Category: Madden 2012

Madden NFL 12 Peyton Hillis

Every year football fans get to hear about the Madden curse and how all powerful and accurate it is. How every year the player on the cover has to sit at least one game because of the Madden curse. It’s not the brutal and body pounding sport that is football that takes the blame. No, that makes too much sense. Instead blame is placed on a very mythical Madden Curse.  Madden NFL 12  was the be-all-end-all of football video games, a game that was supposed to be the definitive football video game graced it’s cover with something that could prove to be far more powerful. Madden NFL 12’s cover was picked by the fans and I don’t think many of them knew what they did.

While many people believe the Madden Curse is absolute there is one curse that is potentially more potent and taxing in sports. It is seen every time Cleveland sports do anything worth taking note of. It is played any time a Cleveland team faces a potentially season ending game. It is shown by ESPN any time there is any mention of “Cleveland” and “Hope” in the same sentence. I speak of the curse that gave Cleveland wonderful names like The Catch, Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, and The Decision. But that’s not all. There are other acts attributed to the curse that have no fancy name including the Curse of Rocky Colavito, the Cleveland Browns relocation to Baltimore, and the 1997 World Series. Our curse has been going on longer and has had a bigger impact than a player missing a few games. It punishes our hopes and our spirits every year. It’s the only constant we see in Cleveland sports. So the question is, which curse is bigger? The Madden Curse or the Cleveland curse?

Madden NFL 12 Gameplay

While great strides have been made to the franchise mode in this outing of Madden there are still some things that are irksome. But lets focus on the good bits shall we? To start with the preseason is a little more meaningful this time around. I was one of the many Madden players who would bypass the the preseason because it offered little to no advantage. This time through you can properly evaluate a large swath of players to decide who to keep and who to cut. Preseason in Madden finally takes on the meaningful game that the true Preseason is supposed to.

Madden NFL 12 Sack

To bad your ass got saaaaaaaaaaaaaaacked

The other nice addition was options in the gameflow play calling system. One of my biggest pet peeves with last season was the inability to easily determine if you wanted to go with gameflow or pick a play yourself. It was an all or nothing approach that led to me simply forgoing the gameflow altogether and picking plays. At least then I knew what I was getting in to. In Madden NFL 12 you are told the play you are running and given the option to pick something a little different. The downside is that when you switch between Gameplan, Passing and Running on offense or Gameplan, Aggressive and Conservative on defense it changes the play on you. While I may like what I see under an Aggressive defense it’s nice to see what the Gameplan has in store. However once I switch away the play is gone.

In addition to Madden NFL 12 not being able to make up it’s mind on what the Gameplan is we seem to find that it makes a great number of mistakes while on the field itself. Take for example the use of a red flag to challenge the play. I have yet to see a play not overturned. A booth review after a fantastic 45 yard completed pass means one thing. You have to go back to where you were. However this can work to your advantage. Anytime you throw the flag you are all but guaranteed to have the play come out the way you want to. While totally unfair it’s an interesting tactic to utilize.

It also doesn’t seem to make up it’s mind on what is or is not possible within the rules of football. I had one play where I threw a pass down field in a very last ditch attempt to pull out a victory. As the ball sailed through the air I watched as defenders crowded around the receiver knowing full well that it would result in a dead ball. Then something magical happened. As the ball bounced between the hands of players down field it bounced off the ground then 15 yards up field (back towards the line of scrimmage) what it was eagerly met with the waiting hands of an open player who ran it in for a touchdown. It was a player on defense. It should have allowed me to red flag the ball as being dead and seemingly altered in some way to cause it to fly 15 yards on it’s own however I was not given the option. I had to suffer the loss I knew I was getting, but something about the rampant cheating of the game was so mindbogglingly bad that I turned it off.

Madden NFL 12 Peyton Hillis Running

Lets hope by this time in the season he's still healthy

Couple poor adherence to the rules of both football and ball physics with a poor understanding of what the human body is physically capable of doing. When running with a ball defenders will suddenly leap, almost immediately, varying distances of a few feet to a few yards to find themselves directly in front of my charging player. While most human beings would be so astonished by the sudden change global positioning that they would either poop themselves or decide then and there to use their powers of teleportation for good or evil, we do not see this take place in Madden NFL 12. Instead, without skipping a beat, the defender acts as if their feet were literally planted in the ground and they were made of hardened steel to stop the runner dead in his tracks.

