Level Up! We Review Madden NFL 13 (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Date: Friday, September 14, 2012
Source: Mania.com

Level Up is back this week and as the NFL season is upon us we’re hitting you with our review of the venerable Madden NFL 13.  On top of that we’ve got some new game announcements to cover so let’s get right to it.
Deep Silver Announces Dead Island Riptide
Deep Silver today revealed the first details about the next installment in the Dead Island franchise.
Having survived the ordeals of the zombie infestation on the once beautiful island resort of Banoi, our group of survivors thought they had finally found a safe place to escape from this terrifying nightmare. But they were wrong. Shortly after the battle-hardened team had landed their helicopter on a military ship, a furious storm hits and havoc quickly spreads on board. Suddenly they find themselves struggling for their lives again with all hope drowning in the rising waves.
With invigorating new elements infused into a proven mix, Dead Island Riptide will reanimate the zombie terror in the original game. A monsoon has hit the once beautiful archipelago and heavy rainstorms have laid waste to large areas of the islands. The city of Henderson and jungle areas on the island of Palanai were flooded leaving boats as the only remaining way of transportation. Dynamic weather conditions will force the team members to adapt to changing visibility conditions.
A fifth character will join the team, with an all-new and unique skillset. The combined skills of the group will be sorely needed, since terrible, new and unknown zombie mutations have emerged all over the island.  In new hub defense missions, the coop teamwork skills of the survivors will be tested to the limit – they need to strategically place traps, fences and turrets to fend off oncoming Zombie onslaughts and to protect the humans in these sanctuaries.
Transformers Fall of Cybertron DLC!
Now that fans have experienced the epic single-player campaigns and multiplayer modes of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron  the team at High Moon Studios listened to fans and have been hard at work on exciting downloadable content to support the growing Fall of Cybertron community. 
With the DLC Pack released on September 11th, the legendary Dinobots will be playable in online multiplayer modes with the "Dinobot Destructor Pack," for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.  The DLC pack will include the following characters, which includes their full body + individual body parts for use in the multiplayer character creator: Grimlock, Slug, Snarl, Swoop.  What?  No Sludge? 


Call of Juarez: Gunslinger coming 2013
Reliving – and revealing – the lives of the most infamous lawmen and outlaws of the Old West, Call of Juarez: The Gunslinger will test gamers’ mettle in the unforgiving frontier. Call of Juarez: The Gunslinger, developed by Techland, will be firing away in 2013 for Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network and PC. 
Returning to the roots of the series, Call of Juarez: The Gunslinger puts gamers in the shoes of a bounty hunter who has his sights set on taking down the most notorious gunslingers, including the likes of Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, Jesse James and more. 
Giving gamers the tools to take down the best, the Concentration Mode made famous by the series returns with a twist – allowing gamers to unleash a flurry of bullets while dodging others. Along with their gun slinging abilities, gamers will hone their skills and acquire new abilities in a series-first skill system.


Ubisoft announces Thunder Wolves

Calling the craziest helicopter pilots: the notorious Thunder Wolves are looking for a new member to join the fight against global terrorism. Thunder Wolves brings a daredevil, arcade shooter to Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Windows PC in the first quarter of 2013.

Thunder Wolves puts gamers in the hot seat of an experienced helicopter group that has survived a flurry of bullets and caused more destruction than the Seventh United State Army. Gamers will embark on a variety of missions including high-risk convoy protection, deploying a commando on fast-moving train or unleashing hell on a fully destructible battlefield. 

With over 30 combinations of choppers and weaponry, gamers can play through the campaign to upgrade their chopper  with additional weapons and defensive tools to create the ultimate aerial hunter. Thunder Wolves also features a two-player co-op – one gamer playing as the pilot and the other as the gunner – giving gamers an opportunity to establish aerial dominance with a friend.

Ubisoft Announces Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online Arctic Pack

Ubisoft announced the first content expansion for the premium online free-to-play shooter, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online. The Arctic Pack will be available on September 12th and features a host of new content including a new Conquest mode map, Tomsk-9, as well as six new weapon variants, three new headgear variants and 2 new body armor variants.

Set in a nuclear reprocessing complex deep within Russia’s Arctic circle, Tomsk-9 is Ghost Recon Online’s largest map.  Featuring both indoor and outdoor environments as well as a symmetrical map design, Tomsk-9 will offer players a balanced competitive game play flow. 

The GRO community has played a major role in shaping the development of this update, by helping identify the over 300 balance changes, improvements, and bug fixes that have gone into the Arctic Pack along with the new content.

Content includes:

Tomsk-9 map

6 Arctic Camouflaged Weapon Variants
L86A1 IW ALP Light Machine Gun
MK 16 CQC ALP Assault Rifle
P90 SD ALP Sub-Machine Gun
M-200 SD ALP Sniper Rifle
NC2000 C ALP Shotgun
USP 45 ALP Pistol

3 Arctic Camouflaged Headgear Variants
OCF-FL2 Helmet ALP (for the Assault class)
ECW-G5 RS Hood ALP (for the Recon  class)
CBRN-L4 Headgear ALP (for the Specialist  class)

2 Arctic Camouflaged Body Armor Variants

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Raven Strike DLC Package Now Available

Ubisoft announced the release of the Raven Strike DLC pack, the second Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier DLC package for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. A throwback to traditional Ghost Recon gameplay, Raven Strike features larger maps, complex missions and an increased level of difficulty.  It contains three campaign missions and a new Guerilla Mode map, each playable with up to four players.  
Raven Strike DLC content includes:

3 new missions in Campaign Mode

1 new map in Guerrilla Mode 
Level cap increase of +10

Raven Strike is available for purchase for 1200 Microsoft points on Xbox Live or $14.99 on the PlayStation Network.  It will be released for Windows PC at a later date.  


