When one thinks of buying the latest installment of John Madden football, one typically goes the route of either the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 version, instantly shrugging off even the thought of playing a year of pigskin on a Nintendo platform.
If Madden NFL 13 on the Wii U is any indication, the aforementioned way of thinking may change, as EA is providing a serious effort to Nintendo consumers this time around.
It's also launching with Nintendo's latest console offering, so if you were already looking to the Wii U to provide your yearly fix of 11-on-11 football action, you won't have to wait much longer. You also won't be disappointed.
Madden NFL 13 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Vita, Wii, Wii U [previewed])
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release: November 13, 2012
Unlike Madden entries of Nintendo's past, which opted for a more cartoonish, family friendly style of presentation and gameplay as opposed to its more realistic console brethren, Madden NFL 13 on the Wii U is, for the most part, a straight port of the game released earlier this year, with the exception of the new Infinity Engine being MIA.
EA assured me, however, that they are looking into making sure the new engine is added with future iterations. Still, for the first time ever, Nintendo players will be able to experience a high-definition version of Madden, complete with the full presentation offerings, HDR lighting, motion blur, and of course, commentary from Phil Simms and Jim Nantz. In short, what you would expect to find in a full-fledged Madden release is now available on a Nintendo console.
Where the Wii U version of Madden NFL 13 falls short with the exclusion of the new Infinity Engine, it makes up for with the slew of Wii U-specific features. The more notable of the bunch has you making pre-snap player adjustments via the Wii U's touchpad. Think you should move that linebacker into the flats? Simply press and hold his icon on the touchscreen and drag it to the far bottom left or right side. Need an extra defender to cover the deep pass? Drag the desired icon to the far top of the screen. Blitzes and man-coverages can also be adjusted in the blink of an eye with the pad. It's quick, intuitive, and highly effective. While one could see this as a gimmick to invite the novice player into the game, a veteran would be hard-pressed to dismiss the invaluable nature of not having to cycle through multiple menus just to adjust coverage.
On the offensive side of the line, the Wii U GamePad allows you to draw even the most squiggly of squiggly routes for your receivers. No, seriously. During my hands-on time, I must've drawn a 15-loop loopty-loop, and sure enough, my receiver followed the play, although it didn't land me the next down. But, on a more serious note, the ability to customize your hot routes now means that you are no longer restricted to the typical lot of slants, streaks, flats, and curls. With this enhancement to offensive hot-routing coupled with the top-down perspective of the field given on the GamePad, you now have a better way to break your receiver away from defenders.
If there's a downside to the route-drawing feature, it's that you can't create full playbooks with it, though EA said it hopes to bring this idea to life with future titles.
A Detach Mode is also available on the Wii U's version of Madden, which enables you to play the entire game through the Wii U GamePad's display, which, in my time, failed to offer any hiccuping or graphical hitches during gameplay. Both local and online multiplayer can also take advantage of utilizing this display, with the former having one person viewing the game on the pad, and the other playing on the television. Traditional local multiplayer is also on offer if you so prefer.
Madden NFL on a Nintendo console is no longer an afterthought. Nor is it merely something you play at a gathering once you get tired of Wii Sports. This offers the same hard-hitting experience as its other HD releases, so much so that the Wii U version will also receive same-day roster updates. Those who feel that the Madden series has become the same ol' thing every year should definitely keep their eyes peeled when Madden NFL 13 drops on the Wii U this November.