Hasselbeck sits behind center weighing up his options; the Titans are down by four with just a minute thirty eight left on the clock. Despite being on the Jaguars thirty yard line a field goal is out of the question, it’s a touchdown or nothing at all. You begin to shout your cadence and immediately notice Posluszny and Session running to the line, your about to be blitzed. The ball is placed into your hands by Amano and knowing you have only seconds until your enveloped by Linebackers you take one quick look to your left.
To your relief you see Washington has lost his man and as you feel the arms of the oncoming LB’s wrap around your waist you lob the ball high, you may be on the floor, your helmet covered in mud and your arms crushed under the combined weight of the two Jaguar LB’s, but that doesn’t stop you watching Nate running into the endzone and taking the Titans to the 2012 playoffs.
Madden 2012 is absolutely loaded with moments like the above. On and Offline you the gamer will find yourself on countless third and long or second and goal situations, your heart in your mouth and unsure as to whether or not you can score a game winning touchdown. This coupled with a host of new features makes Madden 12 very tempting for any sports fan.
The offline portion of the game has seen a number of new features added to it. This includes a new free-agency system where by you bid for a player. It’s just like the eBay of the NFL, spend enough and you get your man unless of course another team sneaks in with a final second bid. There are also preseason cuts and an updated scouting system so you can watch rookies as they attempt to impress you hoping to get picked up in the draft.
The Superstar mode has also been improved from previous installments, although it is still far from perfect. The new stats system will give your player points per tackles, interception, touchdown and just about anything else you accomplish on the field. You’re also given a certain amount of points depending on how well the rest of the team perform in the game, EA perhaps trying to instill some teamwork ethics into its followers.
Sadly like every other Superstar mode in older Maddens your rookie doesn’t need to do anything to become the 1st stringer in their particular position. You will see your 65 rated running back taking over from an RB with a rating of 97, such as Chris Johnson, and that would never happen in reality. We realise this is EA trying to make the game less boring, as let’s face it no one wants to be sat on the bench all game, but it takes away that feeling of pride if you were eventually chosen over the starting RB for all your hard work in training. You’ll never feel like you’ve earned your starting spot in Madden 2012.
Madden 2012 has also been improved graphically with new camera angles and better player animations. The improvements are best seen when the cameras cut to a close-up of your Quarterbacks helmet and you will see every knick, scratch and paint rub collated during the match. The player models have also found themselves upgraded with each notable player looking more and more like their real life counterpart. You still get animation issues like players with magnets in their hands, or Receivers catching balls without actually ever touching the thing, but these are few and far between and can be forgiven as the overall look and feel of the game is far better than that seen in previous versions.
EA has also gone to town on the game's defenses with a new tackling engine, which makes it even harder for Running Backs to worm their way through the opposition. The game has also improved the blocking meaning that tired O-Lines will find themselves slaughtered by D-Lines and vice versa. Even with fully fit O-Lines you’ll find the Defensive Ends reaching the Quarterback a lot quicker than usual - meaning you well and truly have to think on your feet.
Sadly despite all these new game upgrades, additions and features EA has failed to address one of the games biggest drawbacks, the commentary. Madden 2012 is voiced by Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth and not only do they sound dreary and generally bored when reviewing each and every move you make, but they say the same thing time and again. It feels like two of them only have three things to say and they just keep rotating those three phrases throughout the game. You’re better off muting the commentary and playing some music in the background or even playing in silence as you’ll enjoy the game a whole lot more without Gus and Cris.
Online you get the chance to manage your own league with up to thirty-two participants. You all play in a full season with playoffs and the Superbowl. Another neat new addition online is the three vs three mode. Much like Virtual Pro Ranked matches in FIFA you can choose to control the QB, RB or Anyone else on Offense and on D you can be a LB, DB or Anyone else as you and five others battle it out on the grid-iron. Sadly due to countless quits you’ll never get the full experience out of this mode, but it’s a nice addition all the same. Online the game is also plagued by gamers who will go on every 4th down, will leave the pocket on every play, expose the numerous gameplay flaws and blitz every down, but when you do get an opponent who wants to play fair Madden 2012 is very enjoyable online.
Madden 2012 is a considerable upgrade to Madden 2011 but there are still areas that EA need to improve in the next installment. Both online and offline the game has enough to keep American Football fans occupied for another year and with a new stat system in Superstar mode you will find yourself immersed as an RB, QB or whatever position takes your fancy. The commentary is without a doubt the game's biggest flaw, but when you get past that you will realise that Madden 12 will simply eat up the hours until EA announces Madden 13.