The new version of Madden NFL, one of the most anticipated video games each year, has been on store shelves for almost a month now.
It's not for the casual fan.
Madden NFL 13 (PlayStation 3, Xbox, $59.95), featuring Detroit Lions' wide receiver Calvin "Megatron" Johnson on the cover, was released at the end of August. This new version of Madden makes the NFL experience more realistic than it has ever been. The graphics, visuals and sounds are spectacular, even down to the players kicking up bits of turf rubber as they cut and run. Broadcasters Jim Nantz and Phil Simms do a brief pregame show, and with the controls at your finger tips, you almost feel like you are navigating a real NFL game.
But the game's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. There is so much to absorb that it's almost overwhelming. If you successfully get the game loaded, you will find an intimidating array of options and a playbook the size of a college textbook. The manual no longer comes with the game (it must be downloaded from the Internet). A game owner must also set up an online account to access most of the game's features.
For those who know what they're doing, the buttons and controls haven't changed much. There are some new changes to the passing game. First, programmers have added the genuine voices and cadences of star quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and other signal-callers. There are new QB dropbacks, pump fakes, throwing animations and pass trajectories. On the receiving end, pass-catchers can read and react to defenses, as well as do more to adjust to the ball.
The infinity engine, another new feature, adds physics to the game. Now mass, speed and body type are taken into account as muscles strain and massive bodies collide, creating unpredictable, bone-crushing hits.
"Connected careers" is a new mode for Madden 13. It borrows elements from the traditional franchise and superstar modes and mixes them together, although it would be nice to simply play a season. Users have the option to create a player or coach from scratch, take over the career of a current NFL player or coach, or opt to revive the career of a legend.
The game is wildly popular. EA Sports announced record sales following its Aug. 30 release.
The game is safe for children, and families could potentially play it for hours.
It's exciting, if you have time to figure it all out. Perhaps next year's game will come with a point system that helps you earn a college degree.
NCAA Football 13
NCAA Football 13 (PlayStation 3, Xbox, $59.95) is much more conservative and therefore enjoyable. Like Madden 13, its graphics and sounds are stunning. It's like you're watching a live game on ESPN. When playing a season, be prepared to see Rece Davis break in between plays with live studio updates on other games.
Like Madden 13, similar changes were implemented to enhance the passing game.
But now fans can play the Heisman Challenge, which allows users to pick one of the best players in college football history and put him on any team. Imagine Barry Sanders wearing crimson for the University of Utah, or Tim Tebow suiting up for the Utah State Aggies.
While there are online options, players may like NCAA Football 13 more than Madden for its simplicity and user friendliness.
EA Sports released NHL 13 on Sept. 11. This new version promises to offer an innovative new game-play experience that captures the speed, creativity and strategy of NHL hockey.
That's good for fans, considering the NHL just started a lockout.
New features include physics-driven skating, a new I.Q. system, where players and goalies are now fully aware of every other player on the ice, and a large multi-user dynasty so anyone can be a team's general manager. The quest for Lord Stanley's Cup should be more thrilling than ever.
Users can also rewrite or relive history as they replay some of the most memorable moments NHL history.
NBA Live 13
EA Sports announced on Sept. 13 that NBA Live 13 is being delayed in order to give the production team more time to polish the product.
"Many fans have been anticipating an early October launch, but our plan is to release at a later date," according to an EA Sports-released statement. "We will share more information in the future."
To see the game's trailer, visit easports.com.
There isn't a problem with the other popular NBA game on the market. NBA 2K13 releases for Xbox 360 and PS3 on Oct. 2.
One of the biggest selling points for this version is the music. 2K Sports used rapper Jay-Z as an executive producer. If parents are concerned about his music, they may want to screen the game first. The game's trailer offers a sample.
In addition to the typical modes and features, the game will include classic teams and even a celebrity team with such names as Justin Bieber and Bow Wow. Just know that Bieber's athletic 6-foot-4 frame may be a little exaggerated.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: tbtoone