Photo: MaddenNation1/You Tube
Earlier this month, EA sports released a demo of the 2012 instalment of their most valuable series of games, Madden. Tonight, at midnight, the real deal comes out, and you should definitely buy it.
Madden's gameplay was solidly established in last season's version. The plays ran crisply, and the defence could stop the run more often. On the other hand, their long vaunted 'hit stick' feature wasn't anywhere close to perfect, and practically every defensive back in the game, Ed Reed and Nnamdi Asomugha included, had hands that were apparently sculpted out of granite. The problems that have long plagued Madden such as their terrible announcing and poor production value were still abound.
The tackling component of the game has been improved vastly. The collision detection never seems to clip, and the game won't skip a beat if a player's animation becomes interrupted.
The 'hit stick' has been solved. A selected defensive player won't kneel forward and rush with his head down towards the ball carrier like a drunken bull anymore. Instead, the defender will better read the movement of the ball carrier and make the most solid hit possible. Runner's juking ability has also improved to make the game more fair.
Also, if you highlight your defensive back and correctly read the route your man is taking, it is actually possible to pull off an interception a fair amount of the time.
Proponents of using the right joystick as much as possible will be happy to also hear that quarterbacks can throw to whichever receiver you would like them to by simply point the stick in the direction of the receiver. This is a feature that was long overdue.
Although the demo doesn't have any commentary in it, the production value is leagues ahead of where it was last year. The game's graphics, camera angles, and player introductions act as if they were ripped directly from a Sunday NFL telecast.
The production values have become seriously impressive. No gamer is going to complain about having to see the realistic representations of NFL stadiums from a blimp-like angle before every kickoff.
Check out how intimidating Michael Vick looks before he enters a game of Madden.
After an absence of several installments, EA Sports has re-introduced the virtual cheerleaders. The game designers hardly missed anything at all.
If you're into online video gaming (and who isn't?), you'll be pleased to hear that Online Communities have been re-done and can now hold even more users. However, the new and vaunted franchise mode isn't available for online play.
Still, there's reason to be excited about the new Franchise Mode. It will be more styled like a role-playing game (RPG) which creates a more immersive gaming experience. There will also be a new free agent bidding component that will accurately depict what a football GM's day is like. It doesn't stop there. During training camp, you'll be required to cut players too.
The new Madden has re-done NFL Superstar mode in which you create your own player that gets better over time
Practice truly makes perfect in Madden NFL 2012. The NFL Superstar mode allows for a player in your own likeness to get better with practice. You will actually get to run several reps with your teammates in hopes of bettering 'yourself.'
New physics engines for video games come out all the time, and Madden NFL 2012 has taken advantage of that. The physics of tackles and even the bouncing of the ball have been taken into account more than ever before.
Small flecks of grass and dirt will kick off the cleats of every ball carrier too. Now opponents can almost literally eat your dust.
Even with all their improvements in the production department, EA didn't add player tattoos which needed to be added seasons ago.
We have yet to hear what the play-by-play sounds like, but odds are that will need to be improved too. No sports video game except for MLB 08: The Show and MLB Slugfest 20-03 has ever gotten commentary right.
One of the biggest criticisms of sports games is that they don't add enough features in between off-seasons other than roster updates and new graphics. But that criticism is unfair. The base engine of a video game takes years to program and execute. It's nearly impossible for video game designers to totally revolutionise the gameplay a sports game in a single year.
But it's evident there will still be room for improvement once Madden NFL 2013 rolls around.
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