This round of the Clash of the Curses goes to Cleveland given Madden NFL 12’s seeming inability to abide by longstanding laws of physics and rules of football. One way or another you’re bound to be royally screwed while playing the game.

Madden NFL 12’s Gameplay gets a 2 out of 5

Madden NFL 12 Controls

The controls in Madden are very tight and well done. They maintained the ability to effectively run the football with thumbs on the thumb sticks or add a flourish or two (stiff arm, dive, etc) with a quick jaunty thumb trip to the right. They did nothing to really revolutionize the in game controls but they didn’t mess them up either. They essentially kept them normal. Which, in lieu of everything else can be considered a godsend.

However what is lacking is the inability to control not seeing certain in game cut scenes. If you’re like me you turn off the commentary. While that makes listening to the game much more tolerable it does make it relatively strange to see the styling they took with the game. Giving it a TV feel was a cool and familiar direction to take with Madden NFL 12. Without commentary however it’s very unusual. The ability to control the way the game is presented would be nice. However this is not enough to hurt the controls. In this instance we can’t really give any points to the Cleveland Curse. Madden, though, doesn’t really come out on top in this round either leaving the score at 1 to 0 in favor of the Cleveland Curse.

Madden NFL 12’s Controls get a 3 out of 5

Madden NFL 12 Graphics

On the field Madden NFL 12 looks phenomenal. Visually Madden has never been bad. This season they took greater care to recreate the players in the game and give them a more realistic look and feel. From running, hitting, catching, and even down the players faces, Madden NFL 12 definitely ups the standard for sports video games.

Madden NFL 12 Aaron Rogers

Players don't look fantastic, they look like the actual players.

However it goes down when it goes off screen. More often than not, when showing the stadium, instead of seeing the streets, the buildings, the parking, and lake that surround Cleveland Browns we see a blank field of green. It’s simple elements like this that keep it from being a truly beautiful game. It’s not even held solely to the external views. Even when they pan to the coaches and sideline players the rendering doesn’t always follow suit. While it’s not a game breaker it’s still a minor step back from what could have been a flawless presentation leaving it at just a notch above average. This gives it a slight edge in favor of Madden over the Cleveland Curse. Score now site at 1 to 1.

Madden NFL 12’s Graphics get a 4 out of 5

Madden NFL 12 Sound

Good. Sweet. Christmas. I have patience for poor commentary. I can sit through just about anything. I have trained myself by listening to Bernie Kosar’s preseason commentary. For those of you who don’t know he sounds like he’s kicking back the Jack Daniel. So much so that during one memorable game the closed captioning actually came up with “?????” as one of his statements. The people who get paid to listen and transcribe were lost. It’s because of this I can usually make it through at least one season with the commentary on. Not this time. I made it to Week 4.

The Cleveland Browns face off against the Tennessee Titans in week 4 on the banks of Lake Erie. While this isn’t exactly going to be the clash of the NFL greats here one would at least expect the announcers to understand who is playing. Especially in a video game. To my surprise Chris Collinsworth spent the entire game calling them the New York Titans. He never once said Tennessee. He spent the entire game calling them New York. This was so off putting I actually didn’t save this match because I wanted to see if it would happen again. Sure enough the second time through he kept referring to them as the New York Titans. It was about this time that I had to hit the internet to see if they had moved without me noticing. Yes. Madden NFL 12 made me question reality.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Announcers talk about players that aren’t even on field, call plays that didn’t even happen, all the while seeming to repeat the same 6 or 7 statements throughout a single game; the sound quality in Madden NFL 12 has taken a major step backwards. I, just today, noticed that during a kickoff the sound of the ball being kicked is heard at just about the same time that Joshua Cribbs is catching the ball. Apparently Madden NFL 12 decides to bend the laws of physics one last time and distort the way that sound travels.

The Cleveland Curse has once more reared it’s head to mar what should have been a very simple victory for Madden NFL 12.

