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About the product
- The new system uses a player's momentum and over 100 new tackle animations, including 40 gang tackles.
- Players in zone and man coverage will properly recognize and react to plays, resulting in a defensive team that truly works together.
- It allows you to build the ultimate game plan by creating your own offensive or defensive plays from 75 different playbooks.
- Experience NFL Sundays including 32 team specific run outs, over 500 dynamic broadcast cameras and a network broadcast graphics package.
- Visual improvements including new player equipment, helmet stickers, pylon and ball physics.
- Player degradation system that affects uniforms and helmets based on weather and field surface, 3D grass, and new player specific animations.
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Madden NFL 12 continues the rich tradition of the storied Madden franchise by bringing fans closer to the NFL than ever before. Madden NFL 12 delivers Everything You See On Sunday including all 32 NFL teams, stadiums, and every player in the league- all with the level of authenticity that fans have come to expect. Whether playing your rival on the couch or online, leading your favorite team to the Super Bowl in Franchise mode, or building a dream team in Madden Ultimate Team, Madden NFL 12 captures all the drama of the NFL.
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Final Edit 9/5
Brief first impressions from playing the game for a few hours today: (I skipped Madden 11, so any comparisons to previous versions are Madden 10 or before)
- Visuals; stadiums, fields, weather look very nice. Crowd is still a little boring but that doesn't bother me.
- The Franchise Mode improvements are nice. I haven't made it to an offseason yet, but the expanded rosters, cut days, and IR system force you into some tough decisions which are a welcome challenge.
- New pump fake system; I haven't read about this in any of the other reviews, but in my opinion it's one of the best new features. Unlike previous games, where there is one 'pump fake' button which makes the QB perform a generic pump fake, Madden 12 lets you hold the left trigger (on 360) and press any receiver to pump fake to that receiver. This is very useful for pulling linebackers out of the middle of the field and throwing behind them, or getting safeties to commit before lobbing a bomb over their heads.
- Realistic injuries; The new 'player roles' system in general is very cool, and it has some nice results. I was playing as my team (Go Steelers!) and Aaron Smith went down with a torn bicep... the same exact injury that caused him to miss the playoffs last year! Players who are injury prone in real life are more likely to get injured throughout a season in this game.
- Rookies; I love the fact that you don't instantly know what you got out of a guy when you draft him (or for the current rookies when you start a Franchise). After each preseason game, you learn more about each rookie (unlock more of their individual attributes), and their 'overall' begins to narrow down to reflect their actual skill. It's not until after the 4th preseason game that you are able to see the actual Overall rating for each rookie, as well as their Potential grade. (The interesting thing is... by that time, you've already made 16 cuts!)
- Be a Superstar; I didn't spend much time on this mode, so take this with a grain of salt, but I wasn't impressed. I imported a 'Road To Glory' player from NCAA 12, and it jumped right to a screen with my schedule on it. I had already been drafted, and I didn't even know it! I think if you spend time playing a guy's whole college career, they should make a bigger deal about getting drafted. Or, you know, at least tell you that it happened.
- AI play calling; I'm playing on All-Pro, which shouldn't be too difficult, and somehow the computer knows EXACTLY which play I'm going to call every single time. I'm not one of those guys who uses the same play over and over; I mix it up quite a bit. Yet no matter what I call, the computer has it sniffed out. Run a counter play, and they happen to bring a weak side / FS blitz. Pick a run between the tackles, and what do you know, there are 8 guys in the box even though it's 2nd and 17. I've found myself calling a TON of audibles at the line of scrimmage, because it's the only way to actually get your plays off.
- Commentary; I'm a few hours in, and it's already getting repetitive. I like the voices better than Madden 10, but they need to mix up some of their phrases. Most of the time, Gus Johnson's thoughts sound disconnected and he gets way too excited (come to think of it, that should be a 'pro' since it's quite realistic)
Sorry if I rambled, but hopefully I helped. The ultimate question is usually, 'Is it worth 60 bucks if I already own Madden __', and that answer is not going to be the same for everyone. If you like Franchise mode and you can deal with some frustrating AI features (some of which will hopefully be patched out), then there is a good chance you will enjoy the game.
