- Publisher: EA Sports
- Developer: EA Tiburon
- ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
- Genre: Football
- Pros: Nice presentation; solid gameplay; plenty of modes; improved franchise mode; tons of options
- Cons: Commentary; occasional glitches
Madden NFL 12 packs all of the same modes from last year - Exhibition, Franchise, Madden Ultimate Team card game, Be a Superstar, online play, etc. - but with many changes under the hood to make them better. Likewise, the core gameplay seems the same, but with some key additions that make the game play more realistically. On the surface it seems a little too similar to last year's entry to be worth another $60 investment, but dig a little and you'll find an overall better game.
Take Franchise Mode for example. This year brings dynamic player performance where a good or bad performance one week affects each player in the following games. One week a player's rating might be 90. The next week it might be lower. It all depends on how they perform on the field. Each player also has a unique set of individual traits based on their real world counterparts that reflects their clutch factor, effort level, catching ability, defensive hitting power, etc.. Individual player styles are also reflected in the game, so players that throw a certain way or carry the ball a certain way in real life do the same thing in the game. You can also create completely custom playbooks with up to 400 plays in 50 formations, which really gives you the freedom to play however you want.
All of these changes, plus some others not mentioned, make the overall experience much deeper and better overall. They aren't things that are immediately noticeable, but really do make a difference.
Again, the gameplay seems the same as before, but it is tweaked for the better. All of the player traits and individual styles really make your favorite players and teams play more like the real thing. A new tackling system changes the way collisions are handled and eliminates the "magnetic" tackling of past games and also brings player mass and momentum into the equation. The result of all of the player tweaks and dynamic stats is that the A.I. plays better and more realistically than past games as well. This is definitely one of the more challenging entries in the series in quite a while.
Play calling uses the GameFlow system from last year to streamline the experience, which we are fans of. New this year is a Defensive Assist function where you can simply hold the "A" button on defense to have the A.I. take over a play for you. Sort of lazy, but not everyone likes playing defense.
The presentation is one are that has seen a lot of obvious improvement. Each game features stadium external shots from all 33 NFL stadiums, real team entrances, TV-style presentation, and more. Player animations are more realistic and uniforms actually degrade and get dirty over the course of games. The grass is now 3D and players kick up dirt, grass, snow, or pellets (on artificial turf) as they run. Progressive lighting means that time actually passes and the sun moves across the sky, casting different shadows and making things look different as the game progresses. Madden 12 really looks spectacular.
The sound is also well done for the most part, but the commentary is still pretty poor. Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth repeat way too often, are usually behind the play by a few seconds, and sometimes just plain get stuff wrong. One memorable mistake I experienced called the Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker "one of the best quarterbacks in the league" after he caught a long touchdown.
I also experienced a pretty significant glitch in the play review feature. I threw an out pattern and the receiver clearly caught the ball, dragged his toes, and then went out of bounds, but it was called incomplete. I challenged the play and it was overturned. Instead of 1st and 10, however, the game still thought it was 4th and 10 and I had to punt. It only happened that one time, but it was enough to make me really wonder how similar plays would turn out in the future.