Madden NFL 12’s Sound gets a 1 out of 5

Madden NFL 12 Overall Score

Madden NFL 12 was intended to be the best Madden to date. It was supposed to be a perfect Madden. It was a Madden for the pure Madden fans. Then they went and attached themselves to the Cleveland Curse who (if you’re keeping score) has taken the contest at a score of 2 to 1 over Madden.  Overall Madden NFL 12 gets a 2 out of 5.

As far as which curse is mightier it seems that the Cleveland Curse has come out on top. Really the only way the Madden Curse will win out is if Peyton Hillis suffers some outlandish injury. This is a man who is over used in a very punishing position. He was going to get hurt either way. However is a velociraptor suddenly appears wearing a Raiders jersey and ninja kicks Hillis into half of the Browns starters then I will say the Madden Curse took effect. Okay I mean really he just has to sit for more than two games but come on, admit it, the VelociRaider just sounds kinda awesome.

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Rating: 3.0/5 (2 votes cast)

In a move that sparks both confusion and irritation Madden NFL 12 is letting gamers around the world select players in five categories that they wish to give a perfect rating to. The biggest question this raises is “What the fuck are you thinking?” This is followed in close second by “No seriously, you know this is about to jack up multiplayer games right? What are you thinking?”

I’m not saying the players they’ve selected are bad. I don’t think anyone will deny how good these players are. They are the best of the best and ordinarily they are difficult to stop. However what EA is trying to do here is let players vote on who they want to receive a Perfect Score. I’m only going to say this once, there is no perfect player. You know what, screw that I’m saying it again. There is NO perfect NFL player. This is feels like they should also look into adding HGH into next years MLB: The Show.

Madden NFL 12 Peyton Hillis

What will a perfect 100 from James Harrison do to Peyton Hillis' run ability?

What makes athletes amazing is that they aren’t perfect. They have bad moments, bad periods, bad games, or even bad streaks. But what makes them exceptional is their ability to recover, come back, and steal the show. This is why makes sports so exciting.

However to the corollary this does not mean that the Madden NFL 12 versions of the players will be unstoppable.  During online play they will still be controlled by a human who can still make mistakes. But this does have potential to make for a rather lopsided game.

This also does not mean that if Tom Brady were to win that the Madden NFL 12 Brady will automatically complete every pass attempt. It just means he’ll complete more of the ones that a normal quarterback shouldn’t. While he is still among the NFL elite he is also far from perfect.

This also does not mean that every aspect of the player will elevated to super human levels. It’s just the one aspect of their statistical breakdown. So while Tom Brady may have a 100 throw accuracy he could still have low ranking for his ability to break free of a defender.

I think that what ultimately rubs me the wrong was about the Madden NFL 12 player voting  is EA’s willingness  to say “We plan on transcending any hope of realism and we’re turning the game into a popularity contest. Who do you like best? We’ll make something about him perfect. He’ll glow and shoot ice cream and hot dogs from his eyes.” Ratings that should be based on real performance and skill are now (for 5 players) going to be  based on if people like them more than someone else.

The voting schedule and candidates are listed below.

Aug. 22
Throw Accuracy
Aug. 23
Aug. 24
Hit Power
Aug. 25
Spectacular Catch
Aug. 26
Tom Brady Jamaal Charles Ray Lewis Braylon Edwards Chris Johnson
Peyton Manning Adrian Peterson James Harrison Brandon Lloyd DeSean Jackson
Drew Brees Danny Woodhead Patrick Willis Larry Fitzgerald Jamaal Charles
Aaron Rodgers LeSean McCoy Rey Maualuga Calvin Johnson Devin Hester
Philip Rivers Ray Rice Clay Matthews Dez Bryant Jacoby Ford


Feel free to start voting on Monday, August 22nd for the Madden 100. I plan on abstaining on principle.

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Peyton Hillis Madden 2012

Maybe it's the fanboy in me but this gives me chills.

With the season of Madden 2012 almost upon us we are once more beginning to hear the pangs of gamers who find sports video games to be reviling and detestable. But why is this? Is it because they simply aren’t sports fans? Not usually. Just because a person doesn’t eat sleep and breathe football doesn’t mean they don’t like it, it just means that they may have other things to do with their lives. Let’s be honest, there are sports fans and then there are superfans. While we’re not saying you have to be a superfan to enjoy a sports game, you just have to be able to appreciate it.

