Since the early 1990′s, gamers and football fans have come to expect two of their favorite past times come together into one with the annual release of the Madden NFL football franchise from Electronic Arts. The Madden series has been around for almost 20 years, and has been through – with the release of the Wii U – the 16-bit (SNES, Sega Genesis) era all the way through the next-generation of consoles. Each year has brought new tweaks to bring gamers closer to the real experience of playing, coaching, and managing football. Each console generation has brought innovation with leaps and bounds in terms of realism and graphics (I still remember the first time I ever saw Madden on the Playstation 2).
So with the next generation of consoles here with the release of the Wii U, it’s only fitting that one of the launch titles is Madden 13 from Electronic Arts (EA). While the earlier Madden games on the Wii brought the tired waggle-waggle, shake-shake game play mechanics to the series, the Wii U and its first-of-its-kind tablet game pad brings playing Madden to a whole new level. In my almost two decades of playing the Madden series religiously (it’s the only series I’ve played longer than Call Of Duty consecutively), I’ve never felt such an ease of use when not just playing, but managing the game.
Madden 13 on the Wii U shows exactly what many gamers have wondered on how developers would exactly use the Game Pad controller with its full controller and touch screen. The game, when controlling the players during after the snap, plays the same as the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 versions which uses the dual analog sticks and various buttons. However, it’s between plays, before the snap, where the game play on Madden 13 for the Wii U really separates itself from the crowd.
On offense and defense, plays are selected on the Game Pad’s touchscreen, which I found to be a much more intuitive and easier way to select your plays. Using the stylus to select these plays feels more natural than scrolling through with the joysticks or D-pad.Madden has always worked hard to give the most lifelike feel to the game of football, and choosing plays on the Game Pad gives the player a sense that they are the coach with their own digital play book on the sidelines, calling in plays to the captains.
But what happens when you call a Cover 2 only to read the offense and see a running play is coming? Before the snap on defense, you have the opportunity to assign or change coverage with just a few taps on the stylus, no more fumbling through confusing buttons. Before the snap, the Game Pad’s touchscreen shows all the players and their position on the field by their numbers. Say you want to have your safety double cover the hot read receiver? Simply touch the number for your safety, hold it and drag to the receiver you want them to cover. When you let go of the screen, immediately your safety will change his assignment. This works for other defense maneuvers like having your linebacker blitz by just simply drawing a line from the linebacker down towards the offensive line. You can also assign other defensive changes like assigning a back to spy the quarterback by simply touching the player you want to QB spy, and dragging his number to the number of the opposing quarterback.
The Wii U’s Game Pad also allows you to change offensive plays on the fly. Before the snap, you can call an audible on offensive by simply touching “Audible” on the Game Pad and selecting the play you would like to audible to. You can also use the stylus to change the route of receivers or the direction of running plays by simply drawing it on the screen. This level of control has never been seen before on the offensive side of the ball in Madden, and is really only possible with the Wii U and the Game Pad. Many of plays I found myself reading the defense to find the middle of the field left wide open, and rather than being stuck with my outside routes – and facing a possible costly interception – I can easily draw a nice slant or in route over the middle and complete it for the first down I needed (the first down line and line of scrimmage are shown on the screen, so no more worrying about sending your receiver out short of the first down marker).
Like I said earlier, I’ve played Madden for almost two decades, and for the first time I feel like the level of realism I’ve always wanted, and may have been there, but was too difficult to muster with a traditional controller. If you’re a die-hard Madden fan, you’ll also be relieved – and excited – to know that the graphics on the Wii U version are just as good, if not a little better than its Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 cousins. The high-definition graphics (a first for Nintendo) were crisp, clear, and just as detailed to me as the versions I’ve played on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. I did notice that textures seems slightly better as well, and animations are very well done. Overall, Madden 13‘s debut on the Wii U in the graphics department will make any gamer excited now, and for what’s to come since next year’s version will come with EA having a full year to optimize their offerings with the Wii U and what it can do. I was also pleased to see that the graphics didn’t diminish too much when playing Madden 13 on the Game Pad exclusively, without the aid of my HDTV.
If you’re a die-hard Madden fan, or a football fan with a Wii U, Madden 13 on the Wii U should be at the top of your list even if you own other consoles. The experience with the Game Pad will make seasoned and new Madden players very happy, and finally give them the complete NFL experience and control they want.