Game Reviews

Madden NFL 12 Review

It's that time of year again.

by William Schwartz
Madden NFL 12 Demo

Madden NFL 12 continues the rich tradition of the storied franchise by bringing fans closer to the NFL than ever before. Featuring all 32 teams, stadiums, and your favorite players, Madden NFL 12 is as close as it gets to the genuine artifact that you can get when it comes to the pixelized pigskin.  Whether battling your rivals on the couch or online, leading your favorite team to the Super Bowl in Franchise mode, or building the ultimate dream team in Madden Ultimate Team, Madden NFL 12 is True to the NFL, True to the Franchise, True to the Game. – Electronic Arts

True to the Game – With each year of Madden NFL Football, EA has been getting closer and closer to the genuine artifact.  Between the simple tweaks and engine overhauls over the years, the game has gotten progressively closer to a realistic football experience.  Last year Madden’s revamped collision detection was near perfect, the gang tackles and other interaction between player models reached a pinnacle of realism for a video game football offering.  This year, it’s been tweaked even more, and the overall impression on the field of play is nothing short of excellent.  Animations look natural, with players feeling elusive, fast, and more powerful than ever before.  You can literally see the math on the field when it comes down to speed, strength, and player ability.

The game itself plays much faster than previous Madden games. It gets closer to the breakneck pace of a live NFL football down.   The collisions on the field feel great, look realistic, and are quite possibly the best that EA has ever produced. The hit stick actions don’t have that awkward pull that they’ve had in previous games, and because of it, they’re more usuable and feel better on the controller.  The natural feel of the game is only broken up by the clipping that occasional pops up.  Adding to the realism, on-the-field rulings of close plays add to the up-tempo pace of the game.  There are plenty of these small tweaks since last year that bring about a much more realistic experience.  New intros build up the pre-game experience, and an in-game presentation that rivals any network broadcast of a football game are among some of these minor enhancements.

Franchise of Legends – If you’re looking for a challenge this fall in your football franchise, Madden on its most difficult settings will have you game planning like a real NFL head coach.  The AI will certainly give you a run for your money, as the “money plays” of Madden’s checkered past have been essentially remedied with the game able to adapt on the fly to exploits that you may find.  Teams look and play as their real life counterparts, and have significant advantages in their real life strengths.  As you progress through the franchise, the game also gives you the ability to trade for draft picks, scout new players, and enter into bidding wars for free-agents.   For the single player Madden aficionado, Madden NFL 12 will keep you busy all the way until you’re ready to move along to the next iteration.

Returning favorites – Last year’s game modes have returned for the most part and enhanced in many ways.  Be A Superstar, Madden Moments, and Ultimate Team take roughly the same approach as they did last year, while getting a few tweaks to change some of the features found in each.  Mostly subtle, these modes were well done last year, and EA didn’t do anything to break them of that.

Community Driven Football Leagues – Madden NFL 12 has taken the plunge into communities for the game.  For the most part, the new feature is an exceptional tool to get together and meet like minded virtual footballers and play under specific rule sets.  Creating a personal club will allow you to create rules, invite players, and stat track against these community members.

Specifically this picture above – See that picture, it’s a picture of the game that was released last year at this time.  It cost exactly the same amount as this game, and if you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two games.  Frankly all of the great features of this latest version of Madden aren’t very superficial.  Is it nice that the game continually gets better, in small increments?  Yes, it is.  But you soon run into the question of “is it worth it”.

To the hardcore Madden fan that simply must have the game in each iteration, yes it is.  To the more casual fan, the answer is a wholehearted no.  A casual fan might be under the impression that being the most recent version of the game it be flawless, where fans that there year in and year out, know that each iteration of the game has its trade-offs.  These trade-offs come in the form of EA focusing on certain aspects of the game, and to be frank, this year is glaringly geared towards the hardcore Madden-ites of the gaming world.  The changes while subtle in many of the games modes, will likely go under appreciated by the fan who plays sporadically against his friends online or in his living room with his/her friends.

Announcers have really relapsed into something nearly intolerable – Since this year Madden NFL 12 has chosen to go with a more broadcast approach to the deliver system of the game’s presentation features, you would think that they would need to concentrate on the announcers much more that they did.  They are one of the single worst features of Madden NFL 12, with the tag team of Gus Johnson and Chris Collinsworth equally ear-fucking you at all opportunities.  Aside from the fact that Gus Johnson sounds like he would be better used at your neighborhood arena’s next Monster Truck Rally, the game blunders constantly in the announcing department.  Mistimed announcements and snippets that just don’t correspond at all with the action on field are easily noticeable in even your first game of Madden NFL 12.  Sure, there’s the option to turn them off, but it takes away from the presentation of the game.

Dynamic Player Performance will be good in a few years – Dynamic Player Performance is one of the features of the game that is new in Madden NFL 12.  It’s the new feature that changes your characters propensity to perform well according to how he is performing in game.  It causes players to go on hot and cold streaks, and it definitely does add to the dynamics of the game.  You can certainly tell when a quarterback loses some confidence after a big sack, or a defense becomes more stout as it continually shuts down an offense.  Though it’s rare that you actually see these statistics translate well on the field.  It’s actually quite hard to tell what is having an effect on your players and what isn’t.  It’s one of those multi-year ideas that EA will likely tweak in the coming iterations of the game before it becomes a real selling point for the franchise.

Freezing and Game Hitches – The Madden Tips pop-up has already caused my game to freeze around 10 times.  The problem is they pop up so randomly that when you are set to hike the ball and it pops up at the same time, it causes the issue.  The only option is to turn them off, but it seems a shame that they couldn’t have just made it a smaller pop-up and not an entire screen overlay that must be exited to progress.  Hiccups in the frame-rate also cause some commotion on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.  Any hitches around the hiking of the ball will cause a quick pass into the ground if you’re on offense, and a possible off sides call if on defense.  A fairly minor issue, but add in the possibility of lag in an online game, and it gets quite annoying.

The Verdict

There’s just not enough new content in Madden to entice you into exploring all of the nooks and crannies of the game if you are casual Madden player.  And as I said before, the hardcore Madden fans will have their hands full of content, but it’s not much different from the content that was offered last year.  Some of the features that have been tweaked are EA’s best yet, but aren’t anything groundbreaking or anything close to a generational leap for the game.  At this point, Madden NFL 12 is a service.  It costs $60 a year and you get one big patch when August rolls around.  If you would consider subscribing to this service then Madden NFL 12 is right up your alley.  If you couldn’t stomach the fact that you are subscribing to play virtual football, than you aren’t going to appreciate the changes to the game, or possibly even notice them. I don’t consider myself in that category, I like to think that given the option I would be paying that yearly fee, and I have proven that to myself having owned nearly every iteration of the franchise since I was a child.  While it’s wild to see how far the game has come, and how close to the genuine artifact that Madden has gotten, these minor tweak years for the franchise are just too little of an upgrade to come away feeling not just a little bit under-delivered on.

- This article was updated on:December 3rd, 2017

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Madden NFL 12

  • Available On: Xbox 360, PS3
  • Published By: EA Sports
  • Developed By: EA Tiburon
  • Genre: Sports
  • US Release Date: August 2011
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "There’s just not enough new content in Madden to entice you into exploring all of the nooks and crannies of the game if you are casual Madden player"
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