The Pixelated ‘Didn’t Play It’ Review: Madden NFL 12

EA Sports has delivered their latest in the annual Madden NFL series and this year’s title doesn’t disappoint. Featuring Akron Pros star Jim Thorpe on the cover, the game features all the great teams of the new league like the Muncie Flyers, the Canton Bulldogs, the Columbus Panhandles and the Rock Island Independents. 

This year, EA introduced a handful of new features such as the forward pass, the two-point conversion, Create-a-Kneesock, and Fantasy Lawyer mode where you can act as council for any major NFL player. The gameplay is still just as tight as previous years, but some features - such as the pass button - have been removed and replaced with gesture commands on the second control stick. For example, now in order to make a throw to a specific receiver, you must call them out by name using your Xbox or PS3 headset, rotate the right analog stick from top to bottom counter-clockwise, then press forward. The arc and speed of the pass will be determined by how quickly you make the motion. It’s a little difficult to get a handle on at first, but in no time I had it down.

Visually, the game features highly detailed 2D sprites representing your favorite players such as Michael Vick, Knute Rockne, Air Bud, Rudy, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Emilio Estevez and more. The arenas are rendered in highly detailed 3D graphics which are so impressive, they appear to out-perform the console hardware, resulting in significant framerate issues while playing. But damn does it look good.

The sounds on the field are authentic with commentary provided by the team of Orel Hershiser and Wilford Brimley. There is also a rich soundtrack of the latest in popular music, featuring Tiny Tim and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. I’d say the sound only disappoints when in Fantasy Lawyer mode. During a recess, the game does not adequately represent the bathroom noises when your lawyer has to use the facilities. I’ve heard they’ll be working on this for next year’s game.

Navigating the game’s new menu system is a game in and of itself. Instead of a classic layout, the game uses a series of complicated light patterns and morse code. I managed to find the Exhibition mode for the first time only after selecting the Options screen, the Online screen, the New Season mode and the Hervé Villechaize soundboard. Once I was in Exhibition mode, though, I had to rely on blank buttons with the name of their modes read only in some form of ‘click’ language that I didn’t understand. Khosian, our intern, managed to help me choose the right mode and we were underway.

All in all, Madden NFL 12 delivers where it counts. The football is exciting, the graphics are beautiful, and even playing online with the two or three people that got past the menu screen was a lot of fun. I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a football game with slight differences from the one you paid $60 for last year.

OVERALL SCORE: 8/da plane

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