It’s that time of year again; the latest game from EA Tiburon has come to our consoles. We didn’t hear much from EA throughout the development of this new title, but that’s no problem as the finished product is a far tighter and more solid American football game than its predecessor; even if the vast majority of gameplay does feel somewhat similar. If you are a fan of the Madden NFL franchise, or are simply looking for a new strategic challenge then this could be the game for you. Owners of NFL 11 though, may find it difficult to justify the expense of a new game that, although improved, is not exactly a ground-breaking transformation.
Although the improvements to the Madden NFL series are small, there are certainly many of them and they are spread throughout most areas of the game. As the majority of changes have occurred beneath the bonnet though, you may fail to notice them; being left instead with a sense of déjà vu as you progress through a game which is, essentially, the same as Madden NFL 11.
Perhaps the most noticeable alteration comes in the form of the Artificial Intelligence of the players. Player reactions are now much more realistic, and will vary depending on the character in question and the situation. The defence of the opposing team may cause you more problems also, as it is now more able to recognise exactly what you are attempting and, of course, make moves to prevent you from achieving it. Improvements to the tackling system helps to improve play on the pitch, with improved realism and less takedowns that seem completely unfair.
Some changes to the Franchise mode of the game have also been included to emulate more realism when compared with the real sport of American Football. For example, in the preseason of the game you can now cut players each and every week, causing you to think carefully about which players should remain in your team. Expanded rosters and more scouting sessions also provide much needed variety into this game mode. It won’t take you long to realise that Madden NFL 12 is undoubtedly the hardest game in the series to date. The improvements to the Franchise mode, along with the general gameplay updates, work together to create an experience that will work you hard.
Unfortunately some of the bugs found within this title’s predecessor simply haven’t been remedied. This is particularly disappointing as there aren’t even any new game modes to enjoy; it makes you wonder exactly what the developers have spent their time on. With repetitive pre-game sequences, cliché filled and frankly awful commentary and occasional problems with the physics of the ball itself, you could still face some frustrations. On the whole these little niggles won’t detract from your enjoyment of the game, but they are worth mentioning.
It does seem to be the graphics that of NFL 12 that really outshine number 11. Watching the sun’s passage of time throughout the course of a game is spectacular, and new and improved player animations make this game something marvellous to behold.
You really get the impression that each of the stadiums has been intensely studied and recreated for a true to life experience. Granted, most of these little details might pass you by unless you’ve actually been there to see the real thing, but you can certainly appreciate the general look and feel of each individual location.
Madden NFL 12 is a great game. It’s easily one of the best in the series and, despite its few imperfections, is almost certainly the best American Football title on the market. Enhanced realism, improvements across the board and stunning visuals certainly make this a game worth playing. Unless you already own Madden NFL 11 that is, in which case there really isn’t enough that’s new in this game to justify the expense.