Madden 12 Review: EA Sports Provides Gamers with Elite NFL Simulation
Most epic Madden ever.
Madden NFL 12 has been released early for those with EA Sports’ Season Ticket. Being the Madden addict I am—it’s well worth it for a rainy weekend.
If you’re like me, you get that Madden itch every August. After an insane lockout and free agent frenzy, I’ve been fiending for too long for my Madden fix. I had to jump at the chance to play it as soon as possible.
We say it every year—this is the best Madden yet—or, it’s the just the same old Madden. Thankfully, we can throw the latter to the side and hold our heads high knowing we’re playing the best damn football game ever.
If you couldn’t tell by the Madden Cover and 100 Club fan voting, EA cares what we, the gamers, think.
We always said what we wanted to eat for dinner, but no matter what it was the same thing over and over again when we sat down at the table. Finally, we get to eat what we want. Finally, EA Sports listened to us and fixed glaring issues with the coveted and beloved franchise.
Madden is no longer the bland rehashed game it has been for the past few years. They took the necessary steps to improve every aspect of our experience.
This year, do not hesitate to buy Madden 12. Do not fear you are spending your hard earned money on a game recycled from last year with updated rosters.
You will miss out on the top NFL simulation experience if you decide to prejudge this year’s game. This is the game you've wanted. More importantly, this is the game you need to enjoy the NFL season.
Presentation and Graphics
You know Madden 12 is going to be epic once you start up the game. The opening montage gets you hyped for this immense experience. Zack Hemsey’s “Mind Heist” is the perfect intro music. I feel like I’m about to watch The Dark Knight, the most epic superhero movie hero every time the music hits. Our favorite NFL superstars are superheroes after all, no?
Except I’m not. I’m listening to the theme from Inception, which is another Christopher Nolan masterpiece equally as epic! Double score!
Honestly, it’s so freakin’ good it should be playing in the background of every game played in Madden and real life.
Well played, EA. Well played.
This year, it feels like you’re actually playing a live telecast. Yes, that’s how good the graphics and presentation are.
The opening sequence with each team running onto the field provides a grander overall experience. The graphics are incredible. The coaches and players look lifelike. More importantly, they have their mannerisms!
When Nick Barnett makes a tackle he’ll throw down his patented double sledgehammer celebration. When Hines Ward comes up with a big third down reception, you’re going to know it because he’s going to sit on the turf and pump his fists.
These are the little additions that make this the most realistic Madden experience yet. We want the players in our game to be the players they are in real life.
You truly get the feel for the experience when you play Super Bowl XLVI. EA lets you enjoy the awesome experience up front as you can change the event type for an exhibition game in the “Play Now” mode from a mere exhibition to the Super Bowl or Holiday.
The different camera angles make you feel like you’re watching a real telecast instead of playing. You’re right there with the players and coaches up-close and personal. There’s nothing better than staring at Hue Jackson’s mug before watching Darren McFadden announced at running back in the Black Hole.
It is disappointing EA didn’t look to improve on the Extra Point. It was fun to watch every now and then, but I’m sure every gamer can understand why they got rid of it. Still, it would have been nice to see what they could have done with advanced technology.
The commentary is still the best we've ever had with Cris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson.
If you don’t have an HDTV like Harry Douglas, you need to splurge. It is surreal. The colors are vibrant and on point. The attention to detail provides the sense that you are actually playing with your favorite NFL superstars.
All of your favorites are back, but they are enhanced by the improved presentation, player models and gameplay.
We still have online and offline Franchise Mode. The Ultimate Team and Be An NFL Superstar modes are back too.
Thankfully, one of my favorite multiplayer modes return. Playing a game is awesome, but the mini-games can be even more intense with your friends.
Throw out the war-like cerebral game-planning of a one-on-one match. Instead, take it to your skills with individual players and topple your friends in the intense mini-modes, which pits you as a quarterback, running back, linebacker, wide receiver and defensive end. This mode is often overlooked, but you should be playing it more.
The ever-exciting Madden Moments Live is still in the game. This allows you to recreate some of the best season-changing moments from the 2011 season. It’s disappointing they didn’t keep the original Madden Moments from the 2010 season in. This was always a great mode to pass the time when nobody was around.
There’s game modes…and then there’s Franchise Mode.
Franchise Mode has been officially taken to the next level. This is the most compelling Franchise Mode since it was introduced in 2004.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a favorite addition. The Dynamic Player Performance consisting of hot and cold streaks and the return of player roles give you a true NFL experience. Your team and players can change from game to game depending on how you perform.
I think I speak for everyone when I sigh and say thank you!
It’s about time we had something of this magnitude. Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger are the most clutch quarterbacks in the league—it’s about time Madden rewarded them for their heroics! Your consistency will play a role during your season too since your confidence can be altered throughout. Say goodbye to making that rookie QB an elite superstar in his first season. One bad game and you don’t know what you’re going to get next.
EA finally allows you to play with a 75-man roster in preseason. That means each year you’re probably going to find yourself signing a massive amount of free agents just to test them out. Veterans and rookies make a difference. You can cost yourself a quality rookie in exchange for a scrub vet or you vice versa as you keep a youngster unprepared for a legitimate role after cutting a wily veteran. This is the gamble you take from the new and improved progression of Franchise Mode. Your decisions finally matter.
