Get away from the cops speed!
My eyes widen as I, foaming at the mouth, am handed a brand new copy of one of the most electrifying sports games known to man. Knowing that at any moment I could shit my pants, I rush home, kick open the door, and eagerly free the game box from its imprisoning cellophane wrapping. In awe, I silently sit, mesmerized by the holographic cover; Peyton Hillis stares back at me with that look of, “Are you ready for some football?”, my response, “Who the hell is Peyton Hillis?” Snapping back to reality, I place the shiny disc, from within the hypnotizing case, into my Xbox 360 and gear up for some pure gridiron action.
For my twentieth anniversary (oh, yeah, since ’91, the Sega days) of playing this illustrious title, I called over the troops to get an early taste of some ass-whoopings that are sure to come in the following months. With expectations running high, we all watch the opening credits kick off to one of the theme songs of the Inception movie—we're already pumped and chalking this one up as another greatest hit from ol’ Johnny boy.
Madden NFL 12 has fully played with my emotions. It’s like when your mom makes spaghetti every Tuesday, and it’s the best, then one Tuesday she says, “Dear, tonight I'm kickin’ you the hell out of my house!” Well, this is the feeling of this year’s edition; out with the old, renewing the new, and then spitting in your face and saying “Take it!”
Repeat upgraded features are back from last year’s Madden, such as GameFlow and no turbo. There are new additions added across the board, from a beefier franchise mode, more online options, and better visual aspects of actual gameplay. The major noticeable added features are Dynamic player performance and the all-new collision system.
For fans who have complained about Madden's prior interactions between players and unrealistic tackling, the new collision system will help put those shameful shoe-lace stops and pinky touch tackles to rest. Controls feel fluid and better than ever. With no turbo, true player speed and skill becomes more of a factor. Now instead of turbo-ing past defenders as a running back, players must be patient, set up cuts, and allow blocks to develop.
The same bodes for the defense; you will get yo ass burnt playing cornerback like you used to. It’s all right, though, because look at your controller, now back to the screen, now back at your controller, now back to the screen… Sadly you’ve just been dusted by Desean Jackson. Don't worry, you’ll learn the buttons, but if you keep using that same blitz, the outcome is going to be ugly. Look down, back up, what happened? You got burnt again. What’s in your hand; not the controller? I guess you give up, but look again, I just scored, 21 skunk, anything is possible when you’re the Eagles.
On the downside, dynamic player performance is the most gear-grinding pain in Madden 12. “An incredibly sophisticated AI system” that may be, but how realistic is it really? The idea is to capture player emotions and relate them to on-field performance. Lining up behind center as Aaron Rogers, you know he’s going to do one thing, and that is be great. Pressure doesn’t seem to affect top players such as the Tom Bradys and Peyton Mannings. But the Jason Campbells and Michael Crabtrees seem to always perform hot and cold, which may be realistic, but does it need to be in the game? Isn’t there a chance a mid-level player might actually perform better when he’s stacked up against a series of bad plays? This feature means well and it does work wonders in some sense, but this is a feature that will need some retooling for future Madden games.
Following with the realistic theme, Madden hopes to give the audience a full NFL experience. It wants you to feel as if you’re a player going through the grind of a professional football season. Player introductions, team camaraderie on the sidelines, huddled time-outs, national anthem singings at the Super Bowl, parades, and even meeting the president. It’s all decked out: Obama with his honorary number “44” on the back of the winning team’s jersey and all.
Of course, after the NFL lock-out all summer, I immediately wanted everything football and started franchise mode the second I could. Michael Vick, gracing the cover back in ’04, and the Eagles were my hands-down choice to kick a season off with. My new “NFL experience” was decent, now with expanded rosters and cut days in franchise mode—it gives me one more reason to sim through the pre-season and all related tasks. But I must say scoring touchdowns never gets old at Lincoln Financial Field, because every time I do, fans break out in song: “Fly Eagles fly, on the road to victory, E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!!!” (Damn, I wish I lived in Philly.) *tear rolls down face*
Online options continue to grow with a wide variety of usable content: head-to-head, with a friend, join a community, and the list goes on. For fantasy buffs, you can now link your NFL.com account with your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3; check up on your team throughout the season from your console, and you’ll even receive 3000 Madden coins to spend in Ultimate team mode.
Visually, on-field graphic and menu layouts have stepped it up once again. Getting ever so close to looking like the real thing, player detail is clear and fairly authentic—I think I've even seen Chad Ochocinco wearing a gold grill in his mouth. I wish I could say the same for the game's audio, which has both good news and bad. The good news is that the music soundtrack is great; bumpin’ 2Pac and Lil Wayne really sets the mood for some NFL action. The bad news is the commentary is still awful. Every year I try to convince myself it’s not that bad and pretend I’m receiving quality information about players and coaches, but I would be lying. Cris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson are back with the same repetitive commentary that will make you want to put the game on mute and just listen to your own Youtube playlist… at least that’s what I do.
Another new function is the Superstar mode and ‘head-set only’ feature of coordinator play call. This is where you roleplay as the QB himself and are given plays through verbal communications from the sidelines, as if you were actually wearing a helmet and playing as a captain on offense or defense. But this gets even worse than the commentary, since it repeats itself on just about every play. I promise this is a feature that you will want to turn off by half time.
"Simple" is not in this year’s Madden vocabulary. Everything has been done up and made to stand out. With no real competition from other football titles, Madden and the developers at EA Tiburon can virtually come up with anything and do whatever they want. Through trial and error, John Madden and the boys have still secured their spot in video game’s hall of fame. All in all, Madden NFL 12 lives up to its franchise's basic standards as a hard-hitting realistic football game. Besides all the new fancy updates and sparkly things that dangle on the screen, loyal Madden-ists and newcomers can enjoy mostly everything Madden has to offer.