When I reviewed Madden NFL 13 for the Xbox 360 a few months ago I considered it a terrific game. The additions of Connected Careers, the new Infinity Engine and the broadcasting tandem of Nantz and Simms all lend to a game that is solid is every way. I certainly questioned whether enough “new” was brought to the table but when you have a franchise that has been this successful one cannot possibly expect an overhaul. To this day I play Madden NFL 13 regularly as I am in a competitive 32-man league with some fantastic folks from the good ol’ US of A and a guy from the UK of all places. While I still feel there are a few too many exploits (e.g. money plays), and I still see far too many interceptions, the fact remains this is about the most fun I have had with a Madden game to date. So how does the Wii U version of Madden NFL 13 game hold up? Well not too shabby, but in the end the Madden Wii U experience has plenty of room to grow and at least we can say the future is bright.
Instead of going through all the features that have been added to Madden NFL 13, this review will focus on what the Wii U experience brings to the table. For a more comprehensive review detailing all that is new to the franchise this year, I encourage you to check out my Xbox 360 Madden NFL 13 review HERE.
Overall, Madden NFL 13 for the Wii U is essentially the same game as it is on the Xbox 360 and PS3. So in many ways it is a successful port. The revamped career mode in the form of “Connected Careers” is included along with the significant overhaul in the audio department. The Infinity Engine did not manage to make the transition to the Wii U so you will get similar animations to those in Madden NFL 12. That being said the meat and potatoes of the Xbox 360 and PS3 experience is included and the core gameplay is intact.
The GamePad integration is easily the coolest thing about playing Madden on the Wii U. Being able to pick your plays on the GamePad’s touchscreen and being able to do such things like call an audible with the touchpad is pretty neat. I almost felt like an offensive co-ordinator at times digitally calling in plays but from the comfort of my couch. Given how quick and efficient I am using the Xbox 360 controller when it comes to calling hot routes, an audible, or flipping plays, it took some getting used to. Yet in the end and after some extended playtime I started to get the hang of it. Being able to actually draw audible plays with your finger is something I have yet to experience in the Madden game. For instance, when I used the Saints on offence and I noticed Man coverage, I would look down at the GamePad, find my Tight End J. Graham, and simply drag my finger across the screen. The end result is a pretty slick drag play that I managed to call using my finger and the GamePad’s touchscreen. Much to my surprise I was impressed with how good this feature worked.
The only issue I had with calling plays with the GamePad was being able to effectively scroll through an entire playbook. The GamePad works well if you satisfied with picking one of the three plays Mr. Madden himself recommends; however, if you are like me and prefer going into specific play formations and calling your own plays I found the GamePad a little more troublesome. It is just not as refined and user friendly as I had hoped. So there is a learning curve here and it takes time to really be able to effectively navigate the playbook.
Much like other ports that have managed to make their way onto Nintendo’s newest console, Madden NFL 13 also features the ability to play the game on your GamePad. This aspect was pretty neat and is almost an essential feature given any typical Madden game can take anywhere from 35-50 minutes to play. So if someone else in your household wants to watch TV and you want to keep playing, well that option is here for you. Personally I preferred the ‘big’ screen, but having this alternative can be a god send when needed.
As for the Madden Wii U gameplay, the results are positive. The running game and passing attack is just as good as ever. The NFL has become more of a passing league so the development team has adjusted their game accordingly. You will have an easier time hitting open receivers and the running game is not as dominant as it has been in years past.
On the downside, playing on what is essentially the Madden NFL 12 engine makes the game feel more like Madden 12.5 as opposed to Madden 13. The Infinity Engine came as a nice addition for the Xbox 360 and PS3 Madden faithful as those pre-determined animations were gone and replaced with a game where you never know what you are going to see from one play to the next. With the Infinity Engine players stumble, trip and lose their footing at times. You even see some crazy animations in between whistles as well. Velocity and momentum play prominent roles. The same cannot be said for the older Madden 12 engine. Do not get me wrong it still looks great but it makes for a game that can appear predictable at times in the visual department.
This being said, the gameplay did seem choppy at times. I also noticed the occasional clipping issues and the odd bit of slowdown. These framerate issues were not all that common but certainly noticeable if you have played the Xbox 360 version of the game like I have. For those worried, stadium environments still manage to look great, and the feel of NFL, visually speaking, makes the transition to the Wii U intact.
Overall, Madden NFL 13 stands as a solid football game for Nintendo’s newest console. The Connected Careers mode and the GamePad’s touchscreen features make for a game football fans will absolutely enjoy. Is this version as good as the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions of the game? Well not quite but a solid foundation has been laid and there is no doubt the Madden franchise will have a pretty good run on the Wii U for years to come.