I did not cover here. I am very excited about this upcoming Madden game. However, I am a bit skeptical about how these features will work for online play and the options we will be able to control. While it's fun to play online, not everyone will have the time to explore all the features. This could give some players an advantage over others and may actually push some away from the game. In all previous Madden games, you would just play your game each week. Now you have to maintain an entire team. I love the possibility of team managers competing against each other, while maintaining salary cap and finding solid players during the off-season. Although again, those players may not have the time to manage their team to be able to stay competitive. Another issue I have is you may not be able to control what happens to your coach or player. If the team decides you are not living up to their expectations, they can cut you, and you would be forced to retire or find a new team. I don't care for this particular aspect of the game, as I would want to stick with the team I had shaped and molded. Hopefully they will include an option to turn this off. In the end though, on paper, this seems like the best Madden game to come out in years. Let's just hope it lives up to our expectations!


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