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Sports Showdown: Madden, FIFA, PES, NHL and NBA 2K

Monday, 5 September 2011 07:10 GMT By Brenna Hillier

This autumn boasts the usual line up of stellar releases for sports fans. Here’s what you need to know about the biggest hitters in the war for your dollar.

Madden NFL 12
Since EA Sports nabbed the exclusive NFL deal (along with college football license NCAA), Madden has been the go-to series for American football fans. The series has a massive international fan base extending far beyond the territories which play host to professional-level play, dating right back to a 1988 Apple II offering based on a physics engine built by none other than Bethesda, one of the earliest attempts at a realistic simulation of sports physics.

The annual franchise has kept a tight lockdown on its successful gameplay formula, adding visual polish and increased management features but rarely meddling with the heart of play. Each year, EA Sports holds a Superbowl simulation, drawing on its substantial database of official statistics and data to run a full NFL season and predict the winner; it’s been correct six out of right times, suggesting that whatever simulation tech EA Tiburon have under the hood is well up to the task.

Madden NFL 12 came under threat when a player strike suggested it might have to ship with false names and player data, a serious blow for a series keen on realism, but union action resolved just in time for the game’s release on August 30 – only two weeks later than predicted. While the game’s launch has been troubled by online server issues, we’re expecting these to be resolved within a week or two.

Madden NFL 12 is available on PC, PlayStation 3, PS2, Wii and Xbox 360, with Android, iOS and Windows 7 mobile tie-ins available in addition to 3DS and PSP versions. A demo is available.

NHL 12
The next cab off the EA Sports rank is another North American favourite, with a smaller but no less rabid overseas fanbase – NHL 12. EA has produced annual hockey games for close to 20 years, with strong performance in the 16-bit years leading to many a fond memory – and later, devotion to the yearly iterations.

Unlike Madden, however, NHL is produced by EA Canada, and the development team is more than willing to fiddle. The latest entry sports over 300 gameplay changes over NHL 11, itself warmly received for throwing out the old and bringing in the new in the form of a strong emphasis on physics – one of the cornerstones of Madden’s success, you’ll note. Some of the new stuff sounds particularly keen – the ability to interrupt simulation matches, for example, and a revamped Be A Pro mode.

NHL 12 offers some interesting features, boasting seven distinct professional leagues rather than emphasising just one major competition, and exploiting music licenses to deliver a soundstrack similar to that heard rink-side – although with less Queen than you get at your local league.

NHL 12 is slated to appear on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 9 in Europe and September 13 in the US. A demo is available now.

FIFA 12
There’s a reason soccer – sorry, Europeans, but the other sort of football mentioned here doesn’t have another name – is called the World Game; there’s barely a country in the world without a team or two knocking about. That’s probably why the beautiful game shoulders two major competing franchises with ease. Another product of the team at EA Canada, EA Sports has invested heavily in the series over the last few years, bringing it neck and neck with its rival.

Although this might sound a bit silly to those who haven’t caught the bug, FIFA 12 is causing a little bit of controversy because it’s abandoned a vertical menu system in favour of side-scrolling option bars. This looks a little more friendly to new players, but is raising ire among those who spend literal hours tweaking their teams and strategies, aiming for that final cup with astounding precision.

But more excitingly, FIFA 12 finally debuts EA’s Impact Engine, a bit of schmick tech the team has been beavering away on for years. The new physics at its core provides more dynamic play, using real-time info to calculate momentum, trajectories and rebounds – you won’t be so easily able to predict where the ball – or players – will land after a collision. Throw in overhauls to dribbling and defence, and you have a whole new bag of tricks to master.

FIFA 12 launches on PC, PlayStation 3, PS2, Wii and Xbox 360 on September 27 in the US and September 30 in Europe, alongside spin-off Android and iOS versions, a 3DS and PSP release, and a planned Vita release. A demo is expected on September 13.

PES 2012
Konami’s soccer series never stands still, but PES 2011 hit the nail so neatly on the head that the team have reigned in their enthusiasm for overhauls this year, choosing instead to work over the intricacies of AI. Not only are your opponents set to be slightly more clever than you’ve grown comfortable with, the referees have mustered what little brain they have to play up the advantage rule – for and against the player. Nuts.

Watch a game of PES 12 closely and you’ll probably be impressed by the animations, which are fluid and realistic – as they should be, since they’re all motion captured. Although Konami considered calling professional players in to the studio, in the end it drew on its sizeable pool of in-house talent – the whole PES development team are keen supporters and players – to endure the rigours of multiple takes.

PES 2012 boasts 30 beautifully rendered stadiums, and for those of us not proficient with the old footer, a range of options for controlling your wayward team members. This didn’t help Pat much, but I’m not sure he knows how to switch it on.

