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Video game review: ‘Madden NFL 13’ tackles new gameplay options, changes announcer

Courtesy of EA Sports

School has started and every dedicated sports gamer in America has waited long enough for EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 13.” The wait is finally over, as the game came out at midnight Monday.

Each year, Madden offers a new concept for its games. Its selling point this year is the user’s ability to play the game with legendary players.

By completing particular objectives, gamers can unlock NFL hall-of-famers such as John Elway or Joe Montana and incorporate them into their games.

Nothing gets me excited to play a game quite like a motivational introduction video. Abiding by its “year of the legend” tagline in “Madden 13,” it was only fitting for the video to feature a legend who is still a player.

Enter Ray Lewis: Ravens linebacker and future hall-of-famer.

I can only describe the introduction video as a breaking point in Lewis’ mind in which he discusses his age and future in the NFL, followed by an intense epiphany where he realizes his legendary status on the field and disregards all negativity. The video graphic then falls to pieces and re-emerges as the logo for “Madden 13.” It puts prior introductions to shame.

The components of the game have been redesigned to emulate those of EA’s college football franchise. Instead of contemporary music, “Madden 13” features the NCAA’s movie soundtrack style of menu music. This gives the game a more timeless feel. “Madden 13” also follows the NCAA’s lead by finally putting an emphasis on player creation.

The game offers two new styles of gameplay: starting a career as an NFL coach or as an NFL player. In both modes, the gamer is given the opportunity to use a webcam to generate his or her face into the game, making this the most interactive “Madden” game to date.

Think of the possibilities: you can win the Super Bowl making plays with a precise computer-generated image of yourself (except in football pads). Many “Madden” lovers are familiar with this “Madden” superstar feature from past games, but those models were archaic in comparison.

Finally, let’s get to the gameplay.

The loading screen and game introductions are revamped for “Madden 13.” The loading screen offers tips and descriptions of what’s new in this year’s game. The game loads and then dumps the user into a “Sunday Night Football” looking video, featuring two of each competing team’s top five players.

Next, the game releases the user on the field with a randomly chosen assortment of player interactions. The best part: announcer Gus Johnson has been replaced by Phil Simms and Jim Nantz. Johnson is exciting, but let’s face it, his over-exaggeration on calls becomes rather annoying. There is really nothing exciting about a three-yard run.

The gameplay has been upgraded from last year’s model and features two primary changes from “Madden 12.” The first is total-control passing. In the past, players were able to lead or throw behind receivers to avoid turnovers, but those games do not stack up to the new passing in “Madden 13.”

Players are given the opportunity to emulate their favorite quarterback unlike ever before.

The user can target specific areas of an opponent’s body, be it the outside shoulder on a fade route or the knees on a short slant into the end zone. And finally, the game offers the ability to cut a play-action short in order to avoid a sack. In other words, “Madden 13” offers the user more control of the game.

The other major change is a physics-based tackling system where players fall in the direction in which they are hit. Never again will users be forced to deal with predetermined tackling simulations that make the game appear glitchy.

In all, “Madden 13” is a smoother, more realistic and better-looking version of its predecessors. Wrap everything up with the incorporation of the new Nike jerseys, and almost every throwback one could imagine, and “Madden 13” truly delivers as the best professional football game to date.

Grade: A

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