Madden NFL 13 review

  • Infinity Engine physics
  • Fun, deep Connected Careers
  • Total Control Passing rocks
  • Post-play awkwardness
  • Many legends locked away
  • Menus can be confusing

Madden NFL 13 on PS Vita Review

NFL coaches often talk of getting “back to fundamentals” and focusing on “blocking and tackling.” While the Madden NFL 13 franchise has incorporated massive changes to console versions, its debut on the Vita has eschewed many of those in favor of bringing the basic features every Madden gamer expects to Sony’s handheld. The result is a game that, while enjoyable, doesn’t achieve the lofty potential the platform provides.

Madden is strongest on the field, looking good in motion as you execute plays on either side of the ball. You’ll have no real trouble hitting receivers or finding holes to run through, and it never seems to chug even as it processes 22 players running in all directions. However, visual problems kick in before and after the play, as the introductory scenes and sideline vignettes get a bit choppy. Even rougher is the brutal-looking crowd that appears behind players during their post-play close-ups. None of these take away from the action on the field, but they’re definitely distracting.

Madden’s base controls are instantly familiar. A nice bonus is the smart, subtle use of the front and rear touch pad; examples include executing a juke when running for daylight with a double-tap on the back and sending a receiver in motion by tapping him on the front then sliding your finger in the desired direction. None of it feels forced, and over time this motion began to feel natural.

You can choose from Franchise, Superstar, Madden Moments, and Online Play. Superstar, which features the bite-sized experience of training your player in practice then running him through his paces in compacted games, lends itself beautifully to the Vita. When you couple that with the fact that the NFL has a bunch of compelling stories this season with players like Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, and Peyton Manning (to name a few), the mode is a stand-out in this year’s game.

The real problem, honestly, is what’s not in Madden NFL 13. There are no cross-play or save capabilities between the PS3 and Vita versions, which instantly reduces its appeal to owners of both systems. There are also less of the Connected Careers features that shone so brightly in the console versions of the game. While cool options like rookie scouting and practice mode in Franchise were able to make it in, much more didn’t. For example, the media frenzy and RPG-style leveling up Connected Careers offers is absent here.

This is not simply last year’s Madden ported to the Vita, though. Much of the new presentation has made it, including the commentary team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, as well as the cleaner, TV-style audio and visual presentation. Gone are the days of the bombastic rock/rap EA Trax mess, in favor of a professional orchestral set. This is most welcome.

Ultimately, Madden NFL 13 on the Vita is like a top draft pick that makes the team but doesn’t put up Pro Bowl numbers. It provides a healthy portion of the traditional Madden experience, but lacks the niftiest new parts of Connected Careers as well as the ability to use cross-play with the PS3. Because of that, it’s a reminder of years past when it could’ve been cutting-edge.


  • Core gameplay is fun
  • Smart, subtle touch controls
  • Nifty rookie scouting


  • No PS3-Vita cross play
  • Choppy cutscenes
  • Missing Connected Careers

Score: *** 1/2

More Info

Release date: Aug 28 2012 - Xbox 360, PS Vita, Wii, PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS Vita, Wii, PS3
Published by: EA SPORTS
Franchise: Madden
ESRB Rating:


  • bram00 - September 16, 2012 4:17 a.m.

    I just have a simple question: After all these iterations of Madden, they still are having problems making the menu system coherent???
  • vantage - September 4, 2012 6:59 a.m.

    I expected the worse from this game, but surprisingly it has not been a disappointment. This has to be the best Madden ever made, period. It's got the most realistic gameplay, especially with the new tackling and the music doesn't have to be muted because it's not boring! Here's a video of me playing the game: Enjoy fellas!
  • lokdawg78 - August 27, 2012 8:32 p.m.

    Richard, I have a question about career mode. One of my favorite past times for the past 6 years has been to pick up a new copy of Madden and start a franchise with the Bears with my friends and brother. We would all input on management decisions and the like, but when it came down to important games, all 4 of us would pick our favorite players on the Bears and go to work. Does the career mode have the ability to play co-op games during the season?
  • GamesRadarRichardGrisham - August 28, 2012 8:50 a.m.

    That's a great question and one I don't 100% know the answer to; I didn't think to try something out like that. My gut, based on all the stuff that I have done, though, is that this specific way of playing is not supported. I don't think you can have multiple players on a single team in Connected Careers. However, you *may* still be able to be a COACH in Connected Careers and have your friends play individual positions in a season game. But like I said, I am not 100% sure. I can check when I am back from my road trip in a couple of days and report back!
  • ASilentCircus - August 26, 2012 2:31 a.m.

    The new rating system looks horrible as does that screenshot of the sideline behind Griffin...
  • SentientSquidMachine - August 25, 2012 9:16 a.m.

    I know they added a FIFA guy to the Madden team, but did they really have to add the horrible guys awkwardly falling over each other in slow motion for no reason....I call sabatoge.My last madden was '10, and before that, '06...I really want a new Madden, but I'm on the fence with this one.
  • OD-Apache - August 24, 2012 10:50 p.m.

    Hear's my question though, Richard; How is the off season for both Player and Coach "modes"? I've always wanted more character development instead of just pressing A for 10 seconds to get to the next season. It's not very engrossing and it makes previous career modes, and NCAA as well, very bland for me. Imagine if NCAA and Madden had a more rich individual career mode, where in NCAA you try to balance schooling and workout's year round while trying to "stay out of trouble". (Can't get to heavy otherwise they'll slap a T for Teen on the box.) Your player than turns into a character really. When it's time to go Pro, the transition into Madden would be even better. How you handled yourself in NCAA greatly influences your image, like developing leadership attributes versus super-stardom, and your teammates will react differently based on that throughout your career. You get to experience the business side of things; contracts, trades, endorsements, ownership, dealing with injuries and maybe even having to retire before you are finished, all first hand, not on some menu page. Imagine how rewarding it would feel to watch as your character stands at the podium of his own Hall of Fame speech. Then the credits roll...and you unlock the Dancing With The Stars mini-game. That would be AWESOME.
  • GamesRadarRichardGrisham - August 27, 2012 12:32 p.m.

    The offseason is really interesting. As a player, you get to choose what attributes to focus on and/or you can demand your release if you're unhappy. As a coach, you get to scout players in the upcoming draft, choose player development bonuses, and actually do a real-time draft (which is REALLY fun). As to what you'd like to see, I believe that there will much more of this over the next year or two. The foundation of Connected Careers - media following you, practices to make you better, getting the ability to choose how to improve yourself, demanding a release or a trade - seems to be setting the groundwork for a whole lot more of that. Kind of like My Player in NBA 2K, which has things like press conferences where you control (to a degree) what your player says, endorsements, and things like that.
  • avantguardian - August 24, 2012 4:58 p.m.

    i don't know man, all i could think of while playing the demo is how much better ncaa is. and the commentary was AWFUL.
  • GamesRadarRichardGrisham - August 24, 2012 5:08 p.m.

    I love both games this year - and the commentary in NCAA 13 is definitely better than Madden 13. What's best commentary-wise this year is that it replaces last year's, which in my opinion took AWAY from the game. This season, it may not make the experience that much better, but it's certainly a major improvement. As I said in the review, definitely some more work to be done on it.
  • Redeater - August 24, 2012 3:12 p.m.

    I miss 2k.....

Showing 1-13 of 13 comments

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