PES 2012 releases on PC, PlayStation 3, PS2, Wii and Xbox 360 on September 27, alongside 3DS and PSP versions. A demo is available now.

NBA 2K12
Trailing behind the early-autumn pack, NBA 2K12 is the most under-the-radar of this quarter’s big sports titles. 2K has kept the new game largely under wraps until quite recently, with previews beginning to trickle out in the last few weeks. Then again, does it need to ride the hype train? With EA’s NBA Elite taking a year off, 2K has the court to itself – not to mention a large and devoted player base.

Don’t think 2K won’t deliver just as much polish as ever, though; there’s a very good reason EA felt it couldn’t compete this year. 2K Sports throws serious resources at its flagship series. Last year’s offering was hailed as one of, if not the, best basketball games of all time, warmly praised for its realism and accessibility, as wel as the challenge offered in its extra modes.

This year, 2K is drawing fully on its official license to throw up an intriguing-sounding NBA’s Greatest mode. Featuring 15 of the association’s greatest athletes, this mode lets players recreate some of the most vivid moments of NBA’s history by taking part in classic matches. The amount of work thrown into the recreation of stadiums and players of yesteryear is astounding.

NBA 2K12 is expected on PC, PlayStation 3, PS2, Wii and Xbox 360 on October 4, alongside 3DS and PSP versions.

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9 Comments

  1. DiodeX

    Madden, on the PC doubt it!

    Best version this generation of Madden, servers haven’t plagued me(yet)
    Actually feels more like US Football than ever before.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. DSB

    Same procedure as last year, miss Sophie?

    Same procedure as every year, James!

    @1 I wouldn’t be surprised to see them ported to PC. EA wants to push Origin, and they can make sure it won’t be on Steam.

    Also, they’ve been bleeding customers from every game except FIFA the last few years. The PC income might make up for what they lose.

    People are getting fed up with playing the same game with slight patches and paying 50 bucks for it. And apparently EA Tiburon are getting tired of doing it to them.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. DiodeX

    I know what you’re saying, but it is less broken and more playable than almost ever.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. DSB

    I lost interest in Madden years ago. They pretty much did everything they could to take the fun out of it, and then they tried to cut their losses with ingame advertising once people started running away.

    I mean, fair enough if they’re somehow putting in effort these days, but I’m a lot more interested in whatever Row Sham Bow come up with, so at this point they’re gonna have to win me over with something amazing to get me back in the fold.

    Even if the newest one is an improvement, that’s not really saying alot. There are always little improvements, what they need to do is make it worth the money. I reckon I’d be more likely to pick up NCAA Football though. The 49′ers are playing games with my heart. Crimson Tide would never do that.

    Don’t even get me started on Fight Night…. Round 3 is one of the finest boxing games of all time, and they completely massacred it for 4 and seemingly Champions as well.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. DiodeX

    I have NCAA on the PS3, had to import the blighter though! gameplay, I think that NCAA is more hardcore, but at least Madden is using the same engine.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. DSB

    Hardcore in what way?

    I really hope they manage to accomodate the different playing styles. The NCAA gets pretty fucking crazy, running quarterbacks and all that.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. DiodeX

    Madden does seem on the same/equivalent difficulty slightly more forgiving.
    I find passing a bit tricky in NCAA but Madden its not so hard.
    But I suppose its all relative, when you play a 1* team with your 5* in a Dynasty its really easy.
    Crazy playbooks for sure, loads of fun.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. OlderGamer

    I love NCAA12 myself. I won’t buy Madden anymore.

    Madden is limiting and boring compared to NCAA. I love to run the trip option. I also enjoy the coaching carosel, the custom playbooks, picking from 119 teams, the fact that you get a new players every season. For a lot of reasons, I like NCAA12 much more then Madden.

    But I hate EA either way. And prolly less EA then this gen of games. I hate DLC. This years NCAA cost me over 90usd day one. 60 for the game, 25 for DLC, and of course with tax, that 90usd. And now EA takes sport servers down after 18months, so if my friends and I want to skip next years game, we can’t. Going to cost us another 90usd(or more) to keep doing what we are doing now.

    That stinks.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. DSB

    They really are merciless these days.

