Madden NFL 12 Review


Traditionally, when a new iteration of Madden NFL is released, it might take a few hours before gamers uncover developer Tiburon’s off-season handiwork. That isn’t the case with Madden NFL 12. Within seconds of booting up the title, players will notice the sweeping changes made to the game’s presentation. From elegant blimp shots high above stadiums (complete with the moving traffic), meticulous recreations of team entrances, to athlete’s kicking up divots of 3D grass, earnest efforts were made to reproduce the nuances of a television broadcast. Even the game’s lighting has been given a subtle revamp, adjusting the trajectory of sun to deliver convincing shadows. Having attending games at the O.co Coliseum, Candlestick Park, and Qualcomm Stadium, I was amazed at Tiberon’s fastidious recreations of illumination. All that was missing was the scent of watered-down beer to make the simulation complete.

As impressive as some of these visual trimming are, they can’t mask that the Madden engine is in need of an overhaul. On the Xbox 360, the disc loads incessantly, as players sporadically sputter around during play selection. Similarly, players occasionally slide along after the whistle is blown, further blemishing the game’s aspirations for a broadcast-quality presentation (although an installation to the 360’s hard drive improves things considerably. Aurally, much of Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth’s banter has been recycled from last year’s game, with each broadcaster delivering conspicuously ambiguous commentary. It’s almost amusing to hear the duo persist with their mundane observations while a huge play unfolds.

Bradie James about to stick Michael Vick.

Although Madden 12’s superfluities are hit and miss, most of the game’s on-field action is consistently solid. The developer has augmented the animation of athletes with three distinct running varieties and five ball-carrying styles, as well as a slew of player-specific moves. As such, Tony Romo throws authentically, exhibiting the type of trademark quick-release which can stymie a blitz. A revamped collision system eliminates much of the magnetic tackling, blocking, and catching of previous iterations, giving players full control of a player until the moment of impact. With the integration of a hundred new tackle animations, Madden’s offensive and defensive game is bolstered, as collisions examine the direction, speed, and heft of players. Now, players react realistically- deflecting glancing smacks, while submitting to huge head-on hits, removing what often felt like concealed dice rolls by the game.

When the Saints go marching in too slowly.

Jumping to Madden NFL 12’s play modes, a number of key changes have been made. With only one serious alteration to the game’s online franchise component (players can now manage their own leagues through myleaguemanager.com) the focus was on tweaking the offline campaign. The addition of Dynamic Player Performance (DPP) tracks a player’s every in-game action, adjusting their confidence level and AI tendencies accordingly. While November slumps can be debilitating, the joy of seeing a player regain their groove in the post-season can be euphoric.  With EA’s online pass (included in new copies of the game), players can opt to track the highs and lows of actual athletes, allowing gamers to engage in absorbing, “what-if” scenarios. Couch coaches also are given the opportunity to strategize in the off-season by courting free agents and scouting rookie talent. Although players are given the leniency of a 75-man roster, they’ll have to make some imperative decisions on cut days. Regretfully, the lack of any type of training camp to access a recruit’s true potential limits the selection process.

Eli Manning is about one sack away from "paranoid".

All the other additional modes from Madden 11 also return, from the card-collecting found in Ultimate Team, tracking an athlete’s trajectory in ‘Be a Star’, or momentum reversing of Madden Moments. While Madden NFL can be stingy (and punitive with stern penalties for shortened quarters) when issuing the currency in Ultimate Team, building a fantasy franchise’s roster remains an involving diversion, as players amass player, uniform, and even stadium cards. Per fan request, an elaborate online trading system has been implemented this year, which should boost the component’s popularity. Of all the auxiliary modes, the RPG-ish Superstar diversion remains my favorite, as players train and augments the stats of their aspirating athlete.  Smartly, progression comes quickly. Within a few hours my prodigious Tarheel QB (imported from NCAA 12) had been drafted by Carolina, where he was spearheading the Panthers to a winning season.

Surviving an exodus by longtime Tiburon veterans Phil Frazier and Ian Cummings as well as a summer lockout that pushed the game back three weeks, Madden NFL 12 has overcame adversity, delivering one of the most rewarding on-field experiences since the beloved NFL 2K5. From fan-motivated changes such as custom playbooks and online communities, this year’s iteration of the long-running series serves up a season of satisfying gameplay. With a new graphical engine, a training camp, and a few easily accomplished tweaks, next year’s Madden could be undeniably Bowl bound.

Jamaal Charles delicately cradling the baby.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

113 comments

  1. Your Drunk Ex-Boyfriend

    Nice. You and Snoop Dogg got it before release!

    I noticed some of that between play stuttering last year as well. Doesn’t affect the game too much, tho.

  2. Deagle, you a Dallas or a Carolina fan? If you like the Cowboys, I see what you did with that Mike Vick pick, haha.

  3. Good review. You avoided the whole last year was bad, this years is awesome Madden review that most every site puts out.

