My Neighbor Reviews Madden ’12

Editor’s Note:  I purchased Madden 12 the day it came out.  Since then I have not played more than 2 games.  This year’s game requires an Xbox Live Gold membership in order to update the rosters.  I spent the last month or so attempting to update the rosters without giving Microsoft another dime of my money.  Therefore, I asked my “neighbor” to review the game.  His review is below.  Enjoy.

Madden came out a few weeks ago.  I have been playing it non-stop.  Here’s what you need to know:

The Gameplay:

Pro: Seamless.  Let’s just say I’ve had a lot of time to play Madden lately, and out of the many games that I’ve played, I’ve only run into a small glitch here or there.  Nothing memorable.  Frankly, I can’t believe how smooth this game is.  To help change up the look of the game, they added lots of new tackle/missed tackle animations.  This definitely helps keep the game fresh.  They also went through the trouble of creating every team’s pre-game entrance routine.  You can watch the Seahawks march onto the field through fireworks, behind a flying hawk (no Bittersweet Symphony, though).  The play-calling is fast and easy with the game flow option.  This year you can choose between a running or passing play, or you can open the full playbook.  Much smarter play selection than in years past.

Con: The kicking angle.  When kicking off, the camera angle is like a Tecmo Bowl/TV Broadcast type thing.  This makes it very difficult to try and aim your kicks to one side.  The field goal kicking camera angle is also changed, making it very difficult to factor wind into your kick.  Luckily the field goal angle can be quickly switched to “classic mode” by the push of a button.

The Announcers:

Pro: Hey, at least it’s not John Madden!  For my money, Gus Johnson is the best announcer in sports.  Chris Collinsworth is no slouch either, although he takes a few unnecessary jabs at Johnson.

Con: The commentary is choppy and repetitive.  I know, this is common and somewhat unavoidable in sports games.  The problem is accentuated in Madden because of Gus Johnson’s enthusiasm.  Too often his volume goes from zero to ten, with no intermediaries whatsoever.  Also, get used to hearing about the best player on your favorite team, as Johnson mentions him every time your team plays.  I got close to cutting Calvin Johnson because I was tired of hearing Johnson refer to him as Megatron game after game.

The Difficulty:

Pro: For years I would complain that Madden had a “difficulty problem.”  All-Pro was easy to master, but All-Madden required you to quit your job, buy gaming magazines, and become somewhat of a recluse.  This is fixed in the new game.  The All-Pro difficulty is plenty difficult.  It’s challenging, but not impossible.  I am able to win, but not all the time (and almost never a blowout).

Con: I’ve actually yet to play All-Madden mode on the new game, but I can assume it is reeeeeeee-diculous.

Franchise Mode:

Pro: Franchise Mode is by far my favorite way to play.  It doesn’t disappoint.  The new and improved player scouting is a lot of fun, and a decent amount of work.  The draft in the offseason is much more realistic, with teams much less likely to trade away a top draft pick than in years past.  And, as long as we’re talking about trading draft picks, you can now trade future draft picks (at least 1 year into the future).

Much remains the same, which is good (if it ain’t broke…).  This year you can change the team you are controlling in the offseason.  This is fun if you want to start from scratch again, you can pick the team with the number 1 draft pick and coach up a franchise player from the beginning.

*Fun Fact 1: I moved the Carolina Panthers to Portland, and named them the Portland Primates.  I even got to design their new stadium, jerseys, helmets, you name it.  Very fun.

*Fun Fact 2: It was year 4 of my franchise before I was able to get the Seahawks into the playoffs (and all the way to the Super Bowl!)  New QB, RB, almost everything except Zach Miller and Earl Thomas.

Con: I’m not in love with the new free agent signing stage of the off-season.  They’ve made it a “Bidding war” where you bid for players against other teams.  The idea is fun in theory, and I’m not totally opposed to it in practice, either.  I guess I’m still adjusting to it.  My main complaint is that it all happens very quickly, and if you’re trying to address multiple needs in the offseason, it becomes very difficult.

Online Play:

Pro: I haven’t experimented too much with online play, but I like the idea of “Communities,” which was added this year.  It lets you join a community of like-minded players, so you don’t have to play the jerk that keeps running the same cheap play over and over again (or the guy that always kicks an on-side kick, or the guy that goes for it every 4th down, or…)

Con: The reason I haven’t experimented too much with online gameplay: The servers are constantly busy.  I’ve started maybe 7 online games, and the servers have kicked me off of 3 of them.  Not fun.  Also, this year Xbox decided to gauge fans more than usual by making them sign up for Xbox Live Gold before they are able to download any sort of roster update.  Lame.

Overall:

I find the game lots of fun, and certainly worthy of your time and money.  I don’t do stars or thumbs, but if I did, there would be a lot of them.  I haven’t even tried the Superstar or Ultimate Team modes yet.

Favorite Team to Play With: Baltimore Ravens (Ray Rice is a Beast)

Favorite Player to Play With: Cam Newton

Best Looking Stadium: Portland Primates Park, or P3 … Just kidding.  All of the stadiums look fantastic.  The outside shots are amazing, as are some of the angled shots from the upper deck mimicking Monday Night Football.  The night sky even shifts from day to night during the game! 

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2 thoughts on “My Neighbor Reviews Madden ’12

  1. Have you tried NCAA lately? I haven’t played Madden since ’08, didn’t get into it too much. I like recruiting, but drafting / free agency seems intriguing if they make it fun

    1. I have played NCAA each year for the last 4 years or so. I don’t have ’12 but it sounds like I’m missing out. Neighbor is strictly Madden. NCAA will be on the Christmas list… or maybe I can get it on the baby shower gift registry.

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