Shortly after the resilient Green Bay Packers captured their Super Bowl XLV title, the league received a shock to the system courtesy of a massive Lockout between players and owners. Amidst a cloud of controversy and constant bickering between both parties, EA Sports continued to work endlessly on the latest Madden to assure diehard fans would still be able to play football in the fall.
Eventually an agreement was reached that not only saved the upcoming NFL Season, but also guaranteed the game would have a much more authentic and complete experience. Madden NFL 12 succeeds in crafting a formula of excellence that builds upon the success of previous entries, while leaving room for growth moving forward. Here are a few reasons why this year’s edition shines over previous ones.
Madden NFL 12 features all of the same modes that players have come to know and love, but with some additions that greatly enhance gameplay experience. The key emphasis this year was to focus squarely on keeping the hardcore fans happy by making the changes they have been requesting for years. For example, players are now able to take advantage of an all-new AI system called Dynamic Player Performance or DDP.
The sophistication behind the system lies in its ability to track a player’s on-field performance accordingly based on his behavioral trait and reaction time in certain situations. That information is then used to develop streaks and decipher how the player will execute in the games that follow. Fox example, if Michael Vick has a perfect passing game then his rating will increase in the following game, reflecting both confidence and consistency.
By that same token, if Tom Brady throws 2 interceptions in one game, then his rating will decline in the next. This feature shines best within the franchise mode because you can see player tendencies progress over seasons. However, It’s worth noting that if you’re on a hot streak it only lasts for 3 games, after which point the rating would revert back to the original number. I believe the decision to do this was mainly to keep things more balanced and realistic, making you grow accustomed to working for every possession effectively.
To coincide with DDP, there’s also a new collision system that makes each player’s hits more momentum based and impactful on the field. In the past, gaining full control of a player was possible, but at many times inconsistent. The idea to improve upon this feature is even further reinforced by new tackle animations and player movements, some nearly identical to the real life mannerisms of any and every given athlete.
While the GameFlow system played a significant role last year, the creative team went back to the drawing board to refine areas of execution. As a result of taking these measures, fans now have the ability to create custom playbooks by modifying up to 475 different offensive and defensive plays. This feature alone was single handedly the most requested mainly because the dynamic of creating new playbooks adds significant longevity to the title overall.
Presentation wise, Madden 12 boasts stunning visuals and camera presentations inspired from both NFL Films Director Technology (DCAM) and live CBS Sports Broadcasts. The development team also studied authentic entrances and player introductions for all 32 NFL teams and implemented them into the game.
The commentary can be quite repetitive as expected, but still remains relevant in almost every game scenario. The only complaint I have is centered on the lack of a post game show. The Extra Point show for Madden 11 was a great way to track games on a weekly basis and hopefully one way or another this can be brought back for Madden 13.
The popular Be A Superstar mode returns in full-force with an all-new point based progression system. An athlete gains points by achieving certain milestones during practices and games. Those points can then be allocated into building up the skill attributes for that player. In many ways, this mode mirrors the My Player feature in NBA 2k11. The only aspect missing is the sense of a storyline to expand upon the player’s personality. The decision to expand upon this idea next year would go a long way in establishing deeper relationships between the gamer and player he or she is controlling.
The Madden Ultimate Team or MUT concept also makes a definitive comeback, allowing players to now add legends to their teams. The idea of trading sports cards among friends can easily become both addictive and competitive. After crafting the perfect team, players now have the option to play in single exhibition games or intense tournament showdowns.
The more games you play, the more coins you’ll earn towards buying new players for your team. Developing an average team is relatively easy, but building a dynasty powerhouse full of the best talent is extremely challenging. To get the most out of this mode, you have to think both strategically and financially when making moves to acquire the best results.
If MUT isn’t on your radar, then you can always participate in regular exhibition games online. Online Team Play remains the same, allowing up to teams of 2 to play 3 on 3 matchups. EA Sports has also gone to lengths to create Online Communities, an all-new way for Madden enthusiasts to meet and play.
Communities can include up to 2,000 like-minded players who can compete on ranked leaderboards. They can also adjust the game sliders so that each Madden experience is different then the last. The great thing about this idea is that it provides a nice alternative for people who want to have a great social experience because they are able to build a unified foundation from the group up.
Madden NFL 12 is a signature release in a series that only gets better year after year. The addition of DDP, and superior presentation quality easily defines this as arguably one of the best Madden’s of this generation.
A deeper Superstar mode, and general polish can go a long way towards putting this game on another level entirely. With that said, if you’re a football fanatic I guarantee you’ll enjoy spending hours on end playing Madden long after the real NFL season ends.
This review was based on a review copy of the game for the Xbox 360 provided by EA Sports.