Initial Impressions of Madden NFL 13 on Wii U

Posted November 19th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Madden NFL 13 is one of the three primary sports titles that accompany the release of the Nintendo Wii U. The tablet controller has proven to be more worthwhile than anticipated but poor framerate hampers what otherwise could have been an excellent launch offering.

Feature wise the Wii U version of Madden 13 is fairly similar to the 360 and PS3 version. It includes many of the same gameplay enhancements, the Connected Careers mode (offline and online and as a Coach or Player), head-to-head online play, and even Madden Moments Live. While it is missing some significant elements with the “Infinity Engine” physics and Ultimate Team mode it’s likely that anyone heavily invested in the inclusion of a physics engine or a team-building collection driven mode will already have Madden on another system.

There are multiple ways to play depending on how the tablet controller is used or by going with the “Pro” controller which is essentially a 360 controller mapped differently for Nintendo. The tablet has what is known as “attached” or “detached” modes. Going “attached” means it will be the second screen device that generally would be envisioned for the system. The screen is used to select plays (with GameFlow or by digging into the full playbook) and make hot routes. There’s also an option given to put the play-calling on the TV screen and just use the tablet screen for pre-play adjustments. Changing the purpose of the tablet dramatically happens by switching to “detached” which allows for the entire game to be played whether the TV is on or not by displaying everything on the tablet in the traditional manner people are accustomed to playing. It actually looks and performs great on the smaller screen.

The tablet has been accurate with touch commands and valuable in what it offers during gameplay. It is much easier to tap on a player and draw their route or audible than it is to cycle through players on a standard controller, pull up a series of options, and sort through them to make a change. I’ve been able to alter the assignment for several defensive players before the CPU snaps which is something difficult to achieve through the otherwise typical route of doing so. Drawing routes on screen works well and they can be anything desired no matter how ridiculous…those just won’t be especially effective! It does seem to translate them into traditional routes when what is drawn is at least close to one but the players will also run all sorts of zig-zags or swirls if directed to do so. Choosing plays on the screen also allows the presentation to play out on the TV without having to skip past it all.

The controls will take a while to get accustomed to particularly for those who have been playing on the other systems. Because the tablet controller is so large (but surprisingly light on a side note) the separation between hands is much greater. The right stick is placed above and to the right of the buttons rather than below and to the left. Those buttons are also ordered differently with A (the primary advance button) being on the right and B (the primary back button) being on the bottom. Y is on the left and X up top. The control scheme is unfortunately not customizable though functions were otherwise mapped similarly to the layout of other controllers. For example X is the catch button and A is the spin. There is also designated sprint and turbo buttons for those who have liked being able to have that under manual control in the past.

Graphically the Wii U version is comparable to the 360 and PS3 in cut scenes and replays – check out a comparison shot here – however there is a notable step back during actual gameplay. The players, surrounding settings, and on-screen text are not nearly as crisp. Considering that, one might expect the game to run smooth with fewer resources being used, but that simply isn’t the case. The jittery framerate was at first so off-putting that it made me question whether I could play it for an extended period of time.

That first reaction to the poor framerate dissipated somewhat but it clearly is the main deficiency when compared to the other HD consoles. It was expected that the lack of the physics engine would have that designation but its absence has actually been less impactful than what the framerate does to damage the overall experience.

One concern going into release was the extent to which the game would be supported by EA. While there is no word on whether patches will be coming down the line it was a relief to find that not only will roster updates be offered but the latest one from Friday is available now. It appears that when the updates get pushed out weekly the Wii U will be receiving them alongside the 360 and PS3.¬†Online play includes only standard head-to-head (no Online Team Play) and there is no “Online Pass”. Evaluation of online performance will come later this week.

Madden NFL 13 is an example of both the good and the bad that will be associated with the Wii U. The system is able to offer a similar overall experience with games being ported over from the 360/PS3 but either lacks the power to run that software at full strength or the developers may not have had the time to translate it perfectly. That or they may not have felt it necessary to invest the proper resources after evaluating sales potential and the market being targeted.

The tablet controller offers up some valuable functionality that meshes really well with the rest of the game and is fun to use in that capacity. It would be especially fantastic accompanying a management game along the lines of an NFL Head Coach – though that will never happen.

Madden NFL 13 on the Wii U would make a good option for anyone who doesn’t already own the game on the other systems. It has the content to justify a purchase and took sufficient care with the integration of the tablet controller features. However despite the great use of the controller it can’t be recommended over those other versions due to the technological hangups and various omissions.

  • Jurr

    Thanks haven’t seen anywhere else with a review of the game. Good that Nintendo has a console that can do well enough for now but won’t be long until the next systems crush it.

    • smsixx

      Yeah…because 360 and PS3 totally crused the Wii in sales **rolls eyes**

      • smsixx


      • Guest

        People are still buying new games to this very day for the PS3 and 360. You sound like you’re a bit butt hurt that the Wii U is already looking to be a failure. Let it go and just sit back and watch it happen. You can’t save Nintendo. They did this to themselves. They continued to think small and they will continue to be….small. But this time….they really fucked up big time. Its all over for Nintendo. Game Over.

        • Riposte

          “They continued to think small and they will continue to be…”

          I don’t think you know which company Nintendo is.

      • KG

        Yep! Fuck the haters!

  • newtonfb

    i dont see how sony cannot do this is the ps3 and vita together. Not saying alot of people would use it but it would be cool option

    • bucsfan since 2000

      Was just saying the same thing the vita does everything this remote does i think sony will do it though

      • The Vita and PS3 have nothing to do with each other, they are two separate consoles. The Vita does not work in conjunction with the PS3 so I wish people would READ before POSTING.

        • Dude, there’s such a thing as Remote Play on the Vita – I’ve used it personally to play a PS3 game on the Vita. Granted, I wasn’t thrilled with the experience, but it’s possible…

      • You can stream games to the Vita but I don’t think it was well thought out (the video quality is a bit ugly). I’d love to see it upgraded and utilized more though – would maybe give some new life to the Vita, for sure.

        That said, I think this idea could make the Wii U somewhat portable too. You could power it up, say, in the break room at work and just play on the tablet. Basically, if you have a power source (but no TV) you could still play it.

    • bonn

      Just dont think EA would care anyway. the vita is dead. 2k wont even make nba 2k for it.

  • Me


  • Guest

    Look at the sidelines in that video. Where is all the people that are in the sidelines on the other console versions of the game? Is this game THAT stripped down graphically and feature wise? This looks like the stripped version of Madden 07 on the PS3. The Wii U is proving to be some hyped up last generation junk. This is clearly NOT the next generation of gaming.


  • JakeKL

    I agree with the flaws you mentioned. But since my PS3 died and I’m not going to buy another with the next consoles coming out probably end of next year and now with the Wii U I grabbed Madden. Its way better than I thought it would be.

    • This game is a gotdamned mess.

      • King

        Your username is a got damn mess.

  • MARZ76

    as do the ps3 has poor framerate also,the question is did madden13 get ported 360 to the Wii u if so thats why. how can we find out if it was ported from the 360,360fanboys think Oo its EA no its 360 old tech f’n up these games this year. am i lying hell no new engines an old 360 tech dont mix specially when they are porting it to consoles with 10x better tech. think about all these epic games coming will 360 f us over again an again but a devs at fault also stop it.