We have come to another August, and for fans across the globe that means it is almost kickoff time, but more importantly, it’s Madden time. This is not an ordinary release for Madden, it makes a lot of ‘firsts’ for the franchise but the main focus here is the franchise’s first appearance on Sony’s Playstation Vita. Can Madden 13 hold its own on the handheld against its console big brother, or is it another cheap cash similar to when Madden debuted on the Nintendo 3DS?
Madden NFL 13 seems to be a perfect fit for the Playstation Vita. However, fans as well as newcomers will be sad to see that it seems the system’s features aren’t used to their full potential. Madden 13 on the Vita showcases the Franchise mode in its full glory, with a brand new menu interface, and it also includes the Superstar mode again. You can even take a picture with the Playstation Vita’s internal camera to get a picture for the created Superstars silhouette.
For the most part, Madden 13 controls the same for anyone who has played Madden NFL on the Playstation 3. The few noticeable tweaks are that circle is the fake hike, and the motion controls are used when kicking but can be re-calibrated and re-centered by pressing cross. It seems they attempted to utilize parts of the new infinity engine on the Vita with receivers turning around when they are open, as well as stumbles and trips. The tackling seems to be on par with previous iterations of Madden for the consoles allowing you to utilize the touch screen by pressing the L button before a play and give routes to players as well as on defense to block and blitz routes. You can also touch the back touchscreen to help your QB juke out of the way of incoming blitzes. For the most part it feels very gimmicky and under-utilized.
Online is simple head-to-head over PSN, which is great and even better if you have a headset with a friend. There are also leaderboards and lobbies to browse around in. You earn skill points by playing head-to-head games and you can also download updated rosters when signed into EA servers. Also included is usual Play Now if you want to jump right into the action by yourself or the always fun Madden Moments taking the five most heart pounding moments in the NFL from last season. Sadly they are the same ones included in the console version, but they’ll be updated as the 2013 NFL season progresses, so there is some reason to keep the game around if you want to see if your favorite game from a past weekend has made it into the Madden Moments so you can relive it.
One downside is the lack of using the Vita to its potential with online. I believe Madden Ultimate Team could have been perfect and ‘near’ integration could have been utilized to trade or even find new cards and share them with friends via the app. Sadly Ultimate Team nor any kind of ‘near’ functionality was utilized this year and the lack of cross-play is baffling; especially when games that came out earlier in the year for the Vita, like MLB The Show, can have cross-play yet Madden does not. Taking the Connected Careers on the go is a no-brainer though.
There were a few missteps in this first outing on the Playstation Vita, however it’s the first time. It’s simply a bare bones release, but a lot of the presentation transferred over to the portable, which does make for a very enjoyable game. The lack of features and seemingly passible utilization of the touch screens does that that sheen away though. After playing the console versions though, something is nostalgic and safe about playing classic Franchise and Superstar modes again. It’s what made this version possibly more enjoyable than the console versions. It will be up to fans decide what they like more come release.
Audio/Visual – 3/5: The soundtrack plays a lesser part this year as they go for the broadcast feel. Other than that, everything feels right audio wise. It may not be the prettiest Vita game but it gets the job done. Angles on faces are weird but you know who is who, even if sometimes it is only because of the name on their jerseys.
Gameplay – 4/5: A few tweaks to the tackling which is great but it feels the same Madden from last year. It is still fun to play Franchise & Superstar and taking them through their length.
Innovation –2.5/5: It is the same Madden we have come accustomed to, but now portable. Touch screen utilization works great and is sometimes nice but a touch to hike could have been cool being it is a football game. The lack of NEAR or cross-play functionality is completely disappointing.
Value – 3.5/5: Fans of the mobile franchise mode and mobile Superstar mode will not be let down. This may be the last time you are able to play these modes in all their glory without no underlying XP associated with them like in the console versions. So don’t take it for granted as what the Vita offers is simply what fans like myself want.
Final Score: 3.5/5