The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
I'm about as big an NFL fan as you're going to find. I watch as many games as I can during the season, tape preseason games and re-watch them to gain insight on position battles, play in multiple fantasy football leagues, and spend the NFL offseason pouring over scouting reports as if my opinion mattered and I could affect the decision making of my beleaguered Minnesota Vikings. Being such a football nerd, I eagerly anticipate the release of Madden each year.
After starting out with the disastrous Madden NFL 06, by and large the game has gotten better each successive edition this generation. With developer EA Tiburon's focus this year placed largely on franchise mode – the place I spend the majority of my time playing the game – I had very high hopes for Madden NFL 12. Unfortunately, a lot of the great ideas the team had fell flat in execution. After playing the game for review, I haven't been as keen to spend my free time with the game as I was with prior versions. Here are a few reasons why.
PRESENTATIONMadden art director Michael Young did a fantastic job of integrating the camera angles you see broadcasters use on Sunday into the game this year – for the most part the awkward replay angles are gone, and the close-up cams bring energy to the events. That said, there are problems abound with the presentation – most notably the rough commentary of Gus Johnson. Color commentator Chris Collinsworth's delivery sounds natural, but Johnson sometimes sounds robotic, sometimes comes across as overzealous, and most of the time is a few seconds behind the play. Gus also apparently doesn't know what constitutes someone being a game changer. Each game he highlights the Gatorade Impact Player, but apparently the only qualifications you have to meet is to be a living, breathing quarterback. Many times he has called out a QB with an abysmal rating rather than a player who just set the NFL single-game record for sacks, the stud running back who scored the only points on the board, or a defensive back who made a key interception. Way to show awareness of the game at hand, Johnson.
The crowd reacts more realistically to big plays this year, but sometimes cheers at inappropriate times as well. Late in the fourth quarter of one game, the crowd cheered enthusiastically when its defense got a third down stop. The only problem? That "stop" was courtesy of me kneeling on third down to run out the clock and preserve the victory. The stadium operators are prone to similar mistakes. When my struggling rookie QB Christan Ponder threw a pick-six, the stadium erupted with the "Skol, Vikings" celebration song while the opposing team lined up for the extra point.
Speaking of extra points, I wasn't happy to see EA remove The Extra Point weekly summary show from the franchise mode. It didn't always work in the past, with the commentators calling out worthless stats and highlighting inconsequential games instead of those with playoff implications, but with a fresh pass they could have reinvigorated the show. The NFL Countdown show in ESPN NFL 2K5 made me care more about league happenings than any other feature in a football game, and I wish EA hadn't abandoned their version without giving it a second pass.
Here are a few other problems I noticed as I played the game longer:
The commentators made no mention of the fact they were broadcasting a divisional round playoff game- Gus said "Welcome to Foxboro," the home of the New England Patriots, when the Super Bowl was taking place in New Orleans.- The pre-game commentary and player introductions are way too repetitive. EA needs to embrace diversity.
GAMEPLAYMany of the gameplay changes to Madden NFL 12 are positive, especially in regards to the running game. As I mentioned before, I love the (almost complete) removal of suction blocking. The renewed physicality during tackles is a welcome change as well, and the defensive pursuit seems better this year. Linebackers and defensive back move in more quickly to limit the potential for breakaway runs. As a gamer who tends to build off the running game, I appreciated all of these improvements (though the lack of gang tackling is noticeable).
The passing game, however, still gives me fits. EA spent a lot of time talking about the improved zone coverages, and the passing windows do seem smaller, but this tweak takes a backseat to problems I thought the franchise had done away with in the past. Quarterbacks fail to get rid of the ball even when they have enough time to complete a throwing motion before taking a sack. The ESP secondary is back too – several times I watched safeties with their backs to the play make a break toward the intended receiver a split second before the ball was released from my quarterback's hand. The leaping linebacker problem from last year wasn't fixed, either – I can't tell you how many times I swore in disbelief when an otherworldly linebacker leaped to knock down a pass intended for a receiver 20 yards away.
I noticed a few new problems, as well. Occasionally receivers don't locate passes, and oftentimes they fail to work back to the ball. Many stand there like Randy Moss during one of his ineffectual tantrums and make no effort to fight for possession; content to simply watch the defender make a play. This doesn't just apply to scrubs with low ratings, either. I watched All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald make no attempt for a pass while the mighty midget Antoine Winfield jumped to break up the play on a highly thrown ball. The odds of that happening on Sunday? Slim to none. Maybe the lazy effort of the wide receivers is why pass interference rarely gets called.
