|System: PS Vita*, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Electronic Arts|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: August 28, 2012|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 544p||ESRB|
by Josh EngenE
Salivating football fans have been compulsively purchasing their yearly copy of Madden for over 20 years now. So, with the summer of 2012 winding to a close, it's time for EA to slap John Madden's name on to a few hundred thousand shrink-wrapped boxes and put them into the hands of football junkies around the country.
This season, however, fans of the series are getting something a little different. Sure, the PS3 edition contains all of the requisite newfangled bells and whistles, but with EA finally sinking its teeth into Sony's latest portable, the Vita, Madden aficionados are anxious to get their hands on the pocket version of their favorite franchise. But even though this year's incarnation seems like it contains all of the proper ingredients, Madden 13 for the Vita could have used a little more time in the oven.
Before I cracked the cellophane on my copy of Madden Vita, I already knew good deal about the game. I knew that EA had been playing around with the Vita's rear touch panel as a controller for jukes and dodge motion. I knew that players would be able to use the touchscreen to call audibles and even draw in player routes with their fingers. I also knew that the game utilized the internal gyroscope to control direction when kicking. However, when I finally fired up the Vita, all of these vogue novelties quickly started to feel gimmicky.
Actually, Madden NFL 13 Vita makes a discouragingly accurate metaphor for the Vita itself; both have an incredible amount of potential that often plays second fiddle to the idiosyncratic controls. Now, I'm all for a clever control scheme—you're talking to a person who got his Wii on release day—but there are times when developers should simply be relying on those time-tested control setups rather than forcing something unintuitive onto the masses.
Sony and EA don't seem to realize this.
But even though the new input methods might be a fumble, the graphics are definitely a homerun (mixing sports metaphors is fun and easy). Madden 13 flaunts a particularly crisp set of player models on the Vita's 5-inch OLED display, and Ray Lewis' opening film shows off a bit of the console's HD capabilities. My wife was even impressed, and she watches terrible shows like Vampire Diaries.
However, if you were hoping to experience PS3-level graphics on a portable system, you're definitely going to be disappointed. In actuality, the Vita version of Madden 13 has far more in common with the console version of Madden 12 than it does with its own console contemporaries. Unfortunately, the Vita incarnation doesn't run on the Infinity Engine, which means that we're never going to be blown away by the graphics. In fact, if you ever accidentally look past the player models, you might mistakenly think that you're playing Madden 2005.
Now, don't get me wrong. Players who are upgrading from the PSP to the Vita are going to be instantly thankful for the changes. The dual analog sticks alone are enough to make the game worthwhile (did anyone ever really think that those idiotic nubs were acceptable?). But the Vita wasn't really touted as just another portable console; it was supposed to close the gap between console gaming a pocket gaming.