    #9 4 years ago

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    Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster hits PS4 in May. The PS4 release date for Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster is May 12 in North America and May 15 in Europe. Gematsu reports a special pre-order bonus calendar with art by Yoshitaka Amano is available through the Square Enix Store and participating retailers. In Europe, pre-ordering […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare getting 15 new Prestige levels

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare players can now aspire to the ranks of Grand Master Prestige. Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games will add 15 more Prestige levels to the latest Call of Duty, giving players at max XP a chance to grow even further. According to the Sledgehammer Games blog, when you enter Master level […]

  • Destiny: Crota’s End recreated in Minecraft

    Destiny’s toughest challenge gets even nastier if you throw Creepers into the mix. The ultimate Destiny challenge – for now – is the Crota’s End raid. Taking place in an alternate dimension accessed through the Hellmouth on the Moon, the Raid takes Guardians through a pit of darkness to the resting place of Crota himself. […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3D trailer introduces the Heir to the Monado

    Xenoblade Chronicles 3D protagonist Shulk is the Heir to the Monado, his distinctive red sword. Let this trailer fill you in on what that means. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D releases for New 3DS on April 2 in Europe and April 10 in North America. As well as all the content of the Wii original, it has […]

  • The Elder Scrolls: Total War mod covers Morrowind, Oblivion and more

    The Elder Scrolls: Total War is a terrific mod allowing you get get intimately involved with the history of Bethesda’s detailed fantasy universe. The first release of The Elder Scrolls: Total War dropped on the weekend, giving players their first chance to try out LoRdNazgu1‘s creation. This version runs from 3E 427 to 4E 45, […]

  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 out now on Steam

    Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is out now. Yes, we’re surprised too. You can grab Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 on Steam for $8. Developer Scott Cawthon really doesn’t mess about; the game was only announced in early January. Here’s the blurb: Thirty years after Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza closed it’s doors, the events that took […]

  • EVE Online heister makes off with $13,000 worth of goods

    EVE Online is a hotbed of villainy, espionage and backstabbing, but one intrepid corporate thief has made waves even in this setting. The thing about EVE Online is that it’s a true sandbox: the game’s rules are very loose, and allow players to make careers out of theft, piracy, assassination and espionage in addition to […]

  • Marth Amiibo getting a stock refresh in North America

    Nintendo of America has announced a fresh supply of the difficult to find Marth Amiibo. The Marth Amiibo will be back in stock in the US in late April, the platform holder said on Twitter today. Planning to pick up Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. and don’t have a Marth amiibo? More are headed to stores in […]

  • Skyrim beta update upgrades creation kit file size

    Skyrim has been granted a new beta update – more than three years after launch! – to improve the experience for modders and those who use them. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released in November 2011. I think that’s worth noting before we discuss the beta update that dropped today, even as Bethesda is working […]

  • Paradox’s next epic RPG is, uh, Knights of Pen & Paper 2

    Knights of Pen & Paper 2 is very serious business so please enjoy this very serious trailer. “Return to the dicey world of Knights of Pen & Paper for a new turn-based adventure, where players get to take on the role of players, and also of the game’s encounter-designing, rules-laywering GM in a fully customizable […]

  • Amplitude looks amazing in new gameplay trailer, has a team multiplayer mode

    Amplitude may have been delayed but we still get something this March: a fine new gameplay trailer. Amplitude is coming to PlayStation 3 and PS4 sometime in northern summer. It’s a reprisal of Harmonix’s classic rhythm action game, a forerunner to its later efforts with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and was crowdfunded. Update: Turns […]

  • DayZ creator’s “crazy”, “esoteric” next game developed with Improbable

    DayZ creator Dean “Rocket” Hall has dropped the first vague details of his new game project. “I do not want to make safe games. I do not want to make games the way we have been making them. What if the most experienced video game staff in the world collaborated on the most esoteric and […]

  • Battlefield Hardline will support AMD’s Mantle

    AMD has confirmed what most Battlefield fans thought. Battlefield Hardline will indeed support Mantle. Battlefield Hardline will support Mantle, AMD has confirmed. Some players weren’t sure whether the retail version of the game will support AMD’s API, due to its absence from the recent PC beta. AMD did not say whether the feature will be […]

  • Unreal Engine 4 GDC 2015 sizzle reel shows what the tech can do

    Unreal Engine 4 is a pretty versatile bit of tech, as this new sizzle reel shows. As one of the more ubiquitous engines, Unreal will be on show at GDC this week. Developer Epic produced the following sizzle reel to quickly demonstrate what it can do – cutting edge graphics (there are very few games […]

  • Survarium’s latest patch removes limit on battle ammo, rebalances experience gain

    The latest Survarium patch has readjusted the value of experience and reputation points gained and removed the limit to the maximum amount of ammo you can use in combat. Survarium developer Vostok Games has released patch 0.27a to the public, having recently finished testing it. The patch is a major one and covers changes to […]

  • The Hunt Begins in new Bloodborne TV spot

    Bloodborne is so close you can almost smell its coppery tang on the wind – and also you can watch commercials for it. Bloodborne arrives on PS4 at the end of this month (March 24 North America, March 25 Europe, March 27 UK) so excitement is starting to build. Sony isn’t helping keep us calm […]

