Baseball may be America’s past time, but there is no denying the NFL now rules the majority of America’s sporting hearts. With this all-football love comes a huge following of EA’s Madden series, which for the last 10+ years has been the king of sports video games. Now in 2011 I find myself wondering what the guys and gals over at EA Tiburon could possibly come up with next. So does this years Madden title disappoint? Read our full review to find out.
More important then any mode in Madden in my eyes is the Gameplay which each year sees some tweaks to try and bring up the authenticity of the game. The first major change in Madden NFL 11 is the outright removal of the turbo button. The idea being that the AI of the game will automatically adjust your players speed as you play giving you more time to worry about controlling your player’s movements. This was something that did give me some problems the first few games I played in but after a while you adjust and get used to the new control scheme. There is no doubt that with you not worrying about hitting the turbo button you now have the dual stick controls that allows for quick maneuvers that I never pulled off in past games.
My favorite addition is the GameFlow system, which is literally something I have wanted for years. I am one that prefers to just play the game and not worry about play calling (I’m a big Ask Madden user) so now the new GameFlow system has a coach throw down plays to you. EA has stated that this will quicken the action on the field, which it does. I did find at times that the coach’s would pick run plays with a minute left in a half instead of going for the endzone. So there are times where you will probably need to take over the play calling if you disagree with the calls coming in. Outside of that I felt the system worked as advertised and gave the game a much quicker pace then when picking your own plays.
All in all I really did appreciate the improvements made to the on-field action. There are some subtle upgrades to making the life of the NFL come to life with pre-game pep talks, more fan animation, and more authentic coverage of the game itself. The addition of Gus Johnson was both needed and a huge bump up for the franchise who along with Cris Collinsworth did some of the best football commentary ever in a football game. There was an intensity that we have come to love on Sundays that comes to life with this game.
The last big addition to this year’s game is online team play, which is a great idea especially when playing with friends. You can play 3 on 3 (one player as QB, one as RB, and one as WR) against either another 3-person team or against the CPU. I had a blast teaming up to play against the CPU with a few friends, and to be honest for the first time playing on the same team was actually pretty fun. It’s not perfect but it’s a great addition to a game that is stacked full of content.
What ends up happening with Madden NFL 11 is that they spent a lot of time on these new modes and all together neglected the core modes of the game and that is Franchise and Be a Pro. I am a huge franchise player and really was let down when I saw the same system as last year being offered. I also thought Be a Pro had some great potential and really needs some extra work to take it to the next level. Sadly all of this has been overlooked this go around which for me was a big let down.
Weighing everything out I thought the Gameplay was a great step forward and really just needed some more time spent refining and improving some of the core modes of the game (Franchise and Be a Pro). With all that being said the improvements made this year were substantial enough to make this yet another great Madden experience.
If there was one thing that stood out to me this year it was the presentation which was down right gorgeous. I loved the way that the game of football was really captured in this game more so then I have seen in any of the past entries. This is even further showed off when you play in the Super Bowl where for the first time the Super Bowl doesn’t feel like just another game. This is something I have been wanting for years now and I am glad to see EA really sat down and captured the biggest sporting event of the year.
Animation is another key area where the game truly shines. More then ever you will have one handed grabs, sideline grabs, great juke moves, and all sorts of variety to the action that wasn’t always possible in past outings.
There were some updates like the GameFlow system and the addition of Gus Johnson that really did expand my experience with the game. On the other hand I really want to see the depth of the Franchise mode and the Be a Pro mode expand far past what it is right now. All in all though I enjoyed my time with the new aspects of Madden NFL 11 that do help continue to move the series in the right direction.
I would imagine the pressure to deliver year in and year out on the developers of the Madden series has to be tremendous. This year I think the storyboard ideas for this year’s game sounded great and some of them turned out to be quite solid additions. However I really feel like as great of a game of football Madden NFL 11 is, they missed some of the core competencies that has kept this a great game of football for all these years. Madden NFL 11 is a great game of football, the best of the series so far, but its not without a few minor draw backs.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.