I went into the Madden NFL 12 demo without changing any settings or anything. In my first possession I fought my way to the one yard line as the Green Bay Packers. The Chicago Bears stopped me in my tracks two times before and now I could feel the pressure. I went in and picked a goal line pass play that looked good. “Hut! oh no those guys are getting oooooohhhhh oouch!” That’s right. Sack. Poor Aaron Rodgers. Poor me. That’s ok I’ll just kick a field goal and be up by 3 points. The camera swept back to the field goal view and the kick meter popped on screen. Power up, accuracy, the kick is….. Rocketing into the crowd on the left hand side of my screen – No good! The meter was going way slower than I’m used to and I instinct-ually hit the buttons like I was playing on All Madden. Even though I was rustier than a rookie in post lockout training camp I had a blast. My experience with the Madden 12 demo is that the game has been improved in every phase of the game.
Madden 12 Graphics
The first thing I noticed is that the graphics have made a major upgrade. This is the case almost every year in Madden but I have to say that this year’s leap is bigger than the one from Madden 10 to 11 (and that was a pretty good leap). The graphics really, really pop this year and I think that’s because several areas they improved go together to make it pop. There are 3 major improvements that go together to make this years Madden the best yet graphically. To me the most notable graphical improvement is in the character models. These guys look real. The next thing I noticed is how much more realistically all of the movements in the game are. The tackles seem a lot more realistic. It’s like there are a lot more physics involved instead of set on the rails animations. Add on top of the other two the new camera angles and presentation and it just makes the game look so good this year. Some of the new camera angles are the stadium blimp view, on the field in the huddle out the tunnel view, authentic sideline footage. These all add up. Let me throw in that some of the details are the cherry on top. The grass at the right angles looks amazing. The shoes look like REAL shoes.
the Kicking Game
Let me start off talking about the kicking game by saying that I actually won a game by blocking a field goal! I have never had that happen at least in the last two years. I believe that the momentum of my team might have had something to do with me being able to block that kick. I think that’s awesome. The candy bar kicking meter of last year has been replaced by what I call the sweet spot meter which is circular in shape. The power goes up and then goes back down for accuracy. There is a little box that you want to try to get the meter to stop in the middle of. That’s why I’m calling it the “sweet spot.” I can see this positively effecting online play by adding an element of skill and realism to the kicks. On kickoffs the blockers actually block gunners and help out the return man instead of like last years game just standing there looking dazed and confused letting the kicking team just run by. The camera switches nicely to the side just like you would see on game day television. There is an option to have the Standard madden view.
It is a lot more fun to play on and against defense this year. The artificial intelligence has definitely been improved. Defensive linemen will break off from their assignments and go after you if they see the play developing different than what they were schemed to do. The hits are more satisfying because they seem to be grounded in real physics instead of being on rails seeing the same tackle animations over and over again. Hitting the guy with the ball makes them tumble realistically out of bounds. I don’t think I saw the same exact tackle twice. I was able to stop plays being made even though I missed the tackle on the receiver by tripping the receiver up with my arm, stumbling and missing the catch. Before the snap I usually like to play on the defensive end to go after the quarterback. The linemen actually get into battles this year. They hold on to each other and move around while I’m trying to force my way through. Needless to say when I break through and smack the quarterback it feels even more satisfying than ever. Take that, quarterback!
This is my favorite phase of the game and it feels even better than ever. The improvements made to the other phases of the game in tandem with the more dynamic collision animations alone improves the offensive phase. The quarterback play is more realistic. There are certain throws that I tried to make while on the run that did not work out because I didn’t have my quarterback in the right position to make them, just like in real life. I’d make those throws all day long last year. Throwing controls feel even more precise than last year. At no point did I feel like I pressed to make a throw and it didn’t happen like I thought it should. This more precise connection from controller to the game adds to the realism and enjoyment of the game. Running the ball feels better than ever. It seems like the RB movement, right stick tuning, and acceleration have been calibrated with the dynamic animation making the ground game feel really nice. The smarter defense will react and stuff the run. There are also times when I follow the blocks just right and can squeeze my back though to big gains. The game is more fun when it’s all about my skill, a little bit of luck, and not being ripped off by janky sets of animation and programming.
Grass at the right angles looks AMAZING. The new camera angles make it look like a real NFL broadcast and really get me into the game. The D-pad audible controls from last year are back with a much snappier reaction. Last year it seemed like I had to move my whole hand down to the D-pad to press the direction 7 times just to get it to do anything. Much better this year. The menus and play calls are as crisp as ever and help make the game more intuitive. Gameflow has been improved and also works well with the new in game menu system.
Madden 11 Demo Negatives
The biggest negative of the demo is that there is no audio commentary. The guys at EA said that they couldn’t fit it in there due to download limitations. The demo is still 1.5 GB which is larger than average size for a demo download. Graphically there are moments when the shadows look quite blocky. Also there are clipping issues like where the water bottle will completely disappear. Oh there’s no water when the player is “hydrating.” The crowd might look a little better but for all intents and purposes looks the same as last year. Hair looks bad. Clay Mathew’s hair looks like it’s been smeared with Ultra strength hair gel and then blasted with 10,000 volts of electricity. Hand towels also look like they’ve gotten on the wrong side of an electrical accident and tend to stick straight out. Some of these might just be faults of being a demo and others are small gripes that actually are a testament to how great the rest of the game looks. I have a tendency to look at the play art when my guys get line up out of the huddle. This is hampered this year by having to click down the right thumbstick and then hold down on the right trigger. A bit annoying by maybe this will lessen with familiarity of the game.
The demo for Madden 12 has me chomping at the bit to get my hands on the real thing. If you got to check out the demo let everybody know what you thought of it in the comments below. The new Madden will hit store shelves on August 30th, 2011. That’s just a few short weeks away which means time is running out for you to get a chance to win a FREE copy of Madden NFL 12 by signing up in the top left hand corner of the page!