This is also true when scouting players for the draft. Hopefully you have NCAA 12 and can input a real rookie class or else you’ll have to settle for generated players. If you like a couple of players in that draft class, why don’t you trade a 2013 pick to move up in the draft or acquire a veteran? The option is finally there!
All rookies will have to be scouted during the preseason to see their ratings full locked, giving Franchise Mode a bit of a mysterious and interesting touch. Start a franchise with the Lions? You don’t know exactly how Nick Fairley will translate, but he could be a 99 overall when it’s all said and done according to EA! Wait, after Week 1 of the preseason Fairley is down a potential 93? What in the world will his true rating be!?
It’s time we start playing the preseason instead of simulating it because it will have a positive or negative effect on your team just like real life.
For the first time ever, injured reserve comes into place. It is a realistic touch to a true season as your players will get hurt in Madden as you’ve seen in recent years.
I just played a game with the Eagles and Chargers—yes, the Eagles are just as amazing as you thought they’d be—and LeSean McCoy and Vincent Jackson suffered some form of an injury on their first touch. It’s a good thing injured reserve is in effect, I may have to sign Terrell Owens if the increasingly fragile DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Steve Smith go down!
Back to the offseason, we can now change the teams we control. Get tired of playing with Michael Vick and don’t want to go through another 2011 season? Continue on with the Bills and give yourself an actual challenge!
Nothing will be more exciting in the offseason of your franchise than the free agent bidding war. Coming off the most exciting free agency in history, it would have been disappointing to play Madden and have to simulate each day. Instead, we now enter a fast-paced bidding war. Don’t blink, you might miss out on the guy you needed to win the Super Bowl!
Hopefully people don’t take advantage of this, but you can actually change the ratings of players in your Franchise.
If you start a Franchise with the Dolphins and play throughout the season only to find out Reggie Bush has returned to his dynamic USC-days, you might feel compelled to make your Franchise correlate. If you start a franchise with the Lions and think Calvin “Megatron” Johnson deserves to be the highest rated receiver in the game, go for it. Change his attributes to give him that 99 in Spectacular Catch.
You get the idea. Let’s not abuse it, shall we?
This is the Franchise Mode we’ve wanted and the one that will keep us entertained for more than just one or two seasons. The RPG elements of the player roles, week-to-week player changes and offseason frenzy with free agency bidding and scouting provides gamers with a phenomenal experience.
Oh yeah, baby, the meat and potatoes of our Madden experience.
We have the presentation, graphics and game modes, but it’s the gameplay that will keep you coming back for more. The game is smoother than it has ever been. It actually feels like you’re playing a completely different game if you pop in Madden 11.
This year’s version is leaps and bounds superior as you can sense physics play into the game. The game doesn’t feel as forced as it used to because each player’s movement is actually fluid and lifelike.
Don’t think for a second Sam Shields is coming in to sack Ben Roethlisberger. Believe me, I tried. Big Ben literally shoved him aside and kept it moving—I needed my man Clay Matthews to take him out. Players play like themselves. Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick and Big Ben will not hesitate to take off if you give them room. Once they see that patch of real estate is free of defenders, they’re off to the races.
The tackling is the biggest improvement. No longer does an animation occur prior to contact. Not only do defenders have to make contact to tackle, you’re not going to be forced into it just yet like previous years. There’s still time for you to juke, spin or stiff-arm away even after contact. Forget everything you thought you knew about Madden’s atrocious tackling—there’s no more suction to worry about in this game.
Looking for separation with your receivers? Pump fake and give yourself a split second of extra time as the defense reacts. This will be essential to picking up that game-changing third- or fourth-down conversion.
Don't have the Eagles receivers' blazing speed? No worries.
The foot work is amazing as receivers will try to tippie-toe to stay in bounds and work the sidelines. This is the first time in Madden a possession receiver will actually make a difference. It'll also give you an opportunity to watch some amazing replays where you actually see realistic grass!
And for those who like to play cheap, no more dumping it off to a running back or throwing to the flats—the defense is finally on to your game with much improved AI defense to give you a better simulation instead of a cheese fest. I know a few friends of mine will not be happy about that!
It’s both refreshing and reassuring that EA took the time to completely revamp its engine. It’s been stale and generally uncooperative for years. This time, EA is on the right track. It would still be nice to get a stutter step ala NFL 2k3, but the new tackling system is incredible. You’re going to constantly see new animations each game, which will keep you glued to your remote for months.
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
From the presentation to game modes to gameplay, Madden has made a major leap for the first time in more than five years.
I haven’t been this impressed with Madden since they introduced the franchise mode in 2004. I’ve been playing Madden and other football games since Madden ’93 for Super Nintendo. It’s safe to say this is my favorite Madden ever with the vast improvements in game play and immense overall presentation.
It may not be perfect—it never will be—but it’s the closest thing to it. EA is clearly looking to take their game to the next level and it’s refreshing. It’s about time they listened to the fans and revamped their engine and made tweaks to an already successful and enthralling franchise.
Unlike the past two or three years, this is the Madden experience that will keep me coming back for more well after the season is over. There are more than enough modes, but more importantly, a plethora of little nuances and intricacies within each single game to make the experience feel new and unique.
The Madden franchise is truly back with a bang. EA has raised the bar, which will make next year’s version that much more impressive as they seem determined to continue progressing.