REVISED 9/3: Still enjoying Franchise mode, but a few complaints. One, importing a draft class from NCAA will overwrite the new 'draft logic' which ensures that there are NFL-ready talents at most positions scattered throughout the draft (i.e. not just in the first and second rounds.) I've found it to actually be more realistic to NOT import a class, since the new logic is pretty good and allows you to scout gems in the late rounds, which is quite fun. Still, this is a bug that should (and almost certainly WON'T) be fixed... until it's a "new feature" in Madden 13.
As mentioned in one of the comments below, there are perhaps too many injuries. This tends to be a problem with most annual sports games, because they introduce a new feature and then over-tweak the gameplay to show it off. Injured Reserve is new to Madden this year, and it seems like they have gone overboard with the "HEY! Look what I can do!", resulting in too many season-ending and long-term injuries. There is an 'injuries' slider you can adjust, but I have yet to notice if that affects simulations (may only affect games that you actually play)
I've played a little more Be a Superstar, and I am still lukewarm on it. I like the new development system where you can assign skill points to improve your player, and I like that you are awarded skill points based on what the TEAM does (much better for playing as a defensive player,) but something about it still feels unpolished.
Final edit / opinions (9/5)
I've been back and forth on this version of Madden, but I'm finally off the fence, and I can't say I'd recommend the game. Sure, the visuals are improved and there are some nice tweaks to the franchise mode, but Madden 12 is plagued by the same thing that has plagued the series for a long time, especially since 2004 or so (which, by pure coincidence, is the last time that EA Sports has had to compete with another NFL licensed game). The problem is the lack of attention to detail; I know EA has gone to great lengths to have realistic and detailed player introductions this year, but the problem is that this game has far too many more pressing issues that seem to be ignored. The blocking on punt returns is miserable, the Franchise AI is frustratingly stupid, the audio commentary is VERY repetative, and the list goes on.
The problem is that EA doesn't NEED to fix any of these things to keep selling copies... as long as they're the only show in town, and they can half-heartedly implement a few new features every year so that there is something to put on the back of the box and something to show off in the demo, people will keep buying the game. They suckered me in again this year, although this is the first time I have bought a NEW version of the game since 08, but this is probably it for me.
Supposedly, EA's exclusive rights to the NFL expire in 2012, and NFL 2K could be making a return. I'm not sure if it will be any better, but it will at least encourage some competition in the marketplace, and force Madden to stop giving us half-efforts.
A concerted effort was made with Madden 12 to capture elements of the television viewing experience and the game attending experience and though there is still plenty of work to be done it represents a significant and valuable advancement in presentation. Authentic camera placement, team entrances, blimp shots, crowd cuts, and more were all great touches. Crowd noise is much better than NCAA but there should be more impact to the crowd affecting road teams and roaring louder in appropriate situations (such as after a challenge decision).
Of course there were aspects of the presentation that eroded some of the overall satisfaction. Players bumping into each other on the way back to the huddle, the jarring cut to the two minute warning where then nothing of significance is shown, challenge replays so poorly handled that they don't actually show the event being challenged, a lack of a halftime or post-game show, and sparse crowds in adverse weather conditions stand out. All relatively minor on their own but necessary to clean up for the presentation to reach the next level.
There is no denying that the gameplay improvements received were a large beneficiary of avoiding going the `gimmicky' route this year. Gameplay is much more satisfying with some legacy issues corrected and the lack of suction paying dividends all over the field. Proper football strategy is rewarded more than ever and the result is some incredibly compelling and competitive games that have provided some brilliantly exciting moments. Fun factor due to all of that is especially high.
GameFlow and GamePlan have been enhanced with the addition of Custom Playbooks - allowing for the benefits of GameFlow to be more likely utilized. Stats are often in line with expectations and the flow of the games have been ideal. "Player Traits" really start to differentiate individual performance styles beyond just ratings. The CPU is finally competent though ultimately the challenge offered by the CPU will vary from person to person. The sliders appear to be effective for those who choose to tinker with the various elements of gameplay.
Dynamic Player Performance is difficult to quantify but does seem to have considerable impact and swing performance and ultimately even on-field results. Hot and cold streaks come into play and often early struggles will carry over to later in the game as players lose confidence. When the main positions are user-controlled though the struggles will stand out more than the successes - as getting a small ratings boost is unlikely to completely change the outcome of a play - just as a small ratings decline probably won't mean a drastic result. There does need to be a way to see what DPP is doing without going into the pause menu.
