Flaws spoil fun of realistic ‘Madden NFL 12’

Dear “Madden NFL 12,” let’s start with the positives.

You’re a realistic football game, as usual. I mean, if I glanced up to see “Madden” on a TV in a gym, I’d probably think it was a real football game at first.

The team introductions are terrific, with bouncing cheerleaders at the start of each game, when players jump around and clap while fireworks go off.

As for actually playing the game, it’s mainly fun. But not great. I’ve seen better in previous years, “Madden.” Why can’t you be more like your brother, “NCAA Football 12”?

You know what’s weird, “Madden”? Most of your football is good stuff. The running is supreme. The passing is difficult but I “caught on” (ha ha). Playing defense is sweet.

Here are your problems.

1. The game doesn’t auto-save my progress. I played most of one season, then forgot to go through the dumb manual “save” process, and lost a day of gaming.

“Madden”! You did this to me a few years ago, and I never forgave you. Why did you get rid of auto-save again? I’m so angry right now.

2. The game doesn’t learn enough. “Madden NFL 12,” you let me run the same winning play time after time without shutting me down.

Against Jacksonville, I ran the same offensive play for all four quarters — drawing the running back straight up the middle while I had four receivers on the wings.

That play never failed.

In that game, my running back broke the NFL record, carrying 38 times for 365 yards and seven TDs — during five-minute quarters!

In that same game, I ran just one defensive play back-to-back for all four quarters (“Quarter-Normal, 2 Man Under Spy”), and I held Jacksonville to 86 yards and three first downs.

I won that game 49-3. Using that same setup, I beat Houston 28-3.

That’s boring.

3. Replay videos that pop up automatically have a bit of a stutter. The camera freezes ever-so-briefly, taking my head out of the game.

4. A few times, I pressed the timeout button near the end of a half and it didn’t register. This caused me to lose a touchdown and a field goal on separate drives.

5. Announcers aren’t synced well. One time, I fumbled, and the other team ran the ball 30 yards for a touchdown. When the other team was celebrating its TD, the announcers were saying my running back still had the ball.

“Madden” — I can try not to exploit your inability to adjust to my best plays. I can learn to mash the timeout button like a madman. And who cares about replay videos and announcers?

But why must you add a despicable feature such as “anti-auto-save” back into a video game? What do you think this is, 1992?

I also hate the music in the background. All that terrible rap and rock. I’m not against rap or rock. You just picked awful songs.

(“Madden NFL 12” by EA retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP and PS 2 — Plays fun though flawed. Looks great. Challenging. Rated “E.” Three and one-half stars out of four.)

Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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