I’m sure there are many many arguments against sports games and I’m not saying that the five below are the only ones or even the best ones. They are just the ones I hear come up time and time again.

There’s no story

This is an argument that is passe and way past it’s prime. Not to pull an ad hominem argument up to the table but I think back to games like Doom and remember a story that was quite poor by today’s standards. Look at games like Duke Nukem Forever and you see that becomes painfully obvious that stories of older games that gamers love and swear by have very poor story telling.

Then there are games like Tony Hawk Underground, which is a sports game. This was a sports game that put you in control of a character of your own making as you try to acquire sponsorships, compete in shows, and ultimately get set up by your oldest friend for profit. It had a story full of excitement, betrayal, redemption, and ultimate victory.

Madden 2012 breakout

This is a GREAT moment in gaming!

But what they do have is drama. They appeal to the aggro tendencies that arise in competition. Your palms begin to sweat when the game comes down to the wire and you’re charging down the field trying desperately to get into the end zone. You’re using everything you can to keep the clock from ticking away too much and keeping a cool exterior while on the inside you’re bargaining with whatever deity you believe in. Then as the clock ticks down the 3 seconds you snap the ball and throw a 20 yard pass to a receiver who caught a defensive back napping and cut inside towards daylight. He catches it and runs to the end zone with only one man between him and glory. A quick spin move later and you’re celebrating victory.

There’s no skill needed

Tim Tebow Madden 2012

This is the moment where you either succeed or you fail.

Anyone who has ever created an unstoppable offensive scheme in a game of Madden knows that there is a serious amount of skill and knowledge involved in being able to read a defense and call a solidly laid out audible on the fly. Anyone who has been skunked 53 to 0 with a team that was inferior understands that sometimes you are just woefully outclassed by an opponent.

Conversely if anyone can please explain to me the skill of God of War then I would be willing to listen to the argument. The closest thing to skill needed is during the numerous QTEs other than that is slamming down on a button while Kratos does all the work. I’m not saying that God of War isn’t a good game, I’m just saying that it’s not something I would brag about being good at.

Come to think about it, sports games can help foster and grow skills like no other video game can. I have never played and RPG or FPS and felt that I have in any way grown knowledge or understanding of the subject matter. I spent HOURS catching, breeding, and racing chocobos however I would never once say I have a better understanding of Ornithology.

However after seeing various offensive and defensive schemes played out throughout my adolescence on the fields of Madden I have learned the difference between a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense, why you run a screen, and the ultimate futility of a Wildcat formation against a skilled and prepared defense.

Not realistic

The closest thing to realism in video games was the start of Heavy Rain where you controlled the main character as they brushed their teeth. That was a very realistic moment in a video game. Watching Lightning leap 15 feet in the air as she slices through an 8 foot autonomous metal robot with a sword that transforms into a gun was not. Link playing a song on an ocarina that changes the very weather patterns while a talking owl helps to guide him was not. Gamers don’t want realism. Realism is boring. If we liked our realities we wouldn’t escape into our video games. This is why we don’t see games like “Weekly Yard Mowing 2011” released in may and “Shovel that Snow 2 – Clear the Sidewalk”.

But when the biggest complaint about a game is how quickly you can run up the score I implore any of you to join me some Sunday this Fall and Winter as I watch my beloved Cleveland Browns. This is a team I have cheered for since my grandfather held me on his knee as a toddler and explained to me why Brian Sipe was outstanding. We are a team not known to be an offensive or defensive powerhouse. I have sat and watched my Christmas besmirched by a 41 – 0 decimation.

They are boring

Madden 2012 Demo

There is catharsis in delivering a punishing hit

If you are bored by the concept of playing basketball then why are you even trying to play a game about it? I don’t like farming so to me the concept of playing Farmville is right out. But that’s not saying that it is unequivocally boring. That’s just me saying it’s not my thing. But this is an argument based purely on opinion and is fundamentally invalid.

