Madden NFL 12: Hits and Misses

by
Posted September 6th, 2011 at 11:15 am

Madden NFL 12 approached release under unique circumstances – a lockout threatening the season, several high level developers departing right in the middle of the development cycle, and the release date being pushed back to the end of August. EA Sports appears to have benefited from the lockout being lifted and the intense excitement for the coming season with the release of the game coming right at the height of anticipation.

The enhancements to Madden 12 were meant to satisfy the long-time fans of the series and those who are dedicated fans of the sport. In that regard Madden NFL 12 absolutely delivers – and it makes for the most enjoyable and satisfying Madden this generation and arguably reaching even farther back into the previous platform era. Continue on for a look at what Madden 12 got right and where it went wrong in this “Hits and Misses” review. 

Make sure to check out the comprehensive articles on each area of the game for additional analysis: Online Impressions – General Impressions – Franchise Impressions – Superstar Impressions – Videos and Screenshots

Hits

Presentation
A concerted effort was made with Madden 12 to capture elements of the television viewing experience and the game attending experience and though there is still plenty of work to be done it represents a significant and valuable advancement in presentation. Authentic camera placement, team entrances, blimp shots, crowd cuts, and more were all great touches. Crowd noise is much better than NCAA but there should be more impact to the crowd affecting road teams and roaring louder in appropriate situations (such as after a challenge decision).

Of course there were aspects of the presentation that eroded some of the overall satisfaction. Players bumping into each other on the way back to the huddle, the jarring cut to the two minute warning where then nothing of significance is shown, challenge replays so poorly handled that they don’t actually show the event being challenged, a lack of a halftime or post-game show, and sparse crowds in adverse weather conditions stand out. All relatively minor on their own but necessary to clean up for the presentation to reach the next level.

Gameplay
There is no denying that the gameplay improvements received were a large beneficiary of avoiding going the ‘gimmicky’ route this year. Gameplay is much more satisfying with some legacy issues corrected and the lack of suction paying dividends all over the field. Proper football strategy is rewarded more than ever and the result is some incredibly compelling and competitive games that have provided some brilliantly exciting moments. Fun factor due to all of that is especially high.

GameFlow and GamePlan have been enhanced with the addition of Custom Playbooks – allowing for the benefits of GameFlow to be more likely utilized. Stats are often in line with expectations and the flow of the games have been ideal. “Player Traits” really start to differentiate individual performance styles beyond just ratings. The CPU is finally competent though ultimately the challenge offered by the CPU will vary from person to person. The sliders appear to be effective for those who choose to tinker with the various elements of gameplay.

Dynamic Player Performance is difficult to quantify but does seem to have considerable impact and swing performance and ultimately even on-field results. Hot and cold streaks come into play and often early struggles will carry over to later in the game as players lose confidence. When the main positions are user-controlled though the struggles will stand out more than the successes – as getting a small ratings boost is unlikely to completely change the outcome of a play – just as a small ratings decline probably won’t mean a drastic result. There does need to be a way to see what DPP is doing without going into the pause menu.

There is no perfection here though – the lack of a battle for the ball between the receivers and defenders is especially glaring. Play action remains improperly implemented and special teams has been largely neglected with kick and punt return blocking flat out horrible. The new kicking camera and system, and the surprise onside kicks, are the only positives to mention as it pertains to special teams.

Franchise Mode
Though the improvements to Franchise don’t necessarily seem to warrant having taken a full year off from the mode they do make a large impact as they capitalize on the areas most requested for receiving advancement. Expanded rosters and cut days, practice mode, trades of future draft picks, draft scouting, and player roles are all intriguing additions.

The biggest success is the new Free Agency bidding system. Though it should be more obvious how to view upcoming free agents before the bidding frenzy begins it makes for a fun and pressure-filled event. “Player Roles” are an interesting element in how teams are shaped along with how they can affect on-field performance.

