As the NFL season starts, fans all across the country dream of their team holding the Lombardi Trophy, signifying Super Bowl champions.
In Madden 12, any player can build their team and do exactly that.
Madden 12’s gameplay is the most noticable improvement over Madden 11, since the game runs much smoother than past years. No more do players seem to skate across the field, and tackling appears much more realistic.
Players now have traits, which detail how they will play. Michael Vick will often scramble when pressure is coming or a play breaks down, while Tom Brady is a statue in the pocket and will throw the ball the majority of the time. Josh Freeman leads clutch 4th quarter comebacks, but Tony Romo has a tendency to choke when the game is on the line.
The biggest benefactor game-mode-wise is Franchise mode, which has had a complete overhaul of the offseason, along with scouting. Scouting is now taken care of in 4 week increments in the regular season, as you can choose 15 players every 4 weeks to uncover information about.
Players will show up as having a positive hit power or negative acceleration, for instance. In the offseason, players are scouted through the NFL Combine, pro days, and individual workouts, which each portion unlocking new attributes.
The draft has been addressed as well. No longer will five fullbacks be projected to go in the first round. Players go by where their talent and position indicates. Occassionally, a punter or kicker will go in the second or third round, but those players are instantly among the best in the league.
But for draft classes, Madden’s generated classes far outshine the NCAA imported classes. Madden classes have plenty of sleepers to go along with busts. In one season with the Detroit Lions, their 2nd round pick, a defensive end, came in as a 68 with D potential, while their 5th round pick, a center, came in at 85 with A potential.
Undrafted free agents, who are randomly assigned to teams to fill the preseason roster, occasionally turn into very good players. NCAA imported classes leave a lot to be desired, as sleepers are extremely rare. Top picks come in at far too high of an overall, and busts are just as rare as sleepers. All undrafted free agents seem to be wastes, as nobody wants a cornerback who is slower than an offensive tackle.
The biggest addition to Franchise mode, though, seems to be the change of offseason signings to an auction style bidding. Players, once given an offer, will be on the clock for a minute and thirty seconds. Teams bid up on those players to however high they are willing to pay them, and at the end of the timer, the team with the highest bid will sign that player.
Gone are the days of offering 20 players contracts instantly and signing most.
While Franchise mode has received solid improvements, Online Franchise was left mainly untouched. The only change to this bare bones mode is the addition of My- LeagueManager, a website that can track things like salary cap and team rosters.
Trade logic, player contracts, and randomized draft classes are still missing, meaning a player could sign every top free agent, then trade Dan Orlovsky to the Patriots for Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
This is inexcusable, as the mode has been like this for three years. Anybody who doesn’t want to have to run their Online Franchise on the web doesn’t have any sort of control over what happens, and player teams can become insanely loaded instantly.
Ultimate Team, one of the most fun game modes, went mostly untouched. The main new addition to Ultimate Team is legends, which are only available in packs which must be purchased with actual money, unlike all other packs that can be purchased with Madden Coins, earned through winning games against online opponents or CPU controlled NFL teams.
Also added is the ability to invite a friend to play Ultimate Team against, but this results in a lower amount of coins being awarded after a game to circumvent players boosting with a friend to get more coins.
Madden 12 has had some solid upgrades, and if you did not like Madden 11 due to the playstyle, it is well worth picking up. If you were a fan of Madden 11 and can live without updated rosters, then Madden 11 is the game to keep, as the upgrades out of gameplay don’t warrant a full price purchase.
Of Electronic Arts two football games this year, NCAA Football 12 seems better suited for online play, as Online Dynasty may be the best online sports gaming outside of the NHL series’ EA Sports Ultimate Hockey League.
If someone is an offline only gamer, then the choice depends on whether that person is a bigger NFL or NCAA fan, as both games have their flaws but are playable.
Madden 12 gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10; a solid game, but not a game changer.