Title: Madden NFL 13
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Electronic Arts (EA Tiburon)
ESRB Rating: E
Pros: Continues to focus more on gameplay than strategy, options for simplified game calling, online player stat updates, Connected Careers keeps things interesting
Cons: Not as robust as its PS3 and Xbox 360 counterparts, no significant upgrades from last year’s release, no online multiplayer, graphics now feel dated
Overall Score: Two thumbs sideways; 71/100; C-; ** out of 5
I’m not entirely sure why Madden NFL 13 for Wii exists. I don’t think Electronic Arts does, either. The venerable franchise has always been a tricky release for EA as they simplify the graphics for the underpowered Wii (compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions) and alter the feature set for the more casual Wii audience.
EA finally got things balanced with Madden NFL 12, and now Nintendo has muddied the field with the Wii-U. Of course, a Madden game was amongst the first announced, but the Wii-U won’t hit retailers until mid-November. EA couldn’t make Wii owners wait until then, and they can’t assume most will even upgrade right away. So, here’s Madden NFL 13 for Wii, essentially the same thing as Madden NFL 12 but with the addition of downloadable player stats and the removal of (gasp) online play.
What remains is solid. The more casual approach to football strategy and execution feels as tight as ever, and is accessible to both new and veteran players. There are plenty of practice options to beef up your skills, although without online play that’s less necessary (and not as fun as just finding a player at your skill level with whom to learn). You don’t have to be a football strategist or dedicate hours of practice to have a good time here; pick up the controller and have some fun.
Once you do put the hours in, however, some cracks begin to show, the biggest of which is the removal of online multiplayer. If your skills begin to outgrow those of your local competition and the system AI, good luck trying to find a challenge. So, what are you going to replace that with? In game achievements?
No, you’ll need to look towards things like the 5-on-5 game mode for fun with big plays like a game of backyard football. There’s also Franchise Mode in which you build an entire organization focused not just on winning games, but on pleasing fans and hitting your financial goals. Even here, there are advisors to help you on your way, making all of this accessible to the casual gamer (provided he or she has an interest in the business of sports). Online roster updates will help for a while, too, but if you’re that into the game, you’re likely not playing it on the Wii, anyway.
Ultimately, then, there’s no reason to upgrade from Madden NFL 12 other than current rosters and those new Nike jerseys. If you don’t have Madden NFL 12—either because you decided a skip a year (a good idea, really) or because you’re taking advantage of everyone dumping their Wiis in anticipation of the Wii-U—I still don’t recommend you jump in with this version when you can get the same fun, frantic gameplay and the added benefit of online play at a cheaper price with Madden NFL 12.
If you do have your pre-order in for the Wii-U, I highly suggest you hang tight for Madden NFL 13 for that system. You’ll be late into the season, but the lackluster updates this year are pretty strong evidence that the developers were focusing on the Wii’s feature when rolling out this year’s update. I suggest you do the same.