Most helpful positive review
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Another solid effort with different issues
on September 1, 2011
Each and every August the video gaming public is treated to the new Madden football game for the year, and with just as much consistent frequency, the game is presented with a few tweaks, a few screw-ups, and a few totally useless add-ons. Madden 2012 is no different, and for the most part the game works great with a few glaring mistakes.
What works well for Madden 2012 is, thankfully, the actual gameplay. EA always attempts to throw new gimmicks at us with each new installment, but thankfully a lot of the updating and improvements rests with the mechanics of the actual game experience. The first noticeable attribute is the tackling and blocking. Never has Madden been more realistic in this area with the players following all the way through with their blocks and tackling completely on the player with the ball. The animations and movements are very fluid and realistic for the most part, and when you make a tackle on someone he will fall the way it feels like he should. Gone are the clipping and magnet-like actions of tackling where a defender would somehow sidestep five guys with one breath and make an incredible tackle amidst a gang of six players. This is something entirely new for the franchise, and though it took some getting used to, it definitely is a feature that is most welcome.
Another facet of Madden that has been improved upon from last year are the receivers keeping both feet in bounds for the catch. Last year's Madden did a fine job of correcting the age-old annoyance of players running out of bounds to make a catch, and this year Madden has made it even better and more realistic.
Graphically, the game is marginally better than last year, but Madden 2011 looked great anyway, so the slight improvements really look polished. The reflections in the helmets, the facial expressions, and the on field movements and footwork look very detailed and extremely realistic. When Desean Jackson scored a touchdown against me and they showed his face close up, I was stunned at how accurate he looked. Really good work.
Most of the features from last year are still here such as the deep franchise mode and the option to use the Gameflow system or conventional play-calling. For those who don't know, Gameflow is basically when the computer calls your plays for you. This feature is useless to me as I only play Madden to be my own creative self, but thankfully it's just an option.
Something that has marred all Madden games in the past is the ability of the computer to come back in the third quarter and slaughter your offense. With old Madden's, the game would become possessed if you got a lead on the computer in the third quarter, and it would simply cheat in order to even up the score. That doesn't happen with Madden 2012, and it's yet another cool attribute that has changed this year. Another annoyance that is gone is the action of throwing ridiculous interceptions whilst getting sacked. In Madden 2011, if you were in the process of getting sacked the ball would shoot into the air and, of course, into the arms of a waiting defender. It would never go into your hands, always the defense. Moreover, it was totally unrealistic. In Madden 2012, when you get sacked, you get sacked. No balls shooting into the air, and no CPU's taking advantage of weird developer placed glitches.
Despite so many things that make Madden 2012 such a highly playable experience, there are some brand new issues that have made themselves evident, and it will really make you wonder if the Madden franchise will ever be able to get everything right.
One of the maddening things this game franchise does, every single year, is spend far too much time making changes to peripheral things that no one cares about. The kick meter, for instance. Every single year the developers feel it's necessary to change the kicking meter in some way. Why do this? Are people really clamoring for a new kick meter each year? This year's kick meter is the worst it's been for years, as well. It starts off slow, then goes fast, then slows down again, with the gauge being this weird crescent-moon shaped orb which makes it slightly difficult to tell what the hell is going on. The kicking meter was perfect two years ago. A straight bar across, push the buttons, and you're golden. Instead, the developers are obsessed with changing it, AGAIN.
Madden 2012 is unique, though, for its introduction of some new and improved problems to go with the new improvements. The first issue you'll run into is the clunky play-calling process. In the past, when you selected a play, then changed your mind and went to a different formation, your previous entry would still be selected for you to more easily navigate. This year, if you want to go backwards in the play-calling setup, it will take you back to the top of the play-calling system making it tedious and time-consuming to get back to where you were in the first place. For instance, if you call the shotgun formation, then navigate halfway down the list to the "spread" execution, then change your mind and go back to the shotgun formation, it will take you to the top of the shotgun formation instead of leaving you at the "spread" execution. Every single Madden in the past would take you right back to where you were before you called a play, but now you have to thumb through all the options a second time. With the play clock moving, this can get really annoying.
