Madden ’12 takes virtual football to a new level

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Anthony Olmos

aolmos@radford.edu

Why break what isn’t broken right? Wrong. Madden 12 has been out for a little over a month now and I can honestly say that it feels oddly familiar to Madden 11. The biggest improvements from this year’s installment took form in franchise mode, superstar mode and madden moments. I am starting to compare this gaming series to any two “Fast and the Furious” movies, and that’s not a good thing. Is this product worth dishing out $60? Let’s find out.

Madden is easily the best professional football game in the market, mostly because it is the only professional football game in the market. In its early years it had leaps and bounds with every new installment. The changes were evident and clear to point out. It’s not as easy to see with this year’s installment. The A.I. (artificial intelligence) is smarter and the defense is tougher than it’s been in a while. You can’t destroy the computer in zone defense anymore like Madden 11. The game designers leveled up the broadcast presentation way past 11, but the commentators and look of the fans feel as if they were pulled straight from 07.

The biggest improvements were put into franchise mode. For all you new players (noobs), franchise mode is where you become the god of your own team of your choice. You have the power to draft whoever you want for your team, trade whoever, sign whoever, start whoever, play whatever game you want, and basically all the other responsibilities that come with owning a team.

The new features come in the ability to decide what you want your players to be rated. If you feel that your running back in underrated at 84 and want him to be a top 5 difference maker and bump him up to a 97, you have every right. The roster of the team can range up to 75 players now during the preseason. It’s your job to decide who you want to keep and who you cut and send home crying.

The next improvements are that you can now trade future draft picks. If you want to trade away the future of your team for players that can improve your team now, do it. The world is your oyster.

The next mode in the game is Superstar. This is where you can either become a current rookie or make your own character, and follow their path to stardom. If they become a hall of famer or a third string bust, it all lies in your talent with the joysticks. This mode is fun for the first couple years, but like all the previous Superstar modes it lacks a challenge.

You gain enough skill points in your first three years to fill every stat, and then it’s just boring. I would have liked to see a revamped superstar mode, maybe something with an actual plot and cut scenes? A story line to depict the struggles of an NFL football player would be something I’m positive gamers would enjoy. Other sports games have had a lot of success with updates like that.

The final big updates come in Madden Moments. This is where you take control of a team and relive the best moments in football. One example is where you have to recreate Michael Vicks performance on Monday Night Football against the Redskins and score at least 5 touchdowns with him alone. In 11 the Madden Moments were all moments from the previous years.

This year the Madden Moments contain the previous year’s moments plus every week it updates three new moments from the current season. There is also a new feature that gives you a score based on your performance in the moment and compares you to other people around the world. This is one of my personal favorite improvements because it gives you a drive to score higher on the leaderboards.

The immediate advancements of the series come to an end after these two modes. Online play is still horrible if you don’t have the best connection in the world. Ultimate team is still too confusing to understand if you’re new to the series.

All in all, Madden 12 just feels like a glorified roster updated version of 11. After buying out all the competition, Madden is getting lazy. There is nobody pushing them to be better. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a good game that I play on a regular basis. It was just disappointing because I know how good the game can be in the future. The game is worth your hard earned money, but the creator of madden EA Sports needs to step its game up for future installments.