Take a look at the guy in the cubicle next to you. Does he have bags under his eyes, looking like he's been burning the midnight oil, perhaps had too much to drink last night. Chances are it's just a case of the Madden 12 hangover.

Every year millions of gamers and Football fans can't wait for the release of Madden Football. And this year because of the lockout, the release date was later than usual. The withdrawal symptoms for Madden fans was maddening (excuse the pun).

Now unlike when I was in my 20's and I could forego work , career or sleep and lock myself in my bedroom and play Madden exclusively, these days I don't live with my mother. I have a house and car to pay for and I'm trying to build a nest egg. Madden tends to get in the way of that (I almost failed out of college in 1992 from some classic Madden binges).

I used to consider myself a Madden Pro, but life has stripped me of those talents and now I am down to a game or two a week (damn you life and responsibilities).  So my first run of Madden 12 last night was just one pre-season game in Franchise Mode, but I like the changes so far.

The best part of franchise mode has always been serving as the GM or coach and living vicariously thru the Madden game. It gives every frustrated Bills fan the chance to build the team they wish we had here in Buffalo. The guys at EA sports finally give you the opportunity to cut players from your roster in the preseason. Every week more details are revealed about your young prospects and you have to make some tough decisions about who to keep.

This year's Madden plays much faster than last. Seems like one of the tricks of the developers is to change the speed and motion of the players every year, so you don't feel like you bought the same game as the year before. I usually buy the new game anyway to get the roster and uniform updates anyway (the Bills new uniforms look tight in HD btw). They also changed up some buttons, but most of the play calling remains the same.

The game also has improved free agency with bidding wars for top players and the scouting system for draft picks seems better too. I also like the hot and cold streaks that players can go on that will affect their ratings. They gave it some fancy name, but it's basically the same model the EA NHL franchise used a few years ago. It's fun to get a less than average player putting up big numbers because he's in the groove. Do you hear me Naaman Roosevelt??? You're on the way to Super stardom.

Still don't understand why the guys at EA Sports cheaped out by using Gus Johnson again as the play-by play guy. Johnson, joined by the equally annoying Chris Collinswirth are repetitive and inaccurate at times. Doesn't even compare to the Al Michaels, Pat Summerall days. If it's truly in the game, then they should probably have hired one of the top NFL play-by-play teams to be the voices of the Madden Franchise.

The team rosters and free agents are also way off. Lee Evans, Paul Posluzny, Aaron Maybin and Keith Ellison are still with the Bills, so you'll have to cut them or wait for the roster update if you want to work with the current team. And some noteable players are missing from your team as well.

They have a patch coming thru X-Box Live that will fix it, but I'm not entirely sure I want to drop another $50 on X-Box Live just to get the updates. As usual thier are some big names on the free agent wire who hadn't been signed by the time the game was finished, but picking them up would be cheesy of a good franchise owner. Inaccurate player ratings can sometimes be a problem too. So about midway through the real season I'll start editing the players myself.

If you're not a true Madden-ite, you can probably live without the new version. Last year's was really good, and honestly I'm going to miss the team I built there (You've probably never heard of Takoby Kelly, or Storm Williams but trust me when I say they were on the way to smashing many Bills team records). Many reviewers who have spent much more time with the game are saying the new Madden fumbled, criticizing the lack of new features. My biggest complaint has always been with the playbook. Seems like certain plays have been there since 1989.

Still, Madden season is here. Call your girlfriend or wife. Tell her you'll see her in February.