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Madden's latest foray 

Get hands on with the latest expansion-pack 'new' game in the lumbering sports juggernaut

I have a bad feeling about this.

“Hey Jeremy, where’s the wave off button?”

Silence. The ball starts its descent while a defender the size of a small moon is hurtling toward my kick returner.

“Jeremy? Wave off??”

- ALMOST HAD TO TURN IN MY GEEK CARD ON THIS ONE:  Reader Meg Stinnett pointed out that in last week’s “Good Times at Good Games” column, I forgot to mention Team Fortress 2 in the list of games available. Considering the original TF was one of the first online games I played regularly (over dialup, no less!), I deserve to be head shot from across the map by a foul-mouthed 8-year-old. To the legions of RED and BLU players out there: mea culpa. -
  • ALMOST HAD TO TURN IN MY GEEK CARD ON THIS ONE: Reader Meg Stinnett pointed out that in last week’s “Good Times at Good Games” column, I forgot to mention Team Fortress 2 in the list of games available. Considering the original TF was one of the first online games I played regularly (over dialup, no less!), I deserve to be head shot from across the map by a foul-mouthed 8-year-old. To the legions of RED and BLU players out there: mea culpa.

Ball and defender are going to arrive about a heartbeat apart. I start mashing buttons frantically.*

“Dude?”

I steal a look over. He’s got a beatific smile on his face. It’s still there as his defender slams into my kick returner. It turns into a grin as the ball goes flying. It ends in a war-whoop of glee as he recovers the ball in the endzone.

Madden 12 brings people closer together. The latest entry in the series has pulled out the stops on the eye candy. Everything from a sun that moves through the sky to the player expressions and animations—even the shaky-cam opener for each game that evokes the start of a real-life NFL match—all are tarted up and easy on the eyes.

Couch coaches will enjoy the new features in Franchise mode. The scouting and free agent additions are nice, albeit in need of some polishing. And while Franchise mode is the RPG for sports guys who will never admit to liking RPGs, it’s missing one key element: There’s no union negotiation and player lockout mode.**

Gameplay itself is a blast, but certain annoyances raise their head: Defenders seem to grow go-go gadget arms when blocking passes sometimes, and there are some truly spectacular physics bugs.

These are minor complaints though, except for one: Game companies, Y U NO MAKE LOCAL CO-OP FOR ONLINE???

You can play head to head locally, you can play head to head (with someone else) online, and you can play co-op online (with someone else), but two players sitting at the same console can’t go online together. Not that we don’t like going head to head, and even getting multiple people around the same screen for some head to head fun is a blast. But is it so much to ask for us to be able to go online together? One guy blocking while the other runs the ball? Or running a corner route while your buddy scrambles as the QB?

Is it a deal breaker? No. Is it stupid? Yes. /End rant.

Is Madden 12 worth it? If you own last year’s version, nah. The lack of any new game modes makes this feel like an expansion rather than a whole new game worthy of your $60. But if you’re looking to get into the game for the first time, it’s worth picking up.

* Button mashing?! There’s no button mashing in football! This ain’t Tekken, son.

** Too soon?

Contact Contributor Nicholas Walter via Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach at aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com.

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