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Madden NFL 12: Keeping an eye on Eli

If you're a Madden fan, you'll no doubt already have the demo that up now on Xbox Live and PSN. You'll already have noticed the details like 3D blades of grass (woot!) and the improved real-time collision physics between players. But a demo is a demo and isn't going to let you see much of the Franchise mode. But we've seen it – so let's all stand in a line and shout "HUT" a bit until everyone agrees it's time to read this preview.

Last year's game was a massive step forward for the more casual football fan, with its GameFlow quick-calling of plays reducing the hundreds of possible plays to a best-fit at the touch of a button. Gameflow now lets you choose between running or passing plays while on the offense, which is useful without over-complicating the simplicity of the feature. But EA Tiburon's focus this year is on the hardcore gamer – and in particular the communities they create.


Above: That's it, son - give 'im the eyes. He won't even dare try to take it off you

Gamers can now be a member of up to 5 communities at any one time. You can search for an existing community, or set up your own in a few easy steps (we watched it happen and it really is as simple as naming it, giving it a shortened tag and creating a password). GamesRadar forum league, anyone?

Inside these communities, you can access leaderboards and head-to-head records and statistics. You can view member lists and leave ramblings on the community message board too. Adding this human element to the game is bound to increase the feeling of competition and immersion – which is exactly what the hardcore fans do anyway – only now, EA has given them the means in-game.

 

Human life in microcosm

The 'human element' has been brought over into the game's AI too. Line Producer Ryan Ferwerda, who talked us through the game, gave the example of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who can become affected by incidents over the course of a real life game. He'll start jumping around and being jittery, causing him to either lose his head or turn into some kind of super-player. The game now features this kind of 'dynamic player performance'.


Above: Thet little red arrow isn't going to perform an attractive aerial display - it means his head's gone

So as you're playing, heavy sacks, wonderpasses and interceptions will affect 17 traits of every player's individual performance stats (much like the momentum meter of previous NHL games, only more subtle and not team-wide). Perhaps for the casual, the changes won't be that apparent, but for a player who can read the game or knows how individual players' minds work, it's likely to change things considerably.

Thanks to modern consoles' connectivity, rosters are going to be kept up-to-date for the entire course of the season. There will also be 'Madden Moments Live' offered for download, allowing you to replay key moments from the real NFL season on your machine. Best of all, all of these downloadable extras will be completely free.

 

TV cam

Broadcast network CBS was consulted and even observed during transmission of live NFL matches to make sure that the presentation style in Madden 12 is totally authentic. Every camera's placement around the stadium is exactly where it would be in real life. Also, all the cut-scene animations have been recorded on hand-held cameras to make the wobble more realistic. Add in the green dots on the helmets of players who have radio contact with the sidelines and you're looking at the most lifelike representation of the sport to date.


Above: What's he gonna do? Perhaps self-preservation might be the best tactic here

Finally, we were given a short look at the player transfer market, where you bid on players against CPU teams in a style very similar to eBay. You even get a count-down clock on the screen showing when the auction ends, allowing for eBay-style final second bids to snatch a purchase away from your rivals.

Also, injured reserve players now free up roster spaces where they didn't before, and scouting is in, allowing you to suss out unknown player attribute stats by watching them in other games, so you know exactly what you're getting by the time bidding comes around.

As you've probably gathered, this is quite a substantial update for a game that's always been about incremental annual releases. Casual fans are going to enjoy the improved presentation, but I think the happiest players will be the hardcore. Look out for the review later this month.

10 Aug, 2011

11 comments

  • dontshootthereviewer - August 11, 2011 3:12 a.m.

    The tackling in the demo is alot better than Madden 11 so that makes this game definitely worth it. Also I love spending wayyyyyyy to much time on Ultimate Team...
  • egregious - August 11, 2011 1:15 a.m.

    Steve Smith read this article and signed with the Eagles. GOOD GOING, GAMESRADAR.
  • ZigzMagoo - August 10, 2011 10:29 p.m.

    As a Patriots fan, I have one thing to say: "MOTHERFUCKING HELMET CATCH!"
  • spencertucksen - August 10, 2011 8:12 p.m.

    Not sure why everyone is so pissy. More tackle animations, the grass is....well, I don't care about it. GameFlow isn't a big deal, but some people like it. The graphics are better, presentation is better, and receivers don't fly to the ball as if they were pulled by a magnet, which was always a pet peeve of mine. People keep bitching, but there really isn't a ton to improve on with the gameplay, at this point.
  • Longnuts - August 10, 2011 3:47 p.m.

    The only reason I buy Madden every year is for my father, who is disabled and cannot work so he plays Tiger Woods and Madden all day. He is oblivious to the regurgitated evils of EA, but hey, he loves his 360 football and golf.
  • egregious - August 10, 2011 3:23 p.m.

    I wonder how this Eli would be measured based on all the damned interceptions the real one threw last season... :( There is absolutely no reason to charge $59 for this series still. I couldn't tell you the difference between Madden '11 and Madden '10 beyond creepier yet lazy facial animations.
  • db1331 - August 10, 2011 2:55 p.m.

    @LTS Now that EA has Origin, I wouldn't be surprised to see Madden make a return to the PC, either with 12 eventually or 13 next year. Tiger Woods 12 is already on Origin, after EA discontinued it on PC years ago.
  • LTS - August 10, 2011 2:33 p.m.

    "EA Tiburon's focus this year is on the hardcore gamer – and in particular the communities they create" Sounds like someone shouldn't of stopped porting it to the PC, eh? For some reason, I still like I'm controlling Ice-skating robots in Madden. Haven't felt like I was controlling players since Madden 06 for Gamecube.
  • KingMiedus - August 10, 2011 2:13 p.m.

    No mention of them doing absolutely nothing to Online Franchise eh? I really could care less about these "communities" when all I want is an Online Franchise that is equivalent to the offline one. I mean, come on, give the damn CPU teams some AI at least. Least us have proper free agency. Is that too much to ask?
  • BlitzIzDaShitz - August 10, 2011 2:04 p.m.

    Score a TD wit Aaron Rodgers in the demo and you get to see the creepiest smile you've ever seen in your life. I think EA went a little too far with the face movement lol. Also for the article they should've used Jay Cutler, he's a much better example than Eli.
  • call_me_curtis - August 10, 2011 2:02 p.m.

    Boo. Madden never has anything new to offer. The Gameflow thing was a stupid addition (hello its the same shit as "ask madden"!) and "3-D blades of grass is even dumber. What about the career mode? Did they just scrap that again? Any news on historic teams? Nope, Madden is just more regurgitated crap from EA. I am continuing the boycott.

Showing 1-11 of 11 comments

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