Another odd thing about the new Madden is waiting for the computer to take kicks. When the CPU scores and comes in to make an extra point, a full ten seconds will crawl by before the CPU actually makes the kick. Hurry up and kick already! What's the holdup?
Another pointless addition this year is the on-field intros to the players and such. Yes, it makes it more realistic, but does anyone really care about this? I find it hard to believe that many Madden players are jonesing for new intros and fanfare to their favorite video game football team.
And, once again, the commentary is no less than awful. It's intriguing to think of why EA can never seem to get this issue right, but the commentary is, as always, late, pointless, and completely ingratiating. Chris Collinsworth's snarky delivery has always been amusing and entertaining, but Gus Johnson has got to go. The guy is just terrible. One of the typical things he'll say is "he caught that for the first down, didn't he???" Uh, yeah, genius. Are you watching the same game I am? One of the most irritating things Johnson will do is get all excited about absolutely NOTHING AT ALL. Yeah, yeah, I know that's his schtick, but gimme a break already. He'll say things like, "THIRD DOWN AMD SIX TO GOOOOOOOOO" or just make sounds like a barn animal. Wow, really? You're gonna get excited about that? Keeping my fingers crossed that EA will axe his completely useless behind. More than that, though, the commentary is just late. You'll throw an 80 yard touchdown bomb, but if Collinsworth and Johnson are busy rambling on about something completely irrelevant they will stop at nothing in order to finish their aimless diatribes. The most exciting commentary you'll hear is when the CPU makes a great play. This only proves that the CPU knows what it's going to do before you do, making it kind of tough to follow along with the commentary.
Without question, the biggest annoyance with Madden 2012 is the superhuman ability of every opposing middle linebacker you will face throughout your season. You will soon learn, after playing three or four games against the CPU, that you will not be playing against defenses, but playing against one single middle linebacker who will block every other pass, make every other tackle, and make amazing glimpses into the future and call each and every route your receiver runs. You'll be amazed with what each MLB, regardless of skill level, is able to accomplish: jumping five feet in the air to make an interception, one-handed grabs, one-armed tackles, and just the general ability to suss out whatever it is you'll be doing. I had called a slant play and the hot route was to the slot receiver. The MLB slowly crept over to the slot guy, knowing he would be the hot route. I called an audible to my running back, and all of a sudden the MLB crept over to the left to cover the route of the running back to the other side. How would the MLB know this? Quite simply, he wouldn't. This is the single biggest drawback of the game this year in that, no matter what you call, you have to be ready to take on the MLB. He will just omnipotently KNOW what you're up to. What this indicates to me is that the computer obviously knows what you're calling and the code writers of the game have heaped all of the defensive challenges on one player. That's all fine and dandy, but when you're taking on one player instead of an entire defense it gets very unrealistic. It seems as if the developers have done this to make the game more of a challenge, and while this game is the most challenging it's been in quite some time, it makes these changes in trade of realism. When you check the stats at the end of the game, the opposing MLB will have 30 tackles, an interception, and a sack. Kind of ridiculous.
When all is said and done, there is much to like about Madden 2012. I would give this game three and half stars if I could, but I think three stars would be too harsh in light of Amazon's rating system. What ultimately rings true about this game is that it can't decide where exactly it's going. It's trying really hard to appeal to the hardcore Madden pros, like myself, by making it more challenging and less flashy. At the same time, it really wants to woo new amateurish fans by including things like Gameflow and adding useless peripherals like extended team intros and highly annoying commentary that would only be helpful to an 8-year-old. It's trying too hard to be something for everyone and cutting corners to get there. Any Madden fan is going to see that Madden 2012 is a slight step backwards for the franchise despite some nice improvements. One thing EA needs to learn is that you don't always have to make changes to something that already works.