Electronic Arts is known for delivering their premiere sports franchise, Madden NFL, within the first year of each video game device’s life cycle, and they continue this streak with PlayStation’s latest device on the market, the Vita. Featuring a powerful quad-core CPU and GPU along with more engaging controls over the PlayStation Portable (PSP), the idea of having the true Madden experience within your hands with Madden NFL 13 seemed more than possible, but is this truly the case? Read more for my full review of Madden NFL 13 on the PlayStation Vita.
With the PlayStation Vita recently passing its six month mark, gamers have had the opportunity to experience a handful of titles and franchises that were born on consoles such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter X Tekken, and more. The one thing that the PlayStation Vita has consistently received praise on was the fact that when the titles appeared on the Vita, they did not seem to be downscaled in any form, besides the lack of multiplayer within Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Madden NFL 13 on the Vita, as most of what has made Madden NFL 13 such an advancement within the franchise is lacking within the Vita’s release.
Connected Careers, what Electronic Arts claims to be “the first true sports RPG” integrating Online and Offline Franchise and Superstar modes, has absolutely no presence on the Vita leaving players with the standard career modes which isn’t necessarily a breaking factor since we still have Franchise and Superstar modes along with Madden Moments and online play, but to have one of the largest additions to Madden NFL 13 stripped from the Vita is quite disappointing.
The Infinity Engine, which I find to be the greatest technical innovation to emerge among the Madden franchise, is also absent from Madden NFL 13 on the PlayStation Vita. This is the most upsetting drawback of the Vita’s release for me as once I got my hands on the PS3 version and dove in, I instantly was grabbed by the immersion and level of realism presented within EA’s latest Madden release. This is not to say the Vita’s version is not realistic, as its easily the most realistic portable release of Madden to ever release, but the fact that its been stripped of Madden NFL 13’s two greatest additions and lacks Cross Play support with the PlayStation 3, I am upset to see the potential wasted.
Moving on from what the Vita’s version of Madden NFL 13 lacks, the controls nearly mimic that of the PlayStation 3 thanks to having two analog sticks and accurately duplicating PS3’s DualShock 3 controller. This allows for owners of the PS3 to simply jump right in and not worry about having to adjust to a different control scheme. For those wanting a more integrated experience, Electronic Arts has integrated implementation of the Vita’s touchscreen, rear touch pad, front facing camera, and motion sensor.
Thanks to the implementation of the PlayStation Vita’s touchscreen, no longer will you have to scroll through various menus while calling an audible, simply choose your player and draw his new route with your finger. I found this to be extremely useful and while the game supports the standard audible menus, I have failed to find myself abandoning the touchscreen. I have also found it neat to utilize the Vita’s motion sensor to guide your player inbounds down the sidelines as he tiptoes down the field and to snap a photo of yourself to implement within Superstar mode. Unfortunately, the other implementations don’t work as well such as using the motion sensor to control direction while kicking and using the rear touch panel to juke, but thankfully these control mechanics are not forced upon the gamer as the standard controls are still supported.
For a first-generation PlayStation Vita software release, Madden NFL 13’s visuals certainly grab the eyes of the player immediately after launching within a game. The details presented among the player’s jerseys, stadiums, and playing fields are nothing short of impressive and prove that Electronic Arts was able to put the advanced hardware, that PlayStation has provided, to use. While the Infinity Engine is not integrated within the Vita version of Madden NFL 13, the physics are still impressive and mimic that of Madden NFL 12 on the consoles, which for a portable is stunning.
After you get over the impressive visuals of Madden NFL 13 on the Vita, your mood is likely to dive back down when you discover the game has an inconsistent frame rate that reminds me of the first Madden releases on the PlayStation 3. While the hiccups mainly occur during the in-game presentations rather than actual gameplay, it takes away from the overall gameplay experience and leaves me feeling as if Madden NFL 13 was a cheaply made port of Madden NFL 12, since it’s lacking the new features of this year’s release besides the updated rosters.
All in all, Madden NFL 13 on the Vita is acceptable for a first-generation PlayStation Vita Madden release. Despite the lack of the Infinity Engine and Connected Careers along with inconsistent frame rates, there is no debating that the Vita currently hosts the best portable football experience to-date. I just really hope Electronic Arts gets it together for next year’s release and offers the same experience provided to consoles, and maybe participate in Sony’s new Cross Buy program?
Final Score: 6.5/10