The NFL Player lockout was the biggest sports story this summer, drawing a large shadow over the league. I doubted that the season would start on time but what was never in doubt, was another addition to the Madden franchise. This is Tiburon Studios' latest stab at turning one of America's favorite pastimes into something you play on your console. Madden 12 takes your favorite teams, stadiums and Traditions and crams them into one disc.
One of the major improvements to this year's Madden is the presentation. Every game starts as you would see it every Sunday on TV. EA Sports has taken many cues from CBS football to get a better TV-like feel, learning how to match games to real life broadcasts. Camera locations in each stadium are replicated and exteriors of stadiums are included for the first time. What’s helped narrow down the look was Madden and NFL Films pairing up for the first time to help make you feel like you are in the huddle. EA Sports proprietary technology, called DCAM, allows NFL Films cinematographers to create similar camera angles seen on TV. From the overhead fly bys that showcase your favorite teams' stadiums, to having unique team introductions that help showcase your favorite teams, no detail has been overlooked. Watching Ray Lewis doing his signature dance and seeing the Chicago Bears running out on the field in the snow waving the Bears flag is thrilling for any football fan.
Chris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson return to the announcer’s booth for Madden 12. The paring in last year’s version was uneven and appeared to be an odd match. This time around they work well together and provide insight on what's happening on the field. One of the problems with the announcers is that you hear the same lines far too often, which mutes the realism.
With enhancements in presentation, dramatic improvements have been made to modes such as Franchise and Superstar. Franchise and Superstar have gone untouched for quiet some time, but in this year’s version, many of the things that fans have been asking for have finally been delivered and more. Franchise, brings back the ease of running your favorite team, online or off. Madden 12 has been updated to provide new features to make it all the more exciting, like scouting sessions, free agent bidding, and expanded rosters. Franchise makes you feel like you own the reins of your favorite team.
The major new addition is the Dynamic Performance Rating. In past installments, playing as Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger felt the same way because of the overall player rating. Thanks to Dynamic Performance Rating, each player has their own unique traits making them play differently. If you put pressure on Vick, he is more likely to tuck and run for first downs rather than pass. There are 18 different player Tendencies and Traits, making each game play differently because it accounts for the players' actions.
In Superstar mode, you can either create a Superstar, Import your Road to Glory player and be drafted by an NFL team, or be a walk-on and play for your favorite team. I imported my Road to Glory player and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the second round. Even though this is Madden, Superstar mode suffers from the same problems that plagued Road to Glory. I was already the starter by Week 1 of my rookie year even though Cam Newton had the higher overall rating. I didn’t feel rewarded that I automatically got the starter's spot. Sure it was thrilling to see my player run out onto the field, but I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment when it was just given to me. Compared to other sports games, Superstar mode is still missing the polish that you find in other games such as NBA 2k11 and MLB: The Show.
The rest of Madden’s modes have largely remained unchanged. Ultimate Team now allows players to trade with each other. Not the biggest addition, but it makes it easier for players to build their Ultimate Fantasy Team. Madden Moments allows players to recreate moments from last season, which is perfect for Eagles fans that want to recreate “The Miracle at the Meadowlands”. The Major addition for online is Communities. You can set up your online experience to play with your friends or with people who play your way. Want to play with people who punt on 4th down? With a matter of ease, I was able to do so. I found the mode an easier way to set up games, rather than inviting players through the dashboard. With all of Madden's modes - Franchise, Superstar, Ultimate Team and Madden Moments - we are getting better and more polished modes than in years passed, but I just wish that Tiburon studios had added another game mode to the mix to spice things up.
Madden 12 gives fans what they have been asking for and more, including an expanded Franchise Mode and smarter, more accurate AI. This is a love letter to any die-hard football fan.The gameplay is solid and more accessible. Sports games have never come this close to making you feel like you were running on the field. It’s a true accomplishment for EA Tiburon as this is the best EA Sports game since NHL 10.