Madden NFL 11
From: EA Sports
For: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Simulation, Sports
ESRB Rating: Everyone (6+)
Madden NFL 11
As long time Madden fans will know, improvements from year to year come in small doses. This year is no different, with but one new main feature, some minor tweaks to artificial intelligence and a whole lot of deja-vu in Maddel NFL 11's create-a-player and franchise modes.
GameFlow is the "new big thing" for the 2011 iteration, a mode that will surely be well used by gamers new to the Madden series if not casual football gamers in general. In a nutshell, it's basically a one button play calling system where you hit the GameFlow button and the computer will pick your next play for you. It's really just another version of the old "Ask Madden" feature where the computer would suggest 3 plays for you to choose from. It's Madden for dummies no matter how you slice it, though.
Hardcore gamers will dismiss this feature, no doubt, as the play calling can be suspect at times. Worse, it does let you call an audible (alternate play) once you're on the line and noticing that the set play won't work, but that involves more buttons, a pop up window and rifling through menus, which takes all the "quick" out of what is suppose to be a "quick play" feature. Apparently dummies aren't supposed to notice how dumb the GameFlow plays can be in the first place.
One issue that plagued Madden games for years has been the artificial intelligence (A.I.), the run-blocking A.I. specifically. This year, EA Sports seems to have fixed this particular problem as your run blockers will actually block the proper people, making the running game much more satisfying that any previous outing.
Also tweaked is the defensive A.I., so you can no longer run the same winning plays over and over and over again. Instead, the defense will adjust, just like a real NFL team would (or should). Nice.
There is one other minor change worth mentioning, but only because it's perplexing. The "Madden Moments" bit where you go back and re-create some of the more memorable, real life situations from last year, is broken. Or better said, "stupid." Where Brett Favre played against the Green Bay Packers and torched them for 4 touchdown passes last year, for example, Madden Moments challenges you to play as the Packers and come back and beat the Vikings. Unfortunately, if you start with a 4th down play and fail to convert, there is no way to exit the "moment" or start over. Instead, you have to sit there and watch the other team run out the clock on you, which is wholly contrary to the whole "interactive" aspect of videogames. Perhaps the game's producers thought there should be some sort of balancing punishment for failing a big ticket challenge, but in this day and age of instant do-overs and quick restarts, forcing a gamer to watch a clock run out because they failed to whap buttons properly doesn't feel just, let alone justified. It's like buying a car that pulls over and stops for 5 minutes if it decides you're speeding. Whatever, EA.
And unfortunately, everything else in Madden 11 is basically the same old same old; no new features in the create-a-player mode, nothing new in the franchise mode (aside from a new sponsor for the highlight show - whoopee!).
So while Madden 2011 brings a few new things to the table, it's pretty much a "been-there, played-that" iteration of the same, tired old series - and yet still the only football videogame you can buy, thanks to EA's ongoing lock on all things NFL. A serious disappointment for the hardcore fans - especially those who are going to pony up for this year's version just for the correct rosters.
Still, if you're new to the series or haven’t bought a new Madden game in a while, then Madden NFL 11 is worth checking out. After all, the same-old will be new to you and you can always just say "no" to the Madden Moment clock watching.