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Madden 13

Pigskin covered in Awesomesauce

The Pitch: John Madden’s namesake franchise returns for its 2013 iteration with some heavily touted improvements including the new infinity physics engine, but is it the must-have upgrade everyone wants, or just deja vu all over again?

What It Really Is: The best Madden so far. In responding to past complaints about incremental upgrades, Madden 13 actually stuffs a good amount of new systems under the hood. The new player physics has facilitated a hefty helping of new animations that keep the game feeling fresh when compared to last year, and stops it from getting stale as you play it over and over again, because you will be playing it over and over again. Convergence is also a theme this year, not in a dogpile sense - though that’s here too - but in the fact that all career modes from create-a-player to be-a-coach have been lumped into a single, new “Connected Careers” mode. This all-encompassing approach to pro football ends up doing a great job of keeping gamers engrossed and pushing the envelope for total immersion in the sports genre. Add in the spit and polish of new TV Broadcast-inspired cut scenes and the excellent booth commentary of Phil Simms and Jim Nantz and Madden 13 more than justifies the 60 bucks you’ll spend on it this year. Ready-Made Press Blurb: “If John Madden’s heart gave out we’d give him our [intern’s] heart just to keep him and the Madden franchise alive.”

Fun Fact: Madden 13 integrates Kinect for the first time, making the wise decision to focus on voice controls over arm-flailing. After we called an audible, we had the kneejerk reaction to do a five step drop back and accidentally stepped on our cat. RIP Eli Meownning, we’ll miss you.

Who’s It For: Fantasy league tinkerers, Monday morning quarterbacks and Sunday afternoon couch potatoes. When you’re sick of watching the same Bud Lite and Gillette commercials - and you will be - popping in Madden 13 for a half-time session is the only option.