There is no perfection here though - the lack of a battle for the ball between the receivers and defenders is especially glaring. Play action remains improperly implemented and special teams has been largely neglected with kick and punt return blocking flat out horrible. The new kicking camera and system, and the surprise onside kicks, are the only positives to mention as it pertains to special teams.
Though the improvements to Franchise don't necessarily seem to warrant having taken a full year off from the mode they do make a large impact as they capitalize on the areas most requested for receiving advancement. Expanded rosters and cut days, practice mode, trades of future draft picks, draft scouting, and player roles are all intriguing additions.
The biggest success is the new Free Agency bidding system. Though it should be more obvious how to view upcoming free agents before the bidding frenzy begins it makes for a fun and pressure-filled event. "Player Roles" are an interesting element in how teams are shaped along with how they can affect on-field performance.
The weakest aspect is the draft scouting, which simply doesn't provide enough information on enough players to make much (or any) difference. I felt largely in the dark for the majority of the draft as picking at the end of the round meant most of the prospects that had been scouted for the round were gone by my choice. Beyond the scouting then you're left with knowing nothing but their projected round to make a decision on.
A few issues worth noting - a few teams are stuck with rain in every (or nearly every) home game, there is an issue with draft classes from NCAA Football 12 not coming over unless they are saved after the players leaving stage, players lose their "role" if anything about them even equipment is edited, the new free agency system is not good for multi-user franchises, and preseason games are a complete mess.
This is the most successful online play experience to come out of the Tiburon studio. Performance has been excellent, the games have been ultra-competitive and very fun, and the Online Communities feature has proven initially valuable.
One unheralded but very important tweak to online comes with the kick meter which appears to account for any lag being experienced. The meter will snap back a tad after the button press and it has proven to be quite accurate. Kicks have been missed not due to any lag but due to user error. It's the first time that kicking in a football game hasn't been problematic online. Lag in general has been minimal - a slight sluggishness in some cases but easily adjust to - and most games have felt so good they could have passed for being played offline.
Online Franchise was passed over for improvements in favor of Communities - a decision that could be easily questioned. There is no lobby room within the communities making head-to-head games difficult to come by for most people. I've had to tweet out that I want a challenge in order to get a game and most won't have that luxury. Though they offer something considerable the sense I get is most will be completely dead within a month. Maybe smaller ones within groups of friends will have more long-term success.
Custom Playbooks and their integration into GameFlow comes in handy for ranked online games. Inexplicably Custom Playbooks were omitted from use in the Online Communities and Online Franchise. There has also been an issue faced by a small percentage of users who have been unable to get past the "Checking Rosters" step. EA is still investigating but a temporary workaround is to save the latest rosters to a USB drive and the game will recognize that and proceed past the problematic step.
Taking the most flak this year is the commentary and it isn't completely unwarranted. Though there is a decent flow that is about the best that can be said, and it is certainly a big drawback overall on the complete package that Madden 12 attempts to offer given the number of errors called out and noticeable recording flaws.
Lines recorded last year vs this year sound completely different, reactions often run far behind when they actually take place, the same stories are repeated every game, and the announcers often call a player by their number rather than their name. There are also unjustifiable gaffes like referring to the Titans as the "New York Titans" at every coin toss or talking about the "new" overtime rules in a regular season game where they don't even apply.
The lack of special commentary for preseason and postseason games really hurt their immersive nature. There is no special Super Bowl commentary - in fact the announcers will talk about homefield advantage. That sort of thing is just killer.
This mode wasn't a main focus and it shows. Touted improvements were an improved interface, skill points to distribute for ratings increases, coordinator audio, and a switch to the standard camera angle. Most of those things actually were provided but did little to make the mode interesting. Coordinator audio and commentary was completely absent however.
Players automatically start at their respective position regardless of ratings and there is nothing that goes on in the off-season. The mode is just flat out dull. It also isn't readily apparent that quarter length can be adjusted - that is done through the main profile and not within the mode.
NFL fans will appreciate what has been done with Madden NFL 12 as the title attempts to tap into what it means to be emotionally invested in a team or the league. The vastly improved presentation and gameplay combined with a much more enjoyable Franchise mode help to cover up the flaws that comes with growth that can't be completed and goals that can't be reached in just a single year. It's finally alright to be excited about the Madden franchise - that is if they don't change course in their vision yet again.