As summer winds down, the kids go back to school and the politicians and owners go through the motions of trying to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles, dads everywhere can now replay and avenge the misfortunes of their favorite football teams. As a Los Angeles football fan, there are a lot of sore spots the latest Madden 12 release uncovers. Unrelated to the videogame, the arrogance of local politicians driving the NFL and a good chunk of the film industry outside of the area is frustrating. The state of Detroit should serve enough caution against trying to over-milk local business. The more relevant issue stems from EA throwing their financial muscle into securing exclusive rights to NFL licensed games.
There was a time when every software company there was, had an NFL game and almost every one of them was terrible. In 2005 that was not the case, 2K sports with an ESPN license was at the very least, highly competitive with the long time standard of EA’s Madden. NFL 2K5 was priced at $19.99 forcing EA to drop the price of Madden 2005 and spend a lot of money to insure they would never face this type of competition again. For the last seven years, some may argue, EA has done little advance their annual football product.
At the heart of all sports games is an RPG for sports fans; Madden 12 is no exception. As a matter of fact, Madden 12 boasts a My Superstar mode which allows you to create a player and either enter the draft or walk on to the team of your choosing. The Franchise mode lets you be the owner, coach, players and everything. This year’s Franchise mode adds a new twist to your stat driven players by adding Dynamic Player Performance. This adds a new wrinkle by adding inconsistency to the play of less dependable players and the carry over effects of hat and cold streaks. If all of that isn’t enough control for you, you can also make your own playbook.
Another wrinkle in the standard gameplay modes is the Madden Ultimate Team which is kind of a weird play on Pokemon or Magic Cards. There is even a very limited release Hall of Fame Edition this year with an exclusive set. You start with a deck of cards that fills your team, and as you play, you gain coins that allow you to buy different tiers of decks to supplement and replace your deck. In addition to the coins, gamers can also use real money to buy booster decks. In a slight twist, the cards have contract lengths, which are used up in games. This can create a problem however, because every game that player starts deducts from that contract, in an effort to prevent everyone quitting losing games. The problem is that EA consistently has server issues, which will drop you from games and then deduct that game from your players’ contracts.
While some may complain that EA advances the quality of Madden too little, there are quite a few improvements to this year’s game. The most noticeable gameplay improvement is the new tackling system. Where before the game would kind of suck your playmaker into nearby tackles, now the defense can either just bump you or tackle you. This does make some of the motions look a little awkward in the replays. Other new features are the ability to pump fake to try to shake the coverage of your primary receiver and now being able to perform diving catches that require good timing. Proportions have also been fixed all around, for the players and the ball in relationship to the players.
This is easily the best and most realistic football offering the Madden franchise has put forth. There is so much that the game offers in terms of gameplay and overall football experience. Unfortunately, Madden 12 doesn’t succeed in each of these attempts to offer everything. With so many playing modes, it makes finding what you’re looking for difficult. This is made somewhat worse by the lack of physical manual and having to find the online manual through the game menu. Another frustrating issue is the constant communication with EA’s servers, which even when working properly, significantly add to loading and wait times.
Overall, there is so much to do in Madden 12, it’s hard not to recommend it, not withstanding wishing for a graphics overhaul, much-much more from the in-game commentary and irritation with the antipiracy/marketplace online tie-in. While some will still complain that Madden doesn’t do enough from year to year to justify the cost, there are certainly enough new features to make Madden 12 worth buying. Madden 12 is available at all of your local game stores and with a little perseverance, you might be able to find one of those 125,000 Hall of Fame Editions, only available in the United States.
Madden 12 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: Nintendo DS, PC, PS3, PSP, Wii, Xbox 360 and Mobile Phone.