The lights are on
Suction blocking? Gone. Zone coverages? Improved. Long snappers? Finally in the game!
With Kato handling most of our Madden coverage thus far this year, I hadn't had a chance to check out the game in person until today. Here are a few things that stood out to me during my hands on time.
Broadcast Worthy PresentationEA Tiburon has done a wonderful job of capturing the essence of an NFL television broadcast. From the pre-game pageantry to post-game coaches handshake, Madden feels much more like a CBS or NBC presentation this year. Teams run to the locker room at half time, player introductions for star players resemble the info boxes we see on Sundays, and Tiburon occasionally incorporates a broadcast camera for kickoffs and when the offense walks up to the line of scrimmage before a play.
Destructive Defensive Ends MatterLast year I played through at least five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. On defense I typically play as a linebacker or left end, and the AI controlled Jared Allen never had more than five sacks a season. That's a very unrealistic number for the player who has the most sacks over the previous five seasons, and I stopped paying for good ends because I got the same production out of players with average ratings. We're all familiar with the true culprit -- the atrocious suction blocking that dominated the line of scrimmage. With the suction blocking gone in Madden 12, in the games I played with the Vikings Allen was terrorizing quarterbacks in the backfield all day.
New Ball PhysicsIt appears that EA has applied some new spin to the football. Ball rotations during kicks look different, and when a ball was deflected at the line of scrimmage it shot up into the air in a way I've never seen before, creating that pulse pounding moment where you see defenders desperately try to get underneath the ball before it falls incomplete.
The Nerve Racking Kicking GameKicking field goals last year was automatic. I could nail a fifty yarder with the game on the line without breaking a sweat, and my conversion ratio rarely dropped below pro bowl numbers. This year's kicking meter feels much more unpredictable and touchy. The accuracy appears to have been tweaked to make it harder to hit the perfect kick every time; I watched several people shank field goal attempts past 40 yards, and many of the successful attempts were closer calls than the standard shots up the middle you saw all the time in Madden NFL 11.
Long snappers Get Their DueLast year we reported about the schism in the Vikings locker room over the exclusion of long snapper Cullen Loeffler in Madden 11. He wasn't alone; all but one of the critical special teamers were left out of the game, a controversy that eventually went national. With true roster sizes this year, EA Tiburon is finally giving these unheralded players the respect they deserve.
Improved Zone CoverageThe player awareness is drastically better than it was in previous years. Defenders more consistently analyze their responsibilities and shade toward receivers who enter their zones, and EA wasn't lying when they said that players can't exploit the flats as much as they did last year.
If you want to learn more about Madden NFL 12, check out our previous previews.
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