The weakest aspect is the draft scouting, which simply doesn’t provide enough information on enough players to make much (or any) difference. I felt largely in the dark for the majority of the draft as picking at the end of the round meant most of the prospects that had been scouted for the round were gone by my choice. Beyond the scouting then you’re left with knowing nothing but their projected round to make a decision on.

A few issues worth noting – a few teams are stuck with rain in every (or nearly every) home game, there is an issue with draft classes from NCAA Football 12 not coming over unless they are saved after the players leaving stage, players lose their “role” if anything about them even equipment is edited, the new free agency system is not good for multi-user franchises, and preseason games are a complete mess.

Online Play
This is the most successful online play experience to come out of the Tiburon studio. Performance has been excellent, the games have been ultra-competitive and very fun, and the Online Communities feature has proven initially valuable.

One unheralded but very important tweak to online comes with the kick meter which appears to account for any lag being experienced. The meter will snap back a tad after the button press and it has proven to be quite accurate. Kicks have been missed not due to any lag but due to user error. It’s the first time that kicking in a football game hasn’t been problematic online. Lag in general has been minimal – a slight sluggishness in some cases but easily adjust to – and most games have felt so good they could have passed for being played offline.

Online Franchise was passed over for improvements in favor of Communities – a decision that could be easily questioned. There is no lobby room within the communities making head-to-head games difficult to come by for most people. I’ve had to tweet out that I want a challenge in order to get a game and most won’t have that luxury. Though they offer something considerable the sense I get is most will be completely dead within a month. Maybe smaller ones within groups of friends will have more long-term success.

Custom Playbooks and their integration into GameFlow comes in handy for ranked online games. Inexplicably Custom Playbooks were omitted from use in the Online Communities and Online Franchise. There has also been an issue faced by a small percentage of users who have been unable to get past the “Checking Rosters” step. EA is still investigating but a temporary workaround is to save the latest rosters to a USB drive and the game will recognize that and proceed past the problematic step.

Misses

Commentary
Taking the most flak this year is the commentary and it isn’t completely unwarranted. Though there is a decent flow that is about the best that can be said, and it is certainly a big drawback overall on the complete package that Madden 12 attempts to offer given the number of errors called out and noticeable recording flaws.

Lines recorded last year vs this year sound completely different, reactions often run far behind when they actually take place, the same stories are repeated every game, and the announcers often call a player by their number rather than their name. There are also unjustifiable gaffes like referring to the Titans as the “New York Titans” at every coin toss or talking about the “new” overtime rules in a regular season game where they don’t even apply.

The lack of special commentary for preseason and postseason games really hurt their immersive nature. There is no special Super Bowl commentary – in fact the announcers will talk about homefield advantage. That sort of thing is just killer.

Superstar Mode
This mode wasn’t a main focus and it shows. Touted improvements were an improved interface, skill points to distribute for ratings increases, coordinator audio, and a switch to the standard camera angle. Most of those things actually were provided but did little to make the mode interesting. Coordinator audio and commentary was completely absent however.

Players automatically start at their respective position regardless of ratings and there is nothing that goes on in the off-season. The mode is just flat out dull. It also isn’t readily apparent that quarter length can be adjusted – that is done through the main profile and not within the mode.

NFL fans will appreciate what has been done with Madden NFL 12 as the title attempts to tap into what it means to be emotionally invested in a team or the league. The vastly improved presentation and gameplay combined with a much more enjoyable Franchise mode help to cover up the flaws that comes with growth that can’t be completed and goals that can’t be reached in just a single year. It’s finally alright to be excited about the Madden franchise – that is if they don’t change course in their vision yet again.

  • Credmc

    Miss= Not being being able to advance past my week 10 game in season 14 of my franchise…shit pisses me off…all the time I played..wasted

    • The game just came out and you have already played 14 years of Franchise mode?

      When is the last time you have gone outside?

      • Credmc

        LMAO I got the early release plus i simulate alot.