Borderlands 2 (2K Games) Rated M  PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Borderlands 2 is a hybrid First-Person Shooter, RPG game focused on over-the-top co-op play, and set in the open-world game environment of the planet Pandora. The second game in the game series, Borderlands 2 raises the 'loot and shoot' action of the original game with an even larger and more detailed world to explore, an updated gun system, a new cast of characters and character classes, and integration of storyline with action. 

Borderlands 2, sequel to the critically acclaimed and best selling role-playing-shooter hybrid, once again delivers its unique flavor, characters and addictive nonstop collaborative loot-shoot gameplay. As in the original game, Borderlands 2 features an openworld game environment, but this time around the world players experience is larger and packed with more depth at all levels. The game features an all-new cast of characters, skills, environments, enemies, weapons, and equipment that come together in a carefully crafted and connected story. Make new friends, arm them to the teeth and fight alongside them on a relentless quest for revenge and redemption through the undiscovered and unpredictable living world of Pandora. 

F1:2012 (Warner Bros) Rated E  PS3, Xbox 360

The glamour. The exhilaration. The intensity. The speed. With drivers cruising a smooth 200 mph — minimum — and cutthroat teams carving out dynasties of speed, Formula One is the most elite racing circle in the world and the most thrilling motorsport tearing up the tracks. Every curve of the track, every control on the dashboard and every strategy in the pit lane is of utmost importance in this intensified world — and it's all re-created in stunning detail. Let breakneck speeds and ultra responsive cars transport you to the glamorous world of Formula One as you race toward the finish line.

Get behind the wheel and experience the new Circuit of the Americas before its real-life debut with this breathtaking game. This dramatic new track features 20-turn circuits that take inspiration from some of the world's most difficult corners, including Silverstone's Becketts and Istanbul Park's Turn 8, and boasts elevation changes of up to 133 feet. An advanced weather system produces localized weather that can leave sections of the track wet while others stay dry for a dramatic and unpredictable race experience. Take part in training tutorials, such as the all-new Young Driver's Test at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina, to become familiar with the nuances of F1 racing and learn how to get the most speed out of your car. The new Lap Tutorials feature can help you perfect your car's performance, as F1 test driver Anthony Davis walks you through a lap of each of the 20 circuits, offering expert advice. Do you have what it takes to handle the world's toughest race circuits and steer your car to victory?


Madden NFL 13 (EA Sports) Rated E PS3, Xbox 360

It’s long been my opinion regarding sports games that we do not need annual releases.  With only minor improvements from year to year, developers could easily release these as downloads with updated rosters for say $20.  Such is not the case with this year’s release of Madden NFL.  Madden 13 is the first game in years that truly feels like a new game in all facets…from the gameplay to the presentation and from the graphics and sounds to the gameplay broadcast.  

More than ever, Madden 13 feels like watching a true NFL TV broadcast.  Back in the PS1 versions of Madden there were wonderful cut scenes featuring Pat Summerall and John Madden.  There are over 200 new cut scenes set before, during, and after the game, many featuring the new broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.  These feature spotlights of key players and the angles are even made to match whichever stadium the game is at.  There’s even special presentations for Monday and Thursday night games that make you feel like you are sitting down with your buddies to watch the action.  Nantz and Simms offer a whopping 82 hours of commentary resulting in less repetition and more a feel that the broadcast is ad-libbed.  

The Infinity Engine delivers the most realistic gameply physics in the series’ history.  This is noticeable right away in the passing game.  The NFL is a passing league now and the improvements to the passing game are simply incredible.  Some of these are things that might seem minor but they definitely make an impression.  For example there are numerous new QB dropback animations to cover 3/5/7 step drops, which accurately reflect different offensive schemes.  There are also a couple of dozen new pass trajectories to give you greater ability to put the right touch on the ball whether throwing a swing pass to a RB or tossing it deep to a streaking WR.  But where you will truly notice the effects of the Infinity engine is in contact and tackle animations.  

Every player has a balance score which is calculated against contact to accurately reflect a player’s ability to keep his balance when hit or stumble to the ground.  Players with high balance scores can regain their balance without  a knee or elbow hitting the ground and continue on running.  The Infinity Engine even measures the physiology of muscles and joints to provide realistic impacts and fluid running.

So what does this all mean?  Well it means that the game has taken a look at the little things and not just the big things.  It means two defenders could possibly take each other out by crashing into each other which happens all the time.  It also means there is a far greater array of tackle and tackle breaking animations.  Everything won’t look the same as it did not previous versions of Madden.  The physics engine creates far less animations that seemed canned. It also looks a lot smoother with less jittering and lag…although it’s still not 100% perfect.

New to Madden NFL is Connected Careers which incorporates the Franchise, Online Franchise, and Create a Superstar modes.  You can play online or offline, create a coach or player from scratch or take over a current one, or even bring back an NFL legend and replay his career with players like Steve Young, Barry Sanders, Warren Moon, and Michael Irvin.  There are even coaching legends included.  What Connected Careers does is essentially add an RPG element to the game which lets you choose how much control you want to have.  The RPG elements come into play with the various practice and scrimmage exercises and scenarios which can net you experience points to apply to your created player, team, or coach.  It’s not for everybody but it lends the game a distinctly different feel than previously and of course this is all optional.  On disappointment about the Connected Careers mode is that you won’t be allowed to import draft classes from NCAA Football…there’s a completely new system for this now.  The Fantasy Draft has also gone by the wayside.

So here’s the deal…If you haven’t purchased Madden in recent years, run out and get Madden NFL 13.  If you bought Madden last year, run out and buy Madden NFL 13!  It’s that good.  Grade A-