  4. 2K5 will always be the best footbal game EVA. Man, I wish the NFL didn’t grant exclusive license use.

  5. Was it my TV or did the demo not even have commentary?

    Maybe they didn’t wwant to sace people away.

  6. Hopefully, I’ll be playing this on Tuesday. Wednesday at the latest,

  7. Other reviews said the superstar mode wasn’t up to the same level as other sports games. What do you think?

  8. doesn’t sound like enough for me to make a full-priced purchase. I bet it will be $40 before the season’s over.

    I got last years for $39.99 on BF.

  9. haters always hating. Every year I get at least 60-80 hours out of Madden with my friends. As a solo game, its ok, but as we all learn the new stuff each year and mess around with the different modes, its easily worth the cash.

  10. For those complaining about the price. Papa John is taking $5 off with a pizza purchase. Credit Cheapasgamer.

    http://www.cheapassgamer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=302473

  11. S ranked review!

  12. Can I be the first to say it? Your review kicks the IGN one in the brown asterisk.

  13. I’ve never really been a football game fan before, but maybe this one can change this my mind?

  14. I want a create a player that allows me to suit up solid snake and have him play for Philly. Can madden 12 do that?

  15. Man, I hope there’s just problems with your system and the game really doesn’t stutter like that. The demo was pretty smooth.

    Oh, I really don’t hope there’s problems with your system- just that its not the norm.

  16. BTW your Capcha system just made me write “COCK”. Just letting you know.

    As for Maddden I still have 09 and am happy with it. If I want to play a game, I might not have the latest rosters (or can play online anymore), but it’s still fun.

  17. I need it. Plain and simple.

  18. 1Up said “The player models have reached an incredible new level of detail that includes great uniform dirt and degradation, making them look more realistic than ever — but between plays, they still walk around like robots and bump into each other, destroying that realism.”

    Judging from that, your review, and playing the demo 8X times, I couldn’t agree more. Between play stuff looks like shit.

  19. Let’s go Philadelphia. Plain and simple.

  20. Go Bills! Can’t wait for this game

  21. Finally a review that actually goes into detail. This might be the first Madden I will pick up since 06.

  22. Go Niners! BTW- Who calls it “o.co”? Its the Oakland Coliseum, dude.

  23. Wow, NFL 12 looks like it isn’t half-bad, I was fearing that it would be the same as the others but it actually sounds pretty sick!

  24. Custard's Revenge

    Is the hit stick still in the game? I loved tat when I last played Madden.

  25. Nice Review haven’t played Madden since Madden 10 always bought all the others til 10 i need to get back on my madden stick before i lose it lol..

  26. I’m really looking forward to this one. Tuesday can’t come quick enough.

  27. I’m really looking forward to this one. Tuesday can’t come quick enough.

  28. Thanks for the review, looking forward to the new football season!

  29. Anyone have the AFC codes? I’ll pay five bucks paypal.

  30. Kumail Durrani (@golfing7861)

    Good review, might pick it up on release day!

  31. Great review! Looks nice

  32. I didn’t buy Madden last year. I’m definitely pumped for this years Madden after reading this review. This is a must buy for me!

  33. Good review, Deagle. You are one busy man.

  34. I always find it weird to see my friends playing each other online in “Madden NFL 09″… maybe, with three years’ worth of improvements, a new version would actually be worth it.

    Then again, maybe not.

  35. I can’t wait for Tuesday! Go Bills, baby.

  36. I like the idea of the DPP; I hope it works well on rookies to make some stars.

  37. very nice review!! pittsburgh steelers all the way!! thanks for giveaway such awesome games!! its very appreciated :)

  38. Good review. I’ve always been a 2K5 guy, but I may check it out…

  39. this years installment looks awesome seeing all the improvements get me even more exited

  40. Haven’t played a Madden game in like 7 years but I use to love Madden on the Genesis back in the day when I was little. I like your little Eli Manning caption although Eli has to watch those interceptions this year more than the sacks.

  41. Last football game I platyed was Tecmobowl, yes, Tecmobowl, I just fear the pricetags for a seasonal game, so if you’re feeling generous, that would be awesome, thanks for the shot

  42. even tho Madden is basically the same game every year… we just keep buying it.

  43. even tho Madden is basically the same game every year… we just keep buying it.

  44. Really good review. I can’t wait to try this one out. I’m downloading the demo right now.

  45. Great review guys. I’m really interested in this year’s version of Madden.

  46. Can’t wait for the regular season. Go Dolphins!

  47. Fine review gents. Madden 12 looks to be a fun addition to the series.

  48. Scouting rookie talent sounds like an exciting way to spend an evening….

  49. Nice review — now I must has this game!

  50. All I can say is thank god football is back!!..Just watching preseason games this year have been amazing.I know my team prolly won’t make it to the playoffs (dolphins),But at least in madden,they can,and will win the super bowl :P.I just hope Roger Goodell doesn’t suspend me for celebrating a touchdown for too long now.

