It’s that time of year again. No, it’s not the start of a new school year but the release of the latest edition of Madden by EA Sports. The release of Madden 12 means football season is here. But, does this year’s Madden show signs of progression from previous Madden’s, or is it the same old football from EA sports with roster updates? I see if it’s really in the game.

If you are the type of person that wants an authentic NFL experience and don’t care about tiny little things that may be bothersome, this is the game for you. The way Madden 12 looks is amazing. The presentation is probably the best I’ve seen any football game. Each NFL team has its own entrance from the tunnel at home games and it gives the game a live television broadcast look. The aerial shots of the stadiums are also a plus with some stadiums even showing landmarks in the surrounding area outside the stadium. Mascots, fans and cheerleaders are also in the game and add to the television broadcast effect. The player models are an improvement over Madden 11, with facial expressions that react to what is going on the field. EA Sports attention to detail is probably my favorite thing about Madden 12.

Madden 12 gameplay is probably the best of the series. Games stay close and a lot of times come down to the last drive. Gone are the days when gamers blow out the computer by forty points. Running the football works exceptionally well, especially if players follow their blockers like they’re supposed to. The speed burst button is gone once again but I hardly noticed it, because I would use the analog joystick to do different movements.

The A.I. is improved and plays a lot better, especially on the higher difficulty setting. I feel that playing on All-Madden is pretty much impossible, or maybe I need more practice. Diving catches and feet dragging near the sidelines is back and improved, which makes fade routes and out routes a lot of fun. On defense, the defenders drop a lot of interceptions and the linebackers jump up way too high to deflect passes across and down the middle, which didn’t seem realistic.

The play by play announcing could be better. I like that Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth are in the game, but there is something that is just off about it. One phrase that I heard that raised my eyebrows was: “Peyton Manning often makes wild and erratic throws.” I found that statement very far from the truth. If gamers play in the franchise mode they will hear the same phrases over and over again. Gamers may want to turn off the commentary when they play.

There are no new modes added in Madden 12. The developers of Madden 12 just expanded on the modes they had. The franchise mode had the most drastic changes, especially with the off-season office additions. Free agent bidding is a lot fun. There is a timer that is set at a minute thirty when free agency opens up during the off season and teams are constantly putting bids in for free agents. This gets difficult when gamers are bidding on one than one player at a time. The online portion of Madden 12 remains the same as Madden 11 except for the online communities. The online communities are setup to allow people to play games against each other that they’re familiar with. The communities allow up to 2000 users in each one.

Madden Ultimate Team is back and in Madden 12, gamers are able to trade cards with other people. I like this idea of ultimate team but it was difficult to get coins to buy cards. It would have taken a long time to get enough coins to buy a legendary pack with greats such as Barry Sanders, Dan Marino, Walter Peyton and Jerry Rice.

Even though a lot of modes are back from Madden 11, it’s still football. There is only so much game developers can do with new ideas for game modes. I’m not sure what else can they do to please the average football gamer. EA Sports puts out a solid football game every year. I feel Madden 12 is the best in the series. Every football fan should have a copy of Madden 12.

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Kevin Schlott