After some hugely enjoyable offerings from EA Sports with FIFA and NHL this year, I was expecting Madden 12 to be on par.
Two out of three ain’t bad, right?
Where EA’s annual hockey and soccer (for the sake of clarity with this football review) games really upped the bar and innovated with gameplay, visuals, and online and offline features, Madden really falls flat.
Fans of the series should delight in a few upgrades; the visuals in Madden 12 are greatly enhanced. Before each game, you get a fly-by of your stadium and shaky-cam closeups of your superstars, which really hype the game you’re about to play. On the field, the lighting effects are simply amazing — it’s great to watch the sun rise and set on the stadiums you play in. Add to this the chunks of turf that fly around as you run around the field, and you start off easily impressed playing Madden.
Trouble is, the little touches like the ones I’ve just mentioned above have been staples in FIFA and NHL for years now.
As you spend more time with the title, you notice that the fans in the stands look one dimensional and cardboardy — they remind me of what I used to see in 2K’s early NHL offerings, actually. Cheerleaders are hilarious to laugh at for the same reasons. And, while your football players look great, realism falls takes a back seat when you go to block a Quarterback’s pass and you can literally see the football pass straight through him.
Another problem with that is the AI, whilst somewhat improved, never seem to have same problems you do. They block passes they’re nowhere near. They successfully tackle a quarterback who had long since completed his throw animation. It — like most of the menus in Madden 12, I might add — gets quite frustrating.
As far as modes go, they have heaps of promise that doesn’t deliver. I love the idea of having to properly scout for new players in the game’s ‘Franchise’ mode — the only problem is that it’s (you guessed it!) not realistic. You learn more about a player when you actively scout him, which makes sense…but those you don’t look at show zero stats. Are you trying to tell me NFL scouts have no data on those players they don’t physically look at? Not in the Internet age. Again, it ends up frustrating you when you don’t wind up with the players you were scouting and have to resort to guessing games to field (hopefully decent) players.
EA Tiburon did score a touchdown with their online ‘community’ mode, but multiplayer offerings are more of the same. In a year FIFA and NHL have really expanded on their offerings, Madden could have used a facelift. It’s a sad day when one of your favourite features is a”defensive assist” that takes over all of the gameplay for you when you hold the “A” button; the most enjoyable part of the game is having it play itself.
If you’re a hardcore Madden fan, this year’s title will most likely disappoint. It’s less arcadey than Madden 11, but in the end, not worth the purchase. If you’re new to the series and a football fan, you might consider this title…so long as you can figure out what you’re doing in those menus.