Last year EA introduced GameFlow, which promised to streamline playcalling to keep your nose out of the playbook. It worked on offense, but the defensive calls were seemingly made without regard to the opposing team's personnel on the field. Why call a base defense when the other team comes out with a four-receiver set? This year, EA gives you more control, with multiple options. Once again, the offensive system works well, and I love the option to specify if I want a run or a pass play. The changes to the defensive side of the ball, however, once again come up short. You have the option to choose between a recommended, aggressive, and conservative play. It makes sense on the surface, but in practice all logic is thrown out of the window. I'm not sure who told EA the definition of "aggressive," but Madden himself will be the first to tell you that cover four is the antithesis of the word. Since the plays often don't match the intended philosophy, I ended up calling my own shots in every game. Maybe next year they'll get it right by giving us options for blitz, zone, and man instead of these arbitrary categories.
Here are a few other minor things I noticed:
-Flipping formations may earn you an encroachment call because the nickel back's pathfinding is poor.-Defenders staring down the quarterback in zone are very slow to react to scrambling quarterbacks once they cross the line of scrimmage.
-If a guard doesn't locate someone to block on passing downs, they'll stand around instead of doubling the guy next to them who is wreaking havoc.-Highly rated right defensive ends are useless unless you directly control them. In three seasons with the Vikings, the most sacks Jared Allen accrued in a season was six.-Players still don't block well on special teams.-I watched a few ballcarriers clip right through a referee who couldn't get out the way.-The hot and cold streaks don't always make senses during the games. If Adrian Peterson fumbles he's immediately on a cold streak, but he doesn't go on a hot streak when he has 107 yards and two touchdowns on a mere six carries?-Poor clock management is back. With 23 seconds left in the half and the ball on the 20 yard line, a team called a running play. This makes sense given their distance from scoring position since they can run one play and head for the locker room. But after burning a few seconds off the clock, suddenly the team reversed it's thinking and called a timeout. For what? To run another run play, that's what. I also witnessed some teams who chose to run during the two minute drill when they should be throwing to preserve the clock.
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There are many things wrong with it, but I still think Madden 12 is better than 11. I felt that Madden 11 was mainly just a copy and paste of Madden 10. I miss the glory days of video game football though...NFL 2K and Madden were amazing back in the original Xbox and PS2 days.
i think the run game is flawed, its more effective to run without using moves and i think more emphasis should be put on razzle dazzle
You are spot on with all of these problems, but when all of these are considered, I don't think these are "minor" issues at all. And I don't think we are out of line to want these problems to be fixed. Also, you neglected to mention that the graphics are putrid. I played the game on my 1080p HD set up and it looked like CRAP. I took a picture of it(on a high megapixel cam no less) and sent the pic to some of my friends to guess what I was playing. Of course they all guessed I was playing Madden but NONE of them believed me when I said it was Madden 12. They thought I was playing something on the PS2. The graphics are atrocious. Added with the noticeable problems you mentioned based on franchise and gameplay, and I couldn't even finish a single game. I made it to halftime and couldn't take how horrible the game was anymore. NCAA is so much more polished in so many ways. I can't believe this is even produced by the same company. Do the different studios and HQ's not talk and compare games? They ****in should. I will not be playing Madden until it is as polished(if not more so) than NCAA is. The series has been terrible. Glad I borrowed a friends copy before I bought this junk.
THE WII VERSION IS the best
Without competition EA has had little motivation to improve the Madden franchise. They know full well Americans love football and will buy the game every year to get the newest rosters. This franchise has become beyond stagnant, it truly emulates the commentator it's named after now. Nothing fresh, but it get's by on reputation and name recognition.
to be honest i cant stand any sports games (racing excluded). it feels like its just a rip off because of how similar they are year after year.
new sports games should be released every few years, with rosters and teams updated with a patch
you didn't mention the be a pro mode...oh yeah...there's nothing to mention
I miss the 2K NFL games.
The fact that I'm someone who has been playing madden from day one when there unheard of so Ive played every single one on all computer/consoles to present. So it makes me sick when ea says (1)we have listen to the fans (2) this years madden is going to be the best to date (3) we made changes to better the game we added this that and the other .The same statment using google translate . (1) We listen to the fans and did the oppisite (2) we added four new things but took out eight things (3) this years madden is the best because we own the right/licenced until 2014 to do so we can shove it down your throat and you will like .I'm sick of it really when I was playing it and it froze over and over in almost the same spot plus all the other changes the way I would compare the past couple of years in the madden world as follows its like a meal that was once great and made your mouth water just thinking about in which was made by a 5 star chef worth every penny you payed for it know its over heated maybe under cooked or even nuked to the point of the only thing watering is well you getting the runs from eating it and you would have be better of eating the pot luck left overs that where in the fridge for week .Madden once meant you knew what you where getting in the name/game ( John Madden) I'm not so sure anymore somewhere along the line the meaning quality,pride mean nothing as long as the money keeps rolling in and we meet the deadlines its sad because we as fans most of use anyway buy the game because we love football unless quality changes are made my madden buying days are over yours truly long time buyer/fan/player . On a good note I'm look foward to NCAA 13 football and I love my NCAA 12