Chase Becotte of Operation Sports wrote up a preview on the gameplay on the up and coming Madden title, Madden 12. He goes on to talk about the offensive side of the ball, passing game, running game as well as on the defensive side, passing and running as well as breaking down the special teams side, kicking, returning.
Below are some breakdown on the different sections he talks about.
Passing Game “In general, QB movement when throwing on the run also feels slightly off. However, in this case it’s all about giving users options no matter what. The game has to allow you to run backwards and throw the ball across the field; otherwise some gamers would be upset. That type of sequence understandably looks really messy and out of place from an animation standpoint. But there are other times where you are on the run, and once again the game almost has to speed up your QB’s body motions to make sure a throw can be made as you are about to be hit. Much like initially going into scramble mode, these are not new issues, and some will not even notice or mind, but it does make the scrambling quarterbacks look out of place in a game trying to look like the real thing. But, to be fair, these issues might tie more tied to the game engine and the fact that more types of throwing animations may need to be added to correct these faults.”
He goes on….
“Beyond those issues, the throwing and route running felt sound. I would not say those perfect three- or five-step drops based on timing are in place, but an underrated aspect of Madden has always been lead passing, and that still works great here for those instances. It is also much harder to successfully rack up passing yards this year, especially with the flats being monitored more closely (more on that later), but I did not feel like AI was reading my slant routes before they happened or anything like that. It more seems like the AI has been tweaked to lean a bit inside without giving up easy corner or out routes. Of course all of this is subject to change with lots of gameplay tuning yet to come, but it was refreshing to not just want to go for a slant, fly or flat route the entire time.”
Running Game: “I came away most impressed by the running game. The first thing that immediately stood out to me was the way the offensive linemen really held their blocks and also tried to get to the second line of the defense. In the past, two big issues with the running game have been running lanes suddenly closing, and linemen not having the AI wherewithal to block more than one defender on a given play.
To expand a bit on these two improvements, in the past I have routinely found holes I thought were open, only to have a defender easily disengage from a lineman and tackle my running back as he passed by. This was usually frustrating because it felt more like magic than anything else. If a lineman is holding a defensive tackle at bay, that DT should not just pull away and easily take down my running back at the last possible second. To put it another way, it’s one thing for a running lane to be closed up by a defender moving into the gap from the second line of defense, but it just seemed outrageous more than anything else for the hole to magically close just as I was about to run through it. At the end of the day, my best guess is that the improvements made to suction blocking help to make the visual experience make more sense with what’s going on under the hood of the game engine.”
Passing Game: “Last year, I constantly felt like the deep ball was a little too easy to pull off. I might be in the minority here, but it just seemed like even elite corners did not stand a chance much of the time if the deep ball was thrown far enough. Perhaps my user-control skills were a bit off, but even a well-timed swat did not do the trick often enough for my liking.
So far with this game, I feel much more in control of the situation on deep balls. I have been able to bat away deep balls on downs where I know they might be coming. I will gladly still get jumped by a deep ball after the run has been established and so forth, but I want those moments where receivers are double covered and still catch the ball to be more rare, and thus more memorable when they happen, this year. For example in a game I was watching between two other folks at the event, I saw one receiver come down with a ball around three defenders at the end of a half. The play did not result in a touchdown or anything, but it still made the users laugh and jump out of their seats because, while it looked a little funny because of the way the player dove through the air to catch the ball, it was a cool moment. Rarity breeds that type of excitement for one side and frustration for the other.”
Running Game: “One of the big issues with Madden games is what goes on in the trenches. The 3-4 defense never seems to get enough love, and blocker-eating DTs never can really do their thing. I’m not here to say that all is well and good now, but the physics tweaks are presumably allowing linebackers to roam a bit more freely during the pass and rush. In addition to getting mauled by linebackers a couple times on pass attempts, the linebackers just seemed to be more active on the field. I did not have the time or inclination to really scope out if my defensive linemen were just taking up space to make this happen, but whatever was going on here was progress.”
Kicking: “As far as I am concerned, the kicking game is just never going to be good as long as a meter is involved. Everyone is all about user control (including this guy), but I would honestly welcome “real” FG percentages when it comes to kicking field goals. In NBA 2K12, those developers have incorporated “real” FT and shooting percentages. All this means is that the players shoot closer to their real-life percentages, regardless of user input. Some scoff at these things, and it does go against the general consensus that user control trumps all in video games, but it just seems like the only logical way to make the kicking game interesting.”
Returning: “The early returns here are somewhat promising. The action on kick-off returns does not devolve into a clutter of bodies like in the past, again, because of the new tackle/physics tweaks. Instead, it’s a cleaner, more singular battle between players. Again, I think this highlights a potential shortcoming with how the gang tackling is calculated now. While you won’t have guys just falling or diving to the ground all around the ball carrier, football still is a messy game at times. It will be interesting to see if some middle point can be found between utter ridiculous chaos and one-on-one battles on the field.
The punt return portion of special teams seems to fair better with this new gameplay style in place. I witnessed a couple nice returns, and it was not because one player was simply fast enough to get to the outside or because a gunner missed the tackle. Instead, it was more just that the blocking was set up enough, and the punt returner was able to make one move to spring himself for some yardage. The punt return game has been a little too boom or bust in the past, and hopefully this is a sign that punt returns can exists somewhere in the middle. “