It’s getting close to Autumn and that means it’s the time of year for the Madden franchise shows up on store shelves. Without fail, the folks at EA Sports have delivered another game in the long popular football franchise. The Wii edition of the game, once again, forgoes the more realistic look of the other consoles in favor of a more cartoony, party-game-style approach. Is it enough to get football fans interested or are there better places to look for their football fix?
What You Need To Know
Madden NFL 13 is football, and football is Madden NFL 13. You play as one of 32 licensed NFL teams in one off games, through a season or compete in a number of mini-games designed to test your skills at different positions on the team. You can choose between traditional eleven vs. eleven matches or a more sandlot five vs. five style of play. If you don’t know what football is you’re probably not going to play this game.
If you’re going into Madden NFL 13 on the Wii expecting a simulation style game where you’re going to get an accurate game of football, you’re going to be very disappointed. The game definitely takes a more casual approach to the game of football. I think the five vs. five game is really where Madden on the Wii shines. It takes the cartoony approach to the visuals and throws all of the seriousness out the window. It’s a unique style of play that really suits the Wii very well. You get the chance to call all of the plays and play against all of the teams in the NFL. It feels more like you’re back in elementary school and you’re picking sides for a game in the church lot or the high school football field. The longer first downs, reduced playbook and high scoring emphasize that feel.
You have the option of competing in the different football themed mini-games against your friends and that works just as well as it has in the past. There’s nothing that’s really changed with these mini-games. They’re still as fun as they’ve ever been, but work best with a group of friends around.
As In the Past, I Still Really Like the Visual Style
Three years ago the Madden franchise did something different for the Wii when it came to the visual style of the players. They eschewed the realistic look of the HD consoles and went with a style that felt more like Team Fortress 2 than anything else. The players were exaggerated and each position had a style that let you instantly recognize them on the field. They’ve been refining that ever since and this year is no different.
The players aren’t as overly stylized as they have been in the past. The body proportions are more realistic, but the cartoony look is still alive. I like it. I think it works for the Wii and makes it feel unique. The development team has done a really good job capturing the look and feel of each of the stadiums around the league while making them feel almost like they’re the stage of a Saturday morning cartoon. It works with the more arcade style approach to the franchise on the Wii.
Really Weird Quirks
If you have a problem with motion sickness, then you should think long and hard about getting this years Madden on Wii. There’s this weird thing that happens as your team lines up for defense. The camera begins to shake uncontrollably like it’s in the middle of an earthquake. It’s not a huge amount of movement, but it is noticeable and very distracting when you’re getting ready for a play.
The commentary from Jim Nantz and Phil Simms is just not good. Most sports games have an issue with dialogue that feels out of place with no emotion behind it. It always feels like its being read off of a piece of paper and they’re not actually reacting to what’s going on on the field. Madden is marred with way too much repetition and too many instances of just calling things incorrectly. The biggest offender is if you fail to convert on third down and you constantly hear the commentary team telling you that you’ve “failed to convert on a crucial third down play; that will be up third and short.” Wait a minute. I thought I failed to convert on third down. How can it be third down?
On The Field Play Still Doesn’t Feel Quite Right
It’s still incredibly hard to get a game of football that feels real. You either have incredibly inflated stats where running backs can regularly run for 200-300 yards, scores that look more like basketball scores than football ones or you have to run the game with seven minute quarters. Between plays, the game clock will only run down four seconds while the play clock doesn’t run down at all. The option exists on other platforms to run an accelerated clock to get a more accurate game of football. Why not on Wii?
AI receivers have an amazing ability to always be in the open field with about a five yard cushion or end up behind the defenders leaving plenty of room to get away after the catch. Defenders have a super power that always lets them tackle the running backs about three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Tackles far too often give the ball carrier an extra yard or two (either way) and you’ll see many of the same animations over and over.
What Do You Mean I Can’t Play Online?
The biggest question mark of the whole experience is the surprising lack of online play. Last year’s game had it. Just about every release of Madden in the last few years has had it. What is different about this year that meant there is no online play for the Wii? The game does connect to the internet, but only to get roster updates. I can’t believe that something happened between last years game and this years game to keep the online portion from being added.
All in all this years version of Madden NFL 13 for the Wii just feels like it was phoned in. The strange bugs, extremely repetitive commentary, lack of online play and just general lackluster feeling doesn’t make for a great experience overall. If you’re desperate for updated rosters, logos and uniforms, and you only own a Wii, then you’re going to get a football game; but you’d probably be better served by playing last years game than you are this one. I can’t help but think that with the Wii on its way out, EA Sports didn’t think this was going to sell AT ALL and just put a game out there with Madden on it that didn’t really change much from last year. Let’s hope that the Wii U version of the game we’ll be getting later this year is a better option for Nintendo console owners.