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Madden NFL 12 Review

Steve Butts | 3 Oct 2011 21:45
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For the last decade or so, sports games have been inching closer and closer to recreating the full broadcast presentation style, and Madden NFL 12 pushes the ball further towards that ideal. 3D grass and accurate stadium exteriors might not mean much to you in the midst of a play, but the game includes loads of small details like this to improve the overall context of the game. Each team has a unique entrance that mimics what you'd see on game day. The Cowboys have their cheerleaders, the Vikings have their longship and the Ravens have their ... well, their Ray Lewis.

As dynamic as it all is, the presentation breaks down in a few keys areas. First, the announcers' commentary is usually spot on, but you'll occasionally hear them praising or criticizing a play that's already been overturned on a field. In one game I played, they went on and on for a full minute about this great touchdown after the touchdown had already been taken away by the officials. Second, the mechanism that selects what the replay camera shows seems not to understand what's actually going on in each play. You might pull off a spectacular catch and the camera will just show the QB standing around after the pass. Or worst of all, it may simply show an empty patch of grass. Professional cameramen from NFL Films apparently helped select some of these angles, but there's obviously some kind of miscommunication between what they want and what the game ultimately shows you.

Outside of the experience on the field, Madden NFL 12 offers a robust franchise system, where players can take on management duties, deciding who to sign and who to cut. Player performance can vary much more this year, so you'll want to decide whether to put your faith in more reliable players, or less consistent players who might deliver game-winning performances or who just might choke. And if football isn't enough like Magic: The Gathering for you, this year's Madden also includes a collectible card game fantasy version as well.

As in previous versions of the game, Superstar lets you create and develop your own individual football player and then lead him through one or more pro seasons. This time around, the RPG elements are more fully developed, so you can actually build the type of player you want to become. For my quarterback, for instance, I was able to build him into a scrambler who is good at short passes, but terrible at running the ball or throwing deep. Your performance in each game gives you skill points to further refine and improve your character. There's also a great new coordinator audio in your helmet, so you can hear what the coach wants you to do on each play. It's a very satisfying "you are there" sort of experience, but whether you enjoy it or not depends on how much action you see from your position.

Bottom Line: A reliably solid and satisfying entry in the series with a handful of missteps but no real deal breakers. The new AI and collision systems improve the action on the field, while additions to Franchise and Superstar mode help bring more structure to the game.

Recommendation: If you haven't picked up a copy of Madden in a while, 12 is a lot of fun. If you're still getting fun out of more recent versions, there's nothing here you can't live without.

Game: Madden NFL 12
Genre: Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Platform(s): PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)

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