By Kambui Moore
Ok. I have to admit. I am probably the biggest pro-EA gamer in the world. I was definitely heart-broken when they discontinued the MVP Baseball, NCAA Basketball, and the NBA Live series. I had to hear it from all my friends, day after day. “You need to switch over. 2K makes better games!” As historically false as that is, I almost gave up hope for this year. I am happy to say that Madden 12 was drastically better than last year. Well done guys/gals. Along with NHL 12, FIFA 12, NCAA Football 12, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 (even though the putting system is ridiculously harder), and possibly an NBA offering, EA is looking solid this year. I have to say the commercials are even better.
What’s so much better about Madden than last year? Everything! Some might argue that it is the same game, and to some degree they are right. The selection of game-modes didn’t change, but it’s the inside that counts.
I know this seems petty. But if you are going to be playing this game for 364 days, your ears might as well be happy. Last year’s soundtrack was filled with too much 70s rock, 1 played-out Lil Wayne song, and the Ying-Yang Twins? I know. I know. OMG! As much as I love The Ying-Yang Twins, KISS, and Ozzy Oz in the same playlist, I just didn’t care for the overall selections.
This year’s soundtrack is WAY-more hip, WAY-more current. The Beastie Boys make an appearance as well. I’m pleased.
Lack of D
One of the biggest improvement from last year’s game was the commitment to real-time physics. Not only can you tackle opposing players this year, but it actually makes sense. The gang-tackles look real and the momentum of the players makes a real difference. If you play Madden regularly, you were aware of the glitchy tackling of the past. [Example: You have Brian Urlacher mono-e-mono with a wimpy receiver. Urlacher engages but doesn’t take him down. He appears to be falling down. Another tackler engages from the side and takes him further up the field. Ball carrier regains his balance then falls all over again.]
The jump-balls are really balanced this year as well. Nobody can just dominate by pressing the jump button on-time. You have to have position and awareness. Which is true in the real-life game. The gameplay is more focused on players having to make the right calls this year. The pre-snap/audible menus are easier to navigate and are really smooth. Both sides of the ball are even difficulty, and should improve your understanding of the game. If your friends don’t know how to hot-route when they see a blitz, then they just deserve to lose anyway!
Be an NFL Superstar Mode
(Sigh of despair) Yes, the 2K My Player mode is more fun. But what they did do right this year was make their 1-player mode realistic. You don’t just walk-on an NFL team and start un-drafted. You have very weak attributes to start, and you have to work your way up. Besides that, it is essentially the same. But with better gameplay and the option to import your NCAA Football character again, some players will enjoy this version better.
The franchise mode has always been their best bet. The newest features make the experience more interesting. They have a bigger selection of helmets, shoes, and pads this year. That was a big thing for me. Everyone knows you have to look good to play good. They have incorporated a dynamic-attribute system based on hot-cold streaks of a player’s performance. This is not a revolutionary idea but it is new to the franchise mode. If your player is playing well, their attributes go up. If you are dealing with a player deemed-inconsistent, you’ll have a harder time predicting what they’ll play like for that game. Ex: Tony Romo throws 5 picks in a game, 2 games in a row. Romo has 5 touchdowns in the next 2. The next game is a toss-up.
Playing consistent is key. The less mistakes you make, the easier time your players will have making big plays. This is a great way to improve your rookies and give talented-players the more holistic rating they deserve.
The off-season is also more interesting. The experience is more realistic than ever with player-bidding and being able to load up your roster. Usually you just sim everything but the draft, and take whatever progression they give your players. This time you can have that loaded-roster and make weekly cuts, just like in real-life. As far as the player-bidding, it comes down to pressing “X” a lot. It’s a timed-system that allows you to bid on players auction-style. But you don’t really get the control every specific contract detail like past versions and just allow them to review all their offers. Even though the player bidding system has its flaws, it is a step in the right direction.
This is the last cool thing to look out for. The madden moments are a challenge-based game mode that is pulled directly from what happens weekly in the NFL. The biggest moments are re-captured in the form of challenges that allow players to re-live the actual situations. I am a fan of this, even though the concept is borrowed.
All-in-all, I’m excited again. You should really check out the other EA games via http://www.easports.com.
Hopefully you find as much enjoyment in them as I plan to.