Not quite Madden 13.

When I heard that Madden 13 was coming to the Playstation Vita I got very excited. I’ve always wanted a fully-fledged football game on the go, but sadly that’s not exactly what was delivered. Madden on the Vita does however have its moments of being actually quite fun. I know a lot of people out there don’t seem to like this one, but I actually played through about four seasons and it didn’t fail to entertain.

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The game offers similar game modes to the console version of Madden 12. For instance, you can obviously do Franchise Mode, Superstar mode, Play Now, Madden Moments Live, Online Head to Head and Practice mode. The one mode that I was most excited for of course didn’t find its way to the Vita version – which is Online Franchise mode.

There’s a few things you should know before deciding if this game is worth it for you. One major draw back is that this is basically a ported version of Madden 12 with a couple of extra things added and taken away. The best thing about this title though is the actual game play, which other than a few less non-player characters on the field is quite true to the original. After hiking the ball it feels just like Madden on the consoles, but that’s the only place it feels right – when not hiking the ball, the pre-play selections lag. It’s just enough to be annoying, but for me it’s not enough to make me not want to play. If you’re someone that’s picky about detail, this version of Madden may turn you off. It’s definitely a stripped down one; with no refs on the field, sideline players lack detail, and sometimes awkward run animations.

In Franchise mode, you take over a team of your choice – and for me that was the Seattle Seahawks. I played about four full seasons and won three Superbowls so far. Franchise mode is great; you get to take part in the draft and make cuts in the preseason just like in any other Madden. The only downside is that it runs pretty slow, when selecting a player in the depth chart it can take about 2-10 seconds just for it to load, a significant slowdown to play. If the developers were able to take an extra month to perfect this game things could be so much better.

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If you’re not a fan of controlling the whole team take a smack at Superstar Mode. In this mode you create your own player and have him drafted, or you can choose your team but with less reward. This mode works just as well as Franchise, but with the same laggy menu systems as before. When making your player you get to choose the position you would like to play as well; I’ve played as the quarterback, free safety, and wide receiver and they all seem to work quite well. When you gather at the line of scrimmage you will hear your coach telling you what you will be doing, with a route mapped out for you. You can either let the computer AI control you and run your route; or you can take control and run your route your way. Either of these work just fine, but I usually lean more towards controlling my own player.

The graphics on the game are pretty good, but not amazing. Some things look good while other things look horrible, like time was just not taken on them. Player resemblance is pretty good for the more well known players, while rookies use other player profiles which can be weird – as sometimes you’re seeing identical players on the field. Overall the graphics in Madden work just fine with a few issues – as long as you didn’t buy the game just for the graphics, I don’t think you will be too disappointed.

Controlling your team is actually quite easy. If you’ve played Madden before these controls will come naturally. By snapping the ball with ‘x’ you can then choose who you’d like to pass it by hitting R, circle, square, x, or triangle. Depending on how long you press the button determines what type of throw your QB goes for. Tapping a button will lob the ball in the air, while holding down a button throws more of a direct bullet pass. Using the back touch you can swipe to do evasive maneuvers as the QB. When you have the ball pressing the right analog stick up you can truck into the other team to try and knock them off you. Hitting circle is a very effective spin move if you time it right. They’re many other moves that take more practice to master. While on the defense you can choose of you want to play as by tapping on them with the touchscreen. This is very nice considering no other Madden can do this making it much easier to decide who you want to be quicker. If you see the ball coming your way hitting the triangle button will cause your player to attempt an interception. Again there are many other controls to master as the defense and by practicing you can easily learn what you need to do as defense. The one major problem with one control scheme would have to be the kicking/punting mechanics. When ever you want to kick or punt the ball you have to aim where you want the ball to go. The only way you can adjust the arrow is by tilting the Vita. I dug deep into the menus and could not find any way to change it. It’s very touchy and is quite annoying when you’re deep in a game and then it’s like “oh yeah I gotta tilt this thing ugh.” If you could change this it wouldn’t be a complaint, but unfortunately this just shows a dev trying to force a feature in because the Vita has it.

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The AI is another thing that can be very iffy. With one of the new key features that was advertised for the Vita version which was the ability to change the play by drawing your own route. This can be one of the best features in the game – when it works. Sometimes the receiver or running back you change the play of will not even do what you had drawn for them to do. That said, when it does work it can be one of the best options to choose. The AI even without this play can sometimes be oblivious to what’s going on which can cause wide up players. The biggest gripe I have is when your Cornerback is covering the long pass and could easily smack the ball or intercept it and they literally just watch it sail over their head to a receiver, who then nets a ton of yards or even a touchdown. It happens at least 2-4 times a game, though a small bit of light at the end of the tunnel is that it can go both ways – so not just your opponent can benefit.

The online portion of Madden 13 Vita is good. There’s not very much lag that I could see, though there is only head to head to choose for modes. Lacking an Online Franchise mode means there really isn’t much to the online features aside from competitive play. If you decide to get the game now, I would suggest finding a friend that you can play with – as there aren’t really many people online anymore.

Some of the other modes in Madden 13 are good to have and work just as well as the other modes. Practice mode is exactly how it sounds you practice. Test your plays and see who is useful and who is useless! In Madden Moments Live they take a real life moment in the NFL and have you try and change the outcome or do the same thing the team did. For example if the team in real life made a fourth quarter comeback in Madden Moments Live you may have to take control of the defense and actually stop them from winning the game. It works really well and is a fun way to relive some of the craziest plays from the 2012-2013 season. With the Play Now mode you get yourself into a game where you can choose any team and any setting you want to adjust how the game will be played. There’s not much to this mode other then just playing another team.

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In the end, Madden 13 for the Playstation Vita gives you a good Madden experience, albeit an incomplete one. With laggy menus and lacking some key features you may want to wait until EA deems the Vita worthy of another Madden, though with a little bit of love a football game could really work here. It plays decently when you’re in-game, but while out of play things run choppy. If you need Madden on the go the Vita version will give you what you need, just keep in mind what you may get – the best way to approach this one would be to buy it on sale. Do some careful research before deciding whether or not this one is for you.

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Tyler Olthoff is a 24 year old who has been gaming since he can remember. In love with almost all types of games, the only type he can't stand (and that's probably because he sucks at it) is fighting games. His favorite genres would have to be shooters, RPGs, and adventure games. He owns almost every new system out there including PS4, PS3, XB1, PSVita and the 3DS, but barely plays any of them as it's mainly his good old Vita getting the attention!