“Any given Sunday” isn’t just the title of a bad football movie; it’s an old adage that you never know what you’re going to get when players step out on the field. Anything can happen. Your star QB could sling it five yards past every receiver. Your shaky rookie cornerback might come up clutch with a game-changing interception. Over the course of weeks and seasons, players are defined by their tendencies and begin assuming roles in their teams.
Madden NFL 12 developer Tiburon recognizes this and has made it part of the core upgrade to Franchise mode. It’s true, Madden has disappointed with its Franchise mode the past few years, but that looks to be changing this year. The amount of improvements is staggering, but the most significant are the additions of dynamic player performance and player roles.
Dynamic Player Performance
Players rarely maintain the same level of performance throughout a season. There are good days and bad. In Madden NFL 12′s Franchise mode, consistency and confidence are major factors in how a player’s performance varies throughout a season.
Michael Vick can be thrilling to watch one week and agonizing to watch the next. His inconsistency can swing his Madden rating by some 20 points, which sounds crazy, but isn’t too far-fetched. Peyton Manning, by contrast, remains the most consistent QB in the NFL. When Peyton steps onto the field, you can be fairly certain of the quality of his performance.
Rookies tend to be less consistent, capable of jaw-dropping plays followed by boneheaded ones week in and week out. And as players learn and mature (if they mature), they gain consistency. It matters this year if a player is a rookie – not just because they may have a lower overall rating, but because that rating can fluctuate greatly. Letting a rookie sit and learn is actually a viable strategy in Franchise mode.
The other weekly factor in dynamic player performance is confidence. This comes down to hot and cold streaks. If Antonio Cromartie remembers all his children’s names and gets a pair of picks against the Giants, he’s going to be riding high into the next week. So much of the game is said to be mental and so a player’s mindset factors into their stats on Sunday. Streaks only last a maximum of three weeks before resetting, preventing a player from having an inflated rating the entire season.
Tom Brady is a playoff performer. He’s good in the regular season, but something kicks in during the playoffs that boost his ability to win games. Mark Brunell has become a mentor. His role is to support the development of Jets QB Mark Sanchez. Having Brunell as mentor has Sanchez learning and improving at a faster rate. Adrian Peterson is fumble prone. It’s in his head now. In big moments, he’s more likely to cough up the rock. Sadly, that’s his role right now on the Vikings. (EA hasn’t revealed if Peterson has the Fumble Prone role; if not, we should riot.)
Roles aren’t given, they’re earned. In each offseason, every player is analyzed to see if they meet specific criteria for a role. If so, they enter the next season tagged as such. These roles can have a big influence in games. After all, clutch performers can do things they just couldn’t ever hope to do the first 55 minutes of a game. A switch turns on and they make good things happen. Some roles can have a positive effect on a player or team and others, like the unfortunate “fumble prone” role, can be negatives that follow a player until they find a way to shake the tag.
But roles go beyond game-day performance. The general manager for each computer-controlled team factors roles into his decision on free agents and draft picks. After all, if you have a “quarterback of the future” on the team, there’s no reason to draft a QB in the first round. If a team is built on pounding the ball up the middle, they’re going to try and sign a running back in free agency who fits the role.
And, of course, roles are going to change the way you build your own franchise. Roles aren’t defined at the draft but on the field. So you won’t know who is a showboater versus a work horse, but the difference could impact your ability to win games in the long run. And who knows, maybe over time a player will settle down, gain a veteran’s mentality, and get serious about winning a championship. When trading or signing free agents, you’re going to have to give extra weight to a player’s role. All things being equal, I’m taking the playoff performer – heck, he’s worth an extra million a year if he can help get us to the Super Bowl.
Here are some of the 20+ roles in Madden NFL 12:
- Team Mentor
- Team Leader
- Injury Prone
- Run Stopper
- Franchise Quarterback
- Defensive Playmaker
- Offensive Playmaker
- Playoff Performer
- Shutdown Corner
- Pass Rusher
- Trench Warrior
- Fumble Prone
- Project Player
- 1st Round Pick
- Future Star
- Iron Man
- QB of the Future
- Feature Back
Tie consistency and confidence with the new player roles system and you have a Franchise mode that tests your GM and coaching abilities. Madden’s Franchise mode last year was merely a bunch of seasons strung together. This year, players evolve over the course of a football dynasty. It’s no longer just about the rating you see at the start of the season. Now, it’s about the impact a player can have on your team and his level of consistency every given Sunday.
That’s just part of the big changes coming to Madden NFL 12′s Franchise mode. Check back Monday for more details on what’s been added this year.