One of the most cosmetic changes to come to Madden in years are the various presentation enhancements throughout the game. No longer are we treated with bad camera angles and a non-broadcast feel -- we now have something that's finally catching up with the rest of the pack in our genre. But don't get too excited yet, Madden NFL 12 still has a good bit to go.
New Camera Angles
I think Madden is close to doing about as good of a job as any sports game on mirroring the correct camera angles in games. The angles themselves are very well done and the lens 'effects' used, such as the distortion for a wide angle lens, are just phenomenal. There is some good variety in the camera work as well. Each game has a different feel thanks to the different camera angles and whatnot, whereas in prior years Madden was way too repetitive in regards to camera angles and cutscenes.
But the new angles aren't perfect. They'll show off the other parts of the presentation that aren't as good. Players will still walk aimlessly around after a play and run into each other, the close ups of the crowd look laughable, and a lot of the other shots are ruined because the players just don't act real. It's as if Madden continually tries to convince you that you are watching an NFL Broadcast and even when it becomes obvious you aren't, it keeps trying.
Another positive about the cameras are the new team intros -- they're authentic and they look pretty darned good. There is some variety as well, and perhaps a bit more variety in the camera angles within each intro in future years would really make this a real strong point with the game. As it is, each team has an authentic entrance which usually plays out in a very similar manner each game, the only caveat is that the camera work is if not completely the same, very similar each time you start up a game. Visually, the camera angles help make Madden one of the finer looking games in our genre.
But small steps here people. Small steps. The camera angles are indeed a very nice addition to the game and have made what was once a horribly boring game to play a little more exciting.
It's so pretty
Madden NFL 12 is one of the best looking games in our genre. The stadiums, the lighting, the players -- they all look absolutely splendid. If you add in the right time of day, the way shadows are cast over a field can be just jaw dropping. The art team deserves a lot of praise for a lot of what makes Madden look just fantastic.
And let's not even stop there, the graphical overlays and the menus -- it's a visual buffet festival throughout the entirety of Madden NFL 12. Play a game in the late afternoon with Cowboys Stadium open with clear skies, that's the kind of visuals I think we all envisioned for this generation of consoles.
Now there are some legit gripes, but they may lie in hardware limitations mores than anything else. The crowd can look really bad for sure, as can the sidelines. It's probably impossible to model 200 people on the sidelines and 80,000 good looking fans -- so I'm giving the Madden team a complete pass on that.
Gary JOHNSON is a BAD announcer (at least in Madden)
Whatever the camera angles do for the game to start engrossing you into an NFL broadcast, you are continually reminded that the announcing is potentially the worst in this generation of consoles. Sorry Smackdown vs. Raw, you might've been one upped by Madden of all franchises -- although I'm not sure I'm ready to completely go that far yet.
Gus Johnson and Chris Collingsworth are either continually changing volumes, pitches or tones. Sometimes they are consistently behind a play. If they aren't doing any of that, they're calling players by the wrong name or worse, just calling them by their jersey number. And should I mention that Arizona has dropped the 's' from their name and followed the route of the Stanford Cardinal.
Everyone who isn't a hardcore college football fan still wonders what the heck that one's supposed to mean.
The commentary is really a poor showing in so many ways. At best, you can say the camera enhancements and commentary are a wash. At worst, you can say the commentary is so bad that the presentation often feels it's taken a step backwards.
The Other Sounds
There are some glitches within the sounds, and the crowd at times feels completely artificial and lifeless -- but the rest of the audio of theMadden package isn't too bad at all. The sound is not on a level that's great, but it's very solid.
A better way to put it is that everything else could use some work, but you aren't going to spend time saying the crowd noise, stadium music, etc. is atrocious. Granted, I was always taught that audio is 51 percent of your picture, but so long as the rest of the audio never sinks to the commentaries low of this year I think I'll feel OK about Madden.
Other Odds and Ends
The rest of the presentation and design of the game can really be summed up as a mixed bag. There are numerous gaffes in terms of uniforms and field art. There are even some things to do with other little details within the game. These are things that the hardcore fans of certain teams will see and be annoyed. But fans of the other 31 teams (or casual fans) will completely overlook them. So to make a big deal out of those issues is a big exercise in missing the point -- but I'd hope that in the future these are issues that are indeed cleared up.
Wrapping it Up
The Presentation has indeed taken a huge step up, but let's not lose perspective here people. Madden NFL 12's presentation is nowhere near great -- the audio issues and the other various issues hold the game quite a ways back from a level thats either great or classic. Madden NFL 12's presentation is good. It still lags far behind some other games in our genre which can be considered as having a great presentation to the user, the commentary alone guarantees that outcome.
But for those who's biggest gripe with Madden over the years hasn't been the gameplay, but the presentation, you are going to see an NFL game that finally looks like an NFL Broadcast. Just be sure to mute the commentators because the illusion is quickly broken the moment they begin to speak.