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Who says the lockout is going to affect the most popular video game on the planet? Although I’m a NBA 2K fan more than the NFL’s premier game (and a NCAA guy before that), I’ll still admit that there are a fair number of people who frequent our little hub of the web who are Madden heads and can’t sleep the day before Madden drops.

This year? EA promises new features (listed below):

• ”Surprise Onside Kick“: Players can now attempt to catch their opponents off-guard with an onside kick from a standard kickoff formation.
• ”Tuner Sets“: A feature implemented previously in other EA Sports titles such as NCAA Football 11, Madden NFL 12 now supports downloadable tuner sets, which allow the developers to make adjustments to significant portions of the gameplay code without the need for an approved and official patch to be distributed by console manufacturers.
• To support awareness for concussions, players who have a concussion will no longer be allowed to return to the game.
• All-New Collision System: Now maintain full control of players up to the point of impact – from tackling to blocking – providing the most authentic collisions in franchise history. This new system uses a player’s momentum and over 100 new tackle animations, including 40 gang tackles, to provide more impactful hits, stolen tackles, and consecutive hit tackling.
• Advanced Defensive AI: Over 100 defensive A.I. enhancements resulting in the smartest Madden defense ever. Players in zone and man coverage will properly recognize and react to plays, including the ability to break out of assignments when appropriate, resulting in a defensive team that truly works together.
• Custom Playbooks: The #1 most requested feature by fans in recent years, allows you to build the ultimate game plan by modifying an existing playbook or creating your own by selecting up to 400 offensive or defensive plays from 75 different playbooks. Integrate your custom playbook into a game plan for use with the improved GameFlow system, which executes an authentic, situational game plan for you.
• Broadcast Redefined: Experience NFL Sundays like never before with completely overhauled presentation, including 32 team-specific run outs featuring mascots and cheerleaders, over 500 dynamic broadcast cameras authentic to every NFL stadium, innovative “real” on-field cameras shot by expert NFL Films cameramen, and a network inspired new broadcast graphics package.
• Unprecedented On-Field Authenticity: Hundreds of visual improvements across all areas of the game including: new player equipment, helmet stickers, pylon and ball physics, a player degradation system that affects uniforms and helmets based on weather and field surface, 3D grass, and new player specific animations that showcase the personalities of each NFL player.

Do I believe that all of that will be in the game? Not really, the only Madden that truly felt different than the others was Madden 05 and that was because defense was hard as hell to go up against. We’ll see who has their sticks handy come August 30th.