  • Scoobywhoproductions

    Okay first things first this is 2011 Not the early 90s Ea sports is a multi 1,000,000,000 dollar company there is no way they can not find developers to Fix some of the major problems in this game cycle that has been there since 2000 Just think of it this way nfl 2 k series was the greatest football game series ever and they sold NFL2k5 for only $20$ IT’S STILL AMONGST THE GREATEST FOOTBALL SIMULATOR OF ALL TIME I mean I remember 989 sports game day being great in some aspects that madden has still not yet implemented Why can’t I strafe as the wide receiver user controlling I mean what the f*** are you serious? But the corner back can? Its just clearly un fair .. why so the player models look like action figures? The have been the same size for years with minor graphic adjustments .. im not trying to be an ass hole but i have to be honest look at gears of war metal gear solid and god of 3. Winning eleven nba2k11 these companies/developers have pushed the systems to their limits but madden? Naw there all about money because their is no damn competition i swear i wish i could sue them because i have been forced to buy the exact same game since 2005 .. here is my final note look at how great the nba2k series franchise has been improving over the years and they do not have the amount of money that easports has the loyalty with their developers and listening to the fans are amazing and the best news is their will be an nfl2k13 will be released the monopoly licenses is over watch real developers go to work

  • Acarson53

    no no no no no no no another lazy madden feed a dog hungry dog slop they going to love it anyway thats what ea pretty much saying about us man,this game is a upgrade from 11 and thats not saying to much I cant take another year of 60 going down the drain well this is my last year anyway hopefully (here we go whatever)2k can redeem football and reclaim it rightful spot as number 1 in the pigskin catergory,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,thanks madden I’m walking funny once again this year,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    • guest

      Get them nuts out ur ass

  • Madden5050

    Lets not forget all the Australian and England players who have spent real money in Madden Ultimate Team PDLC and have not received the content. EA are saying its Sony”s issue, while Sony says it EA’s issue, while the customer is out of pocket in both money, time and PDLC. It really leaves a lot to be desired.

    • Keith.

      I don’t have anything against people from Australia or England (I love Outback Steakhouse and Monty Python), but anybody who is actually paying $ to EA in connection with its Ultimate Team scam deserves whatever bad they get.

      EA’s scammed enough $ from consumers over the last 7 years through its exclusive licenses — people who continue to contribute to the scam by paying money for MUT, scouting reports, etc., are part of the problem.

      • Madden5050

        Keith, your an idiot. Because we chose to play mut doesnt mean we deserve to lose our money. Stop being so naive and pull yourhead out of your arse.

      • Madden5050

        Your the reason im against imbeciles having internet access. Every imbecile thinks they can leave stupid comments.
        If a person pays any moneys for any service they should receive what they pay for regardless of some imbecile like you making stupid comments.
        One only hope your a child and that an adult has not made such a stupid statement.

  • Maybe I’m missing something obvious – but were the “pump the crowd” and “quiet the crowd” features removed??  I know they’re pointless – but it was fun watching the team pump the crowd on third down and start to make some noise..!

  • Did anyone notice that injuries on the field are not noticed by the commentators…  In fact there isn’t even an on screen graphic to show you who just got injured.  This has been around since Madden 94.  What the hell is up with that?  

  • Ch3vyboy252

    Rocket catching is back and in full effect just like madden 09 and will soon kill the fun in online play nobody will play this once it spreads online like a wildfire ts unstoppable when done with top receivers such as andre Johnson or bowe it sad that something like this made it way back to the game

  • steve

    best madden to date, but the commentary is the worst ive ever heard in a game.  sadly collinsworth isnt much better on sunday night football. 

  • Steve

    Loving the game too, regardless of various issues. Does anyone know what the time frame might be for any patches coming in the near future? I’m hoping we don’t have to wait months for some of these fixes, any news?

  • I have just a few complaints.

    GAMEPLAY:  –Seems like Receivers make a lot less of an effort to go up for the ball than defenders do.  I understand defenders will make big plays on the ball occasionally, but it seems like DBs play better WR than the actual receivers do.  WRs should at least try to jump up and grab it (or knock it down if the defender is about to make a pick).  They don’t even try most times unless you manually click them (and even then it usually ends up with you looking retarded).

