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TitanSized Reviews Madden 12

Photo: He's not on the cover or in camp, but it looks nice

Let me preface this by saying one thing: The game is amazing.

Excitedly, I left my apartment around an hour before midnight to take the hour long trek to Wal Mart (yes, I live out in the woods). I couldn’t help but smile most of the drive. You see, Madden 12 offered an updated version of the ‘Franchise Mode’, and for me and all the off-season ‘draft nerds’…..well, this heaven.

I arrived 10 minutes after midnight, worried I might be late. If you were ever at a midnight release of anything Halo, you would understand. I got lucky. I was the first one to buy Madden in this particular town. The problem? I had to wait an hour to get back to my apartment. This totally killed the excitement.

When I first turned the game on, I was blown away, but first, let me tell you about my experience with previous Madden games. I have played every Madden game since 1999 and a few various other titles, such as Troy Aikman’s football game, NFL Blitz (not really the same thing), and the NFL 2K series done by ESPN. I have literally complained up until today that Madden ruined themselves by cornering the market. They bought the licenses to literally everything NFL. That is why there is no other football game for the NFL. If you erase your competition, only you are standing. It was a smart business move, but the result left most gamers always wanting more from Madden. The NFL 2K series was brilliant. They had smoother gameplay as well as an amazing in-helmet mode that allowed you to play an entire game from within a certain players helmet. Returning kicks on that game was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in a video game, but I really felt like I was in the game, which made the game oh so special.

So, in this years Madden, they fixed gameplay as well as the maligned Franchise Mode. It was as if I had written a personal letter to EA Sports and they complied with my wishes, then improved upon them. The best move they made? They hired the man that lead the NFL Head Coach project to fix Franchise Mode.

Unless I’m playing a friend, for fun, I only play the Franchise Mode. You can take your favorite team (or multiple teams), adjust their roster, bring in free agents, draft players, and hopefully improve everything. Except there were many problems.

Previous Issues

I once started a 57 overall rated QB for an entire season. I played every game on ‘normal’. The guy was a stud. He had quick feet and an even quicker release, he was perfect. I threw 3 games of over 400 yards. He finished with about 6 games of over 300 as well as over 30 TD’s and less than 12 INT’s. Do you want to know how much he improved in the off-season? Zero.

Well, that is now fixed with Dynamic Player Performance. You can take rookie QB Jake Locker and play the pre-season games and his ratings will adjust throughout the pre-season. At one point, he was a 45? The Question mark represents that the team is still figuring him out. The next game, after throwing two TD’s against third stringers, he finished rated as a 90? Do you see how the game slowly figures him out? Pre-season went from an absolute bore to a must-play!  It is now an RPG, or role playing game. You determine how they are. It’s quite frankly one of the best things that could have ever happened to Madden because it’s realistic. It’s how it should be. You and I can play the same team for one season and get different results in the win/loss column. So we should get different results in player ratings as well. Brilliant!

The off-season remains the number 1 issue for franchise mode that needed to be fixed. You could tell that EA wasn’t worried about it on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 models of the game. It really looked pitiful. On the playstation 2, that’s right #2 the previous one, you could work players out and do various other things that you could not do on the newer models. I think that’s horrible of them to do that. I payed good money for my 360 and the accompanying game while my buddy bought a used PS2 for $30 and the newest Madden for it gave him options that I didn’t have. It’s backwards. So, finally, we can now work players out instead of checking a box next to the player with the most potential and getting the late rounders that are great—every time. You actually have to go through a process of evaluating each player in the off-season. Gone are the days of drafting a QB first overall because his chart that Madden gave you looks good. Now, you know exactly what you are getting.

Suction Cup Tackles

I hate them. There is no other way to word it, except that I loathe them. If you don’t know what I mean, I’ll explain this inferior aspect. On Madden anything before 12, you can hand the ball off to a RB and he will be sucked immediately into a defender. You never moved. Now, I understand that you can be tackled behind the line before ever doing anything, but you don’t magically shift over 3 yards into a defenders arms. This could happen anywhere on the field, you would be running along and an animation just starts. You lose control of the character and get sucked into a defender who tackles you promply.

Another thing that is fixed is the momentum. Let’s face it, if I have 265 lb Brandon Jacobs running full speed at a 200 lb safety–keep listening, I promise this doesn’t end with a train going a half mile slower from an equally distant starting point…blah, blah, blah. So 265 lbs vs 200. The 265 (Jacobs) runs full speed, the 200 (most safetys) had to stop and change direction. They collide. What would happen? On Madden 11, the safety would ram Jacobs backwards and into the ground. On Madden 12? Momentum is taken into account. Jacobs would plow through the defender, possibly tripping up in the process and falling down. It’s beautiful. So realistic.

Speaking of realism, the presentation of each game makes me feel like I am–and here is a quote from last night–playing the actual CBS broadcast. Seriously! From the blimp view at the beginning to every angle during the game. It’s wonderful. I can’t praise it enough. The soundtrack is even great.

The other great part of Madden 12 is the intro. So great, I watched it twice. Imagine a heavily photoshopped highlight reel of big moments in the NFL from the 2010 season.

I have to say: This game is a must-buy for any football fan. Even if you primarily enjoy college football, you should like this. They’ve improved the transfer between NCAA and Madden if you wanted to draft players off the college game and into the pro game.

My review wasn’t paid for, it’s all me just sharing my opinion. So, take it for what it is, but I strongly recommend purchasing this game.

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Tags: Chris Johnson Madden 12 Peyton Hillis

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