After years of being berated by critics and fans (OK, probably more by critics than by fans, since this is still an 800-pound gorilla of a franchise), "Madden NFL 13" injected some new technology -- and life -- into its creaky old knees.
The changes result in an uneven product overall. Yes, gamers will flock to it because they love football and cannot get enough of it. But beneath the surface of the shiny packaging gamers will find old problems left unresolved.
A new physics engine and an overhaul of the visual presentation and accompanying play-by-play commentary highlight the major overhauls to the "Madden" franchise. The new engine allows for a wealth of new tackle animations, but almost every play looks like 20 rag dolls are being chucked around the field, with necks and limbs bending and twisting in physically impossible ways. I kept awaiting the arrival of the "Madden '92" ambulance to cart off every player on the field, but they somehow kept getting up.
Most gamers want reassurance that "Madden 13" delivers the thrilling NFL experience they expect. Rest easy, but prepare yourselves for a shockingly level playing field. The convoluted play-calling system means less creativity, with more teams running the same sets and routes. It's ridiculous to watch Seattle and New England run the same offense successfully. Players make a difference in the real NFL, but clearly in "Madden" everyone is a Hall of Famer.
A big tip of the hat goes to EA for breathing some new life into the series. These "Madden" alterations, while not always hitting the mark, could set the stage for bigger and better things to come next year. Here's hoping that happens.