So its that magical time of the year when out from the leaves rustles the new Madden game, ready to be trounced on and played on end until next year when it will be tossed aside and forgotten only to have the viscous cycle begin anew.  Okay, got a little off topic there but yes, it is the beginning of a new madden season, or at least for some people.

Yes there has been a change to the madden release routine. The original yearly release date of August 8th has been pushed back to August 30th. EA plans to set this date as the new annual release date. EA initially set this date with the reason of development time and roster adjustment time to help ensure the final roster on the physical cd is as close to the actual regular season roster as possible. So of course a few months ago they announce the game would be released early… for $25, as part of the EA season ticket. Now it should be said that, the early release is not the only item in the season ticket. Yes you get access to all of EA sports games for 3 days before the release via a downloadable full version of the game. You also get 20% off all EA sports DLC and some other things like exclusive web content. I myself personally see this as a bonus for fanatics of the games and figured hey I can wait, I mean I have a saints game to go to, work, random partying and some intense sleeping on my schedule those 3 days would amount to a few hours of play time but then I got a email. Madden 12 available for download at 3PM Aug 26th. To which I responded by casually leaving work early and loading up the season ticket. EA you won.

But enough about your failure to stand up to EA you might say and what about the game play? The passing seems tighter in this game, and to quote a football player who I can’t recall “Its not like throwing a dart at a balloon, its like throwing a balloon at a dart”. Yes from throwing 0-1 interceptions a game I am averaging about 4 picks thrown a game now as the skill of the defensive backs seems to be up and the accuracy can come down to inches between a completion and and interception. It actually feels more like the recent NCAA football 12, where the ball feels almost smaller. My hope is that it will up the level of game play and may pan out something good for the game, but its still too early to tell. The dynamic player performance where players gain or loose ability through the game based on their performance is in full effect though they aren’t displayed well to really know how or if they are effecting the game. This is because in order to see the actual gains or losses in effect you must pause the game. Again this feature may pan out to be logical as maybe the mechanic not the actual representation of it will have a beneficial impact on the game.

So now how about presentation? Overall it has improved. Lots of minor details to the game are added to the presentation. Grass blades can be seen in tight replay shots, blimp shots of the home field start off a game and teams have their own unique field entrances, fireworks and all. Though that all looks nice one issue that did pop up for me was the menu set up. When going through the roster in in franchise mode via player management as you scroll through the list of players the portrait of the player goes up and down the menu showing the player you selected. So if you check out that 3rd stringer or that special teams player that you want to give a shot their portrait bar breaks the flow of the stat chart causing you to look back and forth and figuring who is what depth at their position. Its basically an excel headache.

Lastly there is the fact that I am currently running the game off a download. There is lag here and there but its unclear the stability of the download and if patches or the actual cd will alleviate these issues. Also in playing I ran into a major issue for Saints fans. It seems that in franchise if I tweak the TE depth chart that the game freezes. I’ve been able to repeat this issue and while it could be the stability of the downloadable version of the game I would like to think that madden is simply not ready for saints Tight End Jimmy Graham. And the game simply exploded once I attempted to ensure he was the starter by checking the Tight End position on the depth chart.

More posts will come as I dig deeper into the game but in closing, in the words of Drew Brees, “Be special, smell greatness, finish strong!”