Madden NFL 12 First Look Preview

Human-controlled cameras, custom playbooks, and improved tackle animations are some of the highlights in EA's latest football sim.

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Last week we brought you our first impressions of NCAA Football 12, a game that's aiming to capture the freewheeling spirit of the college game with team celebrations, a broadcast overhaul, and a number of other visual bells and whistles. With today's NFL Draft, it's only fitting that we move on up to the professional ranks as we talk about this year's Madden game.

Ladies and gentlemen: grass.

Once again, EA was mostly focused on showing us the visual upgrades to this year's football sim, but we've also got a couple of details on new gameplay features. One of these new features is the ability to create custom playbooks and harmonize them with the GameFlow system introduced in last year's game. You outfit a full playbook's worth of formations and plays and then assign each one of them various star ratings based on how well you think each play would work under various situations. So you might assign that four-receiver shotgun set a five-star rating in third-and-long situations, while the same yardage situation might command a one-star rating for an up-the-gut run from your slow-footed fullback. And if you'd prefer to find more of a middle ground between custom playbooks and just use the default GameFlow system, you can now choose a style of GameFlow, such as run-heavy and pass-heavy.

Madden is also using the new tackle animation system we talked about in last week's NCAA Football story. EA's aim with this system is to make tackles and collisions look more natural. In previous years, there were only so many points around a player in which another player could approach them for a hit, which often resulted in players magically floating to that invisible entry point to begin the tackle animation. This year, EA claims it has reworked how the collisions and tackles can be triggered so that you don't get that artificial "snapping into position" look with players. We got to see the system in motion, though without the benefit of a side-by-side comparison, it was hard to tell how drastic the difference is. We will say that the new tackles do look good, but there's still a bit of a way to go until EA gets to the point of Backbreaker-level fluidity in Madden's collision system.

Visually, EA continues to blur the line between virtual football and what you find on television on a Sunday afternoon. There's a certain human element to camera control that this year's game is trying to capture with an elaborate setup of real cameramen and a motion-capture studio. Essentially, what EA has done is recruit the help of some cameramen from NFL Films and rig their gear with a small screen showing in-game footage to effectively place these guys on a virtual field. The myriad motion-capture cameras surrounding these cameramen can tell where they are relative to the in-game players, and what you get is the real effect of a camera operator running around the field, sweeping around, trying to get that perfect shot as players celebrate a play or mill around the scene of a tackle. It's a really cool system, and we're interested in seeing how it pans out. As long as it doesn't wind up feeling like an overdone shaky-cam effect, this new feature could be a great addition.

Also new this year: mascots!

A number of other visual additions and tweaks litter this year's version of Madden. These include stadium exterior shots preceding a game, new broadcast cameras that mimic the unique camera placement of every stadium in the league, 3D grass, and enhanced uniform degradation. Those certainly sound interesting, but the big question is what EA is adding in terms of gameplay features and modes to keep players' interest over the long haul. Hopefully EA has something big in store as we get closer to the release of Madden 12 on August 30.

Discussion

103 comments
HartlessNZ
HartlessNZ

Just played thew Madden 12 demo on Xbox..... I reckon Madden 10 is still the BEST!!!!!!!!

Jonny_Beach
Jonny_Beach

I accidentally thrashed my copy of Madden 11 for the 360. So, on a whim, I dusted off my 2010 copy for the PS2. Wow, I never realized how far Madden has come for the next gen consoles until this sobering experience!!! I am hoping that player progession in franchise mode is is better this year. I like to create a couple of players in franchise mode and sign them to a 7 year deal and then watch them grow and become perenial pro bowlers... I can't wait for 8/30! Go Colts!

