Review – Madden NFL 12

 

The NFL Owners and Players have agreed to a new CBA and the pre-season is in full swing. That can mean only one thing. Madden NFL 12 is about to release. Did EA Tiburon give you enough reasons to come back for another season, or did they drop the ball? Read our review to find out.

 

 

With the NFL season upon us it is time to snap the ball and on a new release of EA Sports’ Madden NFL 12. With an annual release, EA is always looking for new bells and whistles to add to their storied franchise, and this year is no different.

2012 Presentation Changes and Enhancements

With the aid of NFL Films cameramen and feedback from John Madden himself, EA has brought in actual NFL game style footage right from start. Opening sequences when you first launch the game show off real entrance videos from several different teams, along with cheerleaders and shots from a blimp. Great way to show off some of the new things for this year.

Broadcast Redefined:  Experience NFL Sundays like never before with completely overhauled presentation, including 32 team-specific run outs featuring mascots and cheerleaders, over 500 dynamic broadcast cameras authentic to every NFL stadium, innovative “real” on-field cameras shot by expert NFL Films cameramen, and a network inspired new broadcast graphics package.

From the entrance, to the coin toss, to the pre-kickoff player meeting, the new animations are impressive. Even the QB cam is used for when the QB first comes on the field. The new cams put you right in the middle of the action, and look great as well.

Enter the Ravens

Unprecedented On-Field Authenticity: Hundreds of visual improvements across all areas of the game including: new player equipment, helmet stickers, pylon and ball physics, a player degradation system that affects uniforms and helmets based on weather and field surface, 3D grass, and new player specific animations that showcase the personalities of each NFL player.

Cheering them on

Added this year is the exterior for all 32 team stadiums, plus the pro-bowl stadium in Hawaii. True blimp shots now can be used and the stadiums themselves, and their surroundings, look great. Car traffic isn’t very detailed, but they did detail what mattered most. For stadiums with roofs that open, you can choose to have them opened or closed, with outside weather coming in when they are open. Flags can now be seen flying around different stadiums, including the 12th Man flag in Seattle.

Ford Field with Comerica Park Next Door

The lighting for Madden 12 has been updated so that the game looks the best it has ever looked. Colors are more true to life. Shadows now move across the field as time moves on, giving the game a more realistic feel. Proper sun locations for each stadium have been calculated and added to give a true to life touch.

The grass is upgraded this year. Madden’s little brother NCAA Football 12 introduced us to the new grass animations that give depth to the field. You can see a player’s foot dig in when they cut, and you can see make the QB see it when you slam him down. Grass can now go flying, along with water, mud, dirt, or snow, depending on the conditions. New player tracking also allows the camera to focus on the player and follows them through their possession, even after a spiked ball in the endzone.

Cut that Grass

Snow Angel Anyone

Animations for players now showcase their specific game styles. Tim Tebow looks, runs, and throws like Tim Tebow while Michael Vick does everything like Michael Vick does. Player uniforms now degrade as the game progresses, and if you sack the QB enough, his helmet just might start showing dings and scratches. Player and ball proportions have been adjusted so that everything looks like it would in real life. The football has been reduced in size to mimic true-to-life scales. Players body-to-head ratio matches real life scale so players like Brandon Jacobs looks like himself with the proper size head.

New to Madden: Dynamic Player Performance (DPP)

Experience the highs and lows of authentic NFL football as player’s skills and confidence rise and fall based on their performance throughout an entire game, just like in a real NFL game.  No two players will play the same thanks to new ratings and traits that change dynamically throughout the game experience, throughout franchise mode, and via regular roster updates.

The course of an NFL game in past releases came down to simply calling plays and either executing, or not. There was no way to know how each player might actually feel in regards to their position in a real time situation. DPP changes that. If a CB get’s burned by a WR, his confidence will take a hit and he will act differently on the field. You can also build confidence on your side of the ball. If a WR is having a tough time making receptions, you can have him run some easy routes for easy catches to help build his confidence. Once you have him built up, take a few shots down the field with him. The DPP system gives you more in depth analysis on how your team is feeling over all, and can give you insight into your opponent as well. If a CB is having a great day against your receivers, his confidence will be high. Time to target the other side of the field. The depth of the DPP system adds an entirely new dimension to the Madden series.

