I reviewed Madden NFL 13 back in August and scored it a 4/5. It is a superb football game. I’m not going to write out a long review for the Wii U version because it doesn’t need it. If you already own Madden NFL 13, then you don’t need to purchase it again for the Wii U. Unfortunately, it isn’t the definitive version of the game like I was hoping it would be.
You can go back and read my previous review of the PS3 version for some things; commentary is the same and Connected Careers is the same as well. For the most part, it is the same game. Except for three key components.
The good news for the Wii U version is the GamePad. I can’t say enough good things about the GamePad overall; it really does change the way games are played in a great way. It’s no exception with Madden NFL 13. Before playing a game, you can put the GamePad in detached mode and play the game entirely on your GamePad with the controls like you’re playing on a Dualshock or an Xbox controller.
In this detached mode, you can’t use the GamePad touch features, but you can play your connected careers game (or an exhibition or online game) in another room away from your Wii U. That works pretty well for the most part. The game looks great on the GamePad, in fact I’d say it looks a little better than it does on the big screen. It’s not as bright, but it’s not as blurry either.
By far though, the GamePad is best used when playing the game on your TV and using the GamePad to call plays (you can still run your plays and play the game on the GamePad after you call your play if you prefer the GamePad view). It’s easy to see the plays and pick the one you want to run simply by touching it. Better yet, once you see how the defense is lined up, you can touch Audibles at the top and have an entire page of plays to look at and pick the one you want. This is great because it allows you to see what the play looks like without requiring you to know the names of every play.
You can also use the GamePad to change what your defenders will do (blitz, zone, etc.) and more impressively take your finger or the stylus and draw routes for your receivers. And yes, the receivers do a really good job of running the route that you draw for them, no matter how insane you draw it. Want a WR to run forwards a few yards, run in small circles, and then run back behind the line and the QB? You can do it. I don’t know why you’d want to, but you can do it.
I really love the GamePad and its uses with Madden. It makes the game feel a little better, and I can see it possibly becoming my go to way to play football. However, it’s not there yet.
Make no mistake, Madden NFL 13 for Wii U is a gimped port to cash in on a new system. This is not the same game as Madden NFL 13 for PS3 and Xbox 360. It’s more like Madden NFL 12 with Connected Careers.
The new physics engine, Infinity, that allows for an infinite amount of animations and real physics that put an end to the magnetized tackling isn’t in this version. And after playing a good amount of Madden 13 for PS3, it’s absence in this version is immediately noticeable and missed. The Infinity engine isn’t perfect, and the ragdoll effects are certainly comical and far from realistic, but it is much better than the system that was in place for that engine. That the Infinity engine isn’t powering the Wii U version is a huge knock against it. There’s simply no reason for the Wii U version to be gimped like this.
And that’s not the only way it’s gimped. Madden NFL 13 for Wii U also doesn’t sport the great Madden Ultimate Team mode. That’s also unacceptable. You can purchase the superior and complete version of Madden 13 for PS3 and Xbox 360 for $35 at Amazon. This Wii U version is selling for $50 and you’re missing two huge components. That’s a rip-off, even if the GamePad features are an excellent addition. It simply isn’t enough to compensate for the lack of the Infinity engine and Madden Ultimate Team.
This could have been the definitive version of Madden NFL 13. In fact, it SHOULD be the definitive version of the game. Instead, it’s a port that comes across as rushed. It features the same complaints I had for the PS3 version (mostly commentary), and is lacking the features that I really liked. I’m honestly a little bit surprised that it has Connected Careers and not the standard Franchise of Madden NFL 12, because it feels like last year’s game (and even a gimped version of that since there is no Ultimate Team).
It doesn’t help that the game does have some framerate problems and sometimes the GamePad touch features can be sluggish (I knock this against the game and not the controller, as it is always responsive for everything else). I’m an quite disappointed that this version is worse than the one released months ago. It’s clearly an afterthought (it doesn’t even look as good as the PS3 version). The Wii U is capable of so much more, and I don’t doubt that Madden NFL 14 will be the same across all platforms and probably even superior on the Wii U. But for this one, it’s clear that EA simply wanted to have their high profile sports games out for the new console on day one and didn’t care that it was a gimped version.
If you already own Madden NFL 13, there is no reason to purchase it again. If you don’t own it and only previously owned a Wii, you won’t miss the features that aren’t included and will likely really enjoy it. But beyond that, there’s no reason to double dip here and it’s a missed opportunity by EA. There’s still a lot of fun to be had here (Connected Careers is just as fun as it is in the PS3 version), but there’s no getting around the fact that this is clearly the lesser version. As such, it simply isn’t a superb entry like it’s PS3 and 360 counterpart.
Madden NFL ’13 Wii U gets a three out of five: SATISFYING.
* A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.