    — Front 4 don’t seem to create any pressure without blitz.  I play as Atlanta but i’ve heard the complaint with others as well.  John Abraham or Ray Edwards should atleast occasionally run past the tackles and lay out a QB or bull rush.  Seems like even the worst tackles can hold up the best DEs long enough for the QB to throw.  I find myself always having to throw in a blitz. 

    FRANCHISE:  — Imported Draft Classes shows birthdays in 1958 for all of them.  Maybe it was just a fluke.  They are still the right age (21-22) but always born in 1958.

    — I think everyone has already mentioned that draft logic is broken.  CPU just pics best player available ever time.  Panthers usually draft a QB in my first draft.  Punters/Kickers 1st ect. 

    — It seems like i read about trading draft picks with the cpu was easy.  In my case ive experienced the exact opposite.  I can’t ever seem to move up in the draft. I’ve tried trading 3 1st round picks to move up in the first round and the cpu wouldnt accept.  It seems like future draft picks have little to no value when trading to the cpu.

    • Logic

      I have noticed this too. I use the Giants and I get no penetration with Justin Tuck and Osi unless I blitz, and with the slow corners that I have that is suicide if it doesn’t get in.

    • Logic

      I have noticed this too. I use the Giants and I get no penetration with Justin Tuck and Osi unless I blitz, and with the slow corners that I have that is suicide if it doesn’t get in.

  • Bmb

    chris kelsay an 8 yr vet is 21 years old they got a lady as QB and an old man on here madden just gets a kick out of shitting people out their money. who the hell is cam weber. brad smith is faster than vick when vick ran a faster 40. even though 40’s doesnt tell all. roy helu and ray rice ran the same 40 and ray rice is slower.

  • Christophshanesmith

    Any way around x box ppl needing to have a “gold” account just to update rosters?

  • imAhorseRacingFan

    Best thing said yet my mjtags11

    Still madden sucks. Madden 08/09 are still better then
    maddens of the last few years.  NCAA 12 I
    believe has better crowd noise and better gameplay.  I love preseason, although they should change
    at end of drive not quarter.  Wish they
    would bring back madden 08/09 franchise with dpp and cuts etc and we need espn
    commentary and visuals, along with sportscenter.  EA sports got the ESPN license but only uses
    it for NCAA and for minor videos.  Maybe
    one day madden will become better than NCAA but not this year.  And the graphics suck.

    Thanks, finally someone has the right idea.
    And all those people who want the rosters and dont have gold, SHUT THE FUCK UP and go out and buy a month or two of it.  If you bought $60 worth of madden crap, then you can spend another $10-$25 bucks to get rosters.

    • Mjtags11

      And yes we have the same username, we are not the same person, just have the same username LOL.

    • JJK

      Or just create another profile with on-line ability and you can have gold for 1 month free. 

  • I hope this is a step in the right direction.  Here’s to hoping online franchise gets some major changes next year…

  • I hope this is a step in the right direction.  Here’s to hoping online franchise gets some major changes next year…

  • I hate it because they didn’t improve Online Franchise one bit, and that is really all i play.

  • Just played a ranked game online. The other team tied it up at the end of regulation we go to OT. I drive the ball down the field and kick a fg with no time left to win? But apparently I don’t know the rules like EA does so I have to kick off. They proceed to drive right back down, and kick another fg to tie as time in to expires. It’s a Tie!Again, I clearly don’t know the rules like EA does. All of a sudden I have the ball at my own 20 on 2nd and 10(Yes 2nd and 10) with a full 6 minutes on the clock. I didn’t move the ball, and he scored on his drive. I lose 22-16 in double OT.Thanks EA for teaching me the rules of the game.

    • Solidx1030

      congrats… you made the playoffs!

