Let's be clear here when we say "sports simulation" We mean team sports intended to look, feel and play like the real games we see on television and not sped-up, simplified, dumbed-down arcade games with professional sports league licenses slapped on them. NBA Jam and NFL Blitz have confused more people with those licenses than anything.
In any case Madden NFL 13 is making a huge leap this year in just about every observable area. The gameplay --what you're doing when you're actually pushing buttons and working analog sticks-- is most important and both the offensive and defensive systems have been overhauled. You can throw passes over the middle now because quarterbacks will be able to put air under the ball to avoid linebackers. That's so much like the NFL, it hurts. Similarly, on defense, players will have to see the ball before they can make a play to knock down a pass or intercept it. Again, it's like an NFL Sunday in your hands. Seriously though, the list of things that have been improved is very impressive for a title that has no direct competitor and that's been selling at least four million copies a year since forever.
The only drawback to Madden 13 that we saw --and this will only apply to those of us who are serious hardcore fans of the online franchise mode-- is the lack of fantasy drafting. Better than 98% of you won't know or care about this, but I'm in that 2% so just let that hit you.
Honorable Mention Hot Coffee Mug for Best Sports Simulation: FIFA Soccer 13
The FIFA franchise typically dominates the Gamescom show in German every August, so its appearances at E3 end up muted with little new information or demonstrable improvements. Even with that hindrance, FIFA 13 was impressive.
The bigger story here is that the rebirth of EA SPORTS' NBA Live is only being mentioned as an incomplete afterthought because it's so……..*