hersheylala
hersheylala

never a good sign when jersey degradation, which should have been a part of madden since 2000 is being featured as one of the selling points.. Thats always bothered me.. play a full game of football in rain or snow and your clean and dry as a whistle.. that leads me to snow.. Why dosent the snow move when the get tackled on it!!!! why is it stuck to the ground! selling point for 2013?! I cant stand EA anymore.. I needed to vent..Thanks

hersheylala
hersheylala

wow.. after hearing about this years improvements.. I cant wait for 2013!!! An EA insider told me this morning.. 4D grass, we get to drive the injury cart off the field, the revamped Be a Pro: Cheerleader Edition, Refs are prone to Mob payoffs and make incorrect calls(this would be cool without the Mob), the players will look and play even more generic, and finally they are going to increase the price to $100 in order to compensate for the new NFLPA collective bargining agreement! Im so excited to play 2011 for the next 2 years!

KingFe03
KingFe03

My God,I dont care about Mascots or grass..... what i care about....... When you export NCAA draft class to Madden the best QB in the draft is taken in the 5th round..... and his potential is an D.... he throws for back to back 4000 yard seasons and his overall is still 63... great logic madden

trystkl1826
trystkl1826

I anxiously read the article because I wanted to see if it would make mention of the Madden creators upgrading the career modes. How disappointed I am that it didn't. It remains to be seen if Madden will spend as much time upgrading the career experience as it does making the grass look more... grass-like... or the uniforms degrade. LOL

scott642403
scott642403

well looks like another terrible and boring madden good job EA.

bguy9
bguy9

No thanks. Won't be paying sixty dollars for a roster update and new camera angles. Not this year.

JOKER677
JOKER677

Bring back 2k series and I'll start playing football games again.

enigmatic_evil
enigmatic_evil

Yeah I agree with not_guilty. They have been pumping out the same BS franchise mode and superstar mode for 3+ years now. Franchise needs an OVERHAUL. They need to re-vamp the NFL draft and player progression and that's just the start. I haven't bought Madden since 09 and I'm only buying it this year because Peyton Hillis is on the cover. GO BROWNS!

not_guilty_84
not_guilty_84

how about a revamped superstar? more in depth franchise mode? better CaP? cmon EA quit giving us the run around with "3d grass" we want a new game!

justifythegame
justifythegame

This is pathetic. These are the same so called "features" they have been advertising for years and that previous games were said to have. Its also sad that they have the advertise minor upgrades to presentation as the sole reason to buy their new product. The biggest change to the game is the one unspoken "new feature" - a new set of rosters, but sooner or later they will start advertising this as one of the best new feature. So many areas of the game need to be overhauled yet remains untouched. Fans have complained about the franchise mode being untouched for years. The gameplay needed to be overhauled like 5 years ago, instead they just readjust the controls to make you feel like something has changed. Nothing will change as long as people buy this junk and or campaign for the NFL to end the monopoly. I can understand if you are going to buy the game for the new rosters, but please don't come on here posting about how you are excited about their new gimmicks which no one uses and gets hidden behind the options menu the future year. Can you believe this games selling point at one time was a "rewind" "feature", you would be surprised at all the old gimmicks you find behind the options menu only to be replaced by new bs ones.

ravenfan7x7
ravenfan7x7

looks great!...but unless theres new features im not buying it, and no ea grass is not a feature

avok23
avok23

@Gelugon_baat Sorry youur point is totally wrong. When a PS2 game has features your game ps3/360 game doesnt have, when they even do things better than you, have less bugs and are more consistent then you have a bucket load of improvements to make. To sell a game each year with no improvements is morally indefensible. The engine has not reached its climax. This is known by anyone who knows about their engine. EA has decided to cut cost and feed their sheepish fans these products hence there was a 20% drop in sales last year. Trust me on this that no other franchise would get away with such linient reviews. remeber back breaker got 5.0 from gamespot and it wasnt that far from madden.