  • Just played a ranked game online. The other team tied it up at the end of regulation we go to OT. I drive the ball down the field and kick a fg with no time left to win? But apparently I don’t know the rules like EA does so I have to kick off. They proceed to drive right back down, and kick another fg to tie as time in to expires. It’s a Tie!Again, I clearly don’t know the rules like EA does. All of a sudden I have the ball at my own 20 on 2nd and 10(Yes 2nd and 10) with a full 6 minutes on the clock. I didn’t move the ball, and he scored on his drive. I lose 22-16 in double OT.Thanks EA for teaching me the rules of the game.

  • DY$E_Steeler Fan

    this is the best madden EVER!!! PERIOD ps3 gamertag: kkyngz

    • Madden5050

      theres more bugs than a backyard garden but the games ok.

    • Madden5050

      theres more bugs than a backyard garden but the games ok.

  • JJK

    If you guys are complaining this much, why even buy the game in the first place? There are millions of people out there that like the game and are going to buy it and the few people on here complaining will not hurt EA in any if you do not buy the game. If you bought the game then complained about it, EA did its job in having you PURCHASE the game already. They changed a lot, not everything can be fixed that every person wants fixed. If you can do a better job, program a game and send it to them and see if they want you part of their team… I’m guessing not one of you can truly program a game and know the code to do so.. If you say you can you are lying. You would not be on here complaining because you would know how much work and time it takes to do it. 

  • Any idea when they are rolling out the next roster update now that all the nfl teams have finished finalising their rosters??

  • NBAlivesucks

    This is the best Madden yet but your also correct on your “hit and miss” coverage. I think the commentary was rushed. The Superstar mode is boring with nothing in the off season. They still haven’t fixed the tackling stats problem. I had Patrick Willis get 4 solo tackles in a row and it still said 2 tackles under the stat menu. I also wished they fixed the Hall of Fame section of the Franchise mode, only 3 inductees? They should do 5 players, with some from previous years of the franchise being immortalized. Other then that I don’t see any major problems. 9 of 10

  • NBAlivesucks

    This is the best Madden yet but your also correct on your “hit and miss” coverage. I think the commentary was rushed. The Superstar mode is boring with nothing in the off season. They still haven’t fixed the tackling stats problem. I had Patrick Willis get 4 solo tackles in a row and it still said 2 tackles under the stat menu. I also wished they fixed the Hall of Fame section of the Franchise mode, only 3 inductees? They should do 5 players, with some from previous years of the franchise being immortalized. Other then that I don’t see any major problems. 9 of 10

  • Datruth141414

    They said that they are hoping to have the new rosters done by Friday…..does anyone know if they are going to be 53 man rosters or they are going to be like the original rosters and close to 75 man rosters?

  • Nickelz114

    why in madden online play can a person just hike the ball and cpu will do all the running for them is there a way to stop this if not i think it is horrible and very unrealistc

  • Nickelz114

    why in madden online play can a person just hike the ball and cpu will do all the running for them is there a way to stop this if not i think it is horrible and very unrealistc

  • Ch3vyboy252

    its impossible to complete a pass on the run thats the only problem

  • Ch3vyboy252

    its impossible to complete a pass on the run thats the only problem

  • Brawnygr81

    Is it me or does the ball just sit up in the air for ever? Interceptions are now higher than in any of the previous games, sorry but in this madden you are only as good as your quarter back’s ratings. I’ve over thrown wr’s who when the ball is thrown to them make no effort to catch a ball in front of them, hit recivers in the back who where wide open an uncovered, i have sit in the pocket with close to no pressure an the QB throws across to the other side of the field.  Receivers have dropped wide open perfect passes. And i notice that when running  a route the faster receiver would stick to a LB and carry him up the field eg. Reggie Bush is clearly faster than Clay Mathews but to see him stick on him one on one 30 yards up the field is ridiculous and on multiple downs. 

  • Irishplaya0330

    I mean I kind of just like playing football? So commentary and shit doesn’t matter all that much. But it does get annoying. Biggest problems. Inconsistency with INT’s. No WR strafe? R u fucking kidding me?