A Gamer’s Guide to the XLVII Superbowl
On February 3rd this year, the Ravens will face the 49ers in Superbowl XLVII. If that statement confuses you, don’t worry – you’re not alone. For many (British) people the Superbowl remains an enigmatic if not superficially familiar sporting affair. That said, it is still an annual fixture whose hype alone will be enough to pique the curiosity of many of us to the point where we stay up late and watch the show (again, if you’re in Britain). Perhaps the fervour has even gripped you to the extent that you fancy picking up a Madden game. Or perhaps you just want to know what the hell is actually happening on the American Football field. Well fear not, here you will find what you need to get into the gamer’s Superbowl spirit!
The Superbowl is the culmination of the top flight of American Football. Think of it as the world cup final for the sport. In the NFL there is a regular season, which is followed by ‘playoffs’; a mini-tournament for the teams who performed the best. The climactic game of this tournament is the Superbowl, the winners being crowned the Champions of the NFL overall for that season.
Just to give you an idea of the sheer scope of this event, in America the Superbowl has been quoted as “the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day.” Yep that’s right – ahead of Christmas! That’s good news if you are a hungry American. Bad news if you are a chicken, as chicken wings are (by tonnage) the primary food consumed by Americans on this most sacred of sporting days.
If you want to experience the joys of American football via the wonderful medium of video games, you will probably want to pick up Madden. No doubt you’ve heard of this game; it is to NFL what FIFA is to soccer. Madden is focused on the NFL, while the other EA published American Football game, NCAA, is focused on the College League. So if it’s Superbowl and the NFL teams you want, then you’ll want Madden, not NCAA.
Madden 13 is the latest offering from EA, and has earned universally positive ratings from football fans and the gaming community in general. Reviewers have praised the slick animation, addictive gameplay and insanely deep tactical elements. Physics are always important, and Madden 13 delivers in this department through it’s unique ‘Infinity Engine’, which gives you crunching collisions and soaring throws. This means we’ve finally waved goodbye to the stock tackle animations that pervaded Madden 12.
Madden 13 is also the first title in the franchise to include Kinect; you can bark commands at your team pre-snap, as well as direct tackles and yell at players with instructions on where to run. Because EA hold an exclusive NFL license Madden is unchallenged, but owing to its quality buying it is far from ‘settling’.
American Football bears more than just a passing resemblance to Rugby. Essentially, the objective is the same; browbeat your way across the pitch until your team has the ball in the oppositions ‘end zone’. In the sport, you get four attempts (known as ‘downs’) to move the ball forwards by 10 yards. If you move 10 yards within your four ‘downs’, you may continue and push for a further 10. If you fail, possession switches to the other team.
To score, you can either go for the ‘touchdown’ (akin to a Rugby ‘try’), or you can kick the ball through the poles for a ‘field goal’, which earns you fewer points. As you’d expect, the team with the most points at the end of the fourth quarter wins the game.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “why can’t they just play Quidditch, like normal people?” Well, if you give the game a chance it’s actually quite an enthralling spectacle. You get to see the full spectrum; on the one hand, tactical mind games played through intricate player formations. On the other – huge American dudes colliding with each other as hard as they can, causing presumably more brain damage than they had when they entered the stadium.
Happy Superbowl, everyone!