(CBS) - It's that time of year again: football season! Fans of the pigskin are lining up, but not just for tickets. They're dying to get their hands on Madden NFL 12.
The core action has seen slight improvements, making it incrementally better than last year's offering, and presentation tweaks do a better job of mimicking Sunday's biggest games.
The AI of Madden has changed. Simply put, the gameplay is smarter. Players will feel like they're actually running the yards, throwing the passes and returning the punts.
Player traits have been drastically improved and their tendencies really shine. For example, playing with Tom Brady will look completely different than playing with Drew Brees. The habits, the size and speed is evident in the game's running backs as well.
As for the passing game, one of the nagging issues I have had with the franchise was leaping linebackers knocking passes of away or snatching the ball out of the air. It is sometimes difficult to get passes with the proper velocity or "touch" to keep the defender from knocking it away. Play-action is still a weak offensive strategy of the game. The play fakes take to long to execute. There isn't enough time in most cases to make any down field reads when you know your QB is about to get smashed while turning into defenders from the backside.
Perhaps the most improved aspect of the game is the overall presentation and sharp graphics. There are now blimp shots of the game and authentic team entrances. Although I am a Pittsburgh fan, I have never seen the Green Bay Packers run out onto the field in Lambeau.
Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth are great commentators for the game, but one drawback is the commentary often runs behind the action that is taking place.
Overall, I would say that Madden 12 lives up to the hype. The new features to the game will definitely please the hardcore fans, but will also satisfy novice gamers new to the franchise.
"Madden NFL 12" is available now for Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3. It is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB.