Madden NFL 12 Superstar Mode Impressions

Posted August 26th, 2011 at 6:00 am

The career mode in the Madden series has been largely left to rot over recent years and though it received some attention in Madden NFL 12 it fails to provide any intrigue. Putting aside Online Franchise which went untouched Superstar mode is the most disappointing aspect of Madden 12 and pales in comparison to the flawed but improved Road to Glory in NCAA Football 12. 

The new features this year for Superstar mode are laid out as being the coordinator audio (which can be set to come through the TV, just a headset, or turned off), skill points to put towards ratings categories, and a new interface. The camera angles have also changed back to a default traditional Madden camera or ‘Broadcast’, ‘Zoom’, and ‘Wide’. There is no dedicated ‘Superstar’ camera this time around.

Upon starting the mode the option is available to create a rookie, choose a current NFL rookie to control, or import a player from NCAA Football 12’s Road to Glory. I went ahead and created Pasta Padre as a running back.

Create-a-Player offers some new aspects such as choosing the player’s traits – though it seemed odd that something like ‘drops open passes’ can be determined by the user because who would choose ‘yes’? There are 1500 ‘points’ to distribute at the start to the ratings categories of choice. This bumped Padre’s overall rating from 60 all the way up to 66. Once out of this area only a player’s equipment and ratings will be accessible – any info (even jersey number) or appearance changes are not possible.

The NFL Draft is a major bummer. Choose to be drafted and a screen pops up with a message about what team made the pick. There is no further presentation to it. Instead of entering the draft the option is available to sign as an undrafted free agent and choose any team as well. Once within the mode the ‘superstar’ can request a trade – not during training camp/pre-season however only the first six weeks of the regular season – and choose which team to be sent to.

The ‘superstar’ is automatically made the starter regardless of ratings. Having been drafted by the Panthers that meant Padre was starting over DeAngelo Williams who’s overall rating was 24 points higher as well as Jonathan Stewart. There doesn’t seem to even be a way to change the depth chart and move down if so desired.

In between games there is one practice which provides for 10 reps. Beyond that though it is just about the games. Skill points are earned by doing both and simming will not provide any skill points. Practice can be pretty boring depending on position. As a RB there have been practices where I didn’t even get a single touch!

One confusing thing about Superstar is that there is no option within the mode to change quarter length. Initially I thought it just wasn’t possible but it turns out the quarter length is based on the ‘profile’ setting unlike Franchise mode where it can be altered from within. Other settings that can be played with are difficulty and sliders. Those can be changed from within actual games but again that will then be reflected as a ‘profile’ setting meaning it would carry over to the other modes.

It would have been nice to know exactly what triggers earning or losing skill points as even assessing my end of game tally there are categories that I don’t understand. Are some team based rewards? That is what it seems like but I have no clue what is determining it all. I’ve received credit for touchdowns when I didn’t score any for example.

Is it possible that the AI in Superstar mode is different than the AI in other modes? I wouldn’t have thought so but it has sure seemed to be the case on default All-Pro. Run blocking became horrid, there were more dropped passes, pass blocking was far worse resulting in a ton of sacks – purely incompetent play. Comparing it to all the time spent in regular games on default All-Pro it was a mess and that baffled me. Editing the sliders though will help quite a bit however it doesn’t solve everything.

I had to up the sliders for run and pass blocking along with QB accuracy and results started to improve. Then came one game where everything seemed easy. I went into the settings to find that the ‘user’ sliders had all been maxed out at 100 somehow. Quite a surprise! I had to manually move them all back down which was annoying.

The mode touts its coordinator audio which when turned on would override the normal commentary. Unfortunately neither work no matter the settings. The games feel even less involved than they would given they include only the PA announcer and crowd noise for audio. There are actually a few startling moments where Gus Johnson chimes in out of nowhere – those instances occur only in the case of very specific events such as a sideline catch or measurement.

There is no unique involvement in the mode during the off-season. Complete a season and it rolls into the next training camp/pre-season. That is how basic the mode is this year and with the lack of any attachment to a ‘superstar’ there is little motivation to spend time playing the mode.

Other Notes
•There is no way to save highlight videos! This is a must for a career mode especially.
•KR/PR is an available stat. Presumably bump high enough and become a returner.
•Awareness rating starts already maxed at 99. No idea why.
•It would be possible to get into the 80s for overall rating by the end of the rookie year.
•Can control the whole team when not on the field or let SuperSim take over.
•SuperSim is not plagued by the clock problem so detrimental within NCAA Football 12.
•Pre-season games don’t play out as they should. Starters stayed in for the entire game.

The biggest tragedy about Superstar mode is that it’s simply dull. There is no hook beyond just trying to raise a player’s rating. Though the new interface is a welcome change as it meshes with the other modes, and skill point distribution is handled well, Superstar mode falls terribly flat.