QingJao86
QingJao86

How about they show us changes in the franchise and superstar modes... thats what most people want to see anyway.

avok23
avok23

@Gelugon_baat Perception? Not you are just being rude. Seems its no point trying to convince you but if you have played the recent maddens then you would know of these flaws and stale franchise that consistently gets high scores. What the reviews again then wath the promo videos and you find out you actually learn nothing of the game till you play it yourself and most likely end up disappointed. Why do you think the user reviews for most madden games are always 1-2 points (10-20%) lower than the journalist reviews?

XxXtacy
XxXtacy

huge visual upgrades, yet the players on the sidelines and the fans in the stands look static like every other year....but hey, that 3D grass sure makes up that REAL FOOTBALL EXPERIENCE

madSomnambulist
madSomnambulist

Hotroute, or why even bother? Sigh. That they refuse to crossover a few of the special quirks of Madden vs NCAA continues to sadden me. They likely think that doing it would hurt total sales, but people buy NCAA and Madden for different reasons, by and large. At this point in time, there's absolutely no reason EA shouldn't be including (or at least giving the option for) EVERY feature offered over the years. Is there any particularly reason past EA dickishness I shouldn't be able to run the full gauntlet-- Set up my own formations and playbook of custom everything, choose player packages (heavy micromanaging, I know), set what can be in motion, offer the easy hotroute changes, set up any number of audibles, disable "interrupting" stuff like the tackling, etc etc etc? It's just to give players an excuse to buy the next iteration where they have a random combination of special options added over time and just hope people like it.

TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

Just about time, NFL2k 5 figured that out YEARS ago.

prodigest
prodigest

I guess I should give up on Superstar mode.

haloprodigy2993
haloprodigy2993

I have many things that I would like to see out of Madden this year. For one the announcers. I think the announcers on NBA 2K11 were outstanding and Collinsworth and Johnson should be like that to. Most of the time I make a big play both announcers are still talking about the play that happened 5 minutes ago. In franchise mode I would like a more in depth offseason mode (scouting, free agency, and trades). Even during the season you should be able to assign scouts to a certain player and after they are done scouting a player they should tell you wether or not to draft the player and how high they should be drafted. Usually I just skip over the offseason mode because it is boring, but with some improvements I would definetly give it a try. We will se May 16 what they are doing.

omfgkevin
omfgkevin

@my_dougie which is also by EA.

my_dougie
my_dougie

@freedomspopular yea well its the only legit football game on the market, so of course theyre gonna make money on it, its kinda hard not when there literally are no other options. except for ncaa 12 which imo is better, screw madden.

Nozizaki
Nozizaki

And still no conformirmation that Madden 12 is in fact coming to the 3DS :(

Xavier2116
Xavier2116

Let's just hope that Franchise Mode gets a real update this year.

voldo25
voldo25

what we need is another football game to compete with madden ie 2ksports. hopefully someday when that licence bs is up we can have another game to choose from just for the heck of it...

avok23
avok23

@Gelugon_baat i read ever review and watch the accompanying video and there is often total discord. Often the seem to ignore broken game mechanics and repeated bugs within the games. Sometimes they go as far as calling returning features new features. They hype and base most of the reviews of the marketing cues.

freedomspopular
freedomspopular

As much complaining as there is going on, I'm sure most of you will still buy it. Why would EA put any extra effort/money into making the game better, when they know they can just throw in a few gimmicks and still make just as much money?

MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

" This year, EA claims it has reworked how the collisions and tackles can be triggered so that you don't get that artificial "snapping into position" look with players. We got to see the system in motion, though without the benefit of a side-by-side comparison, it was hard to tell how drastic the difference is. We will say that the new tackles do look good, but there's still a bit of a way to go until EA gets to the point of Backbreaker-level fluidity in Madden's collision system." Uber disappointment

andrewerdna100
andrewerdna100

one of the things that has never ever been changed in madden is how you want to change a player in game modes. you cant edit the players skills or create a player in franchise mode which is just lame IMO. at least in 2k you can edit a players skills. if you dont give us a development system for players in franchise mode, then you have to give us this alternative.

