Bad video games happen all the time. Even NBA 2K11, for all its high praise, had some missteps and the franchise has definitely had some stinkers. However, I’m way more likely to give a game a pass for being bad if its shortcomings are a result of badly executing new features or trying something revolutionary. That’s not why Madden 12 sucks.
Because Madden has bought the rights to the NFL, it has no competition and no motivation to get any better. There really isn’t much difference between Madden 11 and Madden 12 and I feel f*cking cheated out of $60. EA Sports is okay just slapping on a new year on the title and shelling out the same product every year while the folks at Visual Concepts are working to revamp the NBA 2K franchise with every installment. I wish with all my heart that Visual Concepts still had rights to NFL games as I’m sure NFL 2K12 would be much better than Madden 12’s stagnant take on football. In fact, the game has arguably regressed this year.
Just to make sure I wasn’t “raging” and unjustly frustrated with the game, I took to the message boards to see what the consensus was. Turns out, there are a ton of people across the world frustrated and fed up with the lack of progress the franchise has made. I also found another substantial community of gamers that still believe that the last 2K football game, ESPN NFL 2K5, hasn’t been topped by subsequent Madden games. So these fans have opted to take it upon themselves to update franchises and rosters for the game: essentially renewing it every season.
So, I’ve decided to stick with the last great football game. A couple of days ago I sold Madden 12 and downloaded an NFL 2K roster. And I won’t buy another football game until either 2K has rights to NFL games again or Madden makes the following improvements.
Before we get into that, let’s look at this video comparison between NFL 2K5 (which, again, came out seven years ago!) and Madden 12. The fact that there’s even a debate is pretty ridiculous. I’m no expert gamer but I agree with the video’s assertion that the 2K version is still better.
The Commentary — Nothing screams “lazy” like the half-assed commentary Madden trucked out this year. They commentators talk about plays minutes after they happen. They say the QB who threw the interception is the one that caught it and during my Super Bowl game they talked about how I’d have home field advantage as the key to my victory! They start every game with the same comments and, by the time you’ve played the first half, you’ve heard almost all the commentary you’ll hear for this year’s version. The horrible commentary is the truest tell-tale sign that Madden didn’t put any effort this year.
Presentation -– NFL 2K5 utilized the ESPN broadcast interface to make each game feel real, one more time, seven years ago. Madden still has no halftime show, no post-game wrap-up and no weekly wrap-up during franchise mode. They tried it last year to glitchy effects but totally abandoned the concept this year. It’s almost like the Madden developers were enjoying the lockout right along with the players and didn’t start working on the game until the lockout ended.
Super Linebackers — How often, in an actual football game, does a QB launch a pass over the middle only to have the pass swatted out of the air by the linebacker? In Madden, this happens just about every time a pass gets launched through the center of the field. This has been an issue with the franchise for years as the game developers just have no concept of realistic ball trajectory (II). Barring a mega-athletic linebacker or a particularly low pass, it’s pretty common for a quarterback to send a pass right over Urlacher or Ray Lewis’ heads. In Madden, the swats are infuriating and make it damn near impossible to get a pass across the middle.
Psychic DBs — Just look at this video. DBs too often react to passes either before the receiver does or while their backs are turned to the play. Just watch this video as it explains the problem better than I can.
Rules — How is it that the game still doesn’t have a concept of NFL rules? On Madden 12’s illegal blocks in the back or holding calls, the ball is downed at the spot of the foul. NFL rules dictate the play should begin 10 or 15 yards back from the original line of scrimmage. So if I run the ball from my 20 to the opposition’s 10 yard line and a hold happens at their 10 I’m still going to get the ball in good field position. I swear it’s like they didn’t play the game before putting it out.
Substitutions — This is a minor gripe that annoyed me last season and continues. In the fourth quarter, during two-minute drills and no huddles, I noticed that suddenly my wide receivers would be playing DB and safety positions. Now I know that there are menu options I could use to turn off substitutions so that wouldn’t happen but…WHY?! Why would I even need to tell the computer not to sub in wide receivers for defensive backs? That never happens in real life so why should I make sure it doesn’t happen in a simulation. That’s like a head coach telling his defensive coordinator, “Hey, make sure you don’t put in Larry Fitzgerald on your next zone play.”
Blocking — You have no offensive line. You never will. Live with it. The end.
Wait, I Have To Play This Whole Game Right Now? — This is when I knew Madden 12 was just f*cking lazy. Why, in the 2011th year of our Lord, am I playing a video game that does have a “save and quit” option? I have to play an entire game – that takes an hour on franchise because franchise has an automatic accelerated clock that I can’t turn off – in one sitting in 2011? My damn copy of Angry Birds on my phone has a “save and quit” option. There’s no excuse for this.
Tackling — One reason I always had trouble with Madden was the fact that tackling is generally a pain in the ass. This year seemed even more problematic because I found myself running right by receivers and running backs I was trying to take down. Madden chose to totally take out the “suction” effect instead of just tweaking it to make tackling a little more manageable. Suddenly, short passes turned to big gains in no time.
Instant Replay — There is no rhyme or reason. Big plays get ignored while the other day they did a multiple-angle replay of Drew Brees taking a knee.
Dynamic Play — This is just rushed and flawed in so many ways. Madden tried this new system that changed how players play through the course of a game or a season based on things like past plays, weather, and a random assortment of arbitrary bullshit. Ideally, this would make sense in the way that NBA 2K11 allows players like Kobe to get hot in the clutch or have home teams respond to momentum. Instead, the process Madden uses is simple: if I throw a pass into traffic with Brees, his next pass will be wildly inaccurate. That’s about as complex as it got. So players like Brady, who aren’t flustered by missed targets, suddenly have the poise of a rookie during a game. Like that ever happened…outside of Week 3.
NFL 2K5 came out seven years ago, and when it did, it came out at $19.99 and blew Madden out of the water. EA responded by buying the rights to NFL games and monopolizing the market. It was a smart move, as you can see how 2K Sports has dominated the NBA side of things and left the Live franchise in the dust.
However, EA Sports treated their product like a drug dealer would his crappy, stepped on dope. They know they have a rabid, dedicated clientele so, instead of changing up or upgrading, they just switch the color of the top and give it a different name. And the fiends eat it up.
Madden 12 is the last straw for this gamer. I’ll be joining the ever-growing contingent of fans sticking to 2K Sports until the monopoly is over or Madden realizes that it’s cheating its loyal fans.
- Geek & Sci-Fi