  51. Last football game I played was in the Sega Genesis days. It was hella fun, but I’ve got to say . . . this looks insane in comparison. Do want!

  52. This is me hoping I win this upcoming game, thanks for the great review!

    Here is me hoping I win!

  53. This game looks great! Thanks for the review and the contest!

  54. Well thanks for the contest!

  55. Thank you for the contest!

  56. Entry for the contest

  57. Can’t wait for the next madden, so glad football wasn’t locked out.

  58. Looks great! Can’t wait to play this!

  59. Great review! I’ve been holding off on madden for a little bit but it looks like they redeemed themselves with madden 12!

  60. Awesome Thanks for the chance to win <3<3<3 Good luck to everyone

  61. Are Tebow’s stats true to life? Enquiring minds want to know.

  62. Great review, I’ve always tend to stay away from all sports games when they first release since they do tend drop in price kinda fast plus for the most part they are almost the same as the previous year but I haven’t bought a Madden game in a long time so the changes would be worth it on release day & thanks for the contest!

  63. Looking forward to this… even though its getting semi-positive reviews.

  64. great review, i am amped up to play madden 12. so many new updates to the game. thanks for the chance to win it!

  65. I still haven’t ever played a Madden game. Here’s my chance for the newest one :)

  66. Im in need of a Football game and I think this will warrant a pick up!

  67. Really like your review. Looking forward to seeing the changes made to this year’s game.

  68. We all know it will be the same old tweak a couple stupid things and then slap the $60 tag on it like every year.

  69. I love madden well actually the nfl lol.. But this is the next best fix and I cant wait for the new and updated franchise with dynamic player performances this is going to be an amazing game :)..

    I cant wait to see who wins

  70. I love madden well actually the nfl lol.. But this is the next best fix and I cant wait for the new and updated franchise with dynamic player performances this is going to be an amazing game :)..

    I cant wait to see who wins

  71. Just bought NFL Sunday Ticket package for $334.99. I think I blew my Madden budget :(

  72. Thanks. good review. I’m glad they fixing the collision problems. They ruined the game for me.

  73. I love how RPG elements have trickled into every game. =)

  74. Kick-ass review, Deagle! You and Shipwreck should start your own site.

  75. Thanks for the giveaway! I have never played a Madden Game before. Hope I get the chance to!

  76. this game looks sick can’t wait to stick vick with the ‘Boys
    SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEET

  77. this game looks sick can’t wait to stick vick with the ‘Boys
    SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEET

  78. I wouldn’t mind giving this game a try. I haven’t played a madden game in years here’s hoping I win.

  79. Looks solid, but I don’t notice a big difference in gameplay. Graphically it looks GREAT!

  80. Madden games are always fun, can’t wait to get this one

  81. I want this game really badly. If only for the updated rosters.

  82. Seems like it is more or less the same football game as last year, though the improvements at least make it more tolerable I still would find it difficult to pay full price every year for a game like this.

  83. So I am interested in the new rosters. Aside from that, honestly, Madden doesn’t always have new “bang” that interests me.

  84. Nice review. I think I definitely want to get back into Madden this year. It is the only way my Redskins can have a winning season.

  85. Thank God there is a football season this year!

  86. I haven’t played Madden since 07, it looks like the game has come a long way. Hope I win so I can check it out.

  87. I want a free game! I suppose Madden will do . . .

  88. Man this looks awesome I gotta win this.

  89. Haven’t got a new Madden in a while, would love to win it here.

  90. another year another madden…but atlease they made some graphics improvements this year game will be completly out of date rosters w/o downloading update

  91. I definitely feel like Madden was putting forth it’s best efforts when there was competition from 2k sports. I probably wont be buying it but would like to play it to see if it is much better than 2011

  92. Great review of Madden 12! Can’t wait to see the hundreds of new tackle animations and the great graphics. I’m very happy there is going to be another NFL season this year! :)

  93. I haven’t played a Madden game in many years :(
    I hope this year will change all that.

  94. go seahawks all the way u almost made it last year

  95. Great review I really want to get this game

  96. Honest review. You mentioned some new features other reviews missed. Great job. Go Bucs!

  97. Great review, DesertEagle. Covered everything I wanted to know.

  98. I didnt think id get this game this year, but maybe i am :)

  99. Excellent review, even better than some of the big commerical sites!

  100. Now that review was right on the money!

  101. FIFA 12 is the football im waiting for.

  102. Picked this up this week. What’s up with the camera shots that show nothing going on? Sometimes they just show the field.

  103. Good Review. Madden needs competition to get their A game back. :P

  104. I’d love 2 win this game! Thanks! :)

  105. Haven’t played yet but really looking forward to seeing the random generic coach guy they plug in for the Pats. I think this year’s will be the best yet, favorite part I look forward to each year.

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