Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Playable in 3D and 2D mode
One of the Nintendo 3DS games launch games I was most looking forward to was Madden Football. Admittedly I was skeptical given the production time could not have been all that long as developers likely did not have much time with the 3DS hardware. Not to mention it is nowhere near football season yet and the NFL is in the midst of an ugly looking labour dispute. All signs pointed to a game that would likely disappoint many. Was I right?
On the surface, Madden Football looks good on the 3DS. The players, the fields, the logos, replays and the menus look good. It is a colouful Madden experience and at first glance you can clearly tell this a Madden game from top to bottom. Unfortunately, it is not as polished as other Madden games already on the market and the level of detail that I have come to expect from the franchise is simply absent. In fact, Madden comes across as a tad thin in the visuals' department. The grass, player uniforms and lighting effects are just a few examples of some of the visuals that seem rather dated. This being said, you can tell the developers wanted to make the in-game experience the best they could given the limited development time.
Nevertheless, with Madden Football for the 3DS you can expect significant loading times and you will notice some stuttering as the games load and when replays are shown. The in-game play is smooth but everything else is a clunky affair and not as refined as the in-game play. I should also mention the 3D effects are lackluster. Sure the opening montage is cool and some of the replays look slick in 3D. Otherwise many will likely switch the game to 2D after a game or two. When playing the game with the 3D sliders turned on, the in-game players stay in 2D but the menus, replays, and scoreboard are displayed in 3D. It seems slick at first but starts to put a strain on your eyes in a matter of minutes. I found I played the game in 2D and the results were a far more enjoyable pain-free experience.
Sound wise, Madden Football does somewhat deliver. I was pleasantly surprised to hear some of the tunes that I enjoyed from Madden 11. Tracks from KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, and Guns N' Roses are all on display and sound great in the 3DS tiny speakers. So I give the developers plenty of kudos for porting some of the great tunes from Madden 11 into the Madden 3DS experience.
As for the overall sounds effects, they are basic and nowhere near the experience we have become accustomed to. You hear tackles, the QB cadence, some grunts and basic crowd noise but that's about it. It is not as rich an experience as it is on the big brother consoles. The commentating however is quite good and spot on.
All in all, the sound in Madden Football is good but just don’t expect the same complete audio package heard in other Madden games.
When you first fire up Madden Football for the 3DS, the main menu features the following options: “Play Now” where you can jump right into an 11-on-11 or a 5-on-5 game; “Practice” where you play a practice session against another NFL team as you iron out the kinks of your offence, defense and special teams; “Load Game” where you can launch into a previously saved game; “My Madden” where you can adjust your settings, playbooks, profile, rosters and look at your user records; “Season” where you can play a full season or half season or just jump into the playoffs if you want; and finally, “Credits,” the last section that is self-explanatory.
On the surface this all looks fairly impressive for a handheld. Sadly it is not and out of the box you essentially only get three modes: Exhibition Play, Season or Practice. Sure you can play the standard 11-on-11 games or a 5-on-5 arcade game with lax rules. All the teams are represented along with all your favorite players. Quarters lengths can be altered and you can adjust how often penalties are called. Also, you can adjust the length of your season as I mentioned above. Again, on the surface it does not seem too bad but for hardcore Madden fans this will not be enough.
Madden Football for the 3DS features no online or local multiplayer support unlike other Madden games that have consistently had some kind of multiplayer support. There is no franchise mode to be had. There are no mini-games or training camp type mode. No superstar mode and virtually no player stats. Yes you read it correctly, the game features no player stats whatsoever. One thing we all love about Madden games is the ability to monitor the statistical leaderboards after the end of a week. We also love to be able to look to see if our running back rushed for over a hundred yards or if our QB threw for over 300 yards. Sadly, no such ability exists.
I guess that is primarily my biggest complaint with the game. It just seems to be thin on features and content. It is a bare bones Madden experience that has its moments of fun but at the end of the day you will be discarding this game like chewing gum.
I spent the majority of my time in Season mode and being able to play through an entire season is enjoyable. But the absence of stats was bothersome and some of the in-game aspects are disappointing. For starters, you cannot see the entire width of the field when you snap the ball. Much of this is due to the limitations of the hardware but being able to see if your wide receiver is covered or not is incredibly difficult. Also the AI does some mysterious things once in awhile. At times my kick returner would let the ball drop beside him and other times the AI would not play with any urgency when down by a touchdown with under 2-minutes left.
On a more positive note, controlling your players with the circle pad is very responsive and is certainly one of the positives of the in-game action. It feels smooth and is very responsive. Additionally, Madden Football for the 3DS features the Gameflow feature that was introduced in Madden 11. In summary, Gameflow provides gamers with the best play for the given down and yardage. In a way, it is almost like you are asking the coach to call the play and you are putting trust in that coach to call the best play for your current circumstance. It is much more accurate than the former “ask Madden” option since Gameflow is based on your team’s play calling propensities and strengths. It also matches plays to situational game plans. It also reduces the length of time it takes to play a game.
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