With the newest football season underway, here comes the brand new Madden game. EA always touts a new reason to play the latest in the series. Madden 12 is no different, with various features from a more fleshed out franchise mode, and a brand new collision system. This game has a lot to try to live up to in terms of separating itself from 11. It will take much more than defense to convince casual and advanced player that Madden is still the king.
• Presentation has gone even further this year. The idea of having a superstar exit a bus and show off his latest suit is gone. Instead, we’re given a bird’s eye view of all of the stadiums. The focus has been completely shifted to the recreation of how teams enter the field. The commentary follows each play a tidbit better, while little nuances like improved camera angles will make the game feel more alive. It’s not a huge leap over last year, but it is much more organic and appealing.
• Collision tackles gets us even closer to the real thing. The big feature last year was the addition of gang tackles. For 2012, the major change on the field is how much control you have before impact. The developers have designed it so players can make split-second decisions before hits. You will no longer be suddenly grappled onto from long distances. Each of the individual football players must actually touch the ball carriers to bring them down. It makes running with the ball feel a lot smoother, and even works its way into how blocking is achieved.
• The defense is extremely beefed up this year. It may not be exactly perfect, but they are much more aggressive and focused on their assignments. Badly thrown passes will result in many an interception, as the defense is quick to react in the backfield. Quarterbacks and Running backs will also have to pay much more attention, as teams with good Defensive lines will bulldoze through with relative ease. The only issue so far, is that screen passes are still like candy to anyone playing a live opponent.
• A few new features have also snuck their way into, Madden. The first up is the Dynamic Player Performance system. Which can be used to make each individual player more unique compared to another. Traits like Consistency and Confidence will affect overall performance, while a trait like “Drops Open Passes” could be detrimental to your team. Its little things like this that will change how you manage your season.
• That brings us to the upgraded Franchise mode, where players will spend most of their time. DPP plays a big factor here, and ratings will rise and fall based on their consistency. Hot and Cold streaks will make or break ratings, for at least three games maximum. So even the best rated players will often shift to being horrible for certain games. It breathes a little bit more life into the mode, and keeps the player constantly on their toes.
Expanded Rosters, Cut Days, and a new Rookie scouting system has appeared in Franchise Mode. In pre-seasons any training camp invite or brand new Rookie will have their ratings hidden. It’s up to you to study them in the pre-season and cut those who aren’t up to snuff. When the four weeks are up the true rating for the players are revealed. It’s up to the player to make a well informed decision on who to keep for the team.
• The Playstation 3 version has a few issues of concern. During transitions between plays and the opening cut-scenes, players will see tons of lag issues that really degrade the presentation. There were also a few crashes during the loading screens in, NFL Superstar Mode. The real issue was early Multiplayer; I was only able to struggle through one poorly optimized online game. If a patch can fix any of these issues, I would gladly bump it up a grade or so.
• With all of the righteous upgrades to Franchise Mode, the NFL Superstar mode is kind of left out in the cold. You can think of it as a roleplaying game where you grind for loot, but there isn’t any loot to be had at all. Practice mode has returned to make things more interesting, but that’s about all that’s new about NFL superstar. All you do is play game after game with no real interaction with your player. Madden needs to take a look at the NBA 2K series, when it comes to making a more interesting superstar mode.
• The new A.I. is much more aggressive this year, but the CPU will often do incredibly stupid things. On the offensive side, your A.I. teammates will get stuck in routes. That leaves the offense playing like robots, and the defense acting more like players and taking advantage of Players. Your defensive line now takes a bit of time to adjust to blocks, which means you’ll spend a lot of time waiting for them to move. During some run plays, you’ll break through a gap and their defense will routinely do anything to allow you to score.
• Another big issue is how a quarterback throws a pass in, Madden 12. Throwing a pass is either a bullet straight to the position of the receiver, or a pass so far away that it’s like it was given to the defense. There is really no in-between for most of these passes, and sometimes you wonder if it’s the DPP at play or just how the passing works. Players will attempt to switch out quarterbacks until they get one who can actually succeed in throwing a proper pass.
Football season has begun and Madden 2012 is really the only option. Personally, I don’t really think a lot has changed this year. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the new inclusions aren’t really all that jaw dropping either. Madden 12 receives a C+ from Half-Ass Gaming, the collision system is really interesting… but everything else is more like DLC.