Sports video games appeal to a certain demographic. Fans of that sport. If you don’t understand the sport or don’t like it then you won’t find enjoyment in it. Even if you enjoy it you have to enjoy the sport for the sport itself and not for the environment around it. My wife is a football fan. But she is more enamored with going to the stadium on a blustery autumn Sunday. Getting caught up in the emotion of the crowd. Being part of the moment. However what she is not interested in is the fundamentals of the competition that takes place on the field. She enjoys football mostly for the atmosphere that it creates. She is not the target of a sports video game.

I however am. I get caught up in the rivalries and the emotion of the players. I get taken in by the play calling and the strategy in a large brutal game of modern day gladiatorial chess. I revel in the highs or a perfectly executed screen and curse dejectedly when a defender blows an assignment and gets burned outside.

I’ve never played one and thought “This is better than watching the real thing”

Again, I’m a Browns fan. Some seasons Madden is the only hope I have. Three years ago we were down to our fifth string quarterback. Do you know how many teams have a fifth string quarterback? None. There’s a reason. There was a season that watching my beloved hometown heroes was a brutal undertaking that was filled with cursing and shame. Shame you couldn’t wash off no matter how much you scrubbed. This was an entire season that was typified by the statement “Well at least I have Madden.”

Have you ever tried to watch golf? I am NOT a fan of watching golf. You may be, but I would much rather throw in a copy of Tiger Woods and play TPC Sawgrass than watch someone else do it with a calm monotonous drone of the announcer being the only thing you hear above the steady whisper of the onlooking crowd who, just moments ago, were told to be quiet.

Sports games are not for everyone. But to belittle and bemoan them is to point out your own lack of understanding of them.  So next time someone starts to talk how excited they are for the release of Madden 2012 say “I play RPGs,” and remember that they may feel the very same way about Final Fantasy.

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I’m just going to warn you off the bat that talking sport is like talking politics or religion. There is a good chance that you will not agree with what is below. It is biased and written from a place of absolute love for Peyton Hillis. When I watched the results of the Madden 2012 cover come out I kept seeing people exclaim: “Who is Peyton Hillis?” and “Hillis doesn’t deserve to be on the cover of Madden” and some even declared “Well I won’t be buying it because Vick got screwed over”. To them I say maybe you should have paid closer attention last season.

Peyton Hillis Madden 2012 Potential Cover

"I assume Peyton Hillis' sleeves are custom made." ~ Scott - Waiting For Next Year

Some people know it, some people don’t: Peyton Hillis is a beast. Polish the Console is based in Cleveland and quite frankly I am 100% biased. I am a Browns fan and I have been since I watched my first game with my grandfather back in ’83. I have seen highs, I have seen many lows, and I have yet to see a championship. Ever. In any sport. In the 2011 preseason Cleveland got their our glimpse of what we got when we traded Brady Quinn to Denver. I can still remember the first night I saw him play in the preseason.

My wife was next to me and we were sitting 8 rows up in the Dawg Pound (The East End Zone) in a pouring rain that left nobody dry no matter how many rain coats you had on. It was the sort of game you expect to see sloppy football and no good grip could be had by hands or feet. The rain was so strong I had a difficult time keeping my eyes open through it. My wife could no longer wear her flip flops because they absolutely refused to grip her foot. Then through the driving rain we see it barreling towards us: number 40. A man who could single handedly make any offensive coordinator look like a damn genius. From that point on he earned the love of every Cleveland Browns fan in the nation. Over the course of the season we learned something that people in Denver knew all along: Peyton Hillis was an unstoppable force. This is a bit of what Denver saw from him. Not my video I do not take credit for the music:

While, yes, Peyton Hillis was not the best running back in the NFL he was certainly one of the more punishing. I could throw individual game stats and figures at you but with 16 games 270 carries 1,177 yards for an average of 4.4 yards per carry he is hands down not the number 1 running back in the league last season and far from the best player. Then again neither was the other finalist, Vick. But this year’s Madden cover wasn’t about stats or MVPs. This years Madden cover was all about the fans. You can’t deny the power of the fans. Yes some people may have feared “The Madden Curse” and picked against their own team’s player or voted against Vick on principle, apparently he has a shady past. Some people may have voted against him because they didn’t know who was, and that’s fine. Simple fact is 66% of the people voted for him in the finals.

Peyton Hillis Leaping over defender

Couldn't go around it, so we went over it!

