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First Look: Madden NFL 12 Gameplay

From EA:


Hey Madden fans! My name is Jake Stein. I’m a member of the EA SPORTS Game Changers program and recently was invited out to Tiburon for a hands on look at Madden NFL 12. The hardest part of this blog might be where to begin, but here we go!

The very first thing that jumps out to me when playing Madden NFL 12 is the enhanced tackling system. The central gameplay team gave themselves a goal at the beginning of the development cycle: eliminate suctioning, warping, and sliding. The way this goal was achieved can be summed up in one sentence; collision doesn’t take place until contact is actually made between ball carrier and defender. This can be felt in multiple aspects of the game from how the O-line and D-line interact, to wide receivers diving for balls that they would normally just speed up to catch, but most of all, you feel this with tackling.

Call it Pro-Tak 2.0, call it whatever you want. The point is this; you aren’t down, until you’re down! Let me provide a few examples that I was able to see in only a few short hours of playing. LeGarrette Blount, running back for the Bucs, is running up the middle. He receives a tackle that would normally have begun a canned animation of the ball carrier losing his footing, putting his arm down, and picking up a few extra yards. What happens now in Madden NFL 12 is I broke the tackle, started to lose my balance, but this time after a few yards (and no other defender around to finish me off), Blount regained himself, giving me complete control over him once again. Amazing!

This next example still brings a smile to my face. I was on defense, playing as the defensive tackle. Ball is snapped and I start my rush by swimming over the right guard. I now have a clear path to the quarterback. He tries to escape but it’s too late, my quick penetration and speed has resulted in a sack, but the play isn’t quite over. Before I can completely bring the QB down, a fellow defensive lineman comes in and triggers yet another tackle animation, this one jars the ball loose and I recovered the fumble.

What I can’t stress enough with this new tackling system is the smoothness that it operates with. Everything seems so fluid, so natural. One thing that I know frustrated gamers in the past was not being to re-engage in a ball carrier who you could tell was about to break out of a gang tackle. I can assure you, those days are gone come August 30th.

The next big leap in Madden this year is the improved AI, specifically zone defense. Players no longer are restricted to playing just a certain part of the field, regardless of the routes being run. They now can adapt on the fly. The best way I can showcase this is with another example. I called Cover 2 and my opponent came out in a spread formation with one running back. The back was running a wheel route behind the two receivers on the left that were clearing him out. Ronde Barber bumps the running back coming out of the backfield but instead of just turning him loose after that, starts running with the back and makes an over-the-shoulder interception. Barber knew he had no other offensive threat to account for and stuck with his man and made a play on the ball.

Tuned up defenses and better tackling does not automatically equate to offenses being at a disadvantage. Defenses playing true to form allows the offense to take what the defense is giving them. I can’t tell you how many times I said to Justin Dewiel, Senior Community Manager for EA SPORTS, “That’s where the ball should go. That guy should be open against that defense.” Routes such as the ‘deep in’ and ‘comeback’ were two routes that I had a lot of success with and that wasn’t the case in the past. ¬†Another thing that sticks out and makes a huge impact on the game is the addition of dive catches. Nothing makes the receiving game feel more realistic than seeing your guy lay it all out for a ball and sometimes make the catch, and other times just miss it!

Lastly, I want to throw out some props to the Madden team. They have already updated the game to include rule changes for the upcoming 2011 NFL season. Kickoffs were appropriately moved up to the 35 yard line and all scoring plays are subject to a booth review. After I scored a nice, tip toe along the sideline, touchdown, the booth review cut scene triggered. I looked at Justin and asked, “Did you challenge that?” And that’s when I remembered the rule change. Attention to detail and it’s only April can only be a good thing!

May I throw in one last quick tidbit? A long-time community requests has finally made its way into Madden NFL 12: custom playbooks. You will be able to go through every playbook in the game and pick out the plays that best fits you and combine those all into one playbook of your own. And better yet, you can take custom book online!

Thanks so much for reading my impressions on gameplay. Even more details will be emerging as the weeks and months go by. Feel free to leave a comment or even shoot me an @ mention to Madden NFL 12 comes out August 30th.


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One Comment

  1. I guess I need to get back into madden cause it seem NFL gonna have a lockout! lol!

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