Madden NFL 11

7.0 Overall Score

Written by on August 12, 2010 in

As I sat down, after putting in my fresh-from-the-press copy of Madden NFL 11 into my 360, and began watching the opening ‘movie’ sequence featuring this year’s cover athlete, Drew Brees, I felt like this Madden might be something that might bring a sense of excitement and change to the year-after-year mold of NFL football on the gaming console. The presentation showed some of the biggest highlights of the 2009 season, and Mr. Brees talking about what the NFL is all about. At the end, I actually felt chills down my back in preparation for the new iteration of Madden.

So, let’s get started with the new features that are now part of the Madden franchise:

Gameflow – This is undoubtedly the biggest enhancement of the series. At least, the most talked about. Gameflow essentially takes the situation you’re in, down and distance, and selects the best play to use for said situation. For example, if you gain eight or nine yards on first down, chances are good that you’ll be given a long pass play to get down field quickly on 2nd down. The logic behind this is that if the pass is incomplete, then you still only have one yard to go on third down. A lot of times, I noticed, you’ll be given a draw play on 2nd and long (eight yards or so) because the defense should be expecting a pass.

Gameflow takes you out of the huddle, and combined with the accelerated clock feature (running the game and play clock down a designated amount of time), games at five minutes per quarter are cut in half of their usual time. This is nice when running the franchise mode or when you just feel like playing a quick game in play now.

Personally, I don’t really like the new Gameflow integration. I prefer to strategize my gameplan and executing my offense and defense from there. You DO have this option in Gameflow (press X to pull up the regular playcalling menu), or you can just turn it off in the settings. There is one unique feature that’s part of gameflow, at least for a few plays, and that’s if you plug in your headset to your controller, the coordinator calling the plays talks directly in your ear, to mimic the NFL headset.  It becomes redundant after a short time though.

Madden Moments – Now THIS is a game mode I’ve really gotten into.  Madden Moments take real situations from the 2009 season and challenges you to recreate or prevent the situation from playing out as it did in real life. Some challenges, like getting a last minute touchdown as the Broncos against the Bengals from week 1 only take a moment or two.  While others, such as pulling off a comeback as the Rams against the Colts from being down 28-6, can take a while longer to finish. There are 50 challenges to complete, unlocked five at a time.

Recreating or changing history can be pretty fun, although frustrating at times. There’s a nifty 100 point achievement for finishing them all.  I really enjoy this mode, personally.

3-on-3 Co-op – This allows you and your five closest friends, enemies, or random participants to play with and against each other. Each player controls a certain group on the field. The groups are QB, RB, and Receiver for offense, and DL, LB, and DB for defense. While this can be great for griefers to cause havoc and ruin a fun game, it’s also an excellent opportunity for gamers who share interest in football to join together in good spirited match-ups in larger groups.

Outside of the Madden Moments, the gameplay options are pretty standard. You have Play Now, Franchise, Online (3-on-3 and Head-to-Head), Practice and Superstar. Does anybody remember Superstar? It was the ‘big deal’ in Madden 07 but has pretty much been brushed aside now in favor of Online and the standard Franchise modes.

With the Franchise mode, outside of the inclusion of Gameflow, enhanced graphics, and updated rosters, there’s not really a whole lot of  ‘new’ here.  The new broadcast partner, Gus Johnson, with Collinsworth injects a little bit of life into the commentary, but Collinsworth is still not worth much and just reminds you again that John Madden is pretty much not part of the series any more. This is the mode that offline gamers are most likely to spend the majority of their time as they march through 30 seasons.

Online play – Of course, one of the staples of the Madden series is online play. Madden 11 is no exception. Online play has a large section all of its own for game play options. The lobbies are extensive: East, West, 2 v 2, 3 v 3, mics only, and the list goes on.

Online play was surprisingly smooth as there were well over 63,000 gamers online at the same time hitting the EA servers. I had no problem getting into a game and playcalling and execution of the plays worked really well. The kick meter, which has been changed from the right stick back-and-forth motion, to a button press to make the gauge fill for power and then you press the button again for accuracy, is a little slow to respond, so you have to hit the buttons a little sooner than you do offline.

Overall, I was impressed with the online play and found little to complain about gameplay wise.

Other Features – Locomotion is a new function for in game physics for the players. Removed is the sprint button. In its place is dual stick control to set up your opponents for juke moves, spin and even to lean away from contact. This function brings a more realistic movement base to the players as they no longer turn on a dime, but slow down and speed up depending on what you’re doing on the controls. When your player breaks into the open, they sprint automatically and break away from the opposition depending on their speed rating. Big linebackers are considerably slower than wide receivers and are caught from behind on an interception or fumble return, but have the strength advantage to give them a chance to break a tackle from a smaller player.

Now, for the first time, you can go directly to the Super Bowl without the hassle of playing (or simming, if that’s your thing) an entire season and manipulating your favorite team to the big game. Super Bowl XLV is available to play right from the menu, and you can match up your favorite team against a weak opponent to blow through and see the celebration.

Also included is the Madden Ultimate Team. This sort of blends the Franchise and the elements of Fantasy Football to put a ‘rag-tag’ team together to play online against other players, or to try your hand against the CPU. Players have contracts that last a designated number of games, and you play cards that can erase injuries or extend their contracts. Rare cards are acquired by completing team sets, or randomly come up by purchasing packs using coins earned in online play.

EA has long set the standard in buying perks and Madden NFL 11 is no different. You can purchase additional coins to unlock skills, and in some cases even purchase team options or skills outright with Microsoft Points.

Advertising is prominent in the game, as usual, with sponsorships from Verizon, Doritos and Old Spice. Advertising is here to stay, and if you’re a football fan, it’s just something to get used to.

One big missing key is EA’s ESPN integration that is common in other games, like NCAA. There’s no sign of the flagship SportCenter or any other kind of ESPN in the game, and the presentation feels lacking without some kind of broadcast presence. It’s something that I think EA is really dropping the ball on with their premiere sports game.

Overall, it’s pretty simple: If you’re a die-hard NFL fan, and you like to play console football games, Madden NFL 11 is still your only choice. Fans of the series will obviously buy the game, as they do every year. On-the-fence gamers probably won’t see enough improvements or enhancement to draw them in over anything they’ve seen in the past, but Madden NFL 11 is still a fun game to play and this year’s version is worth picking up if you’ve skipped it for a couple of years.

A copy of Madden 11 was provided to TMG for the purpose of evaluation and review.

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Author: Erik Johnsen View all posts by
A married gamer that spends time editing many of the articles you read right here at The Married Gamers. Erik sometimes reviews Xbox One games and writes articles, but spends his available free time from work or hanging out with his family hunting achievements for a higher gamerscore.

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