Player ratings are always a hotly contested topic in each Madden. Gamers quibble over a few points here and there for their favorite players. Regardless, at the end of the day, Madden gamers just want to have NFL players perform in the game like they do in real life. Madden 12's Dynamic Player Performance is an attempt to codify that and take its players beyond the static ratings. Madden 12 art director Mike Young told us that in the game, "week to week, no player acts the same way."

Dynamic Player Performance is a different version of Madden's old Player Progression system from back in Madden '05. Players have five-star ratings in Confidence and Consistency. Confidence fluctuates based on your performance, and changes your player's ratings from week to week. Streaky players like Jay Cutler can ride a hot or cold streak for up to three weeks before returning to their base form. The more consistent your QB is in general (which is something they can improve with age based on your year-to-year stats), the less chance he's going to be experiencing huge fluctuations in his performance in the first place.

Changes in performance are determined off of a baseline standard players are held to that takes into account factors such as their position and general expectations. So, what constitutes a good week for Austin Collie is going to be different than Reggie Wayne's circumstances. When a player goes over or under that standard, the hot or cold streak starts. Streaks remaining at the end of the year are reset, so the system is not tied to your player's normal ratings progression, and bye weeks also count towards your three-week-maximum streak tally. Young says EA will put players on hot/cold streaks every week for online roster downloads.

Also new to Madden NFL 12 is a Clutch rating. This is given to around 30 elite players (and even a few non-elite players that simply have a knack for stepping up when it counts) that have what Young calls that "John Elway factor," and possibly lets them make big plays in overtime and the last few minutes of the game. You can see when this trait is turned on through the pause menu.

I'm interested to see how the Clutch rating translates in the game, because being a clutch player not just about overtime and the last few minutes of the game. For a franchise that has been hammered for years about its "catch-up AI," the possibility of deus ex machina on the football field could scare some fans.

The Dynamic Player Performance includes the game's Trait system, where players can attain multiple Traits such as a RB who Covers the Ball or a QB who Senses Pressure, The results should hopefully help make players feel different on the field even if they have the same overall rating. Like Confidence, your Traits can change during a game, and it can change as your player's career continues as well. For instance, if your QB strings together a few passes early on and gets comfortable in the pocket, their Senses Pressure trait can get better. Conversely, a few sacks can make your QB rattled and get happy feet.

For years, the Madden franchise has tried to make players something more than just an overall rating, whether that's morale, player icons, or the old mid-season Player Progression system. In previous games Young asks, "was Mike Vick really Mike Vick?" Considering his streakily performances in real life, the answer is no. While Dynamic Player Performance isn't likely to end the bickering about player ratings anytime soon, perhaps it'll at least help capture some intangible essence of the players on the field.

Be sure to check out the trailer talking about Dynamic Player Performance below, a bunch of new screens in the screenshot gallery after the story, and check out our previous preview for more information on some of Madden's Franchise and Superstar features.

Here's a video of Eli going through a gamut of emotions during a game

Here are some traits and their status

You can see which traits are activated and their status in the pause menu during a game