andrewerdna100
andrewerdna100

the problem with madden IMO is that the make the game for too many consoles. also all madden need to do is to do what NBA 2k11 did which is not hard at all with a little effort. nba 2k11 fixed the presentation with Michael Jordan and all of that stuff but they also adden more which has made owners of the game love it. the players look real, better my player and other game modes, and the draft is more realistic.real presentation isn't just visuals. its also the announcers and how things sound. the announcers on 2k are fricken amazing. they talk about players and just real stuff that happens in real life.

pengselim
pengselim

One benefit of the lockout is not caring that my copy of Madden 11 has an out of date roster. Minute changes don't excite me enough to buy this

mps32
mps32

Grass, mascots, and an improvement on a horrible gameflow system. Worth $65 bucks? Probably not. I'll stick with NCAA this year and MAYBE rent this if I want to take my RTG player to the pros for a bit.

laplace985
laplace985

Gamespot: Those certainly sound interesting, but the big question is what EA is adding in terms of gameplay features. Easports: We are sure the 10 new tackle animations we worked on all year plus the improved concussions will provide the gamer enough to steal his 65$ this year and make him think we will improve gameplay next year lmao.

laplace985
laplace985

Human-controlled cameras, custom playbooks, and improved tackle animations are some of the highlights in EA's latest football sim lol. Didn't nfl2k5 do all that in 2005. Somebody please remake nfl 2k5 in high definition and make it downloadable with the ability to be able to upload and share rosters and coaches just like nba 2k11. Please.

ccputgat2m
ccputgat2m

face it, madden just isnt fun anymore. Its the same old game every year with a new gimmick. yawn. at least in COD I can camp with a shot gun and shoot people in the face. That never gets old

ArmageddonBC
ArmageddonBC

Damn... Madden fans have spoken. I had something to say but everyone before me has already said it. Madden could be the most celebrated franchise in general gaming! The only problem is that it's also the most hated franchise in gaming! EA get your BUTTS in check dudes. We have been waiting...

Gonefishing95
Gonefishing95

Im british..and i want to live in America just for your "football" :P

munchlax99
munchlax99

mascots and... grass. they are amazing :shock: :P

GrodyBean
GrodyBean

If EA can give Madden something that will not make me quit out of every game I play 2 weeks after I buy the game, then this will be the best game ever.

damian1215
damian1215

When are they going to bring back the opportunity to build a new stadium in the city that your currently in. Like build a new stadium in buffalo.

drewparm
drewparm

I love how Backbreaker makes 1 low budget game and Madden who has been around forever has "a bit of a way to go to get to the point of Backbreaker-level fluidity" New engine maybe???? No, that requires too much effort

pleezebeleevit
pleezebeleevit

FUNNY HOW EA TAKES 1 GIMMICK AWAY(I.E., TACKLES) ONLY TO BRING IT BACK 2 YEARS LATER AND ACT LIKE IT'S NEW, TIRED OF EACH YEARS GIMMICKS IV'E BOYCOTTED MADDEN THE LAST 3 YEARS AND THIS YEARS NO DIFFERENT NOTE TO GAMESPOT: WE ALL KNOW THAT MADDEN WILL PAY IT'S HUSH MONEY TO U( YOU'LL NOTICE WHEN YOU C THA 50,000 MADDEN BANNERS ON THIS SITE SO I ASK CAN WE REALLY GET AN UNBIASED REVIEW

JJMikhail
JJMikhail

We've yet to see any gameplay or even try it yet the same old anti-EA groups are in force. Surely as they release a demo pretty much every year will give you an impression of what the game will be like, yet they still buy it.

crwnedprince
crwnedprince

If its in the game its not in Madden........ still waiting to do the leap of faith over the D-line for a touch down........ can i get an Amen

crwnedprince
crwnedprince

all of these visual upgrades and they haven't touched special teams in 20 years.........................