Madden NFL 12 Review
Written : Wednesday, September 14, 2011
By: Lee Abrahams
Some things are inevitable, like walking down the street and seeing your bus sail past the end of the road or finding an amazing bargain and then discovering it just sold out. Rather like the minor niggles of life then, a new Madden has arrived, like the passing of the seasons, to grace our consoles once again. Will it carry with it a sense of weary disappointment or can it surprise us and brighten our day immeasurably? Enough with these crazy analogies, let’s get down to business.
As ever Madden is the king of razzamatazz and presentation, with a plethora of options and modes to choose from as soon as you boot up the disc, though less appealing is having to sit through the countless profile and roster loading screens that pop up each and every time you play the game. Still every facet of the NFL season is catered for, with the ability to spend as much or as little time with the game as you like. From playing through an entire season, to becoming a superstar, managing a team or tinkering with rosters and depth charts – this is certainly an NFL fans dream.
PLEASE BE MY FRIEND!
Obviously you can hop into exhibition matches, with up to two players per team should you so desire, though hardcore players will want to tinker with the rest of the modes on offer and there are certainly plenty to go at. Franchise mode is back in all of its glory and you can draft players and bring rookies through the ranks as ever, plus you can hop into team training sessions throughout the season in order to try out new plays or test 2nd string wannabes which is handy for finding some potential talent. Players are also assigned a rating for consistency and confidence now, which can drastically alter their performance on the field of play. Good players will always flourish but if they are on a bad streak of performances then it can lead to shifts in their overall performance, likewise meaning that players on a match winning high can perform above and beyond. It’s a neat gimmick but one that only seems to have a passing influence on the game, mainly because the really good players will always be just that.
In fact the game itself feels remarkably similar to last years offering with only a few subtle alterations here and there. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as Madden 11 was a pretty tight experience to begin with, but when one of the biggest alterations is the fact that all of the teams now have a realistic entrance animation prior to play then you start to think that true innovations are going to be thin on the ground. A few new play options do present themselves, but none of them offer that much in the way of tactical flexibility when compared to the old favourites. There are also a bunch of new collision animations and variables, so that players' weight, speed and strength all come into play during tackles. This can lead to some brutal impacts, especially on the smaller running backs, but also seems to lead to a plethora of injuries too which can be extremely disruptive. Realistic perhaps, but annoying nonetheless.
Steamrollered. That’s what you get for an attempted groin grab.
You once again have the option to be a superstar, as well as tinkering with the stats of other players too, and the editing options are suitably in-depth. This time around players can also have a variety of in-game traits to separate them from the crowd. So quarterbacks known to scramble for a few yards will do just that, whereas those that sit in the pocket looking for the perfect pass will do that too. It makes each NFL player feel more unique and means that those performers who pull off big plays on a regular basis will act accordingly in the game too. Obviously not all players have traits and some of them carry a varied risk/reward scenario that needs to be balanced out, but it all helps to create teams with a variety of strengths and weaknesses for you to exploit.
Once again you can also delve into Ultimate Team mode, which sees you buying and trading cards to make the best team possible and then using it to rough up some fools (or friends, if you like). Playing games can earn you points which can then be spent on new cards, packs or scouting reports for upcoming matches. Certain cards can give you new tactics or contract extensions for your teams, as well as providing a stadium to play in and a coach of course. It is actually pretty exciting to get a 90+ card out of a pack, but maybe that is just the card trading nerd inside of us, begging to be let out.
You can take your MUT team online too to play against likeminded opponents or just head into the regular array of quick matches and tournaments should you so desire. EA has upped its game here with the addition of dedicated communities so that players can band together and form their own locale to meet up, play games and generally get the most out of their online experience. The idea is a sound one as it means someone can create a community with their own stipulations and get similar players to join – thus avoiding the horror of quitters, cheaters and people that think a headset is their own personal soapbox for expletives.
Practice, practice, practice.
As ever with Madden, the achievements are on the ridiculously easy part of the scale, with most of the points able to be snagged with very little effort assuming you are prepared to do some tinkering with teams and stats. The only real ball breaker is trying to return a 100+ yard interception for a touchdown which seems to boil down to luck if truth be told, but assuming you can get that bad boy out of the way then everything else should fall into line. Plus at least the points have been divided amongst a wide range of game modes too, so you are encouraged to sample a wide variety of what is on offer.
Once again this feels like the same Madden game that we’ve been playing for the last few years, with only a few minor changes under the hood to differentiate it from the rest. It is still a fun game to pick up and play, even for none NFL fans, and has enough options and modes to keep even the most ardent of fans happy. However, having to pay full price for the same game yet again is becoming an increasingly tougher sell and there is still a sense that winning can be accomplished by using the same few plays rather than trying to be innovative. Madden HFL 12 is enjoyable stuff then, but won’t exactly drag you away from another game.
Repetition is the key here, with the same stock phrases being rolled out time and time again. If only we could record our own commentary – that would be the stuff that dreams are made of.
Decent visuals and customisation, marred by the occasional glitch such as pop-in textures and invisible players (seriously).
A fun game, but it’s the same one we’ve been playing for years now and a few extra plays and tackle animations do not exactly enhance the experience.
Madden always has top notch presentation, and the plethora of modes both online and offline, plus a deep roster management and editing system mean that players can lose hours of their time.
A list that encourages you to try different play styles and modes but is almost too easy for its own good.
A fun game with very few major flaws, but by the same token it brings absolutely nothing new to the table other than the welcome online community option and enhanced player traits and consistency. That aside you will be playing the same old Madden and on that front, Madden NFL 12 just doesn’t do enough to hold your interest for very long.