On Aug. 28, EA Sports' Madden 13 was released for purchase to the general audience.
Not only did I refrain from buying Madden 13 on Aug. 28, but I won't buy it today, tomorrow or any day after that. I won't even think twice of it.
Year after year, Electronic Arts trots out what somehow continues to be the most hyped sports video game in America.
Sure, a lot of this has to do with the popularity of the NFL, but when you have an entire year to make adjustments and add features to a video game, people should be receiving a better product.
Maybe I'm not qualified to make such a bold statement considering I didn't purchase the game, but I don't think I need to own Madden 13 for what I'm about to tell you.
Being a sports and video game fanatic, I surround myself with people of similar interests, and therefore, I almost always know someone who owns the latest Madden video game. I've had the opportunity to play each edition of Madden as far back as I can remember.
First things first, I haven't been impressed with the direction some of the graphics have gone.
Digitally, the presentation just doesn't seem to be up to par. There's no fluid motion—the animations EA Sports adds each year snowballs the problem.
Watching video of the new gameplay, everything seems herky-jerky. A player bends in unrealistic ways while being tackled, and the direction the ball bounces is anyone's guess.
These seem like issues that could be ironed out with the technology we're offered today. It's cool to have some new animations, and that's part of how a video game evolves, but Madden continues to have the same oddities with each new release.
As new animations are added, the ones that didn't work before should be eliminated. Sounds simple enough.
Yes, Madden 13 has some impressive visuals (player faces, stadiums, etc.), and I like the way they adopted the CBS presentation as its own, but gameplay is what matters most to me—not how refined the score graphic looks at the bottom of the screen.
I like the new game modes and the building upon franchise mode, be a pro mode, and so on just as much as the next guy, but those features will never overshadow what takes place on the field, so to speak.
On top of quirky animations, the philosophies of each NFL team aren't all that different from one another.
What makes the NFL such an enjoyable product to watch is the uniqueness of each team. All 32 of them have a different way of going about their business, especially on offense.
It may be true that each player was attributed with a unique set of skills on Madden, but that is all for naught when you can use the same basic tactics with each team and still succeed.
Madden has failed to keep up with the evolution of the sport—it lacks the dynamic changes that make the NFL so exciting.
The game always seems to have difficulty finding the right balance. One year, it will be easy to cram the ball up the middle for seven yards on every play, and the next year, receivers will get open without breaking a sweat.
And when Madden alters its gameplay to where it's impossible to squeeze a pass in to your receiver, all of a sudden, a cornerback's hands turn to stone and he can't haul in an interception.
Frustrating, to say the least. I guess that's what sliders are for.
I'm not denying that Madden 13 is a better game than its predecessor, but it's just building on its old blueprint. It's a ship trying to sail on yesterday's wind.
It needs to evolve with the sport, not just evolve within itself.
The last football video game I purchased was NCAA Football 09, and while it was a fun game, it's just more of the same.
Why bother going out to buy the new product year after year when it's essentially the same thing? It's like buying the newer version of the vehicle you just purchased last year—sure, it's better, but not something you should consider doing. Every. Single. Year.
Madden has no competing franchise, and in no way is that a good thing for the consumer. Without someone there to push EA Sports, it will continue to pump out a mediocre video game.
And why shouldn't they? It's not like we have a choice in what football video game to snatch off the shelves. Ever since 2k football games bit the dust, Madden has stagnated.
At least those games were $20.
So if I'm such a big sports video game buff and don't buy Madden, what do I buy?
First things first, let me say that MLB The Show would be a yearly must-purchase for me, although as of late, it has run into the same problems as Madden—continuously a shell of its former self.
That, and the fact that I don't own a PlayStation 3 makes owning MLB The Show a no-go.
My two go-to sports video game franchises are FIFA and NHL.
Maybe they don't receive the same amount of buzz each year as Madden, but it's hard to argue against these two products—most notably FIFA—having some of the smoothest gameplay in all of sports video games.
Madden has an entire team devoted to its development, which takes place over the course of a year. We deserve better as consumers than what Madden 13 has to offer, and I don't need to buy this year's version to tell you that.
For now, I'll look forward to FIFA 13, a franchise Madden ought to take notes on. Call me picky, but Madden 13 is not the best football game EA Sports has to offer.
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