With the launch of the 3DS, EA wasted no time bringing their popular franchise to the handheld. After all the franchise is no stranger to portable devices since it is on the iPhone, NDS and PSP. This year however EA decided to drop the number from it's franchise and just go with the name of Madden NFL Football. This could have something to do with the NFL lockout which means there might not be a Madden 12 or it could be that EA has decided to make the 3DS version an arcade game. Madden NFL Football doesn't offer all the bells and whistles of the console version but it is definitely a fun game to play.
When you boot up Madden you will know that many features are missing from the game. You can still manage your rosters sign and release players. As for the game modes the only ones available are Play Now which lets play against any of the 32 teams available or Season in which you can take your team to the superbowl. One game mode that is missing and that is most important of all is Multiplayer. Without multiplayer, Madden is can get old pretty quick if you have no one to match up against.
Madden can be a fun game depending on how you look at it. It can be fun if you look at it as an Arcade game where it's great to play in short burst but if you're buying it for the Sim portion then you will be disappointed. It isn't as deep as the console version or the other portable versions available on other consoles.
Looking at it from an Arcade's point of view actually makes the game more entertaining and it's simpler for all users to play. When starting a match or a season you get to choose from a regular game of 11 vs 11 or a shorter version of 5 vs 5 with several different rules applied. When playing Madden you will notice that things are done in a different fashion. For example the game will simulate your teams offense and defense moves. This means that will not have to look into the playbook at all. However if you want more control of the situation you can always press the B button to bring up the playbook.
When letting the game simulate for you during plays, you will loose up to 20 or more seconds because the clock doesn't stop. At times your first play of the game will over lapse past the first quarter and into the second. I recommend making the game time longer by 10 minutes or more or bring up the playbook and pick a play. During simulation the game will pick running plays more than half the time but this could just be a random coincidence that could of just happened while I was playing the game every time.
Madden also includes a spotlight moment in which you will be commanded to press a combination of buttons to make it a great play. Activating this is also like activating the replay value only much rarer. When you activate spotlight moment, you will press the buttons that the game is asking to be pressed. You will have to continue to press them until your meter is filled. It is time limited so filling the meter then letting go could guarantee you lose the spotlight moment so just keep mashing those buttons until the goal is reached.
One main gripe that I do have with the game is when a play is being set up, the players do not have a visible button command unless you press the R button and see it yourself while they're hiking the ball. Looking at it via the touchscreen also doesn't help as the players go outside the screen while the play is being set up, it doesn't give you enough time to look at who is doing what. The playbook also doesn't show this and while not a major problem it can be annoying doing this all the time just to see who you play to pass the ball to.
The camera work could have also been a little better. There are replays which are mostly accessed through the pause menu. At times if there is an epic play, a replay will play but those are almost rare. Game mechanics are also a bit broken. For example you can go through an entire game and not have any interceptions or fumbles but as soon as you do an interception or a fumble the computer will get revenge and start doing them as well. Once again I don't know if this is by coincidence or if the game is just programmed that way.
Graphically the game looks great and the 3D couldn't be better for a football game. Because this is the first entry into the game like stated before many features are missing. For example there are no weather effects and all stadiums look the same. Also when playing in 3D the names of the players will look blurry but this could be a problem with the 3D in general. Animations are awkward at times. If a player is lying on his back he will literally do a 180 in the same position and get back up on his feet. The Stadium walls are also missing collision and if a player runs too far into it, they will just go through the wall.
With Season mode you can hours of gameplay depending on how much time you put per quarter. Besides that Play Now is practically useless unless you want to jump in into a quick game. Multiplayer is missing and Player Management is almost non-existant. Even local multiplayer would have been a great addition.
Madden NFL Football is a great arcade game but not a Sim game. This might turn off the hardcore players that will probably end up looking someplace else to play their Madden. However for newcomers, people who don't usually play Madden games or for people who are looking to play something different on their 3DS, this game is definitely worth checking out. The 3D is great and gameplay is fun for the most part minus a few hiccups but because of a few missing features this game warrants no more than a rental as there isn't much you can do once you beat Season Mode.
GamePlay: Great Madden game for newcomers as it plays more of an Arcade game than anything else but this might turn off hardcore Madden fans. 8/10
Graphics: Great 3D effects but players names become more harder to read. Animations are smooth but awkward at times and no weather effects. 7/10
Sound: Great soundtrack but can be overshadowed by announcers and the crowd. The announcers could also be a little louder. 7/10
Performance: For a launch title on the 3DS, it delivers a great performance with no framerate issues however spending some more time on the game mechanics would have made this game better. 7/10
LifeSpan: Season mode only lasts for so long and no multiplayer makes this game good to use for one weekend. 6/10
Total Score: 70/100