The DPP system uses 18 different traits to help determine each player’s style of play. Consistency and Confidence are base traits that determine how well, or how badly, players may react to how they perform in a game. Traits can either be universal, or specific to one side of the ball. A few traits are specific to QB’s. Throwing a Tight Spiral and Sensing Pressure are two examples. A good scrambling QB like Vick will be heavy on the Tuck and Run trait while Eli Manning might be a little Trigger Happy.

Pocket Must be Collapsing Quick

Franchise Mode and Superstar Enhancements

Franchise mode returns with some new additions. Rosters are expanded for pre-season play. You can have up to 75 players on your roster but that also means that rosters have to be trimmed periodically in the pre-season. Enter the new Cut Days. You will have invitees and rookies on your roster whose stats are unknown. Just like in real life, you’ll have to play these guys to fins out where they stand. One game might not be enough to really judge a player, so let them have as many snaps as possible in multiple games to really judge them and to unlock their true stats. After each pre-season game you’ll have to trim the fat, and no player wants to get cut. Be ready to listen to them wine and plead, and make threats of meeting you in the playoffs someday as you drop the axe on them. Making a decision between a known veteran and an untested rookie is always a tough call.

Once you make it to the regular season you need to keep an eye on the future and the new Rookie Scouting System was created just for that. You’ll start out scouting in the regular season, but you’ll also keep scouting during the off season. Pro Days and the NFL Combine will be key to finding out as much as possible about these rooks, and individual workouts will be the best way to do that. These are limited so scout wisely.

The new Free Agent Bidding system enhances the off season process of signing free agents and can turn into a fast paced mini-game that will make you wonder how bad you really want that player. Keep an eye on your Salary Cap though, because you still need room to sign your draft rookies as well.

Do You Want Him That Bad?

Player Roles are another great addition to the series. There are 23 different roles that players can earn for their franchise. These roles can affect almost every aspect of your team. Roles such as Team Mentor when attached to a veteran can make all of your younger players considerably better. Just because an old guy’s stats aren’t all that great, doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not a benefit to the team. That mimics real life with just about every NFL team. Other roles like Deep Threat and Defensive Playmaker gives you an idea of how the other roles help your team.

You can now change controlled teams in Franchise Mode at the end of each season. You can control only one team, or you can control all 32 if you wish. The trading system has been updated to include the ability to trade future draft picks, so you can sell out your future if you wish, in order to trade up to get a certain player. You can now edit any and all players in Franchise Mode, regardless which team they play for, and even if they were imported from NCAA Football 12. Other improvements include franchise practice mode, award logic, revamped player retirements, and coach impacts.

NFL Superstar mode is a little disappointing after playing through NCAA Football 12’s Road to Glory Mode. While it is still entertaining making your way all the way to the Super Bowl, without really knowing what your coach thinks of you, other than your place on the depth chart, makes it feel a little detached. Madden could learn a few things from the NCAA series. The same RTG style of play from that series would have enhanced the NFL experience in Madden. You can now enter the draft or choose to walk on to the team of your choice. The progression interface has been revamped. You now earn points by practicing and playing games, and those points can then be applied to your user ratings, improving you in areas you choose. The mode is still fun, just not as detailed as the RTG.

Madden has always been about the multiplayer experience and the addition of an Online Community at http://myleaguemanager.net/ goes a long ways to enhance that experience. Almost every aspect of your Online Franchise can now be controlled via the web. From commissioner controls to the free agent process, managing your league just got that much easier.Madden Ultimate Team is also back this year, with new menus that mirror the menus from the other game modes. Card trading is now included, and you can either trade directly with someone, or post your card to trade online. Auctioning is also now available.

Madden NFL 12 does quite a bit more than just add a few new bells and whistles for this years release. With an updated lighting system, new player animations, an Online Franchise Mode almost fully integrated with the web, updated graphics, and more, EA did a great job of refreshing the franchise. The Dynamic Player Performance system is genius and is reason enough to warrant you purchasing this year’s game.

If only they would add more from the NCAA Football series.

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