Madden is a franchise that has of recent years been known for it’s little improvements. This year however is different. Madden 12 see’s the integration of new Game Day presentation , new Franchise mode options , and improved ultimate team , to name but a few. I shall start as usual with the intro video , it’s not as flashy as previous years but it does the job. I wasn’t bowled over by it as I have been with previous Madden intros. Instead of the usual flashy NFL moments mixed with cracking commentary , we get a Inception style soundtrack over the top of a rather nice painted art style. It’s certainly unique from previous years.
So onto the gameplay. It plays in much the same way as the previous 3 Madden games [9,10,11] however with an all new collision , lighting and textures engine , it brings something new to the ball game. 3D grass has been added to the graphics engine however it takes it’s time to load , which can lead to it popping in and out of scenes , especially in-between snaps. Even with the game installed on the Xbox HDD it still happened regularly. The new lighting engine adds great realism to the players , it’s tiny things like seeing the roof lights of the Lousiana Superdome in the Saints helmets that make this years Madden a little bit special. It’s the same engine used on FIFAs World Cup and 11 games last year. In all it gives a greater sense of realism to the game.
When combined with the new presentational elements , it really shines. This year , each team has it’s own unique , true to life intro , from my Seattle Seahawks running out with the hawk at Qwest Field , to the traditional pre game dancing of the Ravens All Star defensive player Ray Lewis at Baltimore. The only issue with the new presentational elements is that they don’t quite seem to gel. They don’t mix together in the same way a tv presentation would. The rather random halftime cutscenes seem almost pointless. If they’d of combined these cutscenes with last years halftime shows then they would have far more impact on the overall presentation. Personally I think EA need to take a leaf out of 2Ks NBA series , which last year hired a TNT game day graphics analyst to design there in game presentations , from the stats on screen to the locker room camera angles. However complaints aside. The new presentation adds a whole new aspect to Madden. It’s quite cool seeing your team burst onto the field. Also things like flyover during the playoffs help to add to the sense of occasion.
Ultimate team has seen the biggest improvements out of all the online modes. Last year I barely touched it, the year before it didn’t even come free with the game, however this year I’ve found myself donating countless hours to creating my Ultimate Team. The ability to play equally skilled teams and players leads to interesting and often tense games , where one dynamic superstar can be the difference between winning or losing. You gain points by playing equally ranked or higher ranked opponents. You receive a lot more points for defeating higher ranked or better skilled opponents. NFL seems to be sport designed for this mode , it’s suits it perfectly. More so than FIFA. Each position in an NFL team is so important to the team it places an added dynamic on top of the ability to build a team. Due to the size of an NFL team every player from the lowest ranked to the highest rank plays there part , unlike FIFA where your starting team tends to be the ones you always play with. The different offense cards , coaching cards and play style cards all give Ultimate Team what it needs to keep you playing and building for months on end. Most game modes in Madden this year appear to have had some improvements. Franchise mode in particular has added things like the ability to cut your team players down during the pre season , a free agent biding war for the off season and the ability to change teams during the season. All minor improvements asked for by the public. It’s nice to see these things added in by EA and to be honest , I think they have out done themselves this year.