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.
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.
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.
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.