Our yearly $60 time sink is out, and many of us are still wrestling with the decision of purchase. If you’re like me, you have sworn to never buy the game two years in a row, and only buy if there is something truly different about it. I know I am tired of buying a $60 roster update.
This year, there are a number of additions to the game, and some changes that fans may or may not be pleased with. Let’s start with the change EA is celebrating- the new physics engine. This is the change everyone knows about from the commercials that play during actual football games. Yes, the physics engine is definitely new. No more animated tackles that cause your linebackers to teleport to their targets to get into the correct tackling position. This also adds a slightly less realistic, slightly hilarious after-effect of seeing guys sprawled out on the field, tripping over each other or stuck with their helmets between legs because the engine won’t let them get up. Those scenes are quickly cut away to the next huddle, so they aren’t game-breaking.
The biggest difference here is in the runningback position. If you are used to running into your o-line and skidding around them to find the hole, you’re going to trip on their feet and tackle yourself for a loss. Little guys like Sproles will have to run outside or get awesome running lanes because the bigger defensive linemen will easily trip you up. Bigger power backs like Brandon Jacobs will be able to stay on their feet even if the box is stacked.
OK, so what’s all this about “Connected Careers”? EA has taken Franchise and Superstar and combined them into one system. I actually think that with some tweaks, this could be a great move. For one, you can play solo, even online, and use maddencareer.com to do your off-field work from any browser, rather than having to log into your console. You can update your roster from work, or progress your players on your laptop while you watch the Cowboys destroy the Giants on opening night. Be careful if you play it offline, though. It doesn’t auto-save, so you’ll have to make sure you save before quitting. I personally suggest playing online, even if you aren’t going to play with other people. There’s no reason to play offline unless your internet connection is unreliable. In Connected Careers, you can play as a player or coach, a created character with your own face, any active player or coach, or a legend if you have unlocked him. I’ve played as a created QB, Tony Romo, Jason Garrett, and a created power back. If you get bored with a character, you can retire and start a new career without having to completely restart the league. You can only play skill positions on offense, but you can play any position on defense. No kickers or punters. Playing as a coach offers all the control that Franchise Mode used to provide.
Madden Ultimate Team is much like it was in Madden 12, collecting cards to create your own fantasy lineup to play against other people. This has been my least favorite part of the game since I always end up playing against the guys who spent real money to purchase the best cards. However, collecting cards is also how you unlock the legends for play in Connected Careers.
So where does the game drop the ball? There are a few gripes I have:
– You cannot import an NCAA 13 Road to Glory player. Honestly, this is the whole reason I bought NCAA13. I am not a big college football fan, but I do enjoy taking a player from high school to the Hall of Fame. This has been a big part of Superstar mode in previous editions of the game, and I don’t understand why it isn’t in this one.
-Chewing the clock. I really liked the adjustments in NCAA13 that allow you to set various aspects and players to aggressive, balanced, or conservative on a play-by-play basis. Setting to aggressive means bigger hits, more forced fumbles, but more missed tackles. Setting to conservative means the play clock is wound down to ten seconds when you break the huddle. For impatient players like myself, having the game automatically chew the clock near the end of the game is a great way to ensure a win. At the very least, they need to allow the game to end when choosing “QB Kneel” within the last 40 seconds of the game or half.
-Female GameFace! Look, I know this is football simulation. I know girls don’t really play in the NFL. Neither do most of the guys in your fanbase. Girls play video games, including this one. If you go to the website to create your gameface, you have to choose between being a male in all of EA’s sports games (tennis and golf allow females, soccer and football do not), or not getting a face for soccer and football. I don’t even care if I have to use male animations because it’s too big a pain in the butt for them to change everything for one female player. Just let me put my face on my character. In other news, I created one using the sliders, Sims-style instead of actually uploading my picture, and man do I look funny with a five o’clock shadow.
-Connected Careers Fantasy Draft and Coach Mode. The Fantasy Draft is supposed to be implemented in the next week. I never used it since I like my team just the way it is, but those fans who play with their friends in leagues definitely missed this feature. Coach Mode is available in “Play Now” games, but not in Connected Careers as a coach. What? Really? Yeah. If you want to be a coach, you have to be able to play QB. All the rest of your players will play for themselves, but the QB must be controlled for snaps and throwing the ball. Lesson learned? If you are consistently throwing the ball to the wrong team, you may want to play as a defensive player or the runningback. I’d actually like to see the option to play as a coach with coach mode on, from the TV viewing angle. How many times have we, as football fans, watched our favorite teams suit up and screamed at the TV to run such-and-such a play? We could watch our teams succeed or fail, then adjust our gameplans accordingly. A good player can take a terrible quarterback and still make him look like a Hall of Famer, but if the QB has to play for himself, it may emphasize the need for the front office to look elsewhere for their field general.
Overall, I really like the game. There are a couple issues that I’ve discussed that could use tweaking, but if you are a fan of football, you’ll probably be a fan of this game. Enjoy, and GO BIG D!!!!