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. Dorky, but touch.
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.
Top Ten New Games
Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games, according to GameStop.com. Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2.
1. "Madden NFL 12" (EA) for Xbox 360; also will be available for PS 3, Wii, PS 2, PSP; rated "E"
2. "Madden NFL 12" for PS 3
3. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" (Activision) pre-order for Nov. 8 release for Xbox 360; will also be available for PS 3 and PC; rating pending
4. "Dead Island" (Square Enix) pre-order for Sept. 6 release for PS 3, Xbox 360; will also be available for PC; rated "M" (blood, gore, drug reference, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language, use of alcohol)
5. "Battlefield 3: Limited Edition" (EA) pre-order for Oct. 25 release for Xbox 360; will also be available for PS 3, PC; rating pending
6. "Gears of War 3" (Microsoft) pre-order for Sept. 20 release for Xbox 360; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, strong language)
7. "Star Wars: The Old Republic Online Collector's Edition" (EA) pre-order for holiday release for PC; rating pending
8. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" pre-order for PS 3
9. "Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary" (Microsoft) pre-order for Nov. 15 release for Xbox 360; rating pending
10. "Assassin's Creed Revelations: Signature Edition" (Ubisoft) pre-order for Nov. 15 release for Xbox 360; will also be available for PS 3, PC; rating pending
(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")
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 set-up, I beat Houston 28-3.
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 time-out 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 time-out button like a madman. And who cares about replay videos and announcers?
But why must you add a despicable feature like "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.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.