Madden 12 Review: The Same, But Worse
|App Name:||Madden 12 for iPad|
|Release Date:||August 30, 2011|
Okay, so the Madden franchise is well known for not changing much year to year. Okay, so when Madden 12 for iPad was announced, it was pretty much assumed that it would be a lot like Madden 11. Okay, so when I loaded up Madden 12 for iPad on Tuesday, I didn’t expect anything earthshattering. All granted. But EA has managed something incredible here.
They’ve made the game worse.
Let’s get this out of the way: in all the ways that really matter, Madden 12 for iPad is Madden 11 for iPad, re-skinned to look a little cooler, a little slicker, and more in keeping with the look of this year’s console version. Aesthetically, I think it’s a little too rock-n-roll flashy, but whatever. The point is, the game is basically the same. Graphics are the same, controls are the same, gameplay is the same. Yes, it’s still impossible to get a run game going, and still too easy to win in the air. I even loaded up Madden 11 on my device again so I could compare; and frankly, as I flipped back and forth between them, I sometimes lost track of which game I was playing. During the game itself, they are *that* *similar*.
Yet somehow, even a simple re-skin would have been better than what Madden 12 is. Because there are several things that have taken a step backwards since last year.
Animations have to take the top of the list here. Despite not noticeably altering the graphics (on iPad 2 they’re “enhanced,” but no more so than a bunch of other games have done), the animations here are not as good as they were last year. There’s frame drops, there’s hiccups, there’s moments where defensive players tackle a guy without going through the motions to tackle the guy — they just stand there stiff-bodied and “float” into the runner. I don’t know if this is a result of the iPad 2 “enhancement,” but considering it appears to be running the exact same animation engine as last year, I don’t see why this is an issue.
Second, the playbook. For some reason, they’ve divided it into two extremes: either very, very basic, with a mere handful of plays like the generic “Short Pass” and “Play Action Run”; or the NFL-coach level division of all plays into their formations. Last year, the game had a gamebook option to divide plays out by type — Short Pass, Long Pass, etc. — and then grouped different plays by type. Why is that option gone? I want more control than Basic here, but I’m not well-versed enough in football to know when I want to blitz from a Nickel Strong or a Quarter Deep. I didn’t like the playbook last year, and it’s gotten worse in Madden 12.
Third, the audio is atrocious. The play calling is worse than last year — it’s more repetitive, and the audio quality isn’t even consistent. I kid you now, for four plays IN A ROW, John Madden’s voice spouted the same stupid line (“First he was goin’ one way, then BOOM! It was a full stop!”) regardless of what actually happened on the field. And the other, non-Madden voice, is even worse; not only is his audio quality all over the place, but he makes horrible comments about *your playing Madden 12 itself*, breaking the fourth wall for pointless remarks like “Wow! Good use of the Hot Routes there!” You will quickly want to turn it off.
And then there’s the crowd noise. Turn it up, see how long it takes you to get irritated by it. It’s the same 5-second audio track with a whoop/whistle at the end, and it loops over, and over, and over, and OVER. That whoop/whistle is like friggin’ Chinese water torture by the end of the first quarter. Luckily, it can also be turned off, but why should I have to do that? It’s lazy and annoying and the mark of an amateur, not something I’d expect from EA.
None of these hurt the core football game play, which is still solid (if unrealistic — seriously, Arian Foster can’t dominate the Bengals D, but Tavaris Jackson can throw 300 yards against the Steelers?). If you want Madden on your iPad and missed out on Madden 11, or if you really want updated rosters, then you’ll probably enjoy this game. But if you have Madden 11 already and are happy with Madden 11, then just keep Madden 11. Wait at least until EA addresses the animation and sound issues with updates before buying this disappointing retread.
Our Score: 3 out of 5
Today's Best Free Apps
Do you know that dozens of highly rated paid apps briefly go free every week? Discover the best of daily free apps on our Best Free Apps page.