But when we break down some of this years innovations released by EA we begin to see why Hillis is in fact a solid fit. For me the visualizations are icing on the cake. Some of these include:

  • Broadcast Redefined: Experience NFL Sundays like never before with completely overhauled presentation, including 32 team-specific run outs featuring mascots and cheerleaders, over 500 dynamic broadcast cameras authentic to every NFL stadium, innovative “real” on-field cameras shot by expert NFL Films cameramen, and a network inspired new broadcast graphics package.
  • Unprecedented On-Field Authenticity: Hundreds of visual improvements across all areas of the game including: new player equipment, helmet stickers, pylon and ball physics, a player degradation system that affects uniforms and helmets based on weather and field surface, 3D grass, and new player specific animations that showcase the personalities of each NFL player.

What really matters is how the game plays. On Sunday you always see someone break a sick tackle and go big. This is something that Madden has been working towards but has never been quite there. This season they continue making strides towards this while maintaining and even expanding on the speed and flow that they introduced last season:

  • All-New Collision System: Now maintain full control of players up to the point of impact — from tackling to blocking — providing the most authentic collisions in franchise history. This new system uses a player’s momentum and over 100 new tackle animations, including 40 gang tackles, to provide more impactful hits, stolen tackles, and consecutive hit tackling.
  • Advanced Defensive AI: Over 100 defensive A.I. enhancements resulting in the smartest Madden defense ever. Players in zone and man coverage will properly recognize and react to plays, including the ability to break out of assignments when appropriate, resulting in a defensive team that truly works together.
  • Custom Playbooks: The #1 most requested feature by fans in recent years, allows you to build the ultimate game plan by modifying an existing playbook or creating your own by selecting up to 400 offensive or defensive plays from 75 different playbooks. Integrate your custom playbook into a game plan for use with the improved GameFlow system, which executes an authentic, situational game plan for you.

It’s this “All-New Collision System” that makes Peyton Hillis a perfect man to have at the helm. For those that didn’t witness last season’s Cleveland Browns here’s a small taste of what gave us our indomitable hope:

He embodies the new collision system. On the field he is a super dense mass of pure momentum. His entire play style is derived from “I’m gonna go through it. If I can’t go through it then I’m gonna go over it. If neither of those work then when I go down it’s going to contain a lot of forward progress and end in an earth shattering thud.”

Peyton Hillis Madden 2012 Cover

None of you want that running at you in an open field

Peyton Hillis is like the Kool-Aid man in an orange helmet. He is one of few people in the world who could legally change his middle name to “Muthafukin” and actually pull it off. I was thinking about getting a Peyton Hillis tattoo mid season last season but I came to the realization that it would see I’m not man enough for it and reject my body by leaving to start a more manly life of its own.

He single handedly delivered “sports hope” to an entire beleaguered city. It’s no mystery how we feel about our sports. Cleveland fans are a special breed where we will suffer through endless steams of losing seasons in all major sports just for that one glimmer of hope to carry us through. Each time Peyton Hillis broke through a defenses we saw our dreams break through one more layer of our 40+ year history of missed chances. He’s a bight shining ray of hope for the fans who need it most. That is precisely why he is on the cover of Madden.

Madden is never about that player on the cover. It’s all about the fans. I thought they hit on this last season when the New Orleans fans were in the background. This was the first instance we have ever seen the fans featured prominently on any Madden cover.  The fans make it all possible and the fans are what keeps it going. Peyton has already come out and said “This is not about me.” When asked about being on the cover:

“Well, it’s huge,” Hillis said. “They really haven’t had a winner in a while, ever since they left to go to Baltimore. In my mind, this is not about myself, this is not about me, this is about what can I give back to the team and community and hopefully that’s a winner.”

What you see is not a man driven by money or fame. It’s a man who simply enjoys stepping out onto a football field and wants to play and play hard. He’s a man who has a deep love for the game. He’s a man that genuinely cares about competition. Peyton Hillis is a guy that can get things done. I wonder what makes him tic? I wonder if he’d be interested in knowing what makes me tic? In my eyes Peyton Hillis is a fantastic fan picked choice for Madden 2012 and I for one want to say thank you to everyone who voted, no matter who you voted for.

You may now disagree with me below.

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