  • World of Warcraft: you’ll soon be able to buy game time with gold

    Blizzard will soon allow World of Warcraft players to exchange in-game gold for game time and vice versa. Blizzard has announced a new system that will launch soon for World of Warcraft. The system is called WoW Token. Using this system, players will be able to buy game time using in-game gold. Here’s how it […]

  • 3D Realms’ Bombshell returns with the first gameplay trailer

    Remember 3D Realms’ Bombshell? The isometric ARPG that was announced last year? Well, it’s back, and we get to see gameplay footage. The game stars Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, a bomb technician turned mercenary with a mechanical arm. She will embark on a quest to rescue the president and save Earth, all while shooting aliens. The […]

  • Unreal Engine 4 is now free for everyone to use

    Epic Games has made Unreal Engine 4 available for anyone to download and use, for free. Unreal Engine 4 is now free. Anyone can download it and start using it, the developer announced today in a blog post. The download features the the full set of tools used by Epic, and includes 100% of the […]

  • Call of Duty European Championship winner announced

    The winner of the European round of the Call of Duty Championship has been announced. This past weekend, 28 teams representing UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, the rest of Europe and Middle East attended the final of the European round of the Call of Duty Championship. UK team Epsilon eSports was crowned […]

  • GOG brings back Insomnia sale with discounts up to 90% off

    GOG.com is bringing back its Insomnia sale event with even more games. GOG’s Insomnia sale is back with double the amount of games. This year, there will be two sets of games available at once. The sets are seasoned classics and fresh new titles. Each set will feature games with discounts up to 90% off, […]

  • 2K is shutting down NBA 2K14 online servers, won’t affect career save files

    2K will be shutting down the servers for NBA 2K14 this month. The publisher revealed yesterday that online servers for NBA 2K14 will be turned offline on March 31. “You will no longer be able to play ranked games/online association,” reads the announcement. NBA 2K14 relied on online servers to store save files for MyCareer […]

  • One Dead or Alive tournament organiser is proposing ban of “over-sexualised” costumes

    A Dead or Alive tournament organiser has suggested a soft ban on some of the game’s “over-sexualised” costumes, and not everyone is happy. Tournament organiser “The HuBBs” took to the FreeStepDodge forums to suggest a list of rules that other offline tournaments can follow. The list goes over stages, characters, moves, which is certainly in […]

  • Destiny: all the news from Bungie’s open house Q&A

    Bungie hosted an open house Q&A session with the community last week and lots of exciting news have come out of it. Arekkz Gaming has gathered all the information that came out of Bungie’s open house Q&A in one handy video. The list is massive, going over Exotic weapon balance, upcoming events, PVE, Crucible rewards, […]

  • Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen to honour Nimoy with in-game memorials

    Developers behind space exploration games Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen will honour the memory of Leonard Nimoy through in-game memorials. The develops of both games have confirmed separately that in-game memorials will be established to honour the memory of the late Star Trek actor, Leonard Nimoy, famous for playing Spock. Elite: Dangerous executive producer Michael […]

  • Deal: get a PlayStation 4 + three exclusives for $399

    Amazon’s latest PlayStation 4 deal is not one to miss. With purchase of a PlayStation 4 console from Amazon in the US, the online retailer will throw in digital codes for Infamous Second Son, Killzone Shadow Fall and The Last of Us: Remastered, all for the same MSRP of $399. The Last of Us Remastered […]

  • Destiny: this is how one player predicted House of Wolves details and Xur’s inventory

    The method one Redditor possibly used to leak some details from Destiny’s House of Wolves was the same one he used to predict the inventory of Xur: Agent of the Nine. Last week, Reddit user Megamanexe4 leaked a few pieces of House of Wolves expansion content. The leaks included strikes, new Crucible mode, and a […]

  • Mortal Kombat X is coming to iOS… as a card-battler

    Mortal Kombat X will be releasing on mobile devices in some form, just not the one you except. Mortal Kombat X is coming to Android and iOS devices as an extension of the main game. It will launch in April alongside the console versions. The mobile game will be part card collecting and part fighting […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain announcement coming this Wednesday

    Kojima Productions will unveil something about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain this Wednesday. Metal Gear Solid fans should standby for a Phantom Pain-related announcement on Wednesday, March 4. According to developer Kojima Productions’ Twitter, there’s going to be an announcement at 2pm GMT on Wednesday. The developer posted the following image. The image […]

  • Reader survey: time to let us get to know you better!

    We’d really appreciate it if you could fill in this survey about the websites you read and the games you buy. It massively helps! You can fill out the survey right here and obviously all the information you supply is confidential. It helps us build a better picture of the people who read our site […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Premium: here’s everything you get for $50

    Battlefield Hardline’s Premium membership will give players access to 4 new features, early access to expansion packs and more. EA detailed the offer today – it costs $50 in total (£40 in the UK) and gives players a whole bundle of new gear and content. Check it all out in handy list form below: Masks […]