Senior Writer Josh Hill reviews the new EA Sports Madden 12 in an in-depth 5 part review. All major gaming modes will be explored and reviewed to the fullest extent so you know what you’re buying in Madden 12. EA Sports is in no way affiliated with Pewter Plank or Fansided. In Part 1 of 5, the GAME PLAY MODE is broken down and reviewed.
When I think of the NFL, I think of Madden. It’s as much a part of the game as watching it religiously on Sunday’s. But Madden isn’t popular simply because football is. Madden has changed the way we can connect and be apart of the game. Each year we look forward to engaging ourselves with football and submerging into our fantasy of being an NFL player. Recently, Madden and EA have been unjustly giving the die-hard’s nothing to show for except disappointing and anger that $59.99 was wasted. This year, Madden promises a better product with deeper and richer game play experiences. Did they deliever?
Let’s find out.
NOTE: I will be referencing numerous times in this review NBA2K11, last year’s installment of 2K Sports NBA franchise. I reference it as it is perhaps the best sports gaming experience I have ever had, and my sports gaming dates back to NFL Gameday ’99 on the Playstation. The game [NBA2K11] offers the deepest, most authentic and rich sports gaming experience that I have ever had; from presentation to a seemingly bottomless Association (Franchise) Mode and Superstar Mode. If you follow the NBA or enjoy sports games I highly recommend it.If you have played it, you’ll understand the references without this acknowledgment, but if you haven’t I just want you to know that this is what I’m referring to whenever I say NBA2K11.
Okay, enough about basketball. On to MADDEN 12: THE PEWTER PLANK REVIEW!
This is the reason people spend more than half a hundred dollars on Madden. They want to play the game they love so dearly and want it to be an experience not unlike the real deal. For the past few years Madden has been trying to achieve that dream for fans, albeit at a price when it comes to supplemental modes. Madden 12 storms out of the gate with the realest experience to date. Straight from the get-go you have options to enhance the game and customize it to your liking.
Like last year’s edition, Madden 12 allows you to select teams, jerseys and stadiums. The uniform customization is the same where you can mix and match helmet styles with jersey, pant and sock styles. If you want to rock the Pewter helmets with the Creamsicles, more power to you; Madden 12 continues to give you that option.
Also returning is game modes. Like last year, if you wanted to play the Super Bowl you can do it. If you think the Bucs and Steelers will meet up in Super Bowl XLVI, you can play it 6 months in advance. Any team, any winner, just like Madden 11.
Upon starting the game, you don’t go immediately to the coin toss as in other versions. Instead, a PA announcer tells the crowd to “direct their attention to the Northwest tunnel to welcome your (__enter team name__)!” A clip then plays that shows the team running out of the tunnel, then goes into the tunnel to follow the rest of the players out.
The announcer then announces the offensive starters. This is usually just the two main stars on the team, but it’s as authentic as it gets.
“From Kansas State, JOOOSH FREEEEEMAN!”
Then the coin toss occurs but it’s as though the game is being directed by Fredrico Fellini. The camera is at a low angle looking up at the players shaking hands then goes all war film documentary with its quick zooms and shaky motion. In the middle of all this, you call the toss and go through the normal pre-game Madden motions.
The game play is amazing, building on the innovations of last year. EA did a good thing when it decided to make its tackling system in NCAA 12 universal for its football games. It’s more realistic than and as smooth as ever. The graphics are a thing to marvel, gleaming with a sleekness that will make even the non-tech savviest player smile.
Close ups will reveal reflections in it, from rooftops to other players. This of course depends on the type of HDMI setup you have, but even the 720p TV’s of the world will have amazing graphic displays.
Cut scenes after plays and after scores enhance the game play more so then it attempted to last year. When you score a touchdown the camera takes you, as Sir Mixalot put it, all up in that. You feel like a part of the celebration. This is an authentic feeling that is created by Madden and replicated only by ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Camera’s zoom along the sideline action of players sitting and either taking breathers or reading up on plays.
The presentation will satisfy the perfectionist who wishes to replicate an actual NFL game as closely as possible. Players are introduced as they are on FOX or CBS where the boxes pop up with player pictures and those who are players to watch are highlighted. There is no halftime freeze screen where you get sent to the start menu. It’s instead an outro graphic not unlike FOX’s where a mini scoreboard reads the score below a screen that shows highlights of the first half.
Now, some may take this as being too authentic, but the announcing is terrible. Gus Johnson and Chris Collinsworth are absolutely dreadful as announcers. Which doesn’t add up: Gus Johnson, awesome. Chris Collinsworth, awesome. Put them together in Madden: AWFUL! They don’t sync up well, and half the time it sounds like some of the audio was recorded over the phone and touched up. Lines are repeated and some don’t even make sense in the context they were said.
In one play, Calvin Johnson made a triple coverage catch for 67 yards, to which Collinsworth exclaims, “In a league with all these big, tall receivers, it’s sometimes the little guy you got to be scared of.”
Going with the natural stadium sounds is really the best way to play games unless you really need commentary. Even in that case, just do it yourself; chances are it will be better fitted to the game.
Tackling is improved and makes a for an extremely authentic feel. If a quarterback’s athleticism attribute is low, he won’t make super-human plays when being rushed. Instead he’ll freeze and take the sack. The new ‘Defense Assist’ mode allows you to take a breather every so often, or bail you out of a jam but don’t expect to make bone crunching plays or highlight reel interceptions while getting assisted. These plays need to be done manually which makes defense a little harder.
It’s a very offensive-minded game. It’s designed for highlight reel catches and runs. This is one thing that was put there for pop appeal, not for authentic purposes. But if that’s what you’re into, then no harm no foul. There is a way to even the playing field a bit unlike versions previous.
Turn up the difficultly.
For the first time ever in a Madden game, the difficulty setting matters. Put it on Rookie if you’re new to Madden or like to win by hue margins. Set it on Pro, just one setting above Rookie, it’s a whole new ballgame. Set it to All-Madden, a setting which wasn’t very challenging to most gamers before, will throw you down, spit on you and kick then you-know-what out of you and not feel sorry at all. Finally, the higher the difficulty, the higher you set the A.I scales, the harder the game is. Only the true Madden hardcore’s will be able to beat it on All-Madden and none of them will do it the first time.
Simply put: the game play in Madden is awesome. The difficulties matter, the presentation is outstanding and the graphics will melt your brain. The hits are realistic and authentic and the images are amazing: the numbers are clear, the names on the back are pristine (until they get muddy, it’s that authentic). It was a great surprise to see EA found a way to upgrade the playing style and the presentation from last year’s effort (if you want to call it that). If you’re new to Madden, this is a good one to dig your roots into. If you’re a Madden aficionado and were disappointed by last year, pick up Madden 12 and enjoy.
